Many new motherboards these days are coming out with new features that are very exciting and change the way we will be using our computers for everyday use, including gaming, video camera use and mass storage. New features are being added to new motherboards that will make these tasks mush easier and faster for us, these include USB3 and SATA3.
Gigabyte has taken its great performing GA-790FXT-UD5P for the AMD platform and added USB3 & SATA3 ports in the GA-790FXTA-UD5 line. Even though USB3 & SATA3 products can be a bit hard to find right now, expect them to become more common place very soon. Today I will be looking at a Buffalo 1TB USB3 external HDD and see how it performs on the GA-790FXTA-UD5 motherboard.
The use of an external USB HDD is something that not a lot of people benchmark, nor would it be used as a benching platform. Users use these drives for mass storage pretty much and generally never pay them much thought after they plug them in. With the Buffalo 1TB USB3 drive we now have plenty of space to store a great deal of photos, movies, music or just about anything else that you would want to get off your main Hard drive. A USB drive is also nice in that it can be unplugged and moved to another machine for transferring large amounts of files.
One thing that becomes apparent though is the transfer speed of moving large files with these types of drives, they can be slow and take a fair amount of time to move large numbers of files around. The new USB3 spec is going to change that, for the better.
So let’s take a look at this and see just what we can expect from USB3 and the GA-790FXTA-UD5.
The setup I used for these tests is. Motherboard: GA-790FXTA-UD5, CPU: AMD 965 C3, RAM: 4gb Dominator 2000mhz, GPU: ATI 4890, Windows 7 64 bit, 32gb MTRON PRO SSD for OS, WD 74gb Raptor HDD, Buffalo USB3 1TB external HDD
Nothing major here except for the RAM, but I am not going to be over clocking this so that’s not a problem. The other two drives will be used for a comparison to the Buffalo drive. I do not have another USB drive to compare to so this one will have to be sufficient for these tests.
Picture of the Motherboard taken from Gigabytes website.
USB 3.0 Support
The GIGABYTE AMD 700A series motherboards support the latest generation SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology made possible through an onboard NEC uPD720200 host controller. With superfast transfer rates of up to 5 Gbps, users are able to experience an almost a 10x improvement over USB 2.0. Additionally, backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 assures users of long term use of their legacy USB 2.0 devices. The onboard NEC SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology also provides new power management features that include increased maximum bus power and device current draw to better accommodate power-hungry devices.
For a full listing of the spec’s for the GA-790FXTA-UD5 please see Gigabytes website.
The Buffalo 1TB USB3 external drive can be seen here
It also has bundled software that I included with this test, the Turbo USB3 feature.
Ok let’s fire up some benches and see just how this USB3 external drive performs compared to the other two drives.
First up will be Crystaldisk
The order of screen shots is… 32gb MTRON PRO SSD, WD 74gb Raptor, Buffalo 1TB USB3 external HDD
As you can see the Buffalo drive is beating the other two in everything but the 4k file size bench and holding its own against a fast Raptor SATA drive. Its really moving large files very fast and doing pretty good with small files also.
Next up is HDTach with the same order for the screens
Now we are seeing that the Buffalo drive has very good bandwidth compared to a SATA Raptor drive and huge burst speed. The only thing really holding this drive back is access time at 13.5ms vs the Raptor 8.3ms. The MTRON PRO SSD clearly is a beast with 0.1ms access time.
Next up HDTune with the same order for pictures.
Pretty much the same results as HDtach. But you will notice the Buffalo picture, I will get into that in just a bit.
Now PCMark05 results, again the same order of pictures.
Compared to the Raptor the Buffalo holds up pretty well.
As you can see from these benches the USB3 drive holds up pretty well, its very fast, and moves larges files with ease. I did transfer over from my WHS a few movie ISO’s and copied them back and forth many times and transfers went very fast. Playing movies or music from the USB3 drive went completely stutter free.
As a test I installed Win 7 on the USB3 drive and booted from that, it actually performed very well. This would make it a great drive to have a OS installed on in case you ever needed to boot from a recovery drive to fix your main machine for what ever reason you needed to do that for, virus infection, corrupt HD.
The USB3 drive is fast enough that it could be used with back up programs such as Acronis to keep different images of OS’s on and image back to the main HD.
Now for the bad… as you saw in the HDTach test there was some rather large spikes in the bench which resulted in poor performance. When I first saw this the drive would make a clicking sound, spin down, then back up on each of the spikes. I am sure we all have heard the sound of a drive going out and this sounded just like that.
As this sounded and acted like a bad drive, I had it replaced with a new one. Right out of the box HDTach did the same thing with the new drive.
All other tests, file transfers etc did not show this behavior at all, only HDTach would do this. I went through different BIOS, from the BIOS that came with the motherboard to the latest on Gigabytes website, same for the USB3 drivers. No matter what config HDTach would do these strange spikes.
Other than that problem which was not noticed in any other test this drive is a solid performing external HDD.
As a side note. Another Tester/Bencher that I have a great amount of respect for named Miahallen, has done a very complete and fantastic job on his review, it can be seen here and is a very good article on this and worth while reading.
I have been asked what type of drive is inside the enclosure of the Buffalo drive, here is what Everest has to say.