I decided to handle the testing phase in a couple of different ways. Our first test phase will be done by means of a couple of synthetic benchmarking utilities, HD Tach and SiSoft Sandra. Scores and data transfer rates are computed through methods that take several factors into consideration, so I already expect the results to be terrible through a USB port. I will still use these tests, however, since we have to draw as complete a picture as possible for those who are deciding on a purchase. The second phase of testing will be a bit more direct as it will be nothing more or less than a large file transfer from a drive on the IDE channel to the drive being tested. I will time the transfer of the USB versus IDE slave and compare them directly.
Before we delve any deeper, though, lets take a look at our test system:
Chenming ATX-602 Aluminum Case (Supplied by Hardware Cooling)
DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B (Supplied by DFI)
AMD Athlon XP 2400+ Mobile Processor @ 2.3GHz
512MB OCZ PC3500 Platinum DDR Memory (supplied by OCZ)
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro "Ultimate Edition" (supplied by Sapphire)
Seagate 40GB Hard Drive and Western Digital 80GB Hard Drive
The top graphic shows the performance while attached as a USB device and the bottom graphic shows the results when set as a slave drive on the primary IDE channel of the test system. As expected, the results are heavily weighted due to the limited ability to use the drive's native buffers and caches. Even in a synthetic test, though, we can see an average read speed of 16MB/sec. For those who are thinking of this device to stash away that huge porn collection, this will allow ample speed to play video files normally in USB mode.
With the Sandra test suite we see results very similar to those garnered from the HD Tach utility. While not scoring nearly as high as the internally mounted drive, the USB still shows speeds that are very acceptable. While I wouldn't recommend using this unit to install and play games, it will be fine for a storage medium without having to get into a RAID setup.
Another note that bears mentioning is access times. If you'll take a quick peek at the graphics above you'll see that both tests showed slightly better access times for the USB mounted device. This means that if you decide to use this external unit as a spare storage medium, you'll still have no problems accessing multiple and/or small files in a rapid manner.
Timed Data Transfer
For our final test I wanted to see just how fast we could transfer a large file across the platforms. To accomplish this I took the FarCry demo file and began copying it from drive to drive and measured times in seconds. The file weighs in at 496MB so should give us a fair assessment of the ability to move data from one place to another. Times were taken from the system to the Seagate drive and from the Seagate drive back to the system.
While not a surprise that the slaved method of copying was faster, the USB external unit did surprisingly well. The top portion of the graph shows the file moving from the system to the Seagate while the bottom portion shows the other direction of travel. It looks as though the SilverRiver writes faster than it can send, but the results are acceptable in both cases.
For those who don't feel like doing the math, the SilverRiver scored 22.75 MB/sec transfer rate when writing to disk and 15.1 MB/sec moving that data back to the system for use.
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