Buffalo DriveStation Duo USB 3.0 review

15 Mar 2011

No faster than single drives in RAID0, but for use as a RAID1 device this Buffalo isn’t a bad deal at all

Buffalo DriveStation Duo USB 3.0 HD-WLU3R1
Price when reviewed: 
167(£167 inc VAT)
4

RAID storage is normally the preserve of advanced users and businesses, but Buffalo’s DriveStation Duo USB 3 aims to make it more accessible. It includes two Hitachi 1TB disks and the ability to quickly switch between the device’s various modes.

Buffalo has tried to ensure that the drive is easy to use, but it's not as simple as it should be. While the included software is basic but useful – an app in the taskbar allows you to switch between modes, and there are RAM disk and backup tools – the options on the drive itself are often confusing.

The front of the drive features two lights to indicate when the Buffalo's active, and there's a button on the rear to change RAID modes, but it’s a long way from what we'd call intuitive. Changing from one mode to another involves a convoluted series of button presses and power cycling, and once you’re out of the setup mode, the LEDs no longer provide an indication of which RAID mode the drive is in.

Fortunately, the Buffalo's performance is better. In RAID1, which provides 1TB of mirrored capacity, we saw write speeds for large files reach 85MB/sec and read speeds 112MB/sec, with these results dropping to 26MB/sec and 56MB/sec with smaller files.

Buffalo DriveStation Duo USB 3.0 HD-WLU3R1

Performance was mixed in RAID0, however. We’d expect faster performance in this mode, but while our large file write and read tests were a fraction up, returning rates of 88MB/sec and 115MB/sec, the Buffalo was actually about 3MB/sec slower in this mode than it was in RAID1 for smaller files.

Still, that performance leaves little to choose between the Buffalo and single drive USB 3 devices such as the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk, which also comes with 2TB of storage. The Seagate ran through our large file write and read tests at 89MB/sec and 110MB/sec, and then returned results of 30MB/sec and 66MB/sec in our small file write and read tests.

With such a small difference in performance it makes little sense to choose this Buffalo if pure RAID0 speed is what you’re after; after all, the Seagate is just as fast and half the price at £82. But as a RAID1 device it’s not bad at all: speeds are comparable to the fastest single external drives and while you could buy an enclosure and build your own RAID array, it won’t be any cheaper.

Details

Price ex VAT £139
Price inc VAT £167
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3

Specifications

Capacity 2.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 1.86TB
Hard disk type Mechanical
Cache size 64MB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM

Performance tests

Write speed small files 18.0MB/sec
Write speed large files 80.0MB/sec