A multi-bay backplane module is a box the size of a couple optical drives stacked on top of one another that
stores a handful of serial ATA hard drives in compact, individually hot
swappable drive caddy's. When internal hard drive space in a computer
case is full, or if quick access to hard drives is called for, this box will
allow you to add up to three SATA hard drives in the space
normally occupied by two 5.25" optical drives.
It's called a hot swappable device because the serial ATA hard drive data and
power connectors automatically engage with the backplane of the unit when
drives are inserted. As the electrical connections
disengage, data flowing to the drive is stopped, and then
power is cut off - the order is important to prevent data loss or
corruption on the disk. Adjacent to each drive caddy is a data access LEDs
which further indicates the status of the disk, and when its not currently being
The multi-bay backplane module we're examining in this review supports three hard drives, yet it
differs from port-multipling serial ATA devices in that each SATA hard drive requires
an individual data cable connected to the rear of the box. The cables are centralized
along with power and hard drive access jumper cables, so wire clutter is
greatly reduced. An 80mm cooling fan is attached to the rear of the module to
induce airflow between the stacked hard drives inside, and can be removed if not
needed without any tools.
||IcyDock MB453SPF-B Multi-Bay Backplane Module
|Manual, HDD screws, mounting screws, jumper wires, cooling fan|
IcyDock call this module the MB453SPF-B, and the company
manufacturers two others in dual and 5-bay flavours. Used in the free 5.25" bays
of a full tower case or dropped into a standalone external storage chassis, the
IcyDock multi-bay backplane module provides a convenient way to increase data
storage capacity in the smallest possible volume of drive bay space. It has the
added benefit of hot swapping connections, and thus supports SATA hard drives
with SATA power connectors only.
The three hot swap hard drive caddy's are a
mix of aluminum rails, sheet metal EMI shielding, and plastic. Once
inserted, the caddy's clip into place smoothly, without any provisions for a keyed
lock. Seeing as most computer locks on removable hard drive
racks are utterly useless, and infuriatingly easy to loose, the absence
of this part is a welcome one.
no need to hook up any wires to the individual
drives, the SATA data and power connectors on the hard drive
are what mesh with the backplane directly.
Furthermore, unlike IDE devices, because each
drive has its own SATA connection to the motherboard, the multi-bay module is
effectively transparent. In other words, data transfer speeds are identical
whether the hard drive is connected via the IcyDock MB453SPF-B or
plugged directly into the motherboard SATA header.