The Icybox will take any hard disk with an ATA interface you care to throw at it too. Not having the power supply integrated is slightly irritating, though. It’s one of those dangling brick affairs, which hampers portability.
Testing revealed that it makes no sense to mount a very fast hard disk in the Icybox as the interface and electronics in the box inevitably choke the speed right down. But to see how fast it could go we tried a 40GB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda ST340017A in it. This disk has a claimed maximum sustained transfer rate (STR) of 44MB/s.
Using Intel’s open-source Iometer hard disk benchmark software to test sequential read and write speeds of both small and large files revealed maximum STRs of 30.9MB/s and 24MB/s respectively. These figures were 27 and 43 per cent slower than the speeds achieved with the drive connected internally. Results achieved using HD Tach confirmed this, with sequential read speeds 41 per cent slower and a burst speed of just 33.8MB/s compared to 92.2MB/s internally.
In real world tests this translated to just over three minutes to copy a 4.54GB backup file from an internal drive to the Icybox, and some two minutes and one second to copy across eight albums from my music collection.
Mounting an older, slower and, more importantly, cheaper drive makes more sense. We tried an old ATA 66 IBM Deskstar 37GP, benchmarked it internally and in the Icybox, and achieved identical results. It was slower than the Barracuda, admittedly, but not by much.
In short, the Icybox IB-360 does a simple job and it does it well. Speed, inevitably, is limited by the interface and electronics in the box and determined by the speed of the drive installed, but at just £20 it represents a bargain way of turning that unused drive lingering at the bottom of your PC bits ‘n’ bobs box into a useful backup or portable mass storage device. It may not the world’s sexiest or most exciting piece of kit, but it is straightforward technology that works without a fuss.