Toshiba has been in the hard disk drive business for many years now and the company specialises in the smaller form factor drives meant for portable PCs (i.e. notebooks). As a leader in this segment, Toshiba has also entered into the consumer market with the Canvio series of external hard disk drives, two of which we are reviewing here. In addition, the company has also moved into the SSD segment, offering after-market upgrade kits for users who want a faster storage solution. And the Canvio SSD is the third product which we will be looking at.
The first of the two magnetic platter drives we are testing here is the Canvio Connect, which comes in various colours and three capacities: 500GB, 1TB and 2TB; ours is the 500GB blue variant. The second drive is the Canvio Slim II (PC) drive, which is also a 1TB (a 500GB version is available) drive. Both drives offer the faster USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port, which is the new standard nowadays. The Canvio SSD is a 128GB model, which is the lowest capacity offered; there’a also a 256GB and a 512GB model.
Speaking of USB 3.0, users should avoid getting external drives with the older USB 2.0 port. There used to be a price premium, but these days, USB 3.0 is getting so common and the price difference has also all but disappeared, so it doesn’t really make sense getting the slower interface. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible, so even if your PC doesn’t currently have any USB 3.0 ports, the drive will work fine. Plus, you will future-proof your purchase.
As for the drives themselves, the two external drives are quite typical – both have a Micro-B USB 3.0 port and that’s about it. The drives get their power from the connector so there are no other ports or connectors. The Canvio Connect has a curved plastic outer shell while the Slim II drive has a metallic exterior. Both drives come with a USB 3.0 cable. In addition, both the USB drives come with extra software, namely NTI Backup Now EZ and Pogoplug for PC. The former is an easy-to-use, complete backup solution which helps users keep their most important files safe, while Pogoplug is a cloud storage solution, similar to Dropbox or Skydrive.
The SSD however is pretty plain; there is no external enclosure, as it is meant to be an internal drive. It has an aluminum outer shell and the usual SATA and power ports found on internal hard disk drives.
Moving on to performance, we tested all the drives using the following hardware:
- Intel DZ87KLT-75K motherboard
- Intel Core i7-4770k processor
- Kingston HyperX 2GB DDR3 1600MHz (KHX1600C9AD3B1/2G)
- Kingston 128GB SSDNow V300 Solid-State Drive
- Windows 7 32-bit Service Pack 1 with all the latest updates
- CrystalDiskMark ver. 3.0.3
- ATTO Disk Benchmark 32-bit ver. 2.4.7
The SSD drive was connected to the motherboard via the on-board Intel SATA 6 Gb/s port. The other two USB 3.0 external drives were hooked up to the Intel DZ87KLT-75K motherboard’s on-board Renesas USB 3.0 controller.
The two external hard drives were tested together while the SSD will have its results posted separately, to avoid skewing the charts.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
Both drives had nearly identical maximum write speeds, at 55MB/sec. These were attained at the 64k cluster size mark, all the way up to 8MB. There was slightly more variation for read speeds, but the 500GB Canvio Connect settled at 109.3 MB/sec while the Slim 1TB managed 94.4MB/sec. These are both very good performance numbers and clearly there wasn’t an I/O bottleneck, but rather both drives reaching their transfer limits.
The Canvio SSD, which isn’t constrained by the limitations of reading/writing off a magnetic platter posted very high scores of 543MB/sec for reads and 500MB/sec for writes. According to Toshiba’s website, the drive is capable of 552MB/sec and 501MB/sec for reading and writing operations respectively. That’s not too far off the mark, and pretty good for a newcomer to the retail SSD game.
Just to make sure that our numbers are correct, we also ran benchmarks using CrytalDiskMark 3.0 x64 which is also quite widely used. Again, both drives had pretty similar write speeds, of around 58 to 59MB/sec. CDM gave the Canvio Slim 1TB a slightly lower write score of 90MB/sec, which is lower than the 94.4MB/sec in ATTO. In any case, that’s not a very large difference.
As for the Canvio SSD, CDM measured its read speed at 530.4MB/sec while writes fell to 478.9MB/sec which is slightly lower than ATTO’s measurement. Still, that’s not TOO far off the mark.
Great drives from a reliable brand
Both the external USB 3.0 drives in this review performed admirably, offering users good speeds. The extra pre-loaded software provides even better value, but some users may just format the drives without checking out the extras. The Canvio Connect is prone to scratches, while the Canvio slim, with its brushed aluminum chassis, isn’t. There’s no pouch or case included, so maybe that’s something that Toshiba should look into.
The Canvio SSD is also a very fast drive, but it does look very bare, compared to other SSDs from Kingston or ADATA. Toshiba didn’t bother to give it a nicer looking chassis or provide a 2.5″ to 3.5″ mounting caddy.
Overall, I would heartily recommend the Canvio Connect USB 3.0 for its above-average performance and the Canvio SSD for its fast data throughput.
Canvio Connect USB 3.0 500GB
Recommended retail price: RM179
Canvio Slim II 1TB (PC)
Recommended retail price: RM269
Canvio SSD 128GB Bare Drive
Recommended retail price: RM399