Three External (And Fast) USB 3.0 Drives Compared

Test Details, Test Setup and Comparison Table

Test Details

We ran several benchmarks for storage testing, including c’t Magazine’s h2benchw benchmark for throughput testing and Iometer for I/O performance. However, we decided to add a few more tests that reflect everyday usage, so we created batch scripts that copy a certain number of JPEGs, MP3s, and small text files. We tested read and write speeds and used Microsoft’s Robocopy utility, which comes with Windows Vista and 7. Last but not least, we used IOMeter to test average combined throughput if the drives have to read and write concurrently.

Copy Workloads:

Images (JPEG and RAW files), 2.01 GB (2,167,562,240 bytes), 790 files, 1 folder
Music (MP3 and WAV files), 2.00 GB (2,149,851,136 bytes), 356 files, 33 folders
Small files (TXT, XLS, DOC files), 395 MB (414,482,432 bytes), 22,704 files, 2,167 folders

We used an IODrive from FusionIO to avoid any bottlenecks in the copy testing.

Test Setup

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System Hardware
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (45 nm, 2.66 GHz, 8MB Shared L3 Cache)
Motherboard (Socket 1366)Supermicro X8SAX, Revision: 1.0, Chipset Intel X58 + ICH10R, BIOS: 1.0B
RAM3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 Corsair CM3X1024-1333C9DHX
HDDSeagate NL35 400 GB, ST3400832NS, 7200 RPM, SATA 1.5Gb/s, 8 MB Cache
Storage ControllerseSATA: on-board eSATA (ICH10R) USB 2.0: on-board USB 2.0 (ICH10R) USB 3.0: NEC D720200F1 (Gigabyte GA-USB3.0)
Power SupplyOCZ EliteXstream 800 W, OCZ800EXS-EU
Performance Measurementsh2benchw 3.13
I/O PerformanceIometer 2008.08.18Fileserver-BenchmarkWebserver-BenchmarkDatabase-BenchmarkWorkstation-BenchmarkStreaming Reads and Writes
System software & Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate
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ManufacturerA-DataBuffaloWestern Digital
FamilyNobility SeriesHD-PEU3My Book 3.0
Model NumberNH01HD-PE500U3WDBABP0010HCH
Capacity500 GB500 GB1000 GB
Other Capacities320 GB, 640 GB640 GB2000 GB
Form Factor2.5"2.5"3.5"
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Weight194 g182 g900 g