Product Listing

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

By Wong Chung Wee - 6 Aug 2012
Launch SRP: S$279

Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt - Bringing Coolness Back to Portable HDDs

Dual Interfaces on a 2.5-inch Portable HDD

Since the introduction of USB 3.0 in 2008, there have been a slew of portable 2.5-inch, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 based storage drives that offer a variety capacity points while offering transmission speeds up to a maximum of 5Gbps, which can give you up to 400MB/s in actual usage. The capability to reach this super fast speed greatly depends on the actual storage medium. As such, solid state drive (SSD) based solutions rather than those using standard hard disk drives stand to benefit from the interface's full potential.

Buffalo has up the ante with the introduction of Thunderbolt technology with its Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt. This drive features both Thunderbolt technology and USB 3.0 interface. Its Thunderbolt feature has broken the monotony of what is currently available and underscores the pioneering spirit of Buffalo to bring the latest technology to its portable storage solution. There is one catch that could be holding it back and that's the drive used within its enclosure which is not an SSD, but rather it's rather standard 5400RM based hard disk drive. Such drives are far from even breaching USB 3.0's capability, let alone Thunderbolt.

The Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt drive attempts to cater to the cutting-edge mainstream crowd with its dual-interface offerings coupled with a standard internal notebook hard drive. The Thunderbolt interface is for consumers who wants to future-proof their portable HDD investment while its USB 3.0 interface makes it possible for the drive to be used with any existing systems with USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports.

The USB 3.0 interface is on the left while the Thunderbolt interface is on the right.

The LED glows unobtrusively from its underbelly, indicating the drive is in operation.

According to most marketing literature we have read, this new interconnect technology is twice as fast as USB 3.0. With this figure in mind, we have put this drive through our suite of benchmarking software to ascertain if the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt is capable of achieving such performance levels and if it's worth the extra cost. The drive is available in two capacity points - 500GB and 1TB. We're reviewing the 500GB edition in this article along with a couple of comparison products.

Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt and Comparison Products
Model Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo
Interface Type Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt
Capacity 500GB / 1TB 500GB / 1TB
  •  6TB (in RAID 0 configuration)
  • 2 x 3TB
 Supplied Cable Length(s)

 USB 3.0 Cable (50.8cm)

Thunderbolt Cable (52.2cm)

Built-in (15cm) and extension (50cm) Not Supplied
 LED Activity Indicator Yes  Yes (Orange for USB 2.0, blue for USB 3.0) Yes
 HDD Specs - Rotational Speed 5400RPM 5400RPM

5400 - 7200 RPM

HDD Specs -  SATA Support  SATA 3Gbps  SATA 3Gbps SATA 6Gbps
HDD Specs - Buffer Size  8MB 8MB 64MB per HDD
Shock Protection  - US Military Grade Shock Protection -
 Carry Case -  -
Security  -
  • Secure Lock Manager
  • Password protection with encryption
  • N.A.
Software  -
  • Buffalo Turbo PC EX
  • Backup Utility
  • RAMDISK Utility
  • Eco Manager
  • Secure Lock Manager
  • WD Security for Mac
 Dimensions 80.5 x 130 x 23mm (W x H x D) 89 x 128 x 18mm (W x H x D) 99 x 165 x 157mm (W x H x D)
Weight 265g 230g 2150g
(2.15kg because it's a desktop product)
Warranty  3 years 3 years 3 years 
 Price S$279 / S$349 S$119 / S$165 S$899


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  • Design 7.5
  • Performance 7
  • Features 8
  • Value 4
The Good
Dual interface offerings makes it versatile
Decent USB 3.0 performance
The Bad
Bulky for a portable drive
No Thunderbolt daisy-chain capability
Thunderbolt has no advantage on basic HDDs
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