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ICYDock MB981U3N-1SA SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adaptor
ICYDock MB981U3N-1SA SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adaptor  - PCSTATS
I wish there was just ONE little black box that would allow an IT Admin to connect any kind of hard drive to it, so there's no need to crack open a computer system, mess with BIOS settings or waste time trying to move GBs over a tediously slow USB 2.0 connection.
 88% Rating:   
Filed under: Hard Drives/SSD Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: IcyDock Jan 08 2013   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Hard Drives/SSD > IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA

As an IT Admin I frequently have to back up or move data between hard drives -- this could mean pulling an ancient 6GB hard drive from a retired office PC destined for recycling, a modern 2TB HDD from an upgrade in progress, a notebook HDD from a crushed laptop, a drive from a SAN, Network appliances, portable media player... you name it. In a small office environment, this gets complicated, quickly. For example, I have one dedicated SATA-to-eSATA/USB 2.0 hard drive bay for 3.5" SATA drives, a 2.5" SATA -to-USB 2.0 enclosure for SATA notebook drives and a separate IDE -to-USB 2.0 bay for older 3.5" IDE drives. When it comes to 2.5" IDE notebook drives, well that's when things start to get creative. After digging around to find the special 2.5"-to-3.5" IDE + power connector adaptor cable, I have to find a motherboard which still accommodates IDE drives, connect the drive, reboot the system and ensure the BIOS picks it up, and.... you get the picture.

I wish there was just ONE little black box that would allow an IT Admin to connect any kind of hard drive to it, so there's no need to crack open a computer system, mess with BIOS settings or waste time trying to move GBs over a tediously slow USB 2.0 data connection. If ONLY there was an easy way to connect different hard drives via a simple, ubiquitous and quick USB 3.0 cable.

Oh wait, there is! The focus of this review is IcyDock's MB981U3N-1SA USB 3.0 2.5/3.5" SATA & IDE hard drive adaptor. This pack of cards sized adaptor connects to 2.5" to 3.5" SATA and IDE hard drives, allowing them to be hooked up to a modern PC over SuperSpeed USB 3.0. It comes with all the cables you need and requires one plug socket for power.

IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA Hard Drive Adaptor

Included: USB 3.0 cable (backwards compatible with USB 2.0), AC/DC power adaptor, 4-pin molex power cable, printed instructions
Size: 85 x 80 x 21mm
HDD Ports: 3.5"/2.5" SATA, 3.5" IDE, 2.5" IDE

Price: $47 USD/C DN

Using the IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA is as simple as connecting a hard drive to the right data port, then plugging in the AC power adaptor and connecting the USB 3.0 cable to a host PC. SATA drives are instantly display on the Windows desktop after pressing the 'power button' on the top of the MB981U3N-1SA.

IDE drives work the same way, for the most part. Except, the older the IDE drive, the more finicky the MB981U3N-1SA can be with it. If the IDE drive is on it's last legs (ie. degraded), we found it easier to hook up the drive directly via IDE cable to a PC. If the IDE drive is working correctly, all you really need to do is unplug and reconnect the USB 3.0 cable after hooking up the IDE drive to the MB981U3N-1SA. Windows 7 will then mount the disk and provided it is formatted, assign it a drive letter. A couple times with really old IDE disks we had to reboot the PC to get an IDE drive to display, but in these situations the drive was already a bit 'wonky' or showing loads of SMART errors.

Once connected, the IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA transfers data over a 1meter long USB 3.0 at speeds of up to 4800Mbit/s. The system is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports, which run at a slower 480Mbit/s rate. The IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA retails for around $47 CDN/USD at Newegg.

Inside the small adaptor is an Asmedia ASM1051 USB 3.0 controller and JMicron JM203330 Serial ATA and Parallel (IDE) controller. The SATA component operates at SATA I levels.

360-Degree Look at the Hard Drive Adaptor

There's not much to this small adaptor, so we're going to give you a walk around look at everything IcyDock have packed into its compact surface.

On this side we have the USB 3.0 data port (a 1m long USB 3.0 cable is included) and the 12v DC power connection.

On this side is the 3.5" IDE hard drive data connection, the power is supplied for these hard drives with a short 4-pin molex power connector that hooks up to the top-mounted power socket.

Here is the 2.5" IDE notebook hard drive data connection. With these hard drives data and power are supplied over the same 80-pin cable.

Looking at the top of the IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA USB 3.0 2.5/3.5" SATA & IDE hard drive adaptor here: hot swap SATA connector for both 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives, the 4-pin molex power connector socket and power button (illuminated).

Next we'll show you how drives connect and test the unit out.

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Contents of Article: IcyDock MB981U3N-1SA
 Pg 1.  — ICYDock MB981U3N-1SA SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adaptor
 Pg 2.  IcyDock SATA & IDE Hard Drive Adaptor in Use

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