Finally we performed a file transfer test from our test-bed’s hard drive to the Buffalo using both USB 2.0 and 3.0. We used a test folder with a random collection of files inside to represent what the average user might copy across to an external disk. Over USB 2.0 this took just 10 seconds short of a minute, while USB 3.0 manages it in a mere 18 seconds! For a single large 3.5GB file we again saw a three-times performance increase, where USB 2.0 took 135 seconds compared to 46 seconds for USB 3.0. Depending on file type and structure you might get somewhat different results, but the performance ratio should remain similar and it’s clear that the new USB standard makes a substantial difference.
So, with the 1TB models of the DriveStation costing £92 and £82 respectively for the new and old USB versions, you would quite simply have to be mad not to buy into the new technology. After all, even if your PC or laptop is not compatible with USB 3.0 it’s an easy fix to add-in a PCIe or ExpressCard adapter (as long as your system offers those, of course).
However, before you splash the cash, we would probably recommend waiting just a little longer for the deluge of USB 3.0 products we’ll doubtlessly see in the very near future. For example, the two-port controller from NEC that’s currently the only USB 3.0 controller available is soon to be joined by a lower-energy four-port VIA alternative, and USB 3.0 hard drives and caddies from the other main drive manufacturers will be flooding the market soon.
As an external 3.5in hard drive the Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3 is solid if unremarkable, but its use of the new USB 3.0 standard elevates it to a whole new level above previous external desktop drives we have seen. Of course there will soon be no shortage of competition with this Buffalo, but either way it’s clear USB 3.0 is one of the biggest evolutions to happen in computer connectivity in quite a while.