Buffalo MiniStation, what performance?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Cubytus, May 20, 2013.

  1. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Hello all,

    I was looking at Buffalo's MiniStation, hoping it would replace a FireWire 800-based drive for virtual machine's hard disk hosting, but then I looked at their performance rate, and it is barely above the ones for FireWire800.

    Is it because it is a first-generation device, or simply that Thunderbolt is a great hype and nothing more?
  2. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    The bottleneck might be the HD used in the device itself. Most top out at approximately 150MB/s. Most newer HD have the SATAII interface with maxes out at 300MB/s (and only SSD come close to pushing that limit). FW800 can top 400MB/s, so the bottle neck isn't the FW800. A 150MB/s HD will only read/write at 150MB/s regardless.
  3. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Lots of confusion here!
    For the numbers at hands, Mb = megabits, MB = megabytes, so 1MB = 8Mb.

    FireWire 800 HDD actually top out around 90MB/s, and the MiniStation is rated for 110MB/s max. An improvement, but a small one. Enough to justify choosing TB when shopping around for the new, but not enough to replace a FW800 drive.

    SATAI would have been 150MB/s, but these older drives have been phased out (they didn't support NCQ), mostly, in favor of SATAII, for 300MB/s (3Gb/s). So FW800 is clearly a bottleneck when coupled to a SATAII drive.

    I still don't understand how a modern SATA II drive wouldn't do better plugged in ThunderBolt than a first-generation SATA I drive. Is Buffalo putting older drives in its TB enclosures? Virtual machines access's main bottleneck is throughput, on par with lengthy seek times (a few ms times thousands of access WILL slow down the machine).
  4. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Oops, my bad. FW800 in theory tops out at 100MB/s, but in practices is around 80-90MB/s as you said.

    When ever you see the maximum output, take that with a grain of salt. It's marketing, after all. In theory USB 2.0 (480Mb/s) is faster than FW400 (400Mb/s). In reality, I could get 150Mb/s out of USB 2.0 on a good day, with the planets aligned.

    The 150MB/s that HDD tops out at is also a theoretical max which means you MIGHT get that output at the outer edge of the platter and doing sequential read/write. You'll be looking at around 100MB/s (Max) on a typical 5400RPM drive. On the inner edge, you'll be looking at around 50-75MB/s max (again, in theory).

    In reality, we get nowhere near the theoretical max. With fragmented HD, the speed drops even more, since the drive head needs move around much, much more.

    So typically, the bottle neck lies within the HD mechanism, not the interface. That is the same HD with SATAII isn't 2x faster than SATA. Make no mistake, SATAII drive would be faster in nearly every category, but not 2x as fast as the numbers hint at.
  5. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    USB 2.0 performance is reputedly poor compared to FW800, and for this reason exactly, I selected a 7200rpm drive mechanism with a FW800 interface, before TB was introduced.

    Should I understand that, even with a SATAII interface, the drive inside wouldn't be able to perform much better than its SATAI counterpart?
  6. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Some hard drives like the 4TB WD Black go beyond SATA-I/FireWire800 speeds and would benefit to some degree from SATA-II. However, SATA 6GBit/s (aka SATA-III) introduced new features such as NCQ, which improve the drive performance even if the speeds are still within the range of SATA-II.
  7. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Are you talking about the Buffalo MiniStation ThunderBolt drives?
    If so the bottleneck IS the drive itself, not the interface.
    The drives are faster then Thunderbolt, but the limiting factor is the speed of the HDD inside the actual case - not Thunderbolt. The beauty of Thunderbolt is that you can run an external SSD rather then a HDD, and get insanely fast speeds.

    In fact, I have recently reviewed the MiniStation ThunderBolt drives in my YouTube channel - link in sig - you should find the review on the first page. It shows the SSD version being MUCH faster then the HDD version, even though they use the same connection interface.

    I also have the drives up for sale ;)
  8. chambone macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2011
    Mine does 180 MB/s because that's the write limit of the sata2 ssd I put in there, but I'm pretty sure no 2.5" drive on the market today can saturate it. If you plan on using a spinning hard drive there's no point in using a thunderbolt enclosure (beats me why they sell them like that, because these things are not meant to be opened up). FW 800 is the cheaper route in that case.
  9. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Does it means that there is no NCQ-enabled drives in 2.5" form factor yet? It would have improved seek times by a great deal in my application, if I am not mistaken. In the meantime, there is always RAID-0, but no RAID-0 TB drive seem to exist at the moment in 2.5" form factor.

    I have more than 400GB worth of virtual machines. This doesn't mean I have tons of OSes, but rather that I am taking snapshots before major changes, and for debugging purposes.

    This would make the matching drive unaffordable, alas, while the 256GB SSD is already extremely expensive at more than $400.

    Installing a 256GB SSD in the MBP wouldn't be so useful in itself, as it would have to rely even more heavily on external storage.

    Truth is, SSDs are lightning fast, but how does it translate in real-world situation as a system drive, where I would be typing in, say, a browser window, reading PDFs or editing documents while listening to music and of course, the low-intensity downloads in the background? Only occasionally I wish the MBP was faster.

    The only I/O intensive application I can think of at the moment are virtual machines, that have the undesirable effect (for an SSD) to require large capacities.
  10. kapalua12, May 22, 2013
    Last edited: May 22, 2013

    kapalua12 macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2010
    United States
    Which is better, Lacie Rugged 256 SSD Thunderbolt or Buffalo 256 GB Thunderbolt SSD?

    Started new thread
  11. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Link please.
  12. Giuly macrumors 68040


    The 1TB 7200RPM HGST Travelstar as well as all 2.5" WD Black drives support NCQ, but the question is whether they're faster than SATA-I in Real-World Applications regardless.

    Files load faster and applications open instantly. A 256GB SSD is not $400, even the high-end drives are < $250.

    Also, you could replace your optical drive with an SSD using the OWC DataDoubler and replace your hard drive with the 1TB HGST Travelstar, and create a 1.25TB Fusion Drive that caches the most used blocks on the SSD, and thus speeding up the load and save times of your VMs while maintaining enough capacity to actually hold them.
  13. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    I can't tell for the Hitachi drive. I assume it is the one present in this G-Drive FW800, but spends a lot of time seeking when running multiple virtual machines.

    The 256GB Thunderbolt SSD described by Ifti is $400. The one you linked to is unavailable. Here, it costs upwards of $300 and yes, I do account for taxes and shipping. (link) (link)

    I don't want to replace a drive I am regularly using for to create bootable discs, and will only consider replacing the optical as the last option. Plus, it would consume more power overall with that upgrade.

    Indeed the Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000 would be a very interesting upgrade since it is more performant, but then again, is it really the best platter-based HDD in 2.5" form?

    It wasn't available when the MBP was bought, however, and I am still somewhat reluctant to Hitachi or other Asian-designed HDD since I have a history of premature breaks with almost all of those I used.

    Would it really be more performant in a Fusion setup as VMs are not exactly frequently used, so caching often-used blocks may not improve things in that regard?

    Even given that, it would make a pretty expensive upgrade:
    256 GB SSD: 300$
    1TB HDD: 100$
    Data doubler: $50
    External enclosure for the optical drive: $20

    Of course, I can cut on these if I can sell the used drives, but nobody seems to be willing to buy such drives. I have been selling rarely-used drives for the past half year, not a single interested buyer.

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