Buffalo DriveStation USB 3.0 HD-HXU3 review
A fairly sparse drive, but it's very quick if you have the USB 3 devices to pair it with
Buffalo’s latest DriveStation is the first external hard disk we’ve seen to boast USB3 and, as such, carries a hefty weight of expectation. With speeds up to ten times faster than USB2 theoretically possible we’ve been expecting great things, and it's not only USB2 that's under threat – eSATA's slow and steady growth could be halted in its tracks too.
Our A-Listed Iomega Professional drive is no slouch, making good use of its eSATA connection to write a 3GB test file to our PC in 51 seconds. By contrast, the Buffalo completed the same operation over USB3 in just 24 seconds. With smaller files it performed just as well, writing our 50MB and 650MB test files at speeds of 125MB/sec and 112MB/sec respectively. It's an impressive start.
Obviously you'll be buying a drive like this for its USB3 connection, but not all your PCs and laptops will be compatible yet. The good news is that USB2 performance is also strong. It completed our large file writing tests at an average speed of 26MB/sec compared to 24.8MB/sec from the Iomega, although the difference in most tests was minimal.
It’s adept with large amounts of data, then, but the Buffalo’s small file performance was mixed. It completed our 3,000-file read test quicker than the Iomega’s eSATA connection over both USB protocols, but faltered when writing files. It took almost two minutes over USB2 and over 90 seconds over USB3; the Iomega's eSATA connection took a mere 16 seconds.
It’s also a relatively basic drive, with no such luxuries as a stand or a physical power switch. Instead, the glossy black chassis comes with a green activity light and little else. The included software is decent but, again, hardly generous; you get AutoBackup software, but it’s not a particularly versatile application.
Buffalo makes up for this, though, with the price. We expected the USB3 connection to come at a premium, but at £78 it’s only £7 more expensive than the Iomega. Both drives offer 1TB of storage, which leaves the Buffalo costing 8.3p/GB of formatted capacity and the Iomega at 7.6p/GB.
The Buffalo's usefulness depends on you updating your PCs and laptops to USB3, so it's not the only expense to consider. But if you're an early-adopter keen to experience the best transfer speeds a hard disk can offer, the Buffalo DriveStation USB 3.0 HD-HXU3 is a quick and cheap first attempt.
|Cost per gigabyte||8.3p|
|Hard disk usable capacity||931GB|
|Hard disk type||Mechanical|
|Write speed small files||96.8MB/sec|
|Write speed large files||125.0MB/sec|