When solid state drives finally made it to the consumer market roughly 5 years ago no one could deny that they offered superior data transfer speeds compared to regular mechanical drives without at the same time producing noise and heat. However no one also could deny that such solutions had but two large drawbacks and that were their prices (for most people) and limited storage space. So the solution was quite simple for some and so back then Seagate immediately started working on a hybrid drive by marrying a standard 2.5" mechanical drive with a rather large storage capacity and a rather small 2.5" SSD. The idea was to use the HDD section to store everything you threw at the drive and the SSD section to cache the things you used mostly on your daily activities and thus provide you with increased speeds. The result was the Momentus (and later on the updated Momentus XT) hybrid drive which actually did quite well in the end and did produce better results than regular mechanical drives. Other manufacturers also decided to marry a regular HDD with an SSD but they followed a whole different path and so some did so with dual 2.5" internal enclosures (for example RAIDON), others by introducing cache SSDs and Hybrid PCIex models (OCZ) and a few by following the old RAID 0 solution which basically divides all your data evenly on two or more disks for increased performance. RaidSonic just recently jumped on that last wagon with their ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS 2x2.5" to 3.5" HDD/SSD RAID Converter and naturally we just had to check it out.
RaidSonic Technology GmbH was founded in Hamburg 1999. To realize our future visions and the rising requirements, RaidSonic moved to Ahrensburg (20 min. away from Hamburg) in May 2004.The capacity of our new warehouse, our permanent improving logistic and the expanded technical support lets us look into the future very optimistically. Our vision in a constantly growing IT market is to develop products, which will become your future dreams. Our extensive product portfolio, which we distribute Europe-wide, combines all internal and external solutions for the application of mass storage, for industrial and professional applications as well as for the private sphere, too. Through our all along increasing know-how, good results in research and development and our good cooperation with our long-time customers we could achieve a dynamic growth.
Unlike other similar solutions the ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS 2x2.5" to 3.5" HDD/SSD RAID Converter actually offers a total of 4 different modes for you to choose from including RAID 0, RAID 1, LARGE and normal (Port Multiplier). As already mentioned RAID 0 mode basically splits your data evenly on two or more drives for increased data transfer speeds by sacrificing data integrity since if one drive fails the entire configuration will too. On the other hand RAID 1 mode may be quite slower since it uses one of the drives to store data and the other to mirror that data but if any of the drives fails then you always have the content on the other drive something which is ideal for critical data. Finally LARGE mode uses two or more drives to create a single large drive (similar as RAID 0 only slower) while normal mode sees both drives independently. Features-wise the RaidSonic solution is quite appealing, at least on paper so let's move forward and see just how good it really is.
SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
The product arrived inside a small box with 3 product pictures at the front, color, main features and system compatibility.
A complete features list is placed on both sides in English and German.
The same list is also present at the rear of the box in 8 different languages.
Four mounting screws, the user’s manual and the unit itself is what you will find inside the box.
THE ICY BOX IB-RD2121STS
The lower section of the ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS is made by hard plastic while the top is a thin aluminum plate.
Size wise the unit is identical to a 3.5" hard disk drive but needless to say it is a lot lighter (at least without drives inside).
The front bay door unlocks just by pushing the button placed at the left which i have to say doesn't feel very sturdy.
To mount the two 2.5" drives inside the enclosure you just have to slide them inwards and close the door.
At the rear we see the SATA data and power connectors, activity LED and the mode switch.
Most of the bottom surface is perforated so that hot air can escape the enclosure with ease.
JMICRON HW RAID MANAGER SOFTWARE
Although you have the option to configure the device via the rear mode switch RaidSonic offers the JMicron HW RAID Manager on their support page (the IB-RD2121StS is based on a JMicron HW RAID Controller).
Through the JMicron HW RAID Manager you can see the type and capacity of the mounted drives (you need to have the rear switch at one of the 2 RAID modes to do so), check SMART Information for either drive, check logs, create/delete RAID/LARGE configurations, set event notifications, update firmware and set the stand-by timer setting (this feature basically turns all drives to energy-saving mode).
Now for all of you who are into RAID i thought i should point out that although we used two drives totaling to a total of 260GB (real GB) RAID0/1 take into account the smallest one of the two (thus only making available a total of 223GB in RAID0 and 111GB in RAID1) while when using LARGE mode you get all 260GB.
For this review (and similar ones) we will perform our standard testing procedure used with both 2.5" and 3.5" drives. However since we are talking about an dual bay 2.5" hybrid solution this time over we will be using one Kingston HyperX 120GB SATA III SSD and one Western Digital Scorpio Black 160GB HDD. So once again we will be using our standard selection of benchmark suites such as the famous HD Tach RW (Long Bench 32mb Zones), HD Tune Pro (read/write -when possible- speeds), Sisoftware Sandra Pro (Read/Write -also when possible- speeds), AIDA64 (Linear Read/Random Read), Crystal Disk Mark x64 (100MB/1000MB read/write speeds) and finally the quite outdated yet highly reliable ATTO 2.46 (Max Read/Max Write speeds). Every test was repeated for a total of 6 times and after that the average (not peak) performance numbers were recorded into our charts. As always every test was performed in a fresh installation of Microsoft Windows 7 Service Pack 1 with every update installed up to January 28th 2013.
TEST RESULTS - AIDA64 / ATTO
TEST RESULTS - HD TACH RW / HD TUNE PRO
TEST RESULTS - SISOFTWARE SANDRA PRO / CRYSTAL DISK MARK X64
RaidSonic has launched an very innovative product which unfortunately does not really deliver the performance levels we were hoping it would. Sure it improves performance quite a bit (sometimes even 100% over that of the WD Scorpio HDD) and had we mounted two HyperX 120GB SATA III SSDs we'd had probably maxed out the JMicron HW RAID controller but considering that the device is based on SATA II (300MB/s) that wouldn't make any sense at all (since the HyperX drives can surpass 500MB/s). JMicron may release a firmware update to improve the performance of the drive in the near future but as it stands if you plan on mounting a regular HDD and an SSD in the IB-RD2121StS you should also take a look at the Hybrid Runner by RAIDON. However if you want to use two regular 2.5" HDDs then the ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS is a one way due to its RAID0/1 modes, just make sure you have two identical capacity HDDs so you won't lose any space.
Currently the ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS 2x2.5" to 3.5" HDD/SSD RAID Converter is only available inside the EU (just like with most RaidSonic products) and retails for around 60Euros a rather tempting price tag for such a unique product. Certainly however not many people will have use for such a product but like we said earlier if you happen to have two 2.5" HDDs laying around or you wish to use two new ones then using the IB-RD2121StS in RAID0 will indeed increase performance while by using RAID1 you can protect your sensitive data. Overall the entire concept behind the ICY BOX IB-RD2121StS is quite unique and the end result although not as fast as we had hoped it to be is not quite good which is why it comes highly recommended by us and gets our Golden Award.
- Build Quality (Aluminum/Hard Plastic)
- RAID0/RAID1/LARGE/NOR Modes
- Improved Performance
- Easy To Use
- JMicron HW RAID Manager
- Tool-Less Design
- Power Saving Mode
- Price (For Some)
- Performance Levels Could Be Better
- Eject Button Not Very Sturdy