capsule review

EZQuest Thunder Pro A/V Quad Interface 1TB

At a Glance
  • EZQuest Thunder Pro A/V 1TB

    Macworld Rating

EZQuest Thunder Pro A/V Quad Interface 1TB

EZQuest designs external drives for the audio/visual professional. The 1TB Thunder Pro A/V is equipped with a quad interface that makes it a flexible solution. EZQuest uses Hitachi drives in all of its models, and asserts that this makes for the most reliable drive the company can offer; the drives are backed up with one of the best warranties in the business. The Thunder Pro is stackable and can be racked with EZQuest’s Thunder Rack 8, sold separately.

The Thunder Pro is a simple steel-colored aluminum block, but has a strange interface design. The FireWire 400 port is on the front of the drive, along with the power switch. Two FireWire 800 ports, a USB port, and an eSATA port are stationed on the back of the drive along with the power outlet. This interface setup—with one seemingly random port in the front and the rest in the back—is perhaps the only unique aspect of the exterior design.

The Thunder Pro drive is preformatted for Mac OS X, and is compatible with Apple Time Machine out of the box. Additionally, the drive comes packaged with a disc containing free software, including Integrity, Disk Defrag, and other Mac utilities.

That said, I found that having the prepackaged software installed negatively impacted the unit’s Speedmark scores; I needed to reformat the drive in order to have it post the best performance. Before reformatting, the drive offered middling scores, but afterwards, the Thunder Pro produced some of the fastest times we’ve seen on a desktop drive.

Audio/visual professionals will enjoy the flexibility of the Thunder Pro line. The same power supply cable can work with any one of the drives, including the Thunder Pro A/V Raid Triple Interface Drive. In addition to the speedy 7,200 rpm Hitachi mechanism, the drive’s fanless design allows the Thunder Pro to perform more quietly than other drives. The drive’s aluminum design draws heat away from the drive and to the exterior, making it hot to the touch.

While the press materials promote the reliability of the drive and the speed necessary to suit the audio/visual professional, the Thunder Pro turned in only satisfactory test results. The Thunder Pro drive finished our drive tests on average slightly behind our top product for desktop drives, Western Digital’s My Book Studio Edition ( ). When using its eSATA connection for our 1GB copy test, the Thunder finished the test in 32 seconds--only a second behind the My Book Studio Edition. The Speedmark results for the FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 connections were similarly only slightly behind the My Book—the difference was barely statistically significant.

Surprisingly, our duplication test results proved more favorable to the Thunder Pro. Consistently, the Thunder Pro was faster than the My Book Studio Edition. The Thunder Pro finished the 1GB duplication test in 36 seconds when utilizing its eSATA connection and beat the My Book by a full 13 seconds.

The low-memory Photoshop tests similarly bested the top-of-the-line competition’s scores. When using its eSATA connection, the Thunder Pro finished the Photoshop tests in 1 minute, 10 seconds—a full 14 seconds ahead of the My Book and one of the best scores we’ve seen on a magnetic-based external drive.

The Thunder Pro’s $279 pricetag is one of the highest prices we've seen for a 1TB desktop drive. The $0.28 price per gigabyte is also several cents more expensive than competiting units by Lacie, Western Digital, and OWC.

 

Timed trials

Copy 1GB file to USB 2.0 0:52
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 400 0:44
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 800 0:37
Copy 1GB file to eSATA 0:32
Duplicate 1GB file via USB 2.0 1:19
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 400 1:06
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 800 0:42
Duplicate 1GB file via eSATA 0:36
Low-memory Photoshop: USB 2.0 1:27
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 400 1:20
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 800 1:15
Low-memory Photoshop: eSATA 1:10

Scale=Minutes:Seconds

How we tested: We ran all tests with the drive connected to a Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Xeon with Mac OS X 10.5 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive with each available port. We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac's hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive's write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS3 Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop's memory set to 25 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by Chris Holt

The Thunder Pro comes with a three-year warranty but also a promise of 48-hour turnaround time on all warranty repairs.

Specifications

Price per gigabyte $0.18
Connectors USB 2.0 (1), FireWire 400 (1), FireWire 800 (2), eSATA (1)
Rotational speed 7,200 rpm
Other capacities 500GB, 1.5TB

Macworld’s buying advice

The Thunder Drive’s comparatively faster transfer rates make it ideally fitted to back up large amounts of music, video, and photos. Many consumers have strong opinions about Hitachi hard drives, and EZQuest’s decision to use those drives may prove to be controversial; like Western Digital’s My Book, each has its own fans and detractors. EZQuest backs up its warranty with a 48-hour repair turnaround agreement that will hopefully soothe any reliability worries, making the fast, large, and rackable Thunder Pro an ideal buy for A/V professionals and high-end consumers.

[Chris Holt is an assistant editor for Macworld.]

[Editor's note 5/28/09: Updated price and discussion of price per gigabyte.]

 

 

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Fast
    • Great warranty
    • Large capacity

    Cons

    • Odd port placement
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