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. Firewire should perform a bit better but we'll let the tests themselves help us determine if this is true.
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 and then back again. We'll start with the USB mode and then move onto the Firewire mode with the same batch of transfers. Since we're comparing the NexStar with the Thermaltake SilverRiver device, the only comparable results will be the USB tests as the SilverRiver did not include a Firewire port.
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)
Western Digital 80GB Hard Drive
The screenshots above show the Seagate when hooked up as a slave drive on the primary IDE channel, then the same drive in USB mode on the NexStar unit, then again using the NexStar unit in Firewire mode, and finally the same drive being used in the Thermaltake SilverRiver enclosure.
When comparing the two devices in USB mode, the results are similar with the Vantec unit gaining a slight edge. Access times are very acceptable so you can expect reasonable results when getting files being stored on the drive.
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