Review of Icy Box IB-318STU3-B USB3 HDD enclosure

Today I will be reviewing an external HDD enclosure from Icy Box called “IB-318STU3-B” (wonderful name). It has a USB 3.0 interface which should boost the data transfer speeds significantly, at least according to the specs.


ib318_seitl_links_2


INTRODUCTION

Only months ago, the third revision of the USB standard appeared. I’ve seen it called both “USB 3.0” and “USB SuperSpeed”. What is clear is that the new version includes several improvements compared to USB 2.0.


The most important update is of course the increase of the data transfer speed (theoretical) to 4.8Gbps (600MB/s) compared to USB 2.0’s 480Mbps (35MB/s). This is really a huge difference.



Another important change is the maximum power output of USB 3.0 of 900mA (500mA in USB 2.0), which will allow USB 3.0 ports to power a number of devices and accessories to laptops. In real world, this means fewer AC adapters to accessories like external harddrives, notebook cooling pads etc.

The really great news is that USB 3.0 is 100% backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1.


OK, enough details of the new USB 3.0 standard, let’s instead have a look at the specifications of the IB-318STU3-B:


ICY BOX IB-318STU3-B

Material

Housing of aluminum, plastic stand

Dimensions

220 x 115 x 30 mm

Chipset

AsMedia (ASM1051 single chip)

HDD Compatibility

3.5 HDD SATA up to 2TB

Interface

USB 3.0

Power output

0.8A and 24W

Compatible operating systems

Windows XP, Vista, 7

Other characteristics

Fanless, noise reduction design, stand for horizontal or vertical positioning




FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Below are some images of the accessories included with the IB-318STU3-B.  As you can see it’s nothing out of the ordinary: a manual; an AC-adapter; an USB 3.0 cable; the plastic stand and the rubber vibration pads.



005591 005594




ICY BOX IB-318STU3-B IN DETAIL

One thing about Icy Box’s products that always impresses me is their choice of high quality materials. This baby is made of aluminum in a nice matte black finish:


005597


Because this is a 3.5 inch box I think it makes a rather big difference that it is made of aluminum instead of steel (lighter).



005601 005598




The ICY BOX logo is barely visible on the sides of the unit, which gives it a very classy and sober look



005600 005600




All the connectors and the power button is located in the back of the unit. There are no connectors or anything else in the front.



To open the case up you have to loosen a screw placed in the bottom of the unit.



005602 005608




As you can see there’s not much to say about the inside of this case. The control PCB has the AsMedia ASM1051 chip.



005604 005603




The installation of the hard disk couldn’t be simpler. Just anchor the HDD to the SATA data and power connectors and then fasten it directly to the chassis placing the vibration dampeners between the chassis and the HDD.


005607



TESTS AND RESULTS

In a previous motherboard review I came in contact with USB 3.0 for the first time. The tests I made then were intended to clarify the potential of this new standard. Therefore, I will not have it as my main focus in this review.


005612


Instead I am going to test the transfer speeds with two different disks, one with a SATA2 interface and the other with a SATA3 interface. The disks I am using in this review are a Seagate 7200.10 SATA2 320GB and a Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX SATA 3.0. My test system:



Test equipment

Processor

AMD Phenom II x2 555 Black Edition

CPU Heatsink

Thermalright TRUE Black 120

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-MA790FXTA-UD5

Graphic card

NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS

Memory

Kingston HyperX DDR3 1333Mhz 2x2GB (7-7-7-20)

Hard disk

Seagate 7200,10 320GB (7200rpm, 16MB, SATA2)

Power supply

Zalman ZM660-XT

Case

Lian-Li PC-8N



In order to realize the tests I used HD Tune 2.55, CrystalDiskMark 2.2 and HD Tach 3.0.4.0. I transferred a one big file of 3.3GB and also a folder containing 265 files with a total size of 596MB.


Here are my results from the software tests:


005617

005618

005619


The results are indeed very good. We see a big difference between SATA3 and SATA2. In read and write speeds we are talking almost a doubled performance. USB3 has no troubles handling the higher numbers for SATA3. Clearly the bottleneck is now the disks we use. The question is: when will disks reach the limit of what the SATA3 and USB3 interfaces can handle? I doubt we will ever get there with mechanic disks, I think we will have to rely on SSDs to take things to the next level.


Here are the real world tests:


005620

005621

005622

005623



Again, what determines the transfer speeds is what disk we put in the IB-318STU3-B. We have to also consider that the hard disk in my test system is a SATA2 7200rpm disk which also limits the transfer speeds to and from whatever external disk we connect. I.e. the transfer speeds in the “real world” tests should be considered as not entirely reflective of the SATA3/USB3 standard.


I also did a measurement of the power drainage that the external drive had on my system. I used the SATA3 disk for this test. Below are the results:


005624


The USB 3 standard is supposed to have power saving functions which are enabled when the disk has not been used for a while. However, I never saw any of this, the minimum consumption was constantly at 10W.




CONCLUSIONS

Icy Box has managed to produce a good looking, high quality HDD enclosure with the IB-318STU3-B. It features the latest version of both SATA and USB and it seemingly works perfectly. Furthermore, it was easy to install the drive and since it is fanless, there are no noise emissions to talk about.


One thing that annoyed me is the fact that an AC-adapter is required. I guess this is not anything I can blame this product for, but instead a limit of the USB3 standard. Another thing that might be on somebody’s wish list is some connectors in the front of the device. For me, it would only ruin the sober looking design, so I wont’t put it up on the con-list.



As an investment, at around 50-60 Euro it can’t be considered expensive, but remember you will have to buy a HDD to put in it as well.


Pros:

  • Looks and design
  • General quality with aluminum housing
  • Supports SATA3 and USB3 as well as all the old SATA/USB standards
  • Price


Cons:

  • AC-adapter



ICY BOX IB-318STU3-B

Packaging and accessories

1.5/1.5

Quality and finish

1.5/1.5

Connectivity

2.5/3.5

Performance

2.5/2.5

Price

1/1

Total

9/10


The final score is 90 out of 100 owls, and we give the “Icy Box IB-318STU3-B″ our Editor’s Choice Award.


 

 

award_labs_editors_2010

 

 

 

Thanks goes out to Icy Box for letting me review this HDD enclosure.

 

 


Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.