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ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB516SP-B Review - High Density 16-Bay Hot-Swappable SAS/SATA

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ICY DOCK

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

A while back, we reviewed the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB998SP-B and MB993SK-B hot-swap SATA docks. These were well built, high-density docks meant for 7mm height SSDs and HDDs. The former part was unique in that it let you squeeze eight drives in a single 5.25” drive bay, all while enabling you to hot swap all of them at the front panel. The ToughArmor line has been pushing into higher and higher bay counts, so it only made sense that we eventually saw something higher than an 8-bay unit:

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Enter the ToughArmor MB516SP-B. While it looks like two MB998SP-B’s stacked on top of each other, there is more than meets the eye in order to pull this trick off properly. We'll focus on that further into the review, but for now, let us get through the specs.

Continue reading for our full review!

Specifications

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No big surprises here. 16 drives with a 7mm drive height limit.

Packaging

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The MB516SP-B came well packaged, with straightforward documentation and ample screws (even some spares).

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from Icy Dock for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of Icy Dock but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: Icy Dock had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Icy Dock for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Icy Dock has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: Icy Dock is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 

April 11, 2018 | 03:21 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Allyn, We'd LUV to see a future review of the recently announced IcyDock ToughArmor MB699VP-B:

4 Bay 2.5" NVMe U.2 SSD Mobile Rack For External 5.25" Bay

https://www.icydock.com/goods.php?id=255

April 12, 2018 | 12:52 AM - Posted by jayden2002 (not verified)

This is interesting. What is the highest temperature on prolonged read/write?

April 12, 2018 | 11:11 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It's barely above ambient so long as the fan is running. There is a lot of room for airflow on this cage, and the 80mm fan moves a decent amount of air even at low speed.

April 12, 2018 | 12:48 PM - Posted by Rocky1234 (not verified)

I just read the review of this and it looks like a real winner in both the performance aspect being fairly good and the ease of use.

My real question is this do the cables to connect the unit to a raid card come with it or do you have to buy those on your own. If they do not come with it what will a set of Data cables set you back. The raid card you have in the picture what is it worth and are there other options that are cheaper if that card is a bit costly?

This setup looks like it would work well with lets say 16 2TB 2.5 HDD drives or for that matter 1TB HDD drives and still give you great performance and a lot of storage but I would think that with 16 spindle drives the heat output would be a lot higher.

April 12, 2018 | 08:23 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Allyn and I have had a long running debate about
Highpoint controllers, and I must concede that
he is usually always right for preferring
the more expensive models like Areca.

As Allyn explains, he used two different AICs,
one of which is a Highpoint RocketRAID 840A.

"We confirmed this with two different RAID cards - A Highpoint RocketRAID 840A and an Areca ARC-1883ix-24"

https://www.pcper.com/image/view/90613?return=node%2F69501

HighPoint RocketRAID 840A PCIe 3.0 x8 6Gb/s SATA RAID Host Bus Adapter:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA6ZP4VE3760&Tpk=9SIA...

As far as I know, that model 840A does NOT come
with compatible cables; they must be purchased
separately. Perhaps Allyn could provide us
with a make and model number for the cables
that he did use successfully.

HighPoint RocketRAID 3740A 12Gb/s PCIe 3.0 x8 SAS/SATA RAID Host Bus Adapter:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115206&Tpk=N82...

The latter is designed to work with 12G SAS devices.
Unfortunately, SATA-III is still stuck at 6G.

It would be nice if the industry would embrace a
SATA-IV standard that supports 12G and 16G clock speeds,
and optionally supported the 128b/130b jumbo frame
in the PCIe 3.0 standard.

This approach would allow chipsets to "sync" with
storage subsystems:

http://supremelaw.org/patents/BayRAMFive/SATA-IV.Presentation.pdf

We can still hope.

April 13, 2018 | 01:42 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You have to buy the cables, which makes sense because you could also use this enclosure with a RAID card that had mini-SAS (non HD) as an example, and would then need a different cable type. Heck, you could even connect a set of 4 SATA ports on the host to a single mini-SAS HD connector of this enclosure.

April 13, 2018 | 06:51 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

GREAT to know about these other cabling options, Allyn!

You are THE BEST, MAN!

/s/ Paul

April 13, 2018 | 01:44 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The 7mm spindle drives that fit in this enclosure would only be single platter and would generally be lower power designs.

April 12, 2018 | 08:33 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Oops! Just found a 12G SAS SSD:

only $2,400 for 800GB:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAD075UU5896&Tpk=9SIA...

HP's model is a little bit cheaper:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA25V6X63773&Tpk=9SIA...

only $2,365!

April 13, 2018 | 12:10 AM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Also, Allyn, I may have missed it, but after a second read, I didn't see any mention of the RAID mode you used during testing. Was it RAID-0, or some other RAID mode? Thanks!

April 13, 2018 | 01:43 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It was RAID-0. Keeping it simple for these tests.

April 13, 2018 | 12:15 AM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

If anyone is curious, the Highpoint 840A is also bootable:

http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series-rr800-specification.htm

click on "Advanced RAID Features"
and find:

Bootable RAID Array YES

April 13, 2018 | 02:56 PM - Posted by Ken H. (not verified)

This looks like an interesting "ingest option" for those HD/UHD Cameras that use standard SSDs for recording media. Being able to "insert" 16 SSDs could allow you to ingest from 16 SSDs to a "big" drive or drive array on board the "ingest machine", whether that's 16 individual cameras, or simply 16 SSDs from a smaller number of cameras.

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