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External hard drives are becoming more and more popular – the need to transfer large amounts of data between locations and PCs is more common than ever, and all of us know that we should backup important data, but so few of us do. Although there are many external hard disk units available, it can work out better value to buy an external hard disk enclosure and install a standard 3.5in hard drive in it yourself.
The Icy Box IB-350 is an external enclosure for a standard 3.5in EIDE hard disk, giving you the option to choose the make, model and capacity of disk yourself. At the risk of using the most obvious of puns, the Icy Box does look very cool. With brushed aluminium side panels and a mesh grille centre, Icy Box has a definitely cutting edge and modern design, that won over everyone in the TrustedReviews offices.
In each corner of the Icy Box is a thumb screw that holds the side panel in place. Removing all the screws reveals an empty case with a small PCB at one end. The PCB has a tiny IDE ribbon connector and a low profile Molex power connector. Grabbing a Seagate Barracuda ATA V hard disk, I slapped it into the Icy Box and connected up the IDE and power connectors. Two screws on the side panel secure the drive in place, then it’s just a matter of replacing the panel you removed and tightening the securing thumb screws.
There are three types of Icy Box UB-350 – one gives you USB 2.0 connectivity, another offers USB 2.0 and FireWire connectivity, while the third option (the one on test here) provides both USB 2.0 and SATA connectivity. Of course if you want to use SATA you’re going to need to have a cable trailing out of the back of your PC, or you’ll need a motherboard with external SATA ports like the Asus P5GD2 Premium (a full review of which will be posted soon).
On the rear plate you’ll find an SATA connector, a USB 2.0 port, a power socket and a power switch. In the box you’ll find a power brick which takes a standard kettle type lead, of which an example is also included. For data connection there is a thankfully long SATA cable finished in a very fetching red and a USB 2.0 cable. The final piece of the puzzle in the box is a transparent stand, so that the Icy Box can be stood on its side. Unfortunately the stand is a little small and the Icy Box tends to precariously see-saw when mounted in it – if the stand were a little longer with a slightly larger footprint this problem could be avoided.
The fact that the drive used inside the casing is IDE rather than SATA makes the overall solution slightly cheaper, and it’s unlikely that you’d see much performance improvement with a native SATA solution anyway. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a Silicon Image SATA to IDE bridge chip nestling on the PCB.