A lot is going on in the USB 3.0 storage market, and new products are hitting the market every week. While it didn’t really matter which USB 2.0 product or drive you purchased, since the interface was a brick-wall bottleneck, storage performance varies a lot with USB 3.0.
All USB 3.0-equipped products we’ve tested so far are capable of stomping USB 2.0 products on performance, but not all products take maximum advantage of the available bandwidth. In other words, some USB 3.0 products underperform. Storage vendors need to focus on utilizing the fastest hard drives available now that they're riding an interface with plenty of headroom.
The 2.5” portable drives by A-Data and Buffalo we recently reviewed perform at roughly 35 to 75 MB/s, but PQI and Transcend manage to leap ahead by reaching 45 to 90 MB/s. If you copy gigabytes of data, the difference is noticeable.
Performance users should definitely go for a USB 3.0 product based on a fast 7200 RPM drive like Western Digital’s MyBook 3.0. This unit runs at the performance level of the installed hard drive, and it clearly outperforms competing 5400 RPM USB 3.0 solutions. Vendors using these slower drives are clearly working to trim costs. There certainly isn’t a massive power savings advantage, yet performace takes a significant hit.
In the 2.5” space, we have two favorites: the PQI H566 and Transcend’s StorJet 25M3. Both are fast. PQI looks stylish, while the Transcend is sporty and ruggedized.
The bundled software discussed can be useful, but none of these packages are really intuitive, smooth, or powerful enough to merit influencing the purchasing decision. There are many open source solutions that take care of backup or encryption in better ways than these software bundles. We recommend going for the fastest drive and looking for suitable software solutions separately.