Back in November of 2021 IcyDock was kind enough to send me a ToughArmor MB839SP-B for review. At the time I was “upgrading” my server. I put “upgrading” in quotes because I went from a Mini ITX board with a 3rd gen Core i7 to a workstation ATX system in a SilverStone CS380 case running a 4th gen Core i7. Being the author of mergerfs I’ve experimented with a few setups and the CS380 just seemed better than my previous one. When I received the MB839SP-B I wasn’t able to immediately use it because of a number of unplanned for factors when building out the system (like needing power cable extensions.) After a couple weeks I got everything together and the MB839SP-B became a major component of this “new” build.

In a setup as complex as mine I find it useful to have a recovery install on a separate drive for when things go bad. My new board came with a MSATA slot and 128GB card which I installed Linux Mint for GUI based recovery situations but I still needed a primary OS drive. For that I used a 500GB WD SSD in the MB839SP-B. There are a few advantages to using the MB839SP-B for the main boot drive.

  1. By having a dedicated controller for my boot drive I have minimal risk of contention with other devices that could happen when connected to the host SATA controller. This isn’t a huge issue but when my system is seriously under load it is good to minimize latency to the OS drive.
  2. Since the drive is in a carrier it was very convenient when needing to test the recovery drive without going into the BIOS and for situations where the system might need to be manipulated off host. In this particular case I had to move from MBR to GPT and that required moving the drive back and forth to the original setup in order to rework partitions. That would have been a bigger pain without the carrier.
  3. Helps free up a SATA port on the onboard controller allowing me to increase the storage density of my server.

When you get down to it there really isn’t much to the MB839SP-B but it works well and really comes in handy if your storage ever needs quick removal. I’ve not run into any issues. Performance is good. No complaints. The bare circuitry on the back of the device is not ideal if you have thicker cards near it but worse case some kapton tape would help keep from any shorting.

I want to thank Vincent from IcyDock for his support and help and IcyDock in general for their quality products. I look forward to seeing what IcyDock does next. I’d really love to see some inexpensive, basic electrical passthrough removable cages with carriers. No activity LEDs, no power regulation, nothing active. Something that helps increase the density of storage for us data hoarders on the cheap. Metal is nice but… decent plastic is fine :)