Tagan Icy Box IB-3218 Series Review
Reviewed by: Propane
Reviewed on: August 3, 2008
Everyone needs more and more storage, and as files get larger, our smaller drives get less effective. After all, who wants to install a drive that can only store several movies or a vacation's worth of photos? On the other hand, something that is becoming very handy is the ability to take hard drives with you to work, a friend's house, or on vacation. This portability allows many forms of media to be shared, company secrets to be encrypted and sent long distances, and games and applications to be run on computers other than your own - without losing your settings.
The Tagan Icy Box is a device that will allow you to knock down both of those birds with one stone. It is an external hard drive enclosure that uses a JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) setup. This allows you to connect 2 drives, no matter what capacity, and they will show up in your OS as one physical volume. Not only is it portable, but it is also a nice way to combine multiple smaller capacity drives into one larger drive. Let's take a close look at it and see how it performs.
The package that the Tagan Icy Box comes in is a cardboard box with a plastic handle. The sides of the box provide a wealth of information in a variety of different languages. The packaging looks nice, and the handle makes it very easy to carry around - but is not of much use if it is shipped to your house.
Care was taken in the design of the packaging for the Icy Box, as a plastic bag and two foam sheets protect the enclosure during its shipment to your house. I have seen almost the exact same packaging on other external enclosures I have reviewed, and it makes me happy to see that as much care is put into the safety of the Tagan as other companies put into their own products.
The Icy Box also comes with cables, a user manual, and a driver CD in case your OS needs additional drivers to run the device, though most modern operating systems (XP, Vista, and OSX) should be able to run it out of the box.
The Tagan Icy Box itself is just a black rectangular box made out of metal. There are also two arc shaped feet that serve a purely aesthetic purpose, as far as I can tell. These arches come off very easily, so if you prefer to use the Icy Box without them, it is very easy to make that happen.
The front of the box features a mesh pattern, along with an Icy Box logo. Additionally, there are two small LEDs that allow you to know when power is on and when the disk is in use. The mesh design also allows for air flow over the hard drives, keeping them cool - which is becoming more and more important as our hard drives get faster and faster.
The back side is a little more interesting. This panel is where the PCB is located, and where most of the switches and input/outputs are for the device. There is also a power switch in the form of a toggle, and fan to help cool whatever drives you put into the device. The fan is pretty small, and I'm not sure it will be able to move a lot of air, but it is definitely better than nothing.
The inside of the Tagan Icy Box has two rails for the hard drives to sit on, and has a PCB with connectors for power and data. The drives are held in place using the side screws, and not the bottom ones. The pictures below show how one drive sits in the device, while omitting the second one to show the circuitry that runs the show. If you are observant, you might be asking yourself "How does the fan push air past the drives with that PCB board right there?" This is a good question, and I'm afraid the answer is that it really doesn't work.
- Aluminum case, supports JBOD function
- HDD capacity unlimited
- Supports: PC, Mac and Linux
- One Touch Backup (Windows only)
- Transfer rates: USB 2.0 up to 480Mbit/sec
- External AC power adapter: (100-240V)
- Including external data cable
- Cooling fan
To complete and round out the review, I am going to run some tests on the Icy Box to see just how well it performs in real world situations. To get a good idea of how it performs, I will be using OCC's standard test hard drive (1 x Seagate 750GB SATA) in the enclosure and will be testing it against the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini 250GB, as well as a Western Digital Caviar that is connected directly to my computer's SATA bus, and another external enclosure, the Eagle Consus.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (333x8)
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X48-DQ6 w/BIOS F7b
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 8000 Redline 2 x 2GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card(s): Asus EN8800GT
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital Caviar 500GB
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- External USB: Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini 250GB
- External USB: Eagle Consus.
- Internal SATA: Western Digital Caviar 500GB
- Average Transfer Rate (HD Tune)
- Access Time (HD Tune)
- Burst Rate (HD Tune)
- CPU Usage (HD Tune)
- Physical Disk Drive Index (SiSoft Sandra Professional XIIc)
- Physical Disk Access Time (SiSoft Sandra Professional XIIc)
- File Systems (SiSoft Sandra Professional XIIc)
- Transfer of a 10, 100, and 500 Mb test file (.zip format)
HDTune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
Sandra is a benchmarking utility designed to test all areas of a computer system. The area we are going to be looking at is the Physical Disk Performance and File System portion.
Test File Transfer:
These test files are created by OCC and used on all of our test suites like these. Time is measured by stopwatch.
The Tagan Icy Box has many nice features, like the ability to take two small capacity drives and make them look like one larger capacity drive. Also, you can take the drive with you wherever you go, unlocking the ability to show people your picture archives or home made movies with ease. A backup button allows you to use backup software to save all your irreplaceable data at the touch of a button, whether it's your work spreadsheets, that final paper you have to turn in tomorrow, or pictures of your kid taking their first steps. The speeds that this drive exhibited were also very respectable for an external enclosure. The results were similar across the external enclosures tested, making size and external appearance some of the deciding factors when purchasing an enclosure. All in all, this is a pretty good drive enclosure with only a few downsides - one being a poorly written and printed user manual, and another being the USB-only connection.
- Respectable speeds
- Sturdy enclosure
- No eSATA support
- Poorly written documentation
- Small cooling fan