The Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt HD-PA1.0TU3 has a lot of advantages to offer. It is compact, easy to use (no drivers, no power adapter), and versatile. It can work with Mac OC and Microsoft Windows computers equipped not only with the newest Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces but also with the slower, yet far more widespread USB 2.0. It comes with all the necessary cables for that. We are not sure whether Thunderbolt is well-supported in Linux, yet you can anyway connect this disk to a Linux machine via USB 3.0 or 2.0. It is also important that this device looks good, just as you can expect from a modern hi-tech accessory. The only downside we can find about it is the relatively low data-transfer speed, but the use of a conventional hard disk instead of a fast SSD helps keep the price low.
So, who might be interested in this external disk? Since there’s no difference in its performance whatever interface you use (Thunderbolt or USB 3.0), it can hardly be interesting for owners of newest computers and notebooks which feature both interfaces. It would be more rational to buy a USB 3.0-only disk as it can deliver the same speed at a lower price. Buffalo itself offers a lot of such products in its MiniStation Plus and MiniStation Extreme series. However, it doesn’t mean the MiniStation Thunderbolt series is just a waste of money. Recalling that Thunderbolt debuted in Apple computers, there are a lot of such systems that have USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt but have no USB 3.0. USB 2.0 being too slow for transferring large amounts of data, the Thunderbolt-enabled disk from Buffalo is going to come in handy in that case.
According to our tests, replacing the default HDD with a faster SSD helps reveal the potential of the Thunderbolt technology. The faster the SSD, the more performance you enjoy. So, theoretically this device can be used with newest Thunderbolt-enabled computers after you replace the default HDD, although this is hardly an optimal solution. The MiniStation Thunderbolt HD-PATU3 series is not really meant for dismantling, especially as such devices come with a preinstalled HDD which you won’t need. It would be better to have an empty external disk enclosure equipped with both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 so that the user could decide which disk to install. If he needs to move about large amounts of data, a conventional hard disk would be the best choice. If speed is the top priority, an SSD would be better. Hopefully, such versatile enclosures will appear on the market soon.