Hard drive benchmarks

How we (now) test hard drives

First, we copy a folder with 2GB worth of files to the hard drive that’s connected to our testing computer and record the length of time it takes for the drive to write the data. Then, we rename the same folder and move it back to the computer, once again timing it how long it takes for the hard drive to read the data. Once we’ve done that, we repeat the same process with a 2GB file in ZIP format in order to compare read/write speeds of a single large file versus many smaller files.

We’ve also introduced a new Photoshop test that uses the external drive as a scratch disk for processing images. Usually, Photoshop uses your computer’s main memory, but when a task is so demanding that it runs out of RAM, it switches to a scratch disk (a hard drive; in Photoshop, you can designate which attached drive can serve as the scratch disk) where it can temporarily process the data needed to handle certain tasks with huge files. We run a Photoshop Action script that includes the importing of seven large RAW files taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and manipulating them in various ways. We limit Photoshop to using just 25 percent of available RAM and use the external hard drive as the scratch disk to test how it handles that kind of pressure.

Finally, our AJA System Test rounds out our new tests, and it’s the only part of our methodology that differs from PCWorld’s own process. Basically, the AJA System Test simulates the data transfer that occurs when you’re using their professional grade video equipment by creating files of certain sizes and resolutions. As the test runs, AJA monitors the rate and speed of data transfer, and the faster (and consistent) the results, the better a hard drive’s ability to handle professional grade video without dropping frames. With our tests, we bump up the video frame size to 1920-by-1080 pixels at 10-bit RBG, with the file size at 2GBs, and record the speed of data transfer afterwards.

Photoshop scores are in seconds (smaller is better). All other scores are in megabytes per second (MBps), where larger is better.


Portable Hard Drives: USB

Write
2GB
Folder
Read
2GB
Folder
Write
2GB
File
Read
2GB
File
Low
memory
Photoshop
Write
AJA
test
Read
AJA
test
MBps MBps MBps MBps Seconds MBps MBps
Iomega eGo Helium 320GB 29 37 30.8 39.2 70 29.9 38.3
Buffalo MiniStation Metro 250GB 30.8 34.5 31.7 36.4 70 32 36.8
Iomega eGo 500GB 30.8 35.7 31.7 37 74 31.8 36
Aegis Padlock Pro 640GB 30.3 35.1 31.3 37 72 31.8 36.3
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500GB 30.8 35.7 31.7 36.4 67 31.9 36.1
Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1TB 31.3 35.7 32.8 37.7 70 31.8 38
Iomega Skin 500GB 31.3 36.4 33.3 39.2 90 31.8 38.3
G|Drive Mobile USB 500GB 30.8 37.7 32.3 40 67 31.9 38.3
G|Drive Mobile 500GB 30.8 37 31.7 38.5 65 31.8 37.8
Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex 1.5TB USB 2.0/3.0 30.8 35.7 32.3 37 66 31.5 36.8
G|Drive Slim 320GB 31.3 37.7 32.3 40 66 31.9 37.8
Toshiba Canvio for Mac 1TB 30.8 35.7 32.8 37 65 31.9 36.8
Iomega eGo 1TB USB 2.0/3.0 30.8 36.4 32.3 37.7 65 30.8 3 8


Portable Hard Drives: FireWire 800

Write
2GB
Folder
Read
2GB
Folder
Write
2GB
File
Read
2GB
File
Low
memory
Photoshop
Write
AJA
test
Read
AJA
test
MBps MBps MBps MBps Seconds MBps MBps
Iomega eGo 500GB 57.1 71.4 57.1 80 53 59.8 81.2
Iomega eGo BlackBelt 1TB 69 74.1 87 87 44 83.9 84.7
G|Drive Mobile 500GB 60.6 71.4 66.7 83.3 45 69.1 80.2

Desktop Hard Drives: USB

Write
2GB
Folder
Read
2GB
Folder
Write
2GB
File
Read
2GB
File
Low
memory
Photoshop
Write
AJA
test
Read
AJA
test
MBps MBps MBps MBps Seconds MBps MBps
Toshiba Desktop External HD 1TB 31.3 36.4 32.8 37 64 32 37
iStorage Pro Dock 2TB 30.8 35.7 31.3 37 65 31.9 36.8
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 0) 31.3 36.4 32.8 37 64 32 36.9
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 1) 27.4 36.4 31.7 37 64 31.3 36.9
Buffalo Dualie 500GB 30.8 35.1 31.7 37 70
31.8 35.5
Iomega eGo Desktop 2TB Mac Edition 31.3 36.4 32.3 38.5 67
32 38.2
G|Raid 4TB (RAID 0) 31.3 36.4 32.8 37 62
32.2 36.9
CalDigit AV Drive 31.3 35.1 33.3 36.4 65 31.9 36.5
WiebeTech RTX220H-QR (RAID 0) 30.8 36.4 32.8 37 64 32 36.8
WiebeTech RTX220H-QR (RAID 1) 30.8 35.7 31.7 37 69 31.7 36.8
ioSafe Solo Pro 1TB Fireproof/Waterproof 31.3 37 33.3 38.5 64 32 38.4
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk 3TB 30.3 35.7 32.3 37 70 30.8 36.8

Desktop Hard Drives: FireWire 400

Write
2GB
Folder
Read
2GB
Folder
Write
2GB
File
Read
2GB
File
Low
memory
Photoshop
Write
AJA
test
Read
AJA
test
MBps MBps MBps MBps Seconds MBps MBps
iStorage Pro Dock 2TB 58.8 74.1 64.5 87 48 57.2 65.7
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 0) 33.9 40 35.7 40.8 60 35.1 38.8
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 1) 30.3 39.2 35.1 41.7 61 34.7 39.7

Desktop Hard Drives: FireWire 800

Write
2GB
Folder
Read
2GB
Folder
Write
2GB
File
Read
2GB
File
Low
memory
Photoshop
Write
AJA
test
Read
AJA
test
MBps MBps MBps MBps Seconds MBps MBps
iStorage Pro Dock 2TB 58.8 74.1 66.7 87.0 48 57.8 66.0
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 0) 58.8 76.9 64.5 83.3 44 65.3 84.5
CalDigit VR mini 1TB (RAID 1) 48.8 71.4 64.5 83.3 46 64.0 81.9
Buffalo Dualie 500GB 51.3 66.7 52.6 76.9 53 56.3 76.9
Iomega eGo Desktop 2TB Mac Edition 71.4 76.9 76.9 83.3 48 53.4 63.2
G|Raid 4TB (RAID 0) 57.1 74.1 66.7 83.3 46 65.8 74.1
CalDigit AV Drive 71.4 76.9 87.0 87.0 41 85.4 85.4
WiebeTech RTX220H-QR (RAID 0) 58.8 74.1 64.5 87.0 48 58.1 76.8
WiebeTech RTX220H-QR (RAID 1) 58.8 74.1 58.8 87.0 54 37.1 63.0
recommended for you

WiebeTech RTX220-QR

Read more »

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments