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Three More External USB 3.0 Drives Benchmarked

Three More External USB 3.0 Drives Benchmarked

Another trio of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 drives landed in our German lab recently. As some of the contenders we've benchmarked underperform compared to our expectations, it’s quite clear that hard drive speed matters again, now that we've moved beyond USB 2.0.

An increasing number of USB 3.0 storage products are hitting the market, and competition is driving prices in a favorable direction. Is this the time to upgrade to external SuperSpeed storage?

There’s one big reason why USB 3.0 is important: it removes the predominant storage bottleneck for external and portable devices by providing roughly ten times more throughput than USB 2.0. This comes with new controllers and cables at (theoretically) very little extra cost. We recently covered three USB 3.0 drives from A-Data, Buffalo, and Western Digital. Now we add products from PQI, Samsung, and Transcend to find the fastest and the most feature-rich USB 3.0 storage solution.

USB 3.0 Is Not Mainstream…Yet!

Although SuperSpeed USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0, the industry has not yet integrated the faster 5 Gb/s controllers into mainstream chipsets.

However, an increasing number of system builders and motherboard manufacturers continue integrating third-party controller chips onto their upper-class offerings, making USB 3.0 support fairly common in high-end platforms, even down to the mainstream. More than likely, a majority of new mid-range PCs will integrate USB 3.0 ports by 2011.

USB 3.0 Controllers to the Rescue

Even if your system doesn't include USB 3.0 support, PC and laptop users can still decide to add a discrete USB 3.0 controller card via PCI Express-based expansion, or by plugging in a USB 3.0 ExpressCard into their laptops. We compared a few USB 3.0 controller solutions a few weeks ago and found that there are performance differences depending on the PCIe bandwidth and controller implementation. However, all USB 3.0 controllers available today are based on the NEC PC720200, so you can be sure that none of the currently-shipping solutions will bottleneck conventional hard drives for the time being.

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  • 0 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , September 15, 2010 6:53 AM
    That Samsung performs nicely, I think I may just have to get that.
  • 0 Hide
    dww , September 15, 2010 10:02 AM
    I agree. I really like my existing Samsung Story Station, but when I upgraded my PC I made sure the new MB had USB 3.0 ports so my next ext drive can be 3.0. Good to know I can now get a SSS 3.0. But I'll wait for prices to settle a bit first.
  • 0 Hide
    jamesb-mr , September 15, 2010 7:51 PM
    Noting the 'speed' of the drives - write and read over a 300GB partition at the start of the drives I get approximate figures of:
    Transend 89 down to 65
    Samsung - best 110 down to 100, worst 93 down to 80
    PQI 93 down to 50

    Now - to me, that indicates that the Samsung's worst is only just under the best of the other drives.
    I haven't included the WD drive in that comparism, but I suspect that the throughput from that drive is, as the review states, the best, even when comparing usage of just the first 300GB, or even a full 1TB usage against the Samsung

    HOWEVER - there is the consideration that the Samsung (and WD) will need a mains power supply while the PC is running, but the other drives will (probably) only use power while being actually used, and that will be from the system USB connection.
    Add other considerations - the portability, - keep hold of it factor (weight and pocketing size) - liability of dropping it, or having it stolen when put down on a desk
  • 0 Hide
    ubronan , September 15, 2010 8:58 PM
    we will see what price this drives gonna be.
    On the price i think its samsung which is gonna win this
    For me personally the figures show clearly samsung as the winner those benchmarks are most of the time a joke, real life performance is what counts. Especially since i use it as backup of a system it has to deal with loads of small files which this samsung seem to handle well.
  • 0 Hide
    dww , September 16, 2010 12:33 AM
    Good point about power consumption. My present Samsung does sleep in a low power mode when it's not been accessed for a while, and also has an OFF switch on the front panel - as I think the new one does? Nevertheless it's for use with your desktop PC, not for portable use with a laptop as the smaller drives can be.
  • 0 Hide
    iamezza , September 16, 2010 11:00 AM
    You unfairly bash the Samsung's performance in the article, when your own REAL WORLD performance graphs show the Samsung beating the Western Digital in 4 of the 7 tests. In small file writes (alot of people backup jpeg photos) the Samsung totally smashes the WD.
    Also the biggest benefit of the 5400rpm drive isn't the reduced power consumption itself but the side benefits that entails. Reduced RPM means the drive will run a lot cooler, which can become an issue in warmer climates. Also the 5400rpm will make less noise - it should be effectively silent unless actively reading/writing.
  • 0 Hide
    gdathome , September 16, 2010 12:42 PM
    How do these enclosures compare with eSATA enclosures. This would be a real comparison since up to now eSATA has always beat USB in speed. Most modern machines have SATA and eSATA connections either internal or external so in many cases there is no extra cost. The only real difficulty is if there is no eSATA external connector.
  • 1 Hide
    ZakTheEvil , September 17, 2010 8:50 PM
    They're just as fast as eSATA, I have to Silverstone enclosures with Seagate 7200.11s in them. I get the same read/write when the drives are mounted internally on the SATA bus or in the USB3 enclosures.
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , October 4, 2010 3:35 AM
    It's still makes sense to have a USB 2.0 products.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 25, 2011 1:03 PM
    I have one of this hard and it almost 300GB stuffs on it, now i can't open the hard :(  when i try to open it computer give a message under the heading of Disk is not formatted and it says "The disk in drive A is not formatted. do you want to format it now" please any one who can give me the answer why it's act like that and what i'm gonna do now??
  • 0 Hide
    olaleye , February 8, 2012 10:23 AM
    I need help on how to access my backed up documents on my hard disc