The Buffalo Drivestation DDR 2TB (HD-GD2.0U3) ($139) is an innovative take on the external desktop-class hard drive. We’ve seen commoditized desktop hard drives come down in price, and we’ve also witnessed as extremely expensive solid-state drives (SSD) have become moderately expensive SSDs. Not every business has the need to buy the fastest, most expensive drives for their users, but as they say, faster is better than slower. To this end, Buffalo has added DDR3 system memory to a spinning hard drive in one chassis to give us a non-Flash hybrid drive.
Design and Features
The HD-GD2.0U3 looks like a pretty standard external desktop drive. The exterior black chassis has a red accent stripe on one of the front corners, visually tipping you off on its correct vertical orientation. The drive measures about 5 by 2 by 8 inches (HWD), so you’ll need a semi-permanent home for it on a desk or other flat surface. The front of the drive has a pair of LED indicators. It tells you the drive status, including drive activity and whether or not it’s okay to unplug the drive from the PC or Mac. Speaking of Macs, the HD-GD2.0U3 is Mac-compatible, after a reformat to HFS+, as the drive comes from the factory in NTFS format.
This is a full desktop-class drive, so it comes with an AC adapter. Thanks to the system’s 1GB DDR3 memory cache, however, the drive can finish the last write operation in the unlikely event that the AC adapter loses power. The 1GB memory cache supplements the drive’s native internal 32MB cache to help performance.
The drive itself is a pretty standard 3.5-inch 7,200rpm desktop-class drive, hence the fairly large enclosure. The back of the drive is fairly unadorned, with an exhaust port for the cooling fan, a jack for the AC adapter, Kensington lock port, and a USB 3.0 micro-B connector for the included cable. Since the drive is touted has being faster than a standard drive, we would’ve have like to have seen an eSATA and/or Thunderbolt. eSATA has a slower transfer rate than USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt is faster, but these ports are seen on professional PCs and Macs, respectively.
The HD-GD2.0U3 comes with quite a few Windows-based utilities, including TurboPC (system RAM-based acceleration), Buffalo Backup, ECO Manager (sleep timing utility), and Secure Lock (encryption), but you won’t have to install any of them to use the drive. The HD-GD2.0U3 comes with a three-year warranty, which is much better than the one-year warranty found on most basic drives.
For parity with previous tests, we used our standard desktop testbed with its discrete USB 3.0 controller for testing. Buffalo claims that its drive works better when paired with the integrated USB 3.0 built into Intel’s third-generation (and future) Core processors. When we tested the drive with the PCMark05 disk test, it returned a staggering 10,561 point score. This is much higher than the Editors’ Choice for desktop drives, the IoSafe Solo G3 (1 TB)> ($299) (7,622).
The HD-GD2.0U3 also put in a very good 2,057 points at the newer PCMark7 drive test, where the IoSafe got 1,807 points. In the drag-and-drop test with our standard 1.2GB test folder, the HD-GD2.0U3 came in at a fast 12 seconds, faster than the IoSafe (15 seconds), but slower than the Western Digital My Book (4TB) ($210) (10 seconds) and the admittedly expensive EC-winning LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt (1TB SSD) ($999) (6 seconds). The takeaway is that the HD-GD2.0U3 is occupies the middle ground between plain drives without caching and expensive SSDs with more esoteric I/O interfaces.
The Buffalo Drivestation DDR 2TB (HD-GD2.0U3) represents a good middle ground between expensive high performance SSDs and more commoditized hard drives. The added speed is a good catalyst for the user that needs to get things done sooner rather than later. We applaud Buffalo for trying something new to eke a little more performance from such a mature product category. We’re going to hold off giving our Editors’ Choice award for now, to see if the market embraces the technology and see if the drive passes the reliability trials of time. That said, if you want to get a little more performance for not a lot of extra cost, try the Buffalo Drivestation DDR 2TB (HD-GD2.0U3).
Compare the Buffalo Drivestation DDR 2TB (HD-GD2.0U3) with several other hard drives side by side.
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|Disk Cache Size||32 MB|
|Rotation Speed||7200 rpm|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||2000 GB|
|Ports||USB, USB 2.0, SATA, USB 3.0|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc