By: Jonathan Kwan
September 4, 2007
Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last. Wake me up, when September ends... That's right people, it is September already. For those who are continuing to pursue their education, or just returned from summer holidays and getting back to work, here's a review just for you: A great looking 2.5" IDE hard drive enclosure. Why 2.5" IDE? Chances are that, if you are like me, you probably have some old laptops lying around. My old Dell Inspiron 8200 that died last year still has a fully functional 40GB 2.5" PATA disk. Removing it and putting it into an enclosure would prevent it from going to waste. Not only that -- with the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh, it would make it look better than ever before. What makes us say that? Even if you don't feel like reading today because of the lazy summer, check out the photos. The Icy Box IB-220U-Wh will even remind you of something very familiar. And that could be a good thing too!
Our review unit of Icy Box's IB-220U-Wh came in a large box using United States Parcel Service, accompanied by a Tagan ITZ 700W power supply unit for our examination. With loads of Styrofoam packing peanuts, the retail packages of our review units arrived in perfect condition.
The wide, black background retail box features a window in the front for a physical view of the IB-220U-Wh itself. Basic description of the product along with an angled photo is printed in front, while some specification and features of the IB-220U-Wh are printed on the back in five different languages. The box contains a few iPod-advertising-like image clips on the right side, which is located on the back of the box as well.
Speaking of specifications, let's take a look at the specifications of this product, as obtained from manufacturer's website and edited for clarification:
• Status and operation display in blue
• Fancy design in handy format
• For 2.5" PATA/IDE ATA100/133 HDD (up to 9.5mm high)
• Interface: USB2.0
• Hot Swap, Plug & Play
• USB 2.0 up to 480Mbps
• USB bus powered
A slide-out partition cardboard piece keeps everything in its place during transport. Sliding out the set from the side reveals the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh enclosure itself, along with accessories such as leatherette bag, dual USB header cable (For additional power), instructions poster, software CD, screwdriver, and a label strip for use with the enclosure to indicate drive capacity. The bundle is quite complete and more than we'd expect from a hard drive enclosure!
The enclosure itself is protected by two non-marking clear adhesive film plastic to prevent it from scratching as well. It can be peeled off later.
The enclosure is held together by two screws at the bottom. A quick disengagement of the latch clip at the opposite end of the screw attachment holes will allow the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh to dismantle into two separate pieces. This will reveal three attachment screws for use with the enclosure; in which only two will be used and one is a spare. A controller board is easily removable and not held in by any fastening devices at this point.
The aluminum base as well as the top plastic cover comes with sections of rubber/foam material for hard drive protection -- in stabilization, grip, and possibly minor shock protection. During usage, I cannot hear anything shaking or moving inside the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh -- which is a positive sign.
I removed a five year old IBM Travelstar 40GB 2.5" PATA hard drive from my laptop to use with this enclosure. All it takes for installation is a quick attachment of the controller board's PATA pin connectors into the corresponding connectors on the hard drive. Placing it into the enclosure did not prove a tight fit; in which is implemented by most enclosures. However, the controller board actually has two pass through holes that allows two attachment screws to pass through it and in turn hold the hard drive in place. The rubber/foam padding compensates for the unachievable matters of this screw passthrough design.
The IDE to USB 2.0 controller used on the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh is a Moai M110E chip. The PDF file is obtained from Moai's website for more technical information.
After replacing the cover, engaging the latch clip, and flipping the unit around, two screws must be attached to complete the installation. A screwdriver is actually included for this purpose.
As for the capacity labels go, the strip includes background transparent stickers ranging from 20GB to 160GB in 20GB increments -- ignoring 140GB, since there are no 140GB hard drives. I put my 40GB label at the back, high center.
Remember when I said the Icy Box IB-220U-Wh looks like something very familiar? A few others here at APH Networks thought the same thing -- the first thing that came to their mind was iPod. Not surprising, considering the brushed aluminum base and shiny white top!
See, see? iPod inspired! ;)
Anyway, blue LEDs located on the controller board will light up the corresponding passthroughs on the top cover itself. The one on the very right of the "screen" is labeled as "Power" with an icon; which will be lit as long as the drive is plugged in. On the left is an Access and Idle label, which will shift between each other correspondingly depending on the drive status. Because the LEDs are located on the controller board itself, therefore the top cover has two clear passthroughs -- no need to connect wires like many 3.5" enclosure products.
The Icy Box IB-220U-Wh uses a standard mini-USB connector (Like digital camera ones), but comes with a relatively standard dual USB header cable to obtain additional power from the bus. A DC power input jack is on board, but no AC adapter is included.
Let's go over our HDTach benchmarks, which is an OS independent industry drive performance testing tool. The USB ports on our system are controlled by Intel ICH9R Southbridge, on Asus' P5K-Deluxe motherboard.
Full test system specifications:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 @ 3.36GHz (480MHz*7)
CPU Cooling: Scythe Infinity
Motherboard: Asus P5K-Deluxe/WiFi-AP
RAM: OCZ Reaper HPC PC2-8500 2x1GB @ PC2-7680 1:1 with CPU
Case: Thermaltake Aguila (Noctua NF-S12-800 - Front / Noctua NF-S12-1200 Asus Q-Fan - Back)
Power: Seasonic M12 500W
Graphics: Asus EN8800GTS 320MB
Sound: Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic
Optical Drive: NEC AD-7170A 18X DVD+/-RW
Hard Drive: Seagate 7200.10 320GB 16MB SATA2
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
Yes, it's a slow 4200RPM drive from 2002.
The red line is benchmark results with Icy Box's IB-220U-Wh, while the blue line represents the Vizo Paragon. Performance is nearly identical throughout the whole drive in both benchmark results; average read performance is completely identical 16.5 MB/s. The rest are all statistical ties with the Vizo Paragon leading 0.3 MB/s in burst, 0.2 ms higher latency and 1% higher CPU load which are all completely insignificant -- the benchmark probably could be re-run and tie it back again.
What this means is that, the drive controller probably will not limit the drive performance -- a slow hard drive would be a bigger influential factor.
The 'iPod inspired' Icy Box IB-220U-Wh is a sleek looking drive in my opinion, whether you like Apple products or not (I personally chose not to buy an iPod, so don't consider me a fan!). Design is well implemented and thought out, performance is commendable with a nice bundle of accessories. I have absolutely no complaints with installation -- screws are large enough to handle, and only two are required for installation. In general, what it needs is some sort of USB cable holder with its case like the Vizo Paragon. Also, the top cover is made out of plastic -- which may act as an insulator and prevent enhanced heat dissipation. Something you'll be paying for looks, anyway.
Special thanks to Naninni over at Tagan for making this review possible.
APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.2/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Icy Box IB-220U-Wh is an excellent hard drive enclosure with great design and included accessories. Hard drive is easy to install and performance is commendable.