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eSATA Flash Drive Performance Tests

Supercharge Your Flash Drive with eSATA
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We used HD Tach RW version 3.0.4.0 to test these drives. A Seagate Momentus 7200.2 160 GB hard disk drive was used to make speed comparisons. We ran each test a minimum of 10 times with reboots in between. Numbers listed here are averages.

Random Access

The random access measurement is the amount of time it takes for the drive to access randomly selected data on the drive, while the opposite of this is sequential access. So, if you had 10 numbered blocks ranging from 1 to 10 and placed them in order, the sequence would be 1, 2, 3 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 with sequential access. Conversely, random access might look like this, 3, 8, 1, 6, 5, 9, 2, 3, 10, 4, 7.

So, random access is a good estimate of the real-world access speed of a drive. Here are the random-access-speed test results:

Average Read

Using HD Tach’s full benchmark feature, available in the purchased version, we observed the following average read-speed test results.

Average Write

The write performance of a flash drive usually falls below the read performance. That is because, unlike a hard disk drive, which just writes over the old data, flash memory actually erases the data and then writes the new data. The processor requires an extra step, which results in slower performance.

Burst speed

Flash drives can “burst” performance at a maximum speed. This just shows the maximum possible performance for just a short time.

As you can see, the eSATA flash drives perform enormously better than USB flash drives do. 

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  • -2 Hide
    BigBag , February 6, 2009 11:44 PM
    wait for usb 3.0
  • 1 Hide
    jivdis1x , February 7, 2009 12:32 AM
    Sata IO(6.0Gb/s) is available this year. USB 3.0(4.8Gb/s) not ready til 2010
  • 1 Hide
    BillLake , February 7, 2009 12:59 AM
    USB 3.0 is slated to support up to 4.8Gbps, eSATA supports up to 3.0Gbps now. SATA 6Gb/s is approved so that should also trickle down to eSATA. Since current USB suffers from a loss due to overhead of 25% the new 3.0 USB must be more effecient to compete with SATA 3 GB/s. It should also be noted that eSATA can support RAID and other HDD type features not available in USB devices. This could get interesting.
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , February 7, 2009 8:48 AM
    I doubt 3.0 will be able to compete. It still uses the host CPU for low level protocol processing, and thus, will never reach it's max bandwidth outside of the theoretical.

    I doubt even USB 3.0 will be able to out preform even SATA 3 GB/s in real world testing.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 7, 2009 11:15 AM
    Currently USB has a loss of about 25% due to overhead. If that loss continues then it would perform at 3.6 Gb/s. I think if eSATA flash and HDD if they can get powered eSATA ports in more than laptops, could really take off now and not wait until 2010 for USB 3.0.
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 7, 2009 2:11 PM
    Thanks for the article but why is it on Toms Guide and not Toms Hardware? Even your own charts use the Toms Hardware logo!
  • 1 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , February 7, 2009 5:08 PM
    JeanLuc,
    So sorry to confuse you! External USB (and, now, eSATA) thumb drives are definitely a Tom's Guide consumer electronics product. Apologies for the logo confusion.

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , February 8, 2009 5:52 AM
    Even on USB, those drive put my drives to shame :(  Now if only they'd start selling them here!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 9, 2009 2:27 AM
    I have a Throttle and for unknown reasons it DOES not run at 90mb/s on an exresscard esata setup. Tried several machines. All I could get is 40mb/s. Maybe esata from the MB would be faster. Need to try it.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 9, 2009 10:45 PM
    Hey bobo0, I could not get the Throttle or other to 90MB/sec even with the internal SATA connector on a motherboard. I could get 75-80 very consistently on my laptops and desktops so do not be discouraged. Try disabling any power management on your laptop as I experienced much slower performance when power management was set to give the most battery life.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 10, 2009 8:39 PM
    Not sure how 6.2 was obtained on Windows Experience rating, since the scale goes from 1.0 to 5.9:

    http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/help/0fee4637-8b21-41f1-87f6-66d2205420d61033.mspx
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , February 10, 2009 10:41 PM
    Thomas PayneNot sure how 6.2 was obtained on Windows Experience rating, since the scale goes from 1.0 to 5.9:http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/w [...] 61033.mspx

    if you had cared to read you're own link, you would have seen this:
    Quote:
    As newer, faster hardware becomes available, Microsoft will increase the top end of the rating scale to allow scores of 6.0 and higher. That means the score you see today will have the same meaning at any point in your computer's lifetime. For example, even if the top end of the WEI range increases to 8.0, my computer's base score will remain at 2.2 if I don't make any hardware changes.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 10, 2009 11:30 PM
    6.2 was in Windows 7 and there is a screen shot of it shown. So obviously it does go higher now. Thanks for pointing that out.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 11, 2009 8:24 PM
    I got a few pings on where to find the RiData unit. It is at
    http://www.amazon.com/Ridata-RDESSD32G-R-BX-External-Solid-Connectors/dp/B001S2PLHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1234390469&sr=8-1

    You can find the OCZ and Kanguru unit is at www.kanguru.com
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 13, 2009 10:00 PM
    Hey everyone, I wanted to let you know that Kanguru Solutions is working hard to resolve their issue and watch for them to rebound with a faster drive soon.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 16, 2009 4:26 PM
    find another place to buy:

    http://www.allstarshop.com/shop/product.asp?dept%5Fid=55&pid=23040&sid=XGS30UH6XA8V9HNB9X6CXH25D2CQAAC9
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , February 25, 2009 12:44 AM
    For anyone interested, Kanguru system is releasing a new version of their flash drive. It will use a newer interface to speed up the read and write access of their drive. They are saying that the issue seen here was that they were first to market and had an older PCB that proved to be slower. Watch for this update.
  • 0 Hide
    BillLake , March 25, 2009 10:23 AM
    Kanguru Solutions has updated their eSATA e-Flash drive as a direct result of our Tom’s Guide article.

    As a direct result of our testing, Kanguru Solutions learned they were using an older version of the eSATA controller on the flash drive. This accounted for their slower performance during our test. They have corrected the issue and their performance is now equal to or greater than the other two drives. Testing using the eSATA interface showed random access went from 0.4 to 0.2 ms, average read went from 66.7 to a new high of 80.8 MB/sec, average write want from 48 to 52.6 MB/sec. This resolves all the issue with the eSATA e-Flash drive making it a top performer with the best package.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 4, 2011 4:24 PM
    Here we are, in Feb. 2011, eSata flash drives are hard to find and still obscenely expensive. I really want one because all my Fujitsu and Toshiba laptops have a powered eSata port, and I can't wait for USB 3.0 to arrive. Too bad we still don't have many choices on eSata flash drives. Maybe very few people actually care about flash drive speeds.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 20, 2012 7:12 PM
    I own a MacBookPro. I am trying to find a way to connect via eSATA to an external drive . I have seen the express card adapter but I don't have a express card slot on my laptop. I do have a slot for those little memory chips that one uses for cameras.
    Has anyone come up with a way of using this slot as a gateway to eSATA connectivity?
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