Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
The other day we took a look at the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB and ICYBento MB559U3S-1S. Today we'll move onto a couple of larger products in their lineup:
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Today we're taking a quick look at a pair of drive enclosures sent to us by ICY DOCK.
To the left is the ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB, which is a 5.25" bay hot swap chassis capable of mounting 6 2.5" SATA devices. To the right is the ICYBento MB559U3S-1S, which is a UASP external 3.5" HDD enclosure connectable by either USB 3.0 or eSATA.
We did note that the spec sheet and manual included SATA power to molex adapters, but we found no such adapters in the box. We may have received old stock, as the web site appears more up to date than the paper manual we received.
**update** ICYDock reached out and let me know that all shipping boxes of this part should come with a pair of molex to SATA power cables. Our sample came from their techs and they must have forgot to put those cables back into our box.
Both items were well packaged with no shipping damage noted.
Subject: Motherboards | March 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, amd, am3+, 10Gbps
Last week, MSI launched a slew of new USB 3.1 equipped motherboards. Today, the company is releasing more details on one of the AMD-based products: the MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition. This upcoming motherboard is geared towards gamers using AMD FX (AM3+) processors and supports multi-GPU setups (both SLI and CrossFire). The 970A SLI Krait Edition has a black and white color scheme with rich expansion options and large aluminum heatsinks over the VRMs and northbridge.
The AM3+ processor socket sits to the left of four DDR3 memory slots. Six expansion slots take up the majority of the lower half of the board and include two PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports occupy the bottom-right corner with four at 90-degree angles. MSI is using its latest “Military Class 4” capacitors and other hardware along with gold audio traces connecting the rear IO audio jacks to the onboard sound chip.
Speaking of rear IO, you will find the following ports on the 970A SLI Krait Edition.
- 2 x PS/2
- 6 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.1
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 6 x Analog Audio
The main feature that MSI is pushing with this new board is the addition of two USB 3.1 (Type A) ports to the AMD platform. This is the first AM3+ motherboard to support the faster standard – up to 10 Gbps using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller – while also being backwards compatible with older USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.
MSI has not yet released pricing or availability, but expect it to launch soon for less than $100.
Few specifications have been released about this board so far, as well as no timetable for the launch. It is a finished product and should be out "soon" as Tim mentioned.
There are a few things we can gather from the photo of the board. The audio solution is not nearly as robust as we saw with the 970 Gaming motherboard. I doubt it will have the headphone amplification, and the filtering is going to be less due to fewer caps used. The audio is still physically isolated on the PCB, but it has not received the same focus as what we saw on 970 Gaming.
It looks like it is a full 8+2 power phase implementation, as it is taking up more space on the board than the 6+2 unit on the 970 Gaming did. This should allow for a greater selection of CPUs to be used, as well as potentially greater overclocking ability. It does not feature a separate SATA controller, so all 6 SATA ports on the board are handled by the SB950. There are no external e-SATA ports, which really is not a big deal as those are rarely used.
This looks to be a nice addition to the fading AM3+ market. For those holding onto their AMD builds and wish to upgrade, this looks to be an inexpensive option with next generation connectivity. MSI looks to have paid the licensing fee necessary to support SLI, plus they utilize the same AMD 970 chipset on the 970 Gaming that is not supposed to be able to split the 1 x 16X PEG connection to 2 x 8X slots. Some interesting design and chippery are required to that.
Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 01:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, flash drive
It is not easy to kill something via USB as the plugs deal with all sorts of devices that are off spec but it can be done. If you short ground and power the plug disables itself, TVS diodes prevent static electricity from damaging anything and excessive RF is bled off by the inline filtering beads. That didn't stop this Hack a Day reader from figuring out a way to make a killer USB drive with a inverting DC-DC converter and capacitor bank. The drive uses the power provided by the USB port to charge the capacitors to -110VDC which then discharges that to the data pins, enough to overcome the protection on the port and it repeats until the USB port is no longer capable of delivering power. Considering many USB ports are integrated onto your CPU at this point, this is not a very nice thing to do; we present this as a warning and do not recommend this or similar projects be undertaken by our readers.
"[Dark Purple] recently heard a story about how someone stole a flash drive from a passenger on the subway. The thief plugged the flash drive into his computer and discovered that instead of containing any valuable data, it completely fried his computer. The fake flash drive apparently contained circuitry designed to break whatever computer it was plugged into."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel: Windows XP upgrade slowdown hits Q1 cash flow @ The Inquirer
- Panda antivirus labels itself as malware, then borks EVERYTHING @ The Register
- Infiniband Association adds control freakery to Volume 1 spec @ The Register
- Hardware Asylum Podcast - Gigabyte Big XTU Challenge and Smart Watches
- TRENDnet TV-IP310PI Outdoor 3 MP PoE Day/Night Network Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Life, the interview and everything: A chat with Douglas Adams @ The Register
- El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway
Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.
We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.
Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!
In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.
It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!
The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?
Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.
A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia
USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.
But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.
About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).
So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.
Subject: Storage | February 5, 2015 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, team group, M131, Micro USB
Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive is so named because it can plug into both full sized USB and with the additional connector it can connect to Micro USB ports as well. It's tiny size at 44 x 16.6 mm and 6.6g makes it easy to carry around, the largest size of 32GB may feel cramped for a PC but seems appropriate for use with a smartphone. It is not the fastest USB drive out there but eTeknix saw it for sale at £7.19 so you are not paying extra for the convenience of the drive. Check out their review here.
"The limited storage in mobile devices can be a real problem just as the fact that a touchscreen rarely is the optimal input device. Both these things might be a thing of the past if you invest in a Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive with OTG support that. I’m taking a closer look at 16GB model of just this drive today."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 OTG 64GB USB Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Patriot Memory Supersonic Boost XT 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Kingston Class 10 UHS-I SDXC Card (256 GB) @ TechARP
- Thecus N4310 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Asustor AS5104T @ Legion Hardware
- Silverstone DS380 NAS Chassis @ eTeknix
- OCZ Challenge update: All 5 ARC 100 SSD’s hit 300TB mark @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 11:44 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic
Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5.
This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".
Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5mm headphone jacks. The two 3.5mm jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5mm jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)
The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.
The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.
The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).
Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 05:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, peripherals, input, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, controller
The Tech Report delves into their favourite peripherals available on the market in this article, covering displays, keyboards, mice and all the other goodies you can attach to your PC. The brand new G-SYNC 1440p monitor from ASUS of course makes an appearance but there is much more covered than just your display. A half dozen wired keyboards and three wireless ones made the grade along with a similar number of mice and even controllers are ranked to give you an informed choice about the current market. They even delve into external audio and storage options so if you have a few unused USB ports head on over and see if you can't find something to fill them.
"In this second edition of the peripheral staff picks, we've reworked the display section with the latest 4K and G-Sync monitors in mind. We've also updated the other sections to account for price fluctuations, changes in product availability, and findings from our latest round of reviews. The result should be, we hope, a more informative and up-to-date resource for your back-to-school shopping needs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Roccat Kone Pure Military Edition @ HardwareHeaven
- Roccat Kone Pure and Roccat Sense 2mm Camo Charge @ Kitguru
- GAMDIAS HADES Extension Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury Gaming Mouse Review @ Legit Reviews
- Genius F-1000 Arcade Stick for PC/PS3 Review @ Modders-Inc
- ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro Mechanical Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- i-Rocks K10 USB Gaming keyboard @ Kitguru
- Tesoro Lobera Supreme Full Color Illumination Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 07:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, flash drive, obsolete
A high capacity USB flash drive used to be the definition of great swag, a company could put whatever tools, media or programs on a promotional USB drive but what really counted was the size. As 128GB and larger drives started to become more common and more reasonably priced may got in the habit of dumping all their optical media to be replaced by a handful of flash drives, some bootable and some not. Take the Patriot SuperSonic Rage XT 128GB up for review at NikTech, for $80 you get 128GB of storage that can hit 200MB/s random or linear reads and is rather durable. There is nothing wrong with the drive until you realize you can pick up a 128GB Crucial MX100 and an eSATA cable for the same price or double your storage for an extra $30. Those SSDs are roughly twice as fast and every bit as rugged, so why pick up that flash drive in the first place?
"Storage capacity needs increase on a daily basis and with them so does demand and thus in the end those two result in more competition between companies and lower prices (at least most of the time). Think about it, just two years ago i was running around carrying an 16GB USB flash drive with my keychain while now i have attached a permanent 32GB one which i sometimes replace with an 128GB one if i need to carry way too much data with me."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Patriot Supersonic Phoenix Flash Drive (256GB) @ SSD Review
- Crucial MX100 256GB & 512GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Force LX 256GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel DC P3700 800GB NVMe SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Thecus N2310 NAS Review – Home Networking Made Easy @ The SSD Review
- Thecus N4560 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Zalman ZM-VE300 External Hard Drive Enclosure Review @HiTech Legion