Review: ADATA Nobility NH03 1TB
USB 3.0-Powered Drive
The NH03 is one sexy looking Ninja.
ADATA recently hopped onto the USB 3.0 bandwagon with their Nobility NH03 3.5” external hard disk drive, also known as the “Ninja”. Previously, the company’s external drive offerings were 2.5” drives so they are effectively going into a new market with the NH03. At first glance, most people would agree with me that the Ninja NH03 is a very good looking product. The black, glossy exterior exudes class and will be a nice addition to your desktop; or at least make a very good conversation piece.
The Nobility NH03 comes in three sizes – 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB. ADATA sent us the 1TB model for this review. The unit itself is quite small and light; in addition, the AC/DC adapter is also very compact. It can be placed standing upright or lying flat on its side, thanks to the many exhaust vents on the sides. There’s no active cooling, but I suppose that’s not really necessary and would make the unit rather noisy. For more specifications, refer to the table below.
Useful Software Bundle
The Nobility NH03's specifications.
The NH03 came with some software pre-installed. There’s TurboHDD USB (which I’ll talk about later), PC Clone EX Standard and SecureDriveEX2. PC Clone EX is basically a backup software which utilises the backup button on the front of the NH03 drive to help users keep their data safe. SecureDriveEX2 provides 256-bit AES encryption to keep prying eyes away from sensitive data stored on the NH03. I would say that this is a pretty good bundle as it covers most of the important functions of an external hard drive unit.
Theoretical vs. Reality
The TurboHDD software is really easy to use and does provide a nice performance boost.
USB 3.0 has a theoretical transfer rate of 5.0GB/sec. However, this is not achievable due to the limitations of the mechanical hard disk drive inside. Transfer speeds also depend largely on the size of the files being moved; small, fragmented files obviously move at a slower rate compared to large, sequential files. To speed things up, ADATA has included a utility called TurboHDD USB, developed by a company called FNet. There’s not much information available on how TurboHDD works, but I suspect it provides an additional read/write buffer on the PC to speed file transfers.
To test the ADATA Nobility NH03, we used ATTO’s Disk Benchmark which is widely regarded as a default test for storage devices. To see if TurboHDD makes a difference, we ran the benchmark twice. Do note that we left ATTO’s Disk Benchmark settings at their defaults.
The NH03's performance with TurboHDD turned off (left) and on (right); click to enlarge.
From the first screenshot, it’s pretty obvious that the maximum read rate of the drive tops out at around 133MB/sec while write operations max out at 96MB/sec. With TurboHDD turned on, this increases to 138MB/sec and 113MB/sec respectively. It doesn’t hit 140MB/sec as claimed by ADATA, but it’s not too far off either.
Sequential read/write operations are the NH03 forte.
On CrystalDiskMark 3.0, another popular benchmark, the Nobility NH03 scored roughly the same speeds on sequential read/writes (with TurboHDD on). But looking at the random access scores, this drops to 50MB/sec for both read/write operations performed on 512KB files. Smaller 4KB file scores were even worse. It’s evident that the Nobilty NH03 functions best as a storage drive for large files like photos or videos. If you need to store small files, it's probably better to archive them in a single ZIP/RAR file and then transfer them across.
If you're looking for a speedy and spacious external hard drive, the ADATA Nobility NH03 is certainly a good option to consider. The drive's performance is very impressive, so long as you're working with large files. The software bundle is also very useful and is something other vendors should try to emulate. But the one thing I like most about the NH03 is its good looks. For outstanding performance and good all-round features. this external hard drive certainly deserves our coveted MAX Power Award.