Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt 512GB External SSD Review

Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt 512GB External SSD Review

Buffalo sent over its dual drive Thunderbolt SSD storage solution. Read on as we explore the performance of this compact device and see how it goes.

@TylerBernath
Published Mon, May 26 2014 9:05 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: Buffalo

Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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Buffalo Technology is one of the very few vendors that have been pushing Thunderbolt technology. Just a few months back, we had the chance to review the MiniStation Thunderbolt, an external hard drive equipped with the first generation of Thunderbolt technology. Today, we have another Thunderbolt product from Buffalo equipped with two 256GB SSDs.

The DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt is a dual drive storage solution setup with your choice of two 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSDs. This solution is RAID enabled, offering options such as JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1 if you want that extra bit of data redundancy. With the DriveStation, you have the ability to daisy chain up to 6 more devices via Thunderbolt, and Buffalo was even kind enough to supply the retail packaging with the Thunderbolt cable, so this unit is basically plug and play.

Compatibility of the Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt extends to OS X 10.6+, and of course, you will need an available Thunderbolt port.

Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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MSRP for the 512GB DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt is set at $649.99 with a three-year warranty. Availability is high at this point with many online retailers having the unit in stock.

PRICING: You can find the Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) retails for $649.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) retails for CDN$918.22 at Amazon Canada.

Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt

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Packaging for the DriveStation carries an image of the device on the front with marketing information surrounding. Also note that Buffalo has chosen to go with Toshiba SSDs in this device.

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Scope of delivery includes the power adapter, Thunderbolt cable, and reading materials.

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Looking at the DriveStation, we find it having a rather small footprint similar in size to the Little Big Disk from LaCie.

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The back of the unit houses dual Thunderbolt ports along with the cooling fan and power input.

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Here you can see the size of the DriveStation Mini right next to the Little Big Disk 2 from LaCie.

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Internally, the DriveStation uses the 3510L Thunderbolt controller form Intel. We also have two Toshiba SSDs.

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The SSDs used in the DriveStation are the Toshiba THNSNH256GCST.

Test System Setup

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In testing the performance of Thunderbolt storage solutions, we utilize the Apple MacBook Pro Retina Late 2013 model, which is running OS X 10.9.1 as of this article. Full system specifications are available above. To create RAID volumes in OS X, I use Apple Disk Utility with 64k stripe size for RAID volumes.

Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test

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Disk Speed Test is an easy to use tool to quickly measure and certify your disk performance for working with high quality video. Simply click the start button, and Disk Speed Test will write test your disk using large blocks of data and display the result. Disk Speed Test will continue to test writes and reads from your disk, so you can evaluate both performance and readability over time.

AJA System Test

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Check the performance of any drive on your system to ensure it is tuned for the performance you need.

Benchmarks – Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test

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In our first test, we took the DriveStation through BMG in RAID 0. Here we ended up with 717 MB/s read and 647 MB/s write.

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RAID 1 gave us 651 MB/s read and 320 MB/s write.

Benchmarks – AJA System Test

All testing with AJA System Test is done with a 16GB file size over roughly 700 frames.

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In our first testing AJA, we look at 720p RAID 0 where we find the DriveStation peaking at 730 MB/s read and roughly 650 MB/s write.

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Moving to RAID 1, we find the read performance really didn't suffer too much, and it is still near 700 MB/s, while write performance hovered around 360 MB/s

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Onto 1080p within the RAID 0 array, here we find the DriveStation cracking 760 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write.

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Back to RAID 1 with 1080p this time around, we find the Toshiba SSDs peaking around 740 MB/s read and the same 360 MB/s write.

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4K really allowed the DriveStation to stretch its legs a bit. Here we touched 800 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write within RAID 0.

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RAID 1 with 4K had the DriveStation right around 750 MB/s read with write speeds around the same 350 MB/s mark.

Final Thoughts

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The Buffalo DriveStation Mini is quite a surprising storage solution and certainly one of the quickest first generation Thunderbolt storage solutions. The design of the DriveStation complements and goes quite well with any Mac user's desktop, and the build quality is rather solid.

Performance of the DriveStation more than exceeded my expectations, which goes to show the great choice Buffalo made by going with Toshiba SSDs. In testing, we were able to take the DriveStation well above marketing numbers and even exceeded 800 MB/s with our 4K stream RAID 0 read testing. Furthermore, the Buffalo did quite well with RAID 1; in both AJA and Black Magic, we found the drive to still touch 700 MB/s read, while write speeds hovered around 350 MB/s.

Overall, the DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt is a great solution for those that want the performance of Thunderbolt in a solid, compact device.

The Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt in the 512GB configuration carries an MSRP of $649.99 with a three-year warranty. Current market pricing for the unit can be found below.

PRICING: You can find the Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) retails for $649.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Buffalo DriveStation Mini Thunderbolt (512GB) retails for CDN$918.22 at Amazon Canada.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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