August 21, 2013, 3:22 PM — The scoop: DriveStation DDR (HD-GDU3), by Buffalo Americas, about $160 (2TB version) or $200 (3TB version).
What is it? One of the latest external hard drives from Buffalo Americas (the company formerly known as Buffalo Technology), the DriveStation DDR provides 2TB of storage capacity (they also make a 3TB version) via a USB 3.0 connection, and can work as a backup storage option for Windows or Macintosh computers. For Windows machines, Buffalo provides some additional utility apps (energy usage, backup and RAMDISK utility).
Why it's cool: The system includes Buffalo's "MegaCache Accelerator," which provides 1GB of DDR3 RAM cache to provide faster transfer speeds for systems via the USB 3.0 connection. In my tests, I was able to achieve write speeds of about 28MBps, and 34.8MBps via USB 2.0 (on an older iMac system), but when I tested via a newer MacBook Pro with a USB 3.0 port, my speeds rocketed to about 185.8MBps on the write speeds, and about 226.5MBps of read speeds.
This speed difference would be noticeable for very-high-file-size transfers, including video, and you could use this external storage drive with your video editing software instead of using the internal hard drive. On my older iMac system, I got about 118MBps of write speeds and 112MBps on the read side using the system's internal hard drive. The design of the unit is very sleek - it's still basically a black box, but you can position it vertically or horizontally depending on your needs or style.
If you get frustrated by slow transfer speeds of files between your computer and external storage drive (whether you're using it as backup or with video editing software), the extra speed boost here will blow you away. As long as you have a system with a USB 3.0 port, of course.
Some caveats: The utilities are only available for Windows users; Mac users need to just use the drive as a backup or make it available for Time Machine usage. Also, we needed to reformat the drive initially to use with our Mac system. In addition, the extra speed bump makes it costlier if you're looking for storage capacity as your main driver, you can find less expensive units with the same amount of storage space.
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five)
Testing note: For the USB 3.0 benchmark tests, we used an Apple MacBook Pro running OS X Mountain Lion (v10.8.4) with 8GB of RAM and a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor. The computer has a SATA 3.0, 6Gbps internal drive interface. For the USB 2.0 benchmark tests, I used an Apple iMac running OS X Mountain Lion (v10.8.4) with 16GB of RAM (1333 MHz DDR3), 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 2TB SATA 7200 RPM internal hard drive. For speed tests, we used Blackmagicdesign's Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (version 2.2), the 5GB test option.
Shaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith.
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