Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3 USB 3.0 hard drive

A 1TB external USB 3.0 hard drive that's quick and stylish

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Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3
  • Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3
  • Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3
  • Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3

Pros

  • Excellent transfer speeds for large files, stylish design, data encryption, sleep utility

Cons

  • Power adapter interferes with adjacent plugs, makes a noticeable clicking noise when it goes to sleep

Bottom Line

Buffalo's USB 3.0-based DriveStation HD-HXU3 is perfect for users who want a 1TB external hard drive on which to store large media files. It's approximately three times faster than a USB 2.0 drive when reading and writing large files and this is well worth the slightly higher cost per gigabyte compared to a 1TB USB 2.0-based drive.

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External storage is now cheaper than it has ever been, and, with USB 3.0 on the scene, it's also about to get much faster. If you have a laptop or desktop PC with a USB 3.0 connection, then you can take advantage of Buffalo's new USB 3.0-based 1TB DriveStation HD-HXU3 external hard drive. It's stylish, it has plenty of space for media files and it runs quickly. It has a slightly higher cost per formatted gigabyte than USB 2.0-based external 1TB hard drives, but the extra speed really is worth splurging on if you already have USB 3.0 on your computer.

The DriveStation HD-HXU3 is designed for desktop use and it sits upright on a flat surface without a stand. It has a small fan to keep the drive cool and the only connections are at the rear: one for the power adapter and one for the USB 3.0 cable. You'll need to use the cable that ships with the drive to take advantage of USB 3.0's speed; the shape of the square end of the cable is different to a regular USB 2.0 cable. If you use a regular cable, you'll only get a USB 2.0 connection, which is about 3.5 times slower than USB 3.0.

In our large file USB 3.0 tests, in which we transferred 19.4GB of files to the DriveStation, the drive managed to read data at rate of 105.43 megabytes per second (MBps), and write data at 95.56MBps. This is good news for those of us who like to transfer movie and TV files to and from external hard drives. Using USB 2.0, the same files were read at a rate of 30.26MBps and written at 12.04MBps. It's a world of difference.

Small files don't fare quite as well. When the drive has to make many movements to write small files, then the overall performance takes a hit. Using USB 3.0 to write 3GB worth of small files, the DriveStation recorded a rate of 13.76MBps. This is only a fraction better than its write rate of 12.04MBps when using USB 2.0. It read those small files much faster though; using USB 3.0, it read them at a rate of 66.66MBps, while in USB 2.0 mode it recorded a rate of 15.38MBps.

Basically, you'll get a lot out of this drive when transferring big files, but you won't gain much speed over a USB 2.0 drive when writing many small files. However, it will give you a boost in performance when reading small files.

The fast overall performance of the drive is the main feature of the DriveStation HD-HXU3, but it also ships with 256-bit AES full disk encryption. Once encryption is set, the drive will prompt you for a password each time you plug it in. Without the password, unauthorised users won't be able to see the data files that are on the drive. The first partition of the drive, which houses the drive's utilities, will be visible though and the password authentication utility can be run from there when you use the drive on PCs that don't have the Buffalo tools already installed. The encryption didn't noticeably hamper the performance of the drive during our tests.

Other utilities that ship with the Buffalo drive include TurboPC, TurboCopy, Backup Utility and RAMDISK Utility; these are not essential for using the drive and should only be run out of curiosity. You also get ecoManager, DiskFormatter and MemeoBackup utilities. The ecoManager utility allows you to adjust the amount of time it takes for the drive to go to sleep when it is not being used, and for this reason we like it. The drive makes an audible click when it enters sleep mode. The DiskFormatter can also be used to format the drive using NTFS (or you could just do it through Windows' Disk Manager) as the DriveStation uses the FAT32 file system by default.

One of the things that annoyed us was the power adapter, which has little protrusions on its side that prevent it from being used in between other outlets on a power board. You'll have to remove adjacent plugs in order to accommodate it. We'd prefer it if Buffalo used a power brick adapter with cable between the brick and the outlet pins; or it could make an adapter without protrusions that would live in harmony with adjacent plugs on a power board.

The DriveStation HD-HXU3 has a formatted capacity 931GB and a retail price of $199, for a cost per gigabyte of only 21 cents. This is a competitive figure for an external USB 3.0 drive. If you want a stylish external drive that's built for speed, and your PC is USB 3.0-ready, then we say go for it.

Buffalo's environmental policy states that the company is "committed to our goals of surpassing environmental standards" and its " efforts will focus on reducing environmental damage by complying with all applicable regulations in each country".

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