Do you store pictures, video, music or other large blobs of data on an external hard drive? Sure you do. Many of you that read this blog also store virtual machines and I’m guessing you have quite a collection of data. Isn’t moving all that data around fun? I am of course being sarcastic because I know how time consuming the chore is.
The good news is that there’s a new standard in town, and it’s much faster. Introducing SuperSpeed USB 3.0. Here’s the marketing pitch from usb.org:
- SuperSpeed USB has a 5 Gbps signaling rate offering 10x performance increase over Hi-Speed USB.
- SuperSpeed USB is a Sync-N-Go technology that minimizes user wait-time.
- SuperSpeed USB will provide Optimized Power Efficiency.No device polling and lower active and idle power requirements.
- SuperSpeed USB is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. Devices interoperate with USB 2.0 platforms. Hosts support USB 2.0 legacy devices
Needless to say I was more than interested in this new standard when I received the ship notification from Lenovo for the ThinkPad W510. The new W510 includes two USB 3. ports so I was anxious to test them and see how well they really perform.
There’s just one problem. I don’t have a USB 3.0 case. Time to trek down to the local Fry’s to see what they might have. I actually stopped by the local BestBuy on the way, but they didn’t have anything yet. Too fringe for them I guess.
I wasn’t particularly looking for another hard drive so I headed to the empty enclosures isle. On the shelf they had two SIIG cases. One for 3.5” drives, and one for 2.5” laptop drives. I grabbed the SIIG Model JU-SA0312-S1 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 2.5” case and headed for the register.
When I got home, I inserted a Seagate 2.5” Momentus 500GB 7200rpm drive into the enclosure and connected it to my production ThinkPad T61p. I started a copy of my documents, music, pics, videos and other stuff. This is about 35GB of data right now. I could tell already from that copy that the case and drive were performing very well. As fast or faster than any other USB 2.0 case and drive I have.
The moment of clarity arrived when I connected the drive to the ThinkPad W510 USB 3.0 port and started to copy the data to my Intel 160GB Gen 2 SSD drive. WOW. It had to be the fastest file copy I had ever seen with any of my equipment. I don’t have any big RAID arrays and it’s apparent now that for my needs, USB 3.0 connectivity is going to be very helpful.
The SIIG case is a typical part aluminum, part plastic design. It comes with a nice neoprene carry case but I don’t think the carry case will hold up to the wear and tear mine usually get. I have other heavy duty carry cases and this little drive enclosure is so small, you can stuff it nearly in any backpack or laptop briefcase pocket.
The SIIG product comes with a USB 3.0 cable for data, and an extra cable for power. I have not needed the extra power cable. The enclosure itself was $49 which is expensive in my opinion, but the technology was just born so you’ll be paying the early adopter tax for a little while. There isn’t much competition in the market yet, but when more products become available the USB 3.0 cases will go down in price.
I haven’t had a chance to run any benchmarks and probably won’t for some time. I’m buried in real work and I’ll leave the data analysis to the folks at Tom’s or Ars Technica. So far, I haven’t seen any issues but I’ve only had the case for a week and it’s had light duty on file copies and supporting Hyper-V virtual machine execution. It’s been doing both of those extremely well.
eSATA has a new competitor. Buy with confidence.