Review: IcyBox IB-RD3262+USE2 2fach RAID

This very attractive little box houses two SATA hard disks and provides the logic to do RAID levels 0 or 1 as well as JBOD. I picked it up via Amazon in Germany as “used but in excellent condition, in original packaging, with some scratches”.

I haven’t found the scratches yet (except on the box), it looks like someone had tested it and sent it back. Instead of 150€, I pad 85€ which suited me just fine.

I installed two WD RED 3TB drives; after several disasters with low-cost drives from Samsung, Seagate as well as WD, I decided to go with something more expensive. The RED drives are made for continuous use in a NAS, so they should be fine in my RAID box attached to my home Mac Mini.

Generally, I don’t bother installing software that is delivered with a device, as there is usually something more recent available online. Not so here. I was unable to find the RAIDMaster software that is delivered with the device online at RAIDSonic (the manufacturer), so I ended up installing the version that came on CD in the box.

Setting up the RAID-1 array was a snap and only took a minute or so. Transfer rates are - in my opinion - quite good, peaking at around 50 MB/s via Firewire 800, with 20-25 MB/s being the usual rate. I’ll add a more scientific bit of information on performance at the end.

Seeing as I was getting around 5 MB/s with the Drobo I had installed previously, this little box was going to be a good replacement.

I’ve spent the last evening / night transferring all my data from the Drobo to the IcyBox device, strangely enough I was getting read rates on the Drobo much in excess of what I’d ever gotten before. I’m not sure, but there may also have been something the matter with my Lion Server installation on the Mini, so after doing all the transfers (and putting data from the Mini onto the RAID as well), I re-installed the entire system this morning.

Before decommissioning the Drobo, I hooked it to my (newer) MacBook Pro and ran a performance check on it. More than 10 MB/s wasn’t available, and that only in peaks. Subsequently, the decision to move from the Drobo to another device was the right one!

The only thing that is a bit of a shame with the IB-RD3262 is that the cooling fan seems to run at full speed, even if the disks aren’t warm. It isn’t very loud, but still present. But perhaps this is the better way to go rather than have the fan speed up and slow down all the time, who knows.