Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt Review - An External with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt
1 August 2012
Conclusion: The first Thunderbolt peripherals were primarily aimed at the very high end, as they were usually either RAID or JBOD solutions, with either a number of HDDs or SSDs and first generation Thunderbolt controllers. For the vast majority of customers, single drive solutions with much more modest price points were what everyone has been waiting for, and I strongly feel that the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt is one such drive.
Excerpt: Buffalo's speedy MiniStation portable hard drive complements MacBooks nicely and includes both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces on the same drive, but it's not significantly faster using either interface versus the other. Unless you really need both connections, a USB 3.0-only drive at about half the price is a better value.
Pros: Speedy performance over both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, Cables for both interfaces included in the box
Cons: Twice as expensive as many non-Thunderbolt USB 3.0 drives of same capacity
Summary: If you're paying for a Thunderbolt drive you're probably going to be expecting some decent performance from the drive, however the 5400 RPM drive in the MiniStation Thunderbolt from Buffalo Technology makes it feel like a waste. Speeds were consistently low in all our tests, across both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 making me wonder why include a Thunderbolt connection at all.
Pros: Both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connections, Slim form factor, Fast USB 3.0 speeds, Super slim and light, Fast AJA read and write speeds, Both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, Small and light, Fast (internal SATA 6Gbps interface), USB 3.0 external interface, with cable, SSD version is very light, Large capacity, Fast speeds for portable drive, USB 3.0 port, Good overall performance, 7200 RPM internal drive, Plain and simple with lots of space, Convenient cable that wraps, but ca...
Cons: Bulky and heavy, Internal 5400 RPM drive slows drive to a crawl, Small drive capacity, Small capacity, Speeds never get close to Thunderbolt, Gets hot with rapid reading and writing, SSD version is expensive for its capacity, RAID 0 can increase potential failure rate, Heavier than single drive options, Biometric feature adds considerably to the price tag, Lackluster performance compared to similar drives, Bulky, Lackluster speeds, Middling performance, No battery, St...
Summary: While currently there are few USB 3.0 hard drives on the market--and even fewer notebooks that can use them--there are enough to compare, and sadly, the $139 Buffalo MiniStation Cobalt doesn't measure up. While it's thin and light, the case gets scratched easily, and it offers below-average performance. To top it off, the Cobalt is $10 more expensive than the more stylish Iomega eGo USB 3.0 drive, which packs a double whammy of durability and great performance.
Summary: If you are looking for a semi-rugged portable hard drive, the MiniStation Metro is well worth checking out. The attached USB cable makes sure that you always have a cable on hand, while the included extension cable helps when the six inch cable is not enough. Available in a variety of colors and capacities, you should be able to find one to meet your needs.
Without a doubt, the best piece of software included on the Buffalo MiniStation Metro is TurboUSB.
Pros: » Small, portable, and semi-rugged, » USB cable self-storage, » 256Bit AES Encryption; Encryption Core certified by NIST, » Powered via USB, » TurboUSB is FAST, » Good performance with/without TurboUSB, » Included matching USB extension cable, » SecureLockManagerEasy keeps prying eyes out
Cons: » Attached USB cable is short, » No secure erase option upon entering incorrect password, » TurboUSB not currently compatible with Windows 7
Excerpt: The Buffalo MiniStation DataVault is as rugged as any road warrior. If you don’t mind some unpolished edges, it’s a fine portable storage device for carrying around sensitive data that uses hardware-based encryption.
Pros: Shock-absorbing case, DC power through USB, Mac-compatible, Good performance, Built-in data encryption, Easy to use
Cons: Software, setup process not as polished as it could be, TurboUSB feature wasn’t effective during testing
Summary: Encryption could be handled better, and we wish all of the necessary software was installed on the drive itself, but the MiniStation TurboUSB's quick read and write speeds make it a very good companion for those who need to transfer information quickly on the go. Those eyeing a portable external storage device with more intuitive security options will find solace in the less expensive Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini or the comparably priced Western Digital My Passport Essential .
Summary: Encryption could be handled better, and we wish all of the necessary software was installed on the drive itself, but the MiniStation TurboUSB's quick read and write speeds make it a very good companion for those who need to transfer information quickly on the go. Those eyeing a portable external storage device with more intuitive security options will find solace in the less expensive Maxtor One Touch 4 Mini or the comparably priced Western Digital My Passport Elite.