Buffalo, who are one of the brands by the global company Melco, are a family business founded in 1975 by Makoto Maki. They specialise in storage, multi-media, wireless networking and are one of the market leaders in consumer NAS systems.
Today, I will be taking a look at a product from their storage range, namely, the MiniStation Slim 500GB USB 3.0 External HDD. With an ever growing need for portable storage constantly growing and increasing, how will the Buffalo offering perform? Is it worth the £49 price tag? Let’s find out, starting with some specifications…
HDD Interface : SATA
Capacities : 500 GB
Number of Drives : 1
Standard Compliance : USB 3.0
Connector Type : Micro-B
Number of Ports : 1
Data Transfer Rate (brutto) : 5 Gbps
Client OS Support : Windows 8 (64-bit/32-bit), Windows® 7 (64-bit/32-bit), Windows Vista® (64-bit/32-bit),
Windows® XP (32-bit), Mac OS X® 10.5 or later
Dimensions : 79 x 8.8 x 115 mm
Weight : 140 g
Operating environment : 5-35°C, 20-80% (Non-Condensing)
Power supply : USB powered
IFC-EC2U3/UC2 Express card PC express card for notebooks with PC express interface to add USB 3.0 connection
On the front of the packaging, we have a large clear viewing window in which you can see the MiniStation Slim 500GB in all its glory. It also includes the model number, the storage size as it comes in a variety of different sizes and that it’s Windows 8 ready.
The rear of the box has information regarding some of the features such as the Eco Manager, which is a power saving function designed for the power conscious. It also has Ideal for Ultrabooks written in 13 different languages.
Bundled with the Buffalo MiniStation Slim is an instruction leaflet, a warranty information leaflet and a USB 3.0 cable; this is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
Taking a closer look at the MiniStation Slim External HDD, it comes enclosed in a shiny caddy, which is sealed so can’t be opened without damaging it. It has the Buffalo logo at the bottom and I think it looks very nice. This model is the slim version and is 8.8mm thick, so it’s very slim!
On the rear of the caddy, there are safety stickers which are in conjunction with EU laws etc. The Buffalo MiniStation Slim 500GB external HDD is made in China.
At the bottom of the external HDD, we have the input to connect it to the computer via USB. This connection is Micro B and supports a USB 3.0 cable but it’s also backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
CPU – Intel i7 4770K
Motherboard – ASUS Z87 Maximus VI Hero
Memory – Patriot Viper3 8GB (2400MHz CAS10) 2x4GB
Graphics – HD4600 (Onboard)
Cooler – Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme
Storage – Intel 520 240GB SATA3 SSD
PSU – Enermax 1200w Platimax
The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host bus adapters (HBAs), hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.
As you can see, using USB 2.0 caps the performance of the drive so for the best possible performance, I would recommending using a USB 3.0 port if you have one. As you can see from the above result, using USB 3.0 nearly triples the read and write performance of the MiniStation slim making it a worthwhile jump in performance.
CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software. It measure sequential reads/writes speed, measure random 512KB, 4KB, 4KB (Queue Depth=32) reads/writes speed, select test data (Random, 0Fill, 1Fill), provide theme support and Multi-Language support.
Again, as with in ATTO Disk Benchmark, the speeds are nearly triple again when using USB 3.0 over USB 2.0. These is pretty consistent and if you’re looking to make the most out of the MiniStation, then make sure you have a USB 3.0 available however it will still run on USB 2.0, just with reduced speeds.
Now that I have had the chance to test, use and get accustomed with the Buffalo MiniStation Slim USB 3.0 500GB external hard drive, it’s time for my final thoughts…
Starting with the aesthetics and design of the MiniStation Slim, I really do like the overall look of the external HDD. It’s slim, pocket sized and would be perfect for anyone who needed more than the conventional storage of a USB flash drive at a much cheaper price. Both the silver and the black look have a stylish and minimalistic which really works well in my opinion. I feel it’s robust enough to be carried around everywhere you go, holiday, business trip or even to a friends house. One thing I was disappointed with was the inability to remove the HDD from the enclosure, this means you have to use it via the USB cable at all times and although that isn’t usually a problem, it would have been nice to be given the option.
The performance of the drive is exactly where I would expect it to be, it uses a 5400RPM drive so it is silent, but does provide adequate performance. Obviously as you can see from the benchmarks I ran, you get much better performance via USB 3.0 than you do via the older USB 2.0, but not everyone has USB 3.0 ports but I would still recommend you go with a USB 3.0 one, simply because in the future you might upgrade and this would allow you to continue using the MiniStation Slim without the need to change. The difference between the USB 2.0 and 3.0 speeds were nearly tripled which is a hefty performance increase.
The MiniStation Slim comes packed with features and via the Buffalo Tools, you can create a back-up of the drive to protect all the data from a faulty or lost drive, RAMDISK utility and secure lock, which can encrypt data for those who carry around secret files or those who don’t want their files accessed by anyone else. The only issue is, no disc came in the box so this has to be downloaded directly from Buffalo which I was slightly disappointed with.
The price is also a little bit too expensive in my eyes, coming in at £52; you can get a 1TB for that price so why is it so expensive? Is it the USB 3.0? Is it the fact the enclosure is only 8.8mm thin? I really can’t answer that. It’s not too expensive compared to some other options on the market but it certainly isn’t the cheapest. If it was around the £40-50 price mark I could see this being much better value but unfortunately I can’t make dreams come true.
Overall the Buffalo MiniStation Slim is a fantastic drive, with great features and utilities available and while looking great, it serves a good purpose and has been designed with people on the go in mind!
Big thanks to Buffalo for the sample today.
The Buffalo MiniStation Slim is a great example of how external HDDs should be, light, stylish, slim and above everything else, perform exactly how it should. Overall with its good design, stunning aesthetics and slim nature, this makes it the perfect external HDD for those looking for a pocket-sized alternative to a USB flash drive.