Transcend StoreJet 300 2TB review

Transcend Information Inc is a Taiwan-based supplier of memory and storage products, with various SSD, CompactFlash and SD cards as well as computer memory in its extensive portfolio.

New to the brand are a selection of three external storage drives aimed squarely at Mac users. One is based on fast flash memory, but the other two return to slower – but cheaper and larger – hard-disk technology.

The StoreJet 300 we have here is a portable hard drive built with a sleek aluminium alloy enclosure. Inside is a 2.5-inch SATA disk, and just one size option is offered, a huge 2 TB of mobile storage.

The StoreJet 300 is closely related to Transcend’s StoreJet 100 drive, using the same 2000 GB disk from Samsung/Seagate. But besides the change in outer skin from silicone rubber to hard aluminium alloy there’s one significant difference between drives – Thunderbolt.

Where the StoreJet 100 relies on a single Micro-USB 3.0 port for connecting to a host Mac or other PC, the StoreJet 300 additionally includes a Thunderbolt port, so giving Mac users a choice.

It has a single Thunderbolt (Mk 1) port rather than two that would allow daisy chaining, and a single port is a requirement for a device designated as an endpoint that can be powered through the Thunderbolt bus itself.

Thunderbolt adds some extra versatility, but don’t expect much difference in performance since the limiting factor in a disk-based drive today is almost always the hard disk.

You can also safely ignore the misleading marketing message that Transcend communicates, which shows pretty graphs of USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0 vs Thunderbolt performance, assembled to show ascending figures of 480 Mb/s, 5 Gb/s and 10 Gb/s respectively. With a notebook hard disk inside, expect real-world speed to be somewhere below 1 Gb/s.

The StoreJet 300 is beautifully finished in satin anodised aluminium, cosmetically almost identical to the finish of a MacBook. The Transcend name and logo is silk-screen printed on the top surface.

Weighing 263 g, it’s just a little heavier than the 232 g StoreJet 100 drive and feels particularly solid in the hand. Unlike the latter, it also comes with a soft carry case in the box; and two white connection cables, one each for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, both around 50 cm long.

Also included on the drive is the Transcend Elite software for data backup and encryption; and RecoverRx which is designed to recover deleted files. We didn’t try this to see how well it works.

Transcend StoreJet 300: Performance

We first tested the StoreJet 300 drive through its USB 3.0 connection, and found performance was effectively identical to the USB-only StoreJet 100.

In headline sequential speed tests of the near-empty disk, it could read and write at 124 MB/s, which exceeds the 100-110 MB/s we once found with 2.5-inch 5400 rpm drives.

Note that our QuickBench benchmark software measures only the empty drive. As the drive fills toward capacity, we’d expect speed to fall to around half that figure of 124 MB/s.

Small-file transfer performance is important, and here the StoreJet 100 averaged 103 MB/s reads and 119 MB/s writes, when tested with files sized from 4 kB to 1024 kB.

These are excellent results, although they may be artificially increased by some individual results that greatly exceeded possible disk speeds (eg, 249 MB/s for 512 kB files). This is most probably through reading stored data from the drive’s buffer cache, rather than from the disk platters.

Overall random read/write performance was much lower, as is normal from disk technology, with averages over the same file span of just 21 MB/s reads and 69 MB/s writes.

The smallest 4 kB transfers were the slowest, and curiously 4 kB random reads proved unusually slow at just  0.5 kB/s. Random writes were reported with better speed, 18 times faster in fact at up to 9 kB/s.

Turning instead to the Thunderbolt option, the StoreJet 300 performed almost identically when measured by QuickBench.

So we saw the same circa-125 MB/s sequential read and write speeds for large files; and similar mean averages for random read/writes from 4 kB through to 1024 kB. There was a small increase here in random write speeds with the smallest files though, up from 9.0 to 12.7 MB/s.

But to all intents and purposes, it seems that neither USB 3.0 nor Thunderbolt were diminishing native disk performance.

Since both connection protocols work as well as each other, there is generally less call for Thunderbolt’s superior performance and specification for a relatively slow notebook hard disk.

In its favour, Thunderbolt provides less CPU drain on the host computer, although laptop users may also find it poses more power drain which could reduce your laptop’s runtime when relying on battery power.

OUR VERDICT

You are paying a very large premium of 70 percent over the USB 3.0-only StoreJet 100, with no tangible difference in performance since the disk is the limiting factor in transfer speeds. The casework is clearly more upmarket looking than the rubbery StoreJet 100 although you’ll have to take a little more care of a ’300 to ensure it’s not scratched or dented with use.

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