Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt 500GB Review

Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt 500GB Review
PC users are in an exceedingly little bit of a quandary concerning the new Thunderbolt interface from Intel. On the one hand, we’re all concerning most performance, therefore given its sizable speed advantage over USB 3.0, a minimum of on paper, we’re needing to adopt it. On the opposite hand, there are 3 problems that have prevented us from jumping on the Thunderbolt bandwagon with each feet.

The first is that the indisputable fact that it debuted on the Apple platform. Granted, we’re a little sensitive, however this simply rubbed us the incorrect manner.

Second, Thunderbolt doesn’t exist on LGA2011 thanks to a demand for integrated graphics.

And finally, we tend to already have USB 3.0, therefore will we really want Thunderbolt? Certain, it’s double as quick on paper (10Gb/s versus 5Gb/s), however can we tend to see that profit within the real world, and is it definitely worth the cost?

To help us answer all these nagging questions we snagged a very special hard drive, the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, which has both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports, allowing us to test both interfaces back-to-back and make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Upon initial look, it’s apparent this can be a Mac-oriented drive, each in its Thunderbolt support also as its aluminum exterior and rounded edges. It doesn’t facilitate that the documentation for the drive states that it comes preformatted for Macs, however don’t judge the drive simply yet - that’s our job. In addition to shipping with each T-bolt and USB3.0 interfaces, the drive additionally includes each cables, that is wonderful since a Thunderbolt cable prices $50 alone. Inside the enclosure lies a 5,400rpm Samsung disk drive with 8MB of cache. The drive includes a 3-year guarantee, is additionally offered in 1TB capability, and includes no software package whatever.

To test the drive, we performed real-world and synthetic tests, and came to a somewhat unsurprising conclusion—in this iteration, with a 5,400rpm hard drive inside of it, this device is hamstrung by the drive itself, not the interface. In every test we ran, the drive performed exactly the same regardless of the interface we used, making the benefit of Thunderbolt in this instance primarily one of convenience rather than performance. For example, it would be useful if you are a person who owns both a Mac with Thunderbolt and a PC with USB 3.0, or an older MacBook with just USB 2.0 ports. Or you could be a PC user who wants the flexibility of using Thunderbolt and USB for file-sharing with buddies. Either way, the drive isn’t any faster on either interface in its current form. Not only did it score the exact same write times down to the second when we copied 30GB of data, but it scored the same read and write speeds in HD Tune and ATTO, as well. For example, HD Tune clocked the drive at 80.7MB/s read speeds via Thunderbolt, and when using USB 3.0 it ran at 80.8MB/s.

Now for the bad news: This drive costs $200 for 500GB, which is wildly expensive since you can get a Toshiba Canvio 1.5TB drive that is just as fast as the MiniStation for just $110. Thunderbolt could one day be the bitchin’ interface we’re all using, but for now it’s too exotic and overpriced compared to USB 3.0.

Hard diskSeagate Momentus ST500LM012 HN-M500MBB
Formatted capacity465GB
Disk size2.5in
InterfaceUSB3, Thunderbolt
Power connectorUSB3 from host, Thunderbolt from host
Spindle speed5400rpm
Seek time14.0ms
Power consumption idleN/A
Power consumption activeN/A