Three External (And Fast) USB 3.0 Drives Compared

A-Data Nobility NH01 (500 GB)

A-Data specializes in memory products, but the company also focuses on storage devices, including SSDs, and both external and portable drives. The Nobility NH01 is the company’s first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 drive. It can be located on the A-Data Web site under the portable storage section. The firm promises throughput of up to 95 MB/s on the 2.5” form factor.

The Nobility NH01 is available at 320 GB, 500 GB, and 640 GB capacities. The 6.7-ounce weight is only a bit heavier than an iPhone, so the drive is clearly portable. The black plastic case sports a glossy frame, and there are no buttons or other controls. Just plug in the USB 3.0 cable to switch the drive on and unplug it to power down. A-Data bundles a USB 3.0 cable, but nothing else.

We measured a maximum interface bandwidth of almost 182 MB/s, but the actual throughput is much lower. Peak performance reaches almost 77 MB/s with minimum transfer rates of 38.6 MB/s, making it faster than Buffalo’s offering, yet clearly slower than the 3.5” drive from Western Digital, which isn’t really a portable option. Our real-world copy testing shows that the drive is also faster than Buffalo's when reading or writing different file types and sizes, plus it actually also outperforms WD’s product in this test. I/O performance isn’t spectacular, but you wouldn’t expect much from an external storage product anyway.

We couldn't find the drive on various price comparison sites in the U.S., but the roughly 100 Euro price suggests a retail tag of approximately $130. Compared to the more than $100 price points for 500 GB portable drives, this seems reasonable. A-Data provides a three-year factory warranty on all portable storage products.