|Patriot Gauntlet PCGT25S USB3 Drive Enclosure|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 23 August 2010|
Page 5 of 5
Patriot Gauntlet PCGT25S Final Thoughts
External USB drive enclosures have been around for many years, and offer a good way to make use of a spare drive. The slow transfer rates of USB 2.0 limited the utility of these drives somewhat, although they were still useful for backup. But as our tests demonstrated, a huge increase in performance is possible with the new SuperSpeed USB interface...provided you have a storage device fast enough to take advantage of it.
You might wonder why SATA is faster in linear transfer speeds and much faster in IOPS, given that its raw data rate is only 3Gb/s, as opposed to USB 3.0's 4.8Gb/s. The increase in transfer speeds is because the SATA protocol is optimized for storage devices; it has little overhead as well as supporting features like Native Command Queueing (assuming the drive is run in AHCI mode) that can make the best use of the drive; USB is a more general protocol, used for everything from keyboards to scanners to cameras to...well, you get the idea. Also, I suspect that there's a significant amount of overhead involved in the protocol conversion between USB and SATA; this would explain the dramatically higher scores SATA achieves in IOPS tests. So while you're not going to want to keep your MySQL database on a drive in this enclosure, you'll still get great performance in the tasks products of this type are generally used for: backup and file transfer. Although Benchmark Reviews used an SSD for this testing, you'll see significant advantages over USB 2.0 with higher-end 2.5" hard drives as well.
The price, at about $30, is reasonable. The extruded aluminum enclosure is a quality piece of work. Still, you can see where Patriot shaved the pennies: the lack of rubber feet (how much would that have cost, really?) and the placement of the activity light and backup switch on the back of the drive (so they wouldn't have to run wires to the front of the case) don't impress. There's no documentation other than a small multi-lingual sheet showing how to install the drive, but the product is simple enough that documentation really isn't needed.
Patriot includes a backup program, PC Clone EX Light, with the unit. I haven't covered it in this review simply because it's extremely basic software, with an inelegant interface and mediocre performance to boot. Also, it locked up my test system on one occasion, requiring a reboot, which makes it hard to recommend. While it can do differential backups (i.e. only backing up changed files), since it lacks the ability to perform backups automatically at defined times or intervals (although it can be easily invoked with the button on the back of the Gauntlet), most people would be better served by Windows 7's built-in backup software or free backup software like CrashPlan.
Gauntlet SuperSpeed USB Edition Conclusion
The performance of the enclosure in USB 3.0 mode was excellent, approaching that of native SATA in linear read/write benchmarks. However, the performance was much lower than SATA in IOPS measurements, probably due to the overhead of protocol coversion. This is likely a protocol conversion issue that Patriot can't do anything about.
The enclosure has an appealing appearance, with contrasting textures of black anodized metal set off by polished edges.
The construction was very high quality: the extruded aluminum casing and its front and back panels fit together perfectly. The lack of rubber feet and the placement of indicators and controls on the back of the unit are a minus, though.
Functionally, the enclosure works very well, connecting to both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. The inclusion of the USB power cable means it would work on USB 1.1 ports as well, but the performance would be so slow (1/40th that of USB 2.0) that it would be useless. I'd prefer that Patriot ditch the power cable and use the money saved to add rubber feet and a front panel activity light.
At about $30 at Newegg, the Gauntlet SuperSpeed USB Edition is a little more expensive than its competition, but the quality of construction helps offset this difference.
+ High-quality appearance and construction
- No rubber feet
Final Score: 8.7 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
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