USB hard drives going the way of 8” and 5.25” floppies….

I am a convert to eSATA drives, external SATA docking bays where you can just drop in a raw SATA drive.  On my new machines, the port is already there. On my older machines with SATA on the motherboard, it’s just a matter of buying something like Vantec NexStar NST-D100SU 2.5-Inch/3.5-Inch SATA to USB 2.0 and eSATA Hard Drive Dock which comes with a card tab with eSata and the cable to connect it to the motherboard sata connectors.


For older machines, you need to buy an eSATA card, or Sata card with eSata Connector. There are also eSata cards for laptops (but not for Netbooks, since the only ports seem to be USB ports on most netbooks.  You want to make sure that the eSATA is SATA 2… why?  Bus speed…

BUS Maximum speed in MB/Sec
USB 1 1.5
USB 2 60
SATA 1 150
SATA 2 300
SCSI-320 320


So you can see why I am a convert: 5x the speed of a USB drive. In fact if you have a BlueRay burner which uses SATA, you could just move it  from machine to machine as needed.



I got some direct email asking about USB3. USB3 cards and drives are not generally available – even if they are:

  • The cost of a USB3 external drive will always be more expensive than a bare SATA drive (after all the USB3 drive would have a SATA drive, enclosure and electronics costs).
  • The performance of a USB3 drive can never be better than an eSATA drive coming off a contemporary motherboard or card (after all there’s an internal SATA in the USB3 drive!)
  • SATA 600 is pending – and available on boards such as ASUS P6X58D-E, with the first SATA-600 drives announced at the end of 2009.  So the first through the gate for easy and cheap availability will be eSATA 600, far before SATA 600 are shipped with USB3 enclosures (at premium prices)
    • WD Caviar Black 1 TB Internal hard drive - 600 MBps - 7200 rpm, runs at $103.00
    • Buffalo DriveStation USB 3.0 1 TB External hard drive - 5.0 Gbps (SuperSpeed USB) runat at $128 (no info on the drive speed, it may just be SATA 300)…

IMHO – eSATA is still the way to go for both serious gamers and developers.


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