Portable hard drives are a great way to carry around huge amounts of data. Unfortunately, getting that data on or off the drive can be a chore when you have 500GB or more to transport at once, and your only connection is USB 2.0. Of course most days you might only be looking to move a few gigabytes – backing up a DVD or shuffling around your music collection, for instance – but a chance to shave minutes off even these tasks is always welcome. Which is why super-fast USB 3.0 is such a great idea.

It’s well-suited to portable drives. Unlike many eSATA connections, USB 3.0 is hot-swappable, and provides power to the drive so no fiddling with external power is required. And in terms of performance, its speed is theoretically faster than even the SATA 3Gbps connection used for most PC’s internal hard disks. The ADATA Nobility NH01 is one of the new breed of external USB 3.0 hard drives, based on a 2.5in notebook drive, neatly encased in a smart black case.

The top is actually more like a mirror, a reflected dark glass-like panel set off nicely by the company logo and model name in a rainbow badge that changes colour viewed from different angles. The ADATA Nobility NH01 case is smooth and shiny, with a ridge around the edge that aids grip a little.

The only relief from the overall dark gloss attire is a USB 3.0 port on the rear. We wired it up to our test-bench PC to measure that vaunted high-speed connection. What we saw essentially was the maximum performance of the internal 640GB hard disk, running at a typical notebook speed of 5400rpm, and freed from the bottleneck of the USB 2.0 bus.

From CrystalDiskMark we saw sequential read and write speeds of 94MBps, and the same speed with the ATTO Bench 32 benchmark test when using 8192KB data. Down at the 4KB level, the ADATA Nobility NH01 was still transferring at a healthy 42MBps.


As with similar desktop drives we’ve seen with USB 3.0, the ADATA Nobility NH01 is capable of staggeringly fast data transfers. Our only small quibble is the use of a 5400rpm drive here, when slightly faster 7200rpm drives could now be taken advantage more fully in an external case. That, and the current relative paucity of computers – especially laptops – that feature USB 3.0 connectors. But the ADATA Nobility NH01 is a great example of the benefit of using USB 3.0 for a portable hard drive.