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In brief: There will probably come a time when you need to remove, add, or swap an M.2 NVMe drive. The procedure can be a little fiddly on some motherboards, but imagine if you could do it without opening the case. With Icy Dock's new ToughArmor MB842MP-B PCIe card, such a thing is possible.
Icy Dock's new card isn't the first to turn a PCIe 3.0/4.0 8x or 16x expansion slot into extra M.2 NVMe drive bays, but this one does have the unique feature of allowing the SSDs to be swapped without opening the case.
The ToughArmor MB842MP-B uses a tools-free design in which a drive slides into the small enclosures accessed via the rear of the PC. Installation and removal is simply a matter of sliding out the M.2 locker, removing the top cover, inserting the M.2 NVMe SSD, then replacing the lid and sliding it back in – no having to deal with tiny screws.
Users can fit M.2 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280, and 22110 SSDs inside the lockers, though Icy Dock states that the maximum allowed width is 3.8mm. The tray is made of thick aluminum to act as a heatsink, and it includes a thermal pad to improve heat transfer. It's also noted that the adjustable M.2 locker will clip into the SSD screw hole and ground the drive throughout the tray and the enclosure.
The card only works on motherboards that support PCIe bifurcation, though most modern mobos have this.
The ToughArmor MB842MP-B includes activity LEDs on each drive tray to show power and activity, which will automatically turn off when no drive is inserted. For those who would prefer these indicators elsewhere, Icy Dock sells an optional 2-pin HDD activity signal output cable that connects to the motherboard or front panel.
It's noted that M.2 SSDs are not designed for hot-swapping on most mainstream motherboards, so unless yours supports the feature, Icy Dock recommends turning off a PC before installing or removing an SSD.
There are two versions of the drive: The MB842MP-B can hold two SSDs and goes for $249.99, while the MB840M2P-B can hold a single M.2 SSD and sells for $105.50
h/t: Tom's Hardware