When it comes to testing out hard drive performance, one of the best utilities around is HD Tach. While synthetic in nature, it still does a fair job of monitoring drive transfer rates as well as access times and burst speeds. Once we've thrashed the drive a few times and taken an average of the results we'll resort to a bit more direct means of testing. I'll take the installation file for the Farcry demo and start moving it from the system to the drive and then back again. This particular file weighs in at a hefty 496MB so should give us a good reading of the performance of the external drive.
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
There isn't much of a surprise with regards to how well any external drive performs against a slaved IDE device, but the numbers do show another improvement over previous models. It is a shame that Firewire support wasn't included, though, since this usually does a good deal better than USB 2.0.
As far as actual numbers are concerned, we've jumped ahead of all other USB outputs and even managed to do better than the original IEE1394 speeds. Overall not a bad accomplishment at all.
Timed Data Transfers
When it comes down to raw transfers against the clock, the NexStar 3 does manage to beat the older USB times, but can't come close to IEEE1394 performance. While transfer rates from the base system to the external drive showed a small improvement over past models, the transfer rates from the external unit to the base system showed a larger gain. A quick bit of math shows a very impressive 20% increase in data rates. This bodes very well for those who might want to use this unit as storage for video files or music backups. You can save all your movies and simply play them back straight from your NexStar 3.