It’s not often, but today we’ve got back-to-back external hard drive reviews. Maybe the Maxtor 4Tb is a bit too big for your liking, or you just want another “good value” alternative to buy. Well, as it turns out, I make it a habit of mine when travelling not to be stuck with all the same model of drive in case they turn out to be bad or somehow vulnerable to problems. As a result, I decided to obtain another make of drive to go travelling with.
The drive in question is a Toshiba Canvio Ready 2Tb USB 3.0 External Hard Drive. This is available from about AU$110 per drive, making it slightly less value compared to the 4Tb drive (which was AU$209 for twice the space). The unit is backed by a three year limited warranty, matching that of the Maxtor. That being said, it still is a good deal, so lets see how this drive looks and performs.
I suppose when it comes to external drive packages, there really isn’t much imagination going around. The Toshiba drive uses a mostly lime green motif, with white and red accents, featuring the same sort of plastic-bubble see-through window on the side to see the drive inside. The rear panel shows a graphical comparison between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 drives for transfer rate. The drive is pre-formatted in NTFS and is compatible with Windows 7 and up.
The side panel has a cut-out to see the thickness of the drive, which is a 15mm “thick” style drive. The other side panel shows the features, requirements and inclusions.
The underside provides the part number, serial number and manufacturing batch – in this case, this unit was manufactured in June 2016 in China.
Inside, you have the drive unit with a glossy plastic with a dotted pattern on the top, with the Toshiba logo moulded in on the top left, and the blue LED activity indicator window on the top right.
A single port is located near the activity light side, this one being well aligned.
The underside has four rubber feet, and a label with the approvals information, model number, part number, serial number and batch codes. The rubber feet on this unit are a bit taller, making it slightly better at gripping onto desks, but it still isn’t so good when stacking drives due to the curved exteriors of the drive. This drive is slightly lighter than the Maxtor, weighing in at 207.52g. The difference is only 33.64g, and when considering that the Maxtor has twice the storage, it’s the better choice on a storage per volumetric capacity/weight ratio.
The unit comes with a small quick start in English, a larger quick start in Asian languages, an instruction manual for safety and comfort, and a USB 3.0 cable.
When the drive was connected, it was identified as a USB Mass Storage Device with VID 0480 and PID B207. This device does not support UASP which provides better performance for many “small” block transfers by allowing for command queueing and overcoming USB latency, thus a performance reduction can be expected.
As promised, the drive arrived pre-formatted with NTFS. No files were pre-loaded onto the drive – this gets my approval as most of the pre-included software isn’t of much use.
A further examination of the format showed that the drive also does not use any of the silly 4k sector translation that some of the XP-compatible drives used. However, seeing as the drive is only 2Tb, this would not have been necessary. This is good news in case the drive needs to be transplanted into a computer for data recovery, as no interchange issues are expected.
Drive performance tests were performed using the Lenovo E431 (Intel Core i7-3630QM) platform using onboard USB 3.0 ports with the latest drivers and latest version of Windows 10 (Anniversary Edition) installed. Drive caching policy was set to Better performance, with Write caching for this device enabled.
The SMART data revealed by CrystalDiskInfo suggests that the drive used is a Toshiba MQ03UBB200, part of a series of drives intended for bulk storage applications and available up to 3Tb. The drive operates at 5400RPM with a 16MiB cache buffer and SATA 300 interface according to the SMART data, however, the datasheet implies that 600 should also be possible. Operating power is 1.7W read/write typical, and 0.7W low-power idle with a weight of 180g. After testing, the SMART data was checked and no failure signs were reported, meaning the drive passes commissioning testing.
The drive shows a clear “stepped” zone style recording, which suggests constant density zones. The performance is quite similar to the Maxtor 4Tb drive, averaging a throughput of 102.1MB/s over the 2Tb capacity. Considering the physical size of the two drives are identical, it’s surprising that the Maxtor wasn’t faster in light of this.
Random access performance on read was quite disappointing with only 55IOPS maximum, and write operation IOPS topped out at 149IOPS which is quite a bit short of the Maxtor’s result. This may be because this drive suffered more from the USB overhead due to the lack of UASP support.
In the extra tests (included for competeness), some effects of the cache are visible, and the 16MiB size is somewhat evident.
Performance was quite consistent with expectations based on HDTune results. The sequential results were better than the Maxtor, as tests only used the first 1Gb of the drive, where the drive was fastest. The performance for 512kB and 4kB unqueued reads were similar overall, however, the write performance was notably slower than the Maxtor. The lack of improvement with queue depth is expected due to lack of UASP support.
ATTO shows that the drive only reaches its strides for 32kB accesses and above, with poorer performance for smaller accesses. No strange regressions in performance was experienced, but the lack of small block performance strength may reflect its smaller cache, thus reflecting raw interface-to-media speeds whereas the Maxtor/Seagate may have still be running in its 128Mb cache.
Similarly, when the drive was transferred to an AMD platform machine using an NEC Renesas USB 3.0 controller, no compatibility issues were experienced and the data was correctly validated.
The Toshiba Canvio Ready 2Tb USB 3.0 External Hard Drive is another one of the value options on the market. Unlike the Maxtor, this one does not offer UASP connectivity which affects small block performance in a measurable way. However, its sequential throughput is on the same level despite being half the capacity and the warranty is matched at three years as well. Unfortunately, while the drive is slightly lighter, it remains a “thick” drive which isn’t suitable for transplanting into some laptops and gaming consoles, and on a capacity to weight/volume ratio, it’s not as “dense” as the 4Tb Maxtor.
If you can’t afford to justify a spend on a larger 4Tb Maxtor, the 2Tb Toshiba is probably an acceptable buy with its Toshiba made drive inside being distinctly different from the Seagate drive inside the Maxtor (useful where diversifying drive types is the aim).