Some testing and conclusions
SuperSpeed hardware is all well and good, but is it really any quicker than good old USB 2.0 gear? To find out, I used a highly elaborate benchmark of my own design: copying 3.81GB of files to and from the drives and timing the process with a stopwatch. The 3.81GB data set was made up of five video files (totaling 2.82GB), 98 music files (631MB), and 1,324 miscellaneous TR-related files weighing in at a combined 383MB. That ought to cover most types of data transfers—a few big files, some medium-sized ones, and lots of tiny guys, respectively.
I tested the Mukii enclosures and the StarTech dock using a 3.5" Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB and a 2.5" Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB. The Mukii enclosures were tested with the appropriate drive for their size; the dock was tested with both the Caviar and the Scorpio.
The machine on which all of this testing took place, in case you're wondering, was an open test bench with a Core i5-750 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F1 system drive, a Radeon HD 6850 graphics card, and a 750W Corsair power supply. Some of the PCI slots were blue, some of the chips had heatsinks on them, and the fans spun at an average speed. And there were cables—lots of them.
Here's how our various contenders performed when data was written to them from this illustrious build:
Now, here's how they performed when data was copied back to the test machine:
If you were still sitting on the fence, well, it's time to hop down. No matter which direction our 3.81GB file set was going, it took about twice as long to get there with USB 2.0 than with USB 3.0.
You can work out the precise transfer speeds with a pocket calculator, but the important metric here is time saved: over a minute per transfer. That kind of savings adds up. If you're doing a few transfers a day, five days a week, four-and-a-little-more weeks a month, you might soon find yourself saving entire hours. Even if you make minimum wage, hours are valuable.
I think it's helpful to think of those gains in the context of processor upgrades, too. Any self-respecting enthusiast will shell out one, two, three hundred dollars for a 20%, maybe 50% performance increase over his previous CPU every year or two. Here, you're looking at a 100% performance increase for the price of a $30 adapter card and a hard drive enclosure that's just about as cheap. Unless you're the type of enthusiast whose files will all eventually disappear without having left their storage device of birth (we know you exist), that's quite a bargain.
Finally, props go out to Mukii for making two sleek, speedy, and easy-to-use USB 3.0 enclosures—plus an affordable PCIe adapter card to match. I like the low-key and slim enclosure design as well as the aluminum casings, which ought to provide a decent measure of durability as well as potentially better thermal dissipation than a plastic shell. Mukii's prices might not be bottom-shelf material, but really, a USB 3.0 hard drive enclosure isn't something you ought to cheap out on, given how long it should remain useful.