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Hot-Swap M.2 NVMe SSDs With Icy Dock's Latest Gadget

(Image credit: Icy Dock)

Icy Dock's latest gadget, the ToughArmor MB840M2P-B, is a great way to add an M.2 slot to an older system. But this model also adds another important feature that your motherboard probably doesn't support: Hot-swapability. Provided your SSD and motherboard support it, this feature allows you to pop the M.2 SSD out while your system is still running, enabling true M.2-on-the-go capabilities.

Icy Dock's expansion card converts four PCIe 3.0 lanes into an NVMe M.2 SSD bay and appears quite simple, but it has more features lurking underneath the surface than one would suspect. Icy Dock equipped it with a hot-swap design that allows you to pull out the M.2 drive in a jiffy and built the cage with a tool-less installation mechanism. The chassis is made of aluminum and comes with a thermal pad for cooling your M.2 drive. It even has a header to connect to the HDD activity LED in your PC case.

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(Image credit: Icy Dock)
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(Image credit: Icy Dock)
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(Image credit: Icy Dock)

We're not all lucky enough to afford the latest motherboards that come with their plethora of M.2 slots, but that doesn't mean you can't have any of the multiple gigabytes-per-second fun that modern NVMe SSDs have to offer. 

PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSDs can easily push up to 3.5 GBps in read and write speeds nowadays, with entry-level M.2 drives pushing around 2 GBps at friendlier price points. Meanwhile, their SATA counterparts typically cap out at around 500 MBps throughput. This makes an upgrade to M.2 very interesting, especially if you're into video editing or even if you just want your games to load faster.

To ensure compatibility with as many systems as possible, the ToughArmor MB840M2P-B comes with full-height and low-profile PCIe expansion slot covers, and the card slots into PCIe x4, x8 and x16 slots as needed. 

Just take note of your motherboard's PCIe lane specifications. Some platforms don't have enough lanes to split across a range of devices, and when you slot this card in, it may limit your graphics card's access to just 8 lanes instead of 16, gimping performance. That's only on a smaller range of systems, but this is worth double-checking nevertheless. 

The ToughArmor MB840M2P-B supports all M.2 SSD lengths between 30mm and 110mm.

Although the 2.5-inch variant of this device is already on the market, we haven't spotted this ToughArmor MB840M2P-B for sale anywhere yet. We reached out to Icy Dock for pricing information and will let you know if we hear back.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.