Our last two drive enclosures from Icy Dock have been elegant, beautiful affairs that were as good-looking as they were functional. In contrast, the U6-1S-WBC is strictly business. We find out if its performance is as serious as its looks.
Consumers surveying the increasingly crowded field of drive enclosures demand at least two essential elements: product differentiation and competitive pricing. We want to know why we’re buying one enclosure instead of another. Is it a better color, does it have a unique feature set, or is it just cheaper than similarly equipped setups? And if the unit is more expensive, is the price premium justified?
To date we’ve reviewed the MB559 external single-drive enclosure and the MB561S-4S quad-bay enclosure from Icy Dock as well as the Vantec NextStar LX NAS enclosure. The design of each of these enclosures targets specific groups. The Vantec is a straightforward, simple NAS enclosure for those looking for an inexpensive alternative to a full-bore networked file server. The quad-bay Icy Dock is intended for multimedia professionals looking for not just a massive, relatively portable storage solution, but also for a stylish, elegant addition to their array of technology. The U6 most closely resembles the MB559 in its functional intent. They are both single-drive units intended to be directly connected to a given machine as portable, modular, external storage solutions.
Two features set the U6-1S-WBC apart from everything we’ve evaluated so far. First, the U6, with its optional tray, accepts both the usual SATA as well as aging IDE drives. Secondly, it possesses both the ubiquitous USB 2.0 interface and the rarer 1394b (a.k.a. FireWire 800) interface. It’s an interesting combination to have in a single unit. On one hand, you have compatibility with drives that utilize the almost anachronistic IDE interface, and on the other you’ve arguably the most advanced, and certainly the fastest, PC-to-peripheral bus on the market. Unlike our previous Icy Dock, the U6 is completely passively cooled, relying on the aluminum enclosure and lateral heatsinks to manage heat dissipation.