ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B USB3.2 Enclosure Review


In my review of the ROG Strix Arion I mentioned that I had no option other than mostly Silverstone and the Arion. Back in those times, I didn’t realize I would need to actually switch in between M.2 SSDs and it was quite an inconvenience to actually swap out M.2 SSDs but the more pressing issue was one day, I would possibly need to to use a lengthy M.2 22110. While its not a popular size, companies like Synology and a few others still offer M.2 22110 length SSDs. Of course, my use case is quite niche but if you do encounter these use cases, the solution are quite rare for M.2 enclosures that actually support M.2 22110. Thankfully, ICY DOCK reached out to me to share their newly relased ICYNano enclosure.

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

The ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B M.2 enclosure is a new M.2 enclosure from ICY DOCK which features a complete tool-less design, as well as support for the lengthy M2-22110 length. Other than that, its also a USB3.2 Gen2 device which supports up to 10Gbps of transfer and comes in the new ubiquitous USB Type-C interface as well as support for backwards compatibility with older USB standards.

Features & Specifications

Fits 1x M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD of all length – 30mm (2230), 42mm (2242), 60mm (2260), 80mm (2280), and 110mm (22110)
Patent-Pending adjustable M.2 drive locker offers tool-less and screw-less drive installation process
Dual-function aluminum heatsink lid provides maximum drive protection and heat dissipation
High-efficiency thermal pad included for optimal cooling performance
Supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 Interface – up to 10 Gb/s transfer speed
True plug and play design and backward compatible with USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.2 Gen 1 interfaces
USB Type C to C and C to A cables included for best performance and system compatibility
Industry-leading 3-year warranty with complimentary tech support & customer service
Model Number :
MB861U31-1M2B
Color :
Black
Support Drive Size :
1 x M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (2230/2242/2260/2280/22110)
Host Interface :
USB 3.2 Gen 2
Power Input :
Via USB
Transfer Rate :
Up to 10Gb/s (Depending on hard drive speed)
Structure / Material :
Aluminum & Plastic
Product Dimension (L x W x H) :
150 x 63 x 12mm
Product Net Weight :
99g
Package Net Weight :
208g
Drive Activity LED Indication :
SSD power: solid blue; SSD access: flashing blue
Package contents :
Device, user manual, thermal pad, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A & C cable
Humidity :
5%~65% RH
Operating Temperature :
0°C to 70°C (32°F to 158°F)
Storage Temperature :
-35°C to 70°C (-31°F to 158°F)
Compliance :
CE, RoHS, REACH
Warranty :
3 years

Official product page

ICY DOCK ships the MB861U31-1M2B enclosure in a simple cardboard box.  Details are printed on the back of the packaging highlights quick features and specs.  The top flap itself shows a nice illustration of the contents of the package. Inside, the M.2 enclosure is padded with soft foam.  The main segment on top is the enclosure itself and removing shows us the cables and documentations included with the package.

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

As stated, ICY DOCK includes documentation with the MB861U31-1M2B but also includes 2 cable: a USB-C to USB-C as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable. Also included is a strip of thermal pad which is long enough to cover up to the maximum M2-22110 length M.2 devices.

The ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B M.2 enclosure is quite non-descript: it’s a chocolate-bar type of enclosure and measures in quite a bit longer than your typical 2.5″ hard drive. At 15cm long, its as lengthy as a wallet but at 12mm thin, it is quite compact for its size making it easy to fit on any pack or tool kit.

With the metal cover off, we get a nice view of how the enclosure: the metal cover that clips to the bottom side which houses the PCB for the drive. The PCB itself is positioned on one side with no residual plate on the bottom. It’s quite a surprising change from long PCB slabs with M.2 locking screws. And that design is for a reason as shown the image below.

The reason for the reduction in PCB size is because ICY DOCK uses the entire bottom case as the retention mechanism, equipped with a slider lock that allows users to clip the SSD without any screws which is a great design idea.

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

Here’s the ROG Strix Arion in comparison with the MB861U31-1M2B. The Arion features an unconventional case design, as well as a unique PCB but still uses a traditional screw lock which in comparison to the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B looks quite inefficient especially with the layout of the vital components as well as the M.2 slot and USB-C port.

Talking about M.2 drives and why ICY DOCK is using such a long, non-standard size, the thing is that there are still vendors out there that still uses the form factor and while consumer motherboards currently sit at the M2-2280 form factor, the longer M2-22110 form factor exists and with capacities eventually going to break the current limits with NAND increasing and size and decreasing in prices, its an eventuality that the M.2-22110 form factor will be usable. Still, as of right now there are professional products like the image above from Synology and their M.2-22110 SSD.

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

The includes cables are of good quality and the length itself isn’t too over-extended so its quite a nice combination.

Performance Testing

Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core i9 10900K
Motherboard: ASUS ProArt Z490 Creator 10G
Memory: G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3600 16GB
Storage: Patriot VPN4100 1TB
PSU: Seasonic Platinum 1050w
Cooling: Corsair H150i
Monitor: Viewsonic VX2475smhl-4K
VGA: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE

Note: Please keep in mind that USB3.1 gen2 is 10Gbps, and while ASUS lists this as a USB3.2 gen2 device, its still the same spec. USB3.2 gen2 2×2 is the 20Gbps spec standard. The Seagate FireCuda 510 we’re using in this test has been tested to go upwards of 3000MB/s and more in read/write tests. Also note that these results are for reference only as your mileage will vary with your M.2 device.

Potential Performance (ATTO Disk Benchmark)

ATTO Disk Benchmark benchmarks a drive’s read and write speeds with increasing file sizes and graphs them. The results shows us a good idea of how the drive performs on file sizes, showing us read and write speeds and how consistent they are. The higher the better of course and the the more consistent the numbers, the better. This also shows us if bottlenecks exist for either the controller or the device itself.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities is a disk benchmarking utility designed to offers a simpler method of scoring a storage device’s performance for both read and write as well as overall. The scores are presented in scores from the benchmark window and are representative of the score of the drives but are completely unique to this benchmark alone. Higher scores are better.

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD benchmarks SSDs and provides a score. In our charts, we’ll show you the bandwidth performance results instead, specifically for Sequential and 4K . AS SSD uses synthetic read/write tests with selectable test size. Our standard test uses 1GB sample data.

Crystal Disk Mark v6

Crystal Disk Mark is storage benchmarking software was developed by “hiyohiyo” of Japan, and is available for free. This benchmark measures sequential, and random read/write speeds of storage devices.

ez IOmeter

ezIOmeter is a user-friendly port of the popular IOmeter benchmark. IOmeter is a professional load testing tool for measuring storage performance for enterprise solutions.

Conclusion

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B

Not a lot of people will really need something like the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B but for that do, this enclosure is certainly one of the most noteworthy solutions out there especially for working professionals that would like to have a more flexible enclosure especially for servicing duties. Performance meets expectations and can handle NVMe performance quite well.

Usability is certainly the strong point of the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B. Aside from the extremely hard-to-memorize model name, everything else about this enclosure is easy. An easy installation, easy connectivity and easy drive replacement and storage. Its very convenient and despite its larger footprint, the thin form factor allows it to be stored easily or towed in most backpacks or toolbox easily.

I’ve said it many times, I had a hard time finding a decent M.2 enclosure for a portable Linux boot drive. My use case is quite particular and the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B fits every need that I have. I do have a security concern. Due to the  easy removal, M.2 drives can easily be taken in and out but for most situations, security shouldn’t be a concerned as more bespoke solutions will be used for those cases.

That said, it boils down to price and the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B currently is listed on international Amazon (Japan and Germany) as well as some more Japanese e-tailers but right now our best clue in pricing is these Amazon listings. At around EUR69.99 or $80  Shortly after this review was published, ICY DOCK reps told us that the ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B will retail for $60 and that is a fair price for the IT professional services segment and power users. For the average user, the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B is definitely too much in terms of price but again, ICY DOCK intends this for a more targeted audience and for those people that are looking at this solution, it is definitely a great solution.

ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B USB3.2 Enclosure Review
Final Thoughts
Intended for a more professional user base, the ICY DOCK ICYNano MB861U31-1M2B gives a lot of flexibility and usability and allows NVMe devices to fully saturated the USB3.2 gen2 interface.
Performance
9
Build Quality
9.6
Functionality
9.5
Bundle
9
Value
8.5
Reader Rating1 Vote
9.5
Pros
Tool-less design, no-screw retention
Support for M.2-22110 length drives
Decent top aluminium cover
Type C and Type A cables included
3-year warranty
Cons
Bottom case is plastic
No permanent clip screw on case
Priced higher than normal USB3.2 gen2 enclosures
9.1
Rating
Buy Now
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