Icy Dock MB153SP-B 3-in-2 3.5″ SATA Hot swap Backplane Review

Icy Dock MB153SP-B drive swap
Icy Dock MB153SP-B drive swap

The Icy Dock MB153SP-B allows for three 3.5″ hard drives to be installed into two 5.25″ chassis slots. Along with this the Icy Dock MB153SP-B also adds hot swap capabilities making it very easy to swap drives. The unit is part of Icy Dock’s FatCage series and one can see several of the company’s recent product directions embodied in the backplane. For example, Icy Dock differentiates its products from generic competitors by using metal instead of plastic in many places. Another key feature is the ability to have options to lower fan speeds to quiet the unit. Let’s take a look at what the unit has to offer.

Test Configuration

For this test we will use our recent AMD workstation platform.

  1. CPU: AMD FX-8350
  2. Motherboard: ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0
  3. Memory: 32GB 4x Kingston 8GB
  4. GPU: XFX ATI Radeon 7950 3GB
  5. OS Drive: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
  6. Enclosure: Norco RPC-470
  7. Hot-swap chassis: Icy Dock MB153SP-B
  8. Hard drives: 3x 3TB Seagate 7,200 RPM drives (ST3000DM001)
  9. Power Supply: Corsair AX750 750w 80Plus Gold PSU
  10. OS: Windows 8 Pro 64-bit, Ubuntu 12.04 Server

Overall a fairly standard configuration for custom-storage applications.

The Icy Dock MB153SP-B

Taking a look at the front of the Icy Dock MB153SP-B one can see the three drives and LED indicators. The LED indicators are driven by the ribbon cable running along the left end of the enclosure. One can see that the front of the enclosure has large vents. Latches are blue and hold the silver drive tray arms in place. A major consideration is that the trays do not lock. Not a big deal in a home use scenario, but if one is using remote hands in a datacenter, this can be a requirement.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B Front View
Icy Dock MB153SP-B Front View

One can also see that there is a thick ribbon cable running down the side of the enclosure. The hot swap hard drive sleds slide very easily in the grooves of the Icy Dock enclosure.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B drive swap
Icy Dock MB153SP-B drive swap

One can see that the drive sleds easily secure 3.5″ drives. The hard drive caddies are shared among several models of Icy Dock’s line which is a major benefit. One other note is that using a 2.5″ drive will be a bit difficult because these hard drive trays will only fit on one side.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B Drive Sled
Icy Dock MB153SP-B Drive Sled

Inside the Icy Dock MB153SP-Bone can see the PCB with the SATA and power connectors. One can also see larger sized vents that will allow sufficient airflow to cool 7,200rpm hard drives.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B Inside
Icy Dock MB153SP-B Inside

Looking at the rear of the Icy Dock MB153SP-B one can see quite a bit going on. First, there is the ribbon cable driving the front display LEDs. Second, one can see three SATA connectors. The Icy Dock MB153SP-B also has two SATA style power connectors on the opposite side of the fan.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B Rear Side View
Icy Dock MB153SP-B Rear Side View

One thing to note is that the board also has both a 2-pin and a 3-pin 80mm fan connector. This allows one to swap the fan using off-the-shelf alternatives either to add a faster fan for more airflow or a quieter fan.

I loaded up the unit with some of our favorite 3TB Seagate 7,200 RPM drives (ST3000DM001.) The goal was to see how the unit reacted to the heat generated by these drives. The Icy Dock unit fared well across all three drives.

Icy Dock MB153SP-B Temps
Icy Dock MB153SP-B Temps

It should be noted that at this point, we are typically recommending slower, cooler and lower power 3.5″ drive options along with one or more SSD to cache the “hot” data. We are already seeing market trends away from the 3.5″ 7,200rpm SATA segment.

Also, we did try adding OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSDs to the enclosure and the SATA ports were operating at SATA III speeds across all three ports with a +/- 1.25% variance in average sequential transfer speeds which is more or less a normal margin of error. Suffice to say nothing unexpected to report there.


Overall the Icy Dock MB153SP-B is a strong unit that is relatively inexpensive. Icy Dock provides an EZ-Tray based enclosure to fit three 3.5″ hard drives into two 5.25″ expansion bay slots. Adding hot swap capabilities always helps as it lowers the chance of accidentally disengaging a drive from a running system. For 7,200rpm drives one is unlikely to want to swap the fan. For slower, cooler drives this may be a strong option.


  1. The cooling effect could be much better, it’s just two slits on the backside!
    A huge 80mm fan with two 1×7 cm open holes to cool down 3 warm HDD?

    The supermicro MCP-220 trays have a open design with large holes in the front panel, while this one is like a thief who squints his eyes to look cool…
    OK, the backplane of the Supermicro is an another story, so let’s not go there. 🙂

    Thanks a lot for the review, I was considering this, but after to see how bad the cooling effect, it’s better to stay away. More reviews like that!!! 😀

  2. After i read the review, I went and research about this unit since I like the design so much. I found out that this unit keeps the drives very cool based on several tests from other reviewer/power user. According to http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=24258.0;nowap , the reviewer compared the ICY DOCK and other brands based on the temperature of the drives inside the unit over time and ICY DOCK only reached a maximum of 41 Celsius! This is better result compare to the Supermicro 5 bay cage I have for my custom NAS server but I don’t blame on supermicro since its 5 bays. After I tested my ICY DOCK, I found out that it is able to maintain the drive temperature at 39 celsius, not to mention I had my server run 24/7 also. 😀

    We will see how things go over the summer time and I will keep you guys updated 🙂


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.