Two Portable 500GB Drives Benchmarked (And Dropped)

A-Data Sport SH93 (500GB)

I believe this is the first time we’ve reviewed a storage product from Taiwanese memory vendor A-Data. Typically, A-Data is popular for mainstream and high-end memory modules, kits, and cards. The firm also offers USB thumb drives and four SSD lines. One of these is based on Intel’s X25-M.

We found three differerent storage product lines on the A-Data Web site. The Classic CH-91 is an entry-level unit. The NH92 is more of the same, but with added bling. The 500GB SH93 we received for review is also available in 320GB or 640GB capacities in either racing car yellow or chili pepper red. A-Data claims that the SH93 is waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes and shock resistant. Unable to resist the challenge, we did dunk the drive in a sink for over half and hour with no ill effects.

On its SH93 product page, A-Data haltingly states:

”This product fully meets U.S. military transit drop test ‘MIL-STD-810F 516.5 procedure IV’ and water resistant standard ‘IEC 529 IPX7’ (Submersible 1 meter at 30 minutes). It is a laboratory certification which we do not guarantee that hard drive device, data, and housing would not be damaged with the usage at any condition or environment. Please do not drop, smash, or splash on this product on purpose.”

This is an odd comment, given than an animation on the page shows the product being dragged across the desert and worn during a scuba dive. Either it works to military spec as advertised or it doesn’t. Make up your mind.

The USB cable is not integrated,  and is stored by wrapping around the drive’s edge. The mini-port near the drive’s bottom corner gets sealed by a rubber cover while not in use. We tested with a different cable, but could use the original cable with no trouble after it had dried out.

A-Data’s performance numbers are within the expected range. A 19.2 ms average read access time is average, as is the 31.6 to 31.9 MB/s read throughput. Hitting 26.4 MB/s for sequential writes is also decent, since there are no USB 2.0 drives that would deliver any faster transfer rates. Users who want more performance need to look around for eSATA drives or wait for USB 3.0 to become mainstream.

The only downside with the SH93 is its lack of any bundled backup software. Although the backup app built into Windows 7 is solid and even supports disaster recovery, recent products such as Seagate’s Replica with Rebit backup software show that backup can be really easy if done right.