Build Your Own Small Form Factor Server, Home Theater, and Mobile Computer with Intel NUC and ICY DOCK External HDD/SSD Enclosures
NUC (Next Unit of Computing) computers designed by Intel are very compact and are reflective of the trend of tech to be smaller, uses less power, but remain just as capable in terms of performance to their traditional desktop computer. Their compactness makes them quite useful in changing the look and feel of computing today. From replacing desktop computers in offices and home theaters to changing the look and performance of servers, NUCs are changing the look and feel of computers.
Hmm, ok so what makes NUC special?
A NUC is a computer that is in a small form factor, up to 75% smaller than a regular desktop computer. The processor is generally more power saving than raw computing power, as they are designed for non-intensive applications with large power savings. Processors such as Intel i3 series along with the budget Pentium and Celeron are in the more power saving versions while Intel i5 and i7 are in the performance versions. The GPU is integrated with the board, allowing the NUC to remain small. Other components such as the RAM and hard drive uses laptop sized parts help maintain the small shape. The power supply is outside the unit and does not contribute to computer heating; allowing the NUC to cool without the use of large noisy fans. All of this combines into a capable computer in a compact package.
Is there any drawback?
However, because of its small form factor, data storage on the unit is limited to the one hard drive in the unit. This makes the NUC reliant on external storage if the amount of data it needs to be stored is huge. The USB 2.0 and 3.0 slots allow external storage devices to connect seamlessly, helping the NUC on its external storage. Various ICYDOCK products have USB 3.0 connections, allowing fast transfers of data, even if the amount of data being transferred is huge. In different scenarios where our products can shine in this function, read below and see the advantages ICY DOCK's products have.
What is the recommended application for NUC?
And what do I need to build it?
For the home theater NUC that need storage but the form needs to be small and compact, the IcyBento series can provide this storage without losing the necessary functions of a hard drive enclosure. The ICYBento is a fanless ultra slim USB 3.0/2.0 enclosure that fits well with the home theater. While watching any HD movie or film, your ears are focused on the sound and music of the film. The last thing you want to be focusing on is a loud blowing fan that is cooling off the hard drive you are running the movie from. The IcyBento avoids that completely by being a fanless design. It keeps its cool with its aluminum shell that takes the heat off from the drive, which completely removes the need of a noisy fan for cooling. The removable tray design is also a great fit for the home theater. Want to change the set of movies you have on the disk with different set, not a problem. Just swap out the tray with another drive, put it in and go, just like a DVD, Blu-ray or VHS tape. Hot-swapping is supported in this model, so no need to unplug wires or restarting systems to switch out your movies. All of this is in a small compact package that can be positioned flat or standing with expandable feet, allowing you to have options on how to physically set up the unit. The IcyBento is the perfect blend of size and function for your home theater.
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For the NUC that is going to be part of a server cluster such as SMB SFF servers, mobile DVR systems, or even home servers or home surveillance systems, you need to add multiple drives to have enough storage space to store all the data. At the same time, you want all this data to be accessible by the server along with the users that connect to that server.

The ICYCube and Black Vortex can do both at the same time. They are external storage devices that hold up to 4x 3.5"HDD or 4x 2.5" SSD equipped with USB 3.0 super speed. All of this data can be accessed by a single USB 3.0 connection, reducing the wires needed to access such data along with saving the low number of ports on the NUC. Also, when a drive has failed, users can simply swap out the faulty drive and reinsert with a new one; therefore, it helps to minimize the downtime. The sizes of those models are modest based on the drives they support and they both have active cooling with a fan.

The ICYCube features a solid aluminum shell with an elegant black or silver finish which fits nicely to your home or office and effectively dissipates heat generated from multiple hard drives. It takes both 2.5” and 3.5” SATA drives and fully support SATA III speeds making it a perfect enclosure for a high performance server build.

On the other hand, the Black Vortex packs serious power features such as 120mm cooling fan with fan speed control, ambient LED brightness control for drive activity status LED, drive overheat indicators and removable hard drive trays. It is the ideal storage enclosure for any data server that runs 24/7 and will not tolerate any downtime.
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Black Vortex MB174U3S-4SB: https://www.icydock.com/goods.php?id=191
The ICYRaid has its own hardware to create a RAID array, allowing the hard drives in the unit to backup each other (RAID 1) or perform quicker operations (RAID 0). This also eliminates the need for a software RAID, which can cause unnecessary complexity and reduced performance for the server cluster or using RAID card, taking up precious space.

With RAID 1 protection, you no longer need to worry about drive failures anymore. If one of the drives does fail, simply replace the bad drive with a good drive and let ICYRaid handle the rest on the restore. This can be done without any downtime, so the server can do what it needs to do while the ICYRaid handles the rebuilding task. With the use of RAID 1, you will have an extra layer of protection for your critical data.

On the other hand, if the server needs strong performance throughout the day, the last thing you need is your hard drives holding you back. With the tip of your finger, you can easily set the unit into RAID 0 mode. Under RAID 0, the I/O speed increase helps with day to day operations of the server. Both hard drives will be working together, allowing the server to finish its tasks faster. All of this power is embedded in a slim size, solid aluminum shell with a small, nearly silent fan to help with cooling.
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For the more mobile user that plans to use the NUC as a more mobile computer with a different small form factor from a laptop, the Tougharmor MB991U3-1SB, is the perfect companion for this type of computer. Its rugged full metal design allow it to withstands the hits mobile computing may have while maintaining a small form factor that retains it portability, perfect for the mobile business user dealing with rough travel. If you accidentally knocked over the unit, it is not a problem. The drive inside is safe from the impact, cushioned and latched by the internal tray, preventing the drive from flying out of the unit. Also, the full metal aluminum body allows it to avoid any heating issues and eliminates any need for a fan, allowing it to maintain its slim design. With USB 3.0 support, transfers are quick between the computer and the data stored, keeping up with the quick and light function of the NUC. The removable tray allows the hard drive to be used in other ICYDOCK's Tougharmor products without the need to removing the tray, making swaps between Tougharmor models simple as plug and play with hot swapping. It is a perfect solution integrated into working at home, at office or even on the go!
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So what is the bottom line?
As the shape of computers continues to change more towards smaller and more capable, the need for storage is still needed to support such computers. With ICYDOCK's products, you don’t have to compromise on size and function for your data. We have solid products that are used by major industries and tier one companies and meet or exceed competitors’ build quality with consistency. A 3 year warranty on all products and free, worldwide technical supports mean you don’t have to worry about products that can’t keep up with your computer. With different products that can fit to various computer designs, your data can be with your computer with ICYDOCK, no matter the size or shape of the computer!
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us by email at tech@icydock.com or through our Live Chat (M-F 9-5pm PST)

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