USB transfer rates to actually write home about.
USB 3.0 is still a relatively new technology, considering that current motherboard manufacturers are still coming out with 4 USB 3.0 ports; 6 if you go for really high-end models. The majority of ports on both laptops and motherboards currently available in the market is still overruled by USB 2.0. Which, when you really think about it, is not so strange as pretty much the entirety of USB devices out there are still running on 2.0 speeds. I don’t think USB 3.0 will become mainstream until Hard Disk and Memory stick manufacturers actually flood the market with USB 3.0 devices.
The early adopters of faster data transfer tech, however, are always HDD manufacturers that cater towards enterprise solutions, ensuing these are consumer grade products for the masses. Keeping that in mind, Buffalo recently launched their USB 3.0 DriveStation storage products. While three products were launched in this category, DriveStation Duo and Quad are both RAID storage solutions that are aimed at businesses. DriveStation Axis, on the other hand, is squarely made for general consumers, and that’s what I’ll be looking at today.
The Buffalo DriveStation Axis is a very elegant looking external 3.5″ HDD that can be laid straight up, or on its side. The USB 3.0 cable and power plug are the only things attached to the rear end. While there is a fan opening on the rear panel, it appears to be hollow inside. I guess USB 3.0 3.5″ don’t need too much heat dissipation despite the high speeds. Of course, the Buffalo “eco Manager” utility shouldn’t go without mention here since essentially cuts down the power of the HDD during long periods of inactivity.
Speaking of utilities, the supplied software (on the HDD itself) includes the standard backup and encryption software to keep all your data secured. The Buffalo DriveStation Axis is obviously compatible with both Windows 7 and Mac OSX as it comes pre-formatted in a FAT32.
Now let’s check out the USB 3.0 performance on the DriveStation Axis. True to its name, the USB 3.0 speeds were astounding to say the least. For comparisons I have added an Intel 80GB 2nd Generation X25-M SSD, a Western Digital Velociraptor 600GB (10k rpm) along with a standard SATA 500GB (7.2k rpm) HDD. And finally, just to get an idea, I’ve also added an external 500GB HDD in 2.5″ enclosure.
As you can see, the Read & Write speeds are smack in the middle of the Velociraptor and the internal 500GB SATA drive. Keep in mind that these are speeds coming from an external HDD, so while read/write speeds are amazing, the random access speed is still somewhat limited, but not by a huge margin.
For its price, the Buffalo DriveStation Axis is a brilliantly fast and quiet external HDD, its trump card being the USB 3.0 speeds that are unmatched by any external USB 2.0 HDD in the market right now. The additional software is very helpful and extremely simple to use, while the entire package is in a very sleek form factor.