Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt (500GB) - Dual-Interface Portable HDD

Launch SRP: S$279

Test Setup

Test Setup

Since the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt has both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, we naturally tested both options to see how USB coped up against the newer interface on the same drive.

Given a lack of Thunderbolt-enabled devices to test, we had to include the Western Digital My Book Duo as a comparative note. It is essentially a Thunderbolt-enabled enclosure with a pair of WD Caviar Green (model WD30EZRX) 3TB SATA 6Gbps desktop HDDs. We understood that this particular HDD already outclassed the one found in Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt; hence, we already had expectations that the desktop storage drive will outperform the portable drive though they both feature the same new speedy interconnect technology. Our new system that has onboard support for Thunderbolt technology has the following system specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-3770K @3.5GHz
  • ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt (BIOS Version: 1406)
  • 2 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 (CAS 9-9-9-27)
  • MSI N460GTX Hawk (ForceWare 285.62)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Intel INF 9.3.0.1020

Take note that the WD My Book Duo device can be configured for RAID 0 or RAID 1; however, the software utilities for doing so, is only supported on Mac OS X. Hence, on our Windows 7-based testbed, we were only able to test one of the WD Caviar Green HDDs in a non-RAID environment. On our test system, we were able to see the two physical HDDs as a pair of logical drives in our Windows environment. As such, the comparisons we've made in the test results sections are well aligned (apart from the fact that we're comparing a notebook-class drive against a desktop-class drive) since we're comparing single disk drive performance. .

We also picked the best drive from our 2.5-inch 1TB portable hard disk drive shootout for comparison with the drives from the Thunderbolt camp. That drive is the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme. The shootout was conducted on our usual storage testbed that has the following system specifications:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (3.1GHz)
  • MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68 chipset)
  • 2 x 4GB DDR3-1600 memory
  • MSI GeForce 8600 GTS
  • Windows 7

The list of drives tested are as follows:

  • Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt (500GB)
  • Western Digital My Book Duo (2 x WD Caviar Green 3TB SATA 6Gbps HDD, but benchmarking conducted on a single drive)
  • Buffalo MiniStation Extreme (1TB)

The list of benchmarks used are as follows:

  • AS-SSD benchmark 1.6.4
  • HD Tune Pro 4.6
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1
  • PCMark 7
  • PCMark Vantage
  • Iometer (version 2006.07.27)
6.5
Design
7.5
Performance
7
Features
8
Value
4
The Good
Dual interface offerings makes it versatile
Decent USB 3.0 performance
The Bad
Expensive
Bulky for a portable drive
No Thunderbolt daisy-chain capability
Thunderbolt has no advantage on basic HDDs