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OCZ Throttle (eSATA Flash Drive)

OCZ Throttle is a revolutionary portable device. It combines the portability of the flash drive but also incorporate the performance of the eSATA port. As a result, it’s an amalgam of a flash drive that has the SATA’s transfer rate.

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INTRODUCTION

OCZ has recently launched the Throttle. It is one of the kind portable storage as it is a flashed based drive but uses eSATA port and USB for data transfer. By combining both technologies, OCZ virtually ensures that the drive will have the better transfer rate and at the same time, keeps the durability of the flash based storage. Bjorn3D is quite fortunate that the good folks at OCZ are kind enough to ship one of of the Throttle drives to us for a review. Today, we shall see how this thing performs. Can this device revolutionize the storage on the go? Let’s find out.

Features and Specification

  • eSATA interface (plug directly into any compatible motherboard or laptop with powered eSATA port)
  • Additional mini USB 2.0 port (type B)
  • Read: Up to 90MB/sec*
  • Write: Up to 30MB/sec*
  • True Plug and Play
  • Available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB capacities
  • Includes mini USB cable for non-powered eSATA ports or USB access
  • 2-year Warranty
  • Part Numbers
    • 8GB – OCZESATATHR8G
    • 16GB – OCZESATATHR16G
    • 32GB – OCZESATATHR32G

ABOUT OCZ

From OCZ’s website:

Entering the memory market in August 2000, OCZ Technology was built around the determination to manufacture the best high speed DDR and RDRAM. OCZ was founded by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, and our commitment to the end-user has not digressed. OCZ Technology has been an innovator in many areas. We were the first manufacturer to make Dual Channel optimized memory available to the public, which originally took advantage of nVidia’s Twinbank or Dual DDR architecture, found in their nForce chipset. We have now taken that technology and tailored it for the Canterwood, and Granite Bay chipset’s. OCZ developed and was the first to implement ULN technology, which has been a critical element in our manufacturing process for some time. We at OCZ diligently work to improve communication with CPU and motherboard chipset manufacturers prior to the release of their products. Only in this manner can we fine-tune our memory’s SPD settings, ensuring a synergistic relationship between the memory module, memory controller, and microprocessor. In today’s rapidly evolving semiconductor industry, such communication is not simply research, but a necessary component of our manufacturing process.

At OCZ we have one primary goal, and it is to make sure that every customer is 110% satisfied. Every employee at OCZ is dedicated to accomplishing this goal. Our engineers are constantly developing the fastest and best performing products. Our finance department works every angle to bring customers our product at the best price. Our marketing department ensures all the information needed to make an informed purchase is available and presented in an easy to understand format. The technical support department constantly studies and tests the latest hardware to be as informed as possible to help you with any issue you may have. Our customer service department is filled with customer satisfaction fanatics who will refuse to let you be unsatisfied.

OCZ THROTTLE

 

Currently, the Throttle comes in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB storage space. We have got the 16GB version in the house. The packaging of the Throttle is unusually simplistic which is somewhat of a surprise. We see the drive is simply in a paper box with plastic wrapping. The package is so small that it resembles a deck of cards.

Place the package next to the 3.5” hard drive and you can see that how tiny the package is. It goes to show just how small the Throttle is.

The flash drive is being protected with bubble wraps inside the packaging. In addition to the drive, you will find a mini-USB cable and that is it. No manual or any other accessories are included. Again, simple seems to be the idea here. I do not mind the simplistic package because it saves the environment and reduces trash, enough of the environmental talk, let’s take a look at the Thottle. 

 

It is hard to tell the Throttle apart from any other USB based flash drive apart from the eSATA port. The drive is no bigger than a chapstick and about an US quarter diameter’s width. The plastic material for the exterior has some glittering effect that is not too obvious from the picture above. You see OCZ puts the storage capacity and the company’s logo on the drive.

There is a handy little cap covering the eSATA port but surprisingly, there is no such cap for the USB connector. However, I do not think that it would be any issue as the mini-USB port is located inside of the drive so it should not get damaged even without a cover. One thing to note, almost all if not all of the current motherboard’s chipset eSATA ports are not bus-powered, meaning that it will not provide power ot the device through the eSATA port. The SATA IO, the body that governs and is responsible for the SATA specification, is working on the specification. So hopefully we will see a motherboard with bus-powered eSATA port(s) in the future.

 

Luckily the folks at OCZ bundle the unit with a mini-usb cable where you can use it to draw power from the USB port to power the drive. Check your motherboard to be sure if you got the bus-powered eSATA port, if not do not get frustrated if you plug the device in and the system won’t recognize it. It simply means you have to plug in the USB cable. So the mini-USB port functions as the power source as well as used for data transfer. I would prefer OCZ to include a retractable USB cable directly in the Throttle to provide the USB port and power. It just makes it easier to carry the drive without the cable.

When the drive is plugged in, it will flash three colors depending on type of connector you use. The indicator will light up green when the drive is using the USB port, blue color when it is plugged into the power cord, and red for the eSATA.

TEST CONFIGURATION

System Configuration

Processor

Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo

Motherboard

EVGA nForce 790i FTW

Memory

OCZ Gold 1333

Hard Drive

Western Digital

Graphics Cards

GeForce 9800 GT

Sound Card

Onboard

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1

RESULTS

HD Tach

We decided to test the drive against a couple of 2.5” external hard drive enclosures paired with mobile hard drive and a few flash drives to see the benefit of the eSATA port.

Feature/Specification

Burst Speed Average Read  Random Access CPU Usage
OCZ Throttle eSATA 
2672.8 MB/s  282.2 MB/s  0.2 ms  10% 
OCZ Throttle USB 
 37.6 MB/s 32.6 MB/s 0.4 ms  10% 
Eagle Tech I-NA205UE with Seagate ST96023AS (SATA)
129.9 MB/S 36.9 MB/s 14.9 ms 2%
Eagle Tech I-NA205UE with  Seagate ST96023AS(USB)
35.3 MB/S 33.3 Mb/S 15.2 ms 7%
Eagle Tech ET-CS2LSU2-BK
35.2 MB/s 33.2 MB/s 15.3 ms 4%
 ICY DOCK MB663UR-1S with Seagate ST96023AS
37.5 MB/s 33.3 MB/s 15.2 ms 5%
 ICY DOCK MB448UR with Toshiba 8026GAX
35.1 MB/s 29.5 MB/s 18.3 ms 3%
Super Talent Pico 
27.3 MB/s 26.3 MB/s 1.6 ms 4%

Corsair Padlock

21.1 MB/s   20.3 MB/s  1.1 ms 3% 
SanDisk Curzer Micro (512 MB)

 

 14.5 MB/s 13.1 MB/s   1.1 ms  3%

Your eyes are not fooling you, the OCZ Thottle’s burst speed is indeed fast when it is connected to the eSATA port. It also reaches close to the 300MB/s theoretical read speed of SATA II. Not only that the drive is fast when its connected via the eSATA port, we can see that this is simply the fastest flash drive we have ever tested when it is connected via the USB port. None of the USB flash drives we have tested are able to attain the same performance as the Throttle even when we connect the drive to the USB port. It is able to achieve 37.6 MB/s of burst speed and 32.6 MB/s of average read speed, far better than the runner-up, the Super Talent Pico with 27.3 MB/s burst speed and 26.3 MB/s average read. 

When we compare the drive’s performance against the hard drive based storage that is using the SATA ports, it is obviously that the Throttle once again takes the lead across the board. In fact, it is capable of achieving substantial gain in both the burst and average read. While the traditional mechanical based storage often tops off at 150MB/s of read transfer rate at best, the Throttle has no issue achieving 282.2MB/s of of average read. This is very close to the threoretical 300MB/s of transfer rate promised by the SATA II.

As expected, the drive’s random access time is far better than the mechanical drives. In fact, Throttle’s random access time is even faster than other flash drives we have tested.

The only area where the Throttle is unable to compete is the slighly higher (10%) CPU usage. Despite slightly higher CPU usage, I do not expect it to cause any major performance lag with any system since many of current boards with eSATA port probably will have a dual or quad core processor that is capable of handling the needed CPU usage.

ATTO

USB

Very good balance performance of Read and Write performance when the drive is connected to the USB port.

eSATA

It is no surprise to find that with the eSATA port, the drive sees a major performance increase with the Read. We also gain some performance with the Write but it is more noticeable with smaller sized files. When the file size increases, the Throttle’s still maintains a 4~6MB/s faster transfer rate with the Write.

Real-World Test

554MB (1,766 files in 227 folders)

USB eSATA 
Write Time
84.9 s 24.6s
Write Transfer Rate
6.53 MB/S 22.5 MB/s
Read Time
34.2 s 12.9 s
Read Transfer Rate
16.20 MB/s 45.95 MB/s

Synthetic test like HD Tach and Atto sometimes do not reflect real world performance. To simulate real world usage, I copied 554MB files from and to the Throttle using both USB and eSATA port. Bare in mind that this type of test is highly depended on the hard drive that is used for testing. However, the tests give us a sense of how much better performance would benefit from using the eSATA connector in real world vs the USB port.

We see that eSATA is able to offer 3.4 times of performance compare to the USB in terms of write speed and 2.8 times for the Read.

CONCLUSION

I think OCZ made a great decision by releasing the Throttle in 2009. The eSATA port has become widely available in motherboards since it was first introduced back in 2004. It’s been five years and it is just now that we start seeing motherboard manufactures incorporate it to the back I/O as a standard. Although the USB flash drives should still stay with us for many years as a primary means of external portable storage, I can see eSATA gaining popularity especially because of the faster transfer rate.

I especially love the fact that the Throttle is also compatible with the standard USB ports so you will not be left out if your particular board may not yet have the eSATA port. Not to mention that the drive’s USB performance is the best we have seen among the drives we have tested. The fact that the drive will also be able to draw power from the USB port for those boards lack a BUS-powered eSATA port is quite ingenious and very handy in our opinion. Of course, if you can take the advantage of the eSATA  port, you will not be disappointed by its performance.

What is also great about the Throttle is that it is selling at comparable price to the USB based flash drives of similar storage space. A quick search online shows that the Throttle can be purchased at $45 for the 16GB version and $85 for the 32GB version. So it is a great choice of the flash drive even if you only use the USB for data transfer for now and move to the eSATA when the time comes. Or simply take the advantage of the eSATA port for its faster performance.

Despite the fact that the Throttle max out at 32GB of storage, it is still plenty of storage space. I believe with the release of the Throttle, we may finally see eSATA takes off and slowly gaining popularities. Our hats off to OCZ for releasing such a product at the right time and provides such a great performance.

We are trying out a new addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the new rating system.

  • Performance 10
  • Value 9
  • Quality 10
  • Warranty 8
  • Features 9
  • Innovation 10

Pros:

+ eSATA port
+ USB port for power and backward compatibility
+ Price
+ Excellent performance

Cons:

-  Two year of warranty
-  USB cable can be an hassle to carry around

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 and the Bjorn3d.com coveted Golden Bear Award.

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