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Performance in FC-Test

For this test two 32GB partitions are created on the tested drive and formatted in NTFS and then in FAT32. A file-set is then created, read from the drive, copied within the same partition and copied into another partition. The time taken to perform these operations is measured and the speed of the drive is calculated. The Windows and Programs file-sets consist of a large number of small files whereas the other three patterns (ISO, MP3, and Install) include a few large files each. The ISO pattern has the largest files.

We’d like to note that the copying test is indicative of the drive’s behavior under complex load. In fact, the disk drive is working with two threads (one for reading and one for writing) when copying files.

This test produces too much data, so we will only discuss the results achieved in NTFS. You can use the following link to view the FAT32 results.

There is no point in commenting upon each diagram as they all show similar and predictable results. Overall, USB 3.0 indeed proves its ability to reveal the full speed potential of modern HDDs under any loads, unlike its predecessor USB 2.0. The overhead for the external design is rather low in these file-processing tasks: the HDDs in the USB 3.0 enclosures are but slightly slower than the same HDD connected via SATA. The gap is less than 10% at reading and about 15% at writing. It is the biggest when copying files, but you don’t often do this with an external storage device which is mostly used for either reading or writing. USB 2.0 looks downright poor and outdated in comparison with the newer version.

Conclusion

Our tests have shown that USB 3.0 offers enough bandwidth to reveal the full speed potential of a modern HDD. The dramatic innovations in the USB interface imply bright perspectives as well. On the other hand, we have not seen the promised tenfold performance boost. The devices we have tested cannot yield more than 160 MBps where SATA 300 easily delivers 250 MBps.

Early USB 2.0 implementations were not optimal in terms of data-transfer rate, either, so we do hope that we will see faster USB 3.0 controllers. We are also looking forward to mainboard chipsets with native USB 3.0 support. Until then, the new standard can hardly take off for real because it has a serious opponent, eSATA, when it comes to external HDDs. Although eSATA cannot power up the connected device, it is more widespread as yet than USB 3.0 and delivers higher speed. USB 3.0 will prevail eventually, but the question is how much time it will take.

 
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