Maximum PC Staff Nov 13, 2008

SimpleTech Redrive

At A Glance

polar bear

Saves energy; speedy TurboUSB performance.

flying squirrel

Only write speeds are improved by TurboUSB.

In some alternate world, Fabrik’s SimpleTech Redrive is winning a Kick Ass award from Green PC—Maximum PC’s eco-conscious sister publication. This is the most environmentally friendly external storage device we’ve ever tested. From its packaging, to its construction, to its guts, the Redrive is designed with a single purpose in mind: saving the planet. As a byproduct of this, the drive saves you energy and, consequently, money.

Saving energy generally doesn’t lead to superior speeds in the storage world. And it wouldn’t with the Redrive either if the drive had connection options other than USB. Over an eSATA connection, for example, its internal 500GB Western Digital Caviar Green drive would perform far more slowly than a majority of the external devices we’ve tested. This is because the Caviar Green drive modulates between 5,400rpm and 7,200rpm, sacrificing performance for energy savings when compared to the standard 7,200rpm hard drives used by most external storage products.

The Redrive's shell is constructed of bamboo and recycled aluminum. The latter doubles as a handy heatsink for the hard drive itself.

Since the Redrive is constrained to the pipeline of a USB connection, the Caviar Green’s overall speed is of less relevance. In fact, the Redrive ends up beating every other USB external device we’ve tested in our synthetic benchmarks. The catch is that you won’t notice any real-world difference, given that it beats the speeds of similar USB external drives by less than five percent.

However, the Redrive also comes bundled with the same TurboUSB technology that’s included with Buffalo’s external storage offerings. This proprietary application allows the drive to shoot past the traditional 37MB/s speed cap we’ve experienced with all other external USB drives.

Unlike Buffalo’s DriveStation Combo 4, the Redrive has a slight issue with its TurboUSB functionality. The software pushes the Redrive’s average write speeds 20 percent faster than normal, and faster than any USB-based drive we’ve tested, but it fails to increase the drive’s read speeds. This isn’t the case with the DriveStation Combo 4, which enjoys speed increases of approximately 20 percent on both its reads and writes when compared to standard USB speeds. The consequence of this is that the DriveStation Combo 4 edges out the Redrive in our real-world benchmark, PCMark05, by 2 percent.

A simple scheduled-backup application rounds out the Redrive’s feature set. While the discrepancies between the device’s TurboUSB read and write speeds are a slight ding, there is nothing else about the Redrive that makes us sour. In this case, green is golden.


DriveStation Combo 4 (USB)DriveStation Combo 4 (TurboUSB)
HDTach Burst (MB/s) 35.1
40.6 36.2WNR
HDTach Random Acess (ms) 14.8 14.9 16.416.4
HDTach Avg. Read (MB/s) 34.9 34.9 33.9
HDTach Avg. Write (MB/s) 34.9 43.8 34.2
PCMark 05 Overall 3,468 3,757 3,6983,833
Best scores are bolded. HD Tach version used.

SimpleTech Redrive

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