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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

NEW and FAST: FirmTek miniSwap/U3
Bus-Powered USB 3.0 Storage

Originally posted Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

FirmTek will soon be shipping a unique USB 3.0 storage device. Unique? What could be unique about a USB enclosure? I'll answer that soon, but first check out the graphs.

We hooked up the FirmTek miniSwap/U3 to the 15" Retina MacBook Pro's left USB 3.0 port. We mounted a 6Gbps SSD and ran some tests. Then we added a second miniSwap/U3 to the USB 3.0 port on the right side, inserted a 6Gb/s SSD, and ran the same tests with the two drives striped (RAID 0).

Intech's QuickBench - The Custom Sequential Test (1024MB) gives a quick snapshot of the large file transfer speed. We post the average of 5 cycles. (HIGHEST number means the FASTEST in megabytes per second.)

GRAPH LEGEND
two 6G SSDs = two miniSwap/U3 USB 3.0 enclosures with 6G SSDs -- each connected to a separate USB 3.0 port on the Retina MacBook Pro and striped (RAID 0) using Apple Disk Utility.
one 6G SSD = one miniSwap/U3 USB 3.0 enclosure with 6G SSD connected to a USB 3.0 port on the Retina MacBook Pro.
(The 6Gbps SSDs used in this test were Samsung 840 Pros.)

AJA System Test is used to measure large sequential read and write speed (which emulate playback and capture of HD video). Settings were 8.0GB File Size, 2048x1556 10-bit RGB Video Frame Size, file system cache disabled. (HIGHEST number means FASTEST in megabytes per second.)

WHAT's UNIQUE ABOUT THE MINISWAP/U3?

IT'S FAST
The FirmTek miniSwap/U3 is the fastest USB 3.0 device we have tested to date. For that matter it's the
fastest bus powered storage device we've tested to date regardless of the interface type (including Thunderbolt). We tested with 6Gbps SSDs to show the full speed potential. (Have you noticed the price of SSDs is dropping?)

We did some quick benchmarking of three notebook HDDs (WD Green 2TB, WD Black 750GB, Seagate Hybrid 1TB). They clocked 113MB/s, 131MB/s, and 118MB/s respectively on the large sequential transfers. The SSDs were 5 to 10 times faster on the small random transfers. However, if capacity and price is your priority, these notebook HDDs will do the job.

Though the test results in the graphs above were from the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, we also tested the miniSwap/U3 on USB 3.0 ports of the 2012 iMac, 2012 MacBook Air, 2012 Mac mini. The results were essentially the same. Fast.

If you ordered your iMac or Mac mini or MacBook Pro with a slow drive, you don't have to crack it open to install a fast drive. Just pop a fast drive in the miniSwap/U3, install OS X, and boot from it instead.

IT'S CONVENIENT
No mounting of the drive is required. No screws. No trays. Just open miniSwap's door, slide the drive in, close the door, rock'n'roll.
Use a 6Gbps SSD one minute for a Photoshop Scratch volume. Next minute, dismount and eject that drive to insert a Green 2TB HDD for a Time Machine backup. It mounts without rebooting your Mac. Yes. Hotswap.

The miniSwap/U3 runs all standard notebook HDDs and SSDs on bus power. No AC adapter needed. Nice for Apple laptops or even iMac owners wanting minimal clutter and cables in view.

IT'S COOL and QUIET
No fan. Uses passive cooling through ventilation holes and heat transfer through the aluminum case. Our stress test of a 7200 rpm HDD inside the miniSwap/U3 showed temperatures only a few degrees above that of the internal SSD of the MacBook Pro and the internal HDD of the iMac -- both of which were at idle and are cooled by a fan.

STRONG, QUALITY CONSTRUCTION
The case is made from sturdy aluminum similar to what's used on the Mac Pro. It's designed to be stackable in case you plan to use more than one.

AFFORDABLE
We will post the pricing in a few days but suffice to say it will be surprisingly reasonable.

BOTTOM LINE
If you are looking for a fast, affordable, convenient, bus-powered notebook storage device for your 2012 Mac with USB 3.0 ports, the FirmTek miniSwap/U3 is definitely worth strong consideration.

Feedback or comments? Contact me , mad scientist.
Also, you
can follow me on
Twitter @barefeats

WHERE TO BUY THE FIRMTEK SERITEK/U3 storage device
Soon you will be able to order the
miniSwap/U3 direct from the FirmTek online store.

WHERE TO BUY SOLID STATE DRIVES

Order the Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gbps SSDs from OWC

Order the SwiftData 6Gbps SSDs from Trans International

Order the Samsung 840 Pro SSDs from Amazon or NewEgg

WHERE TO BUY HIGH CAPACITY NOTEBOOK HDDs.

Click the "Where To Buy" button on the Western Digital Green Mobile 2TB HDD page.

Click the "Where to Buy" button on the Hitachi Global Storage Travelstar 5K1000 page.

See the list of dealers on the Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid 750G Drive page.

WHERE TO BUY APPLE PRODUCTS
Help us earn a commission by ordering your Apple products using this link:

For UK readers, visit Apple Store UK.

Adobe.com

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copyright 2013 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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