The Silicon Power Armor A80 is designed to provide protection against water, drop, pressure, and dust with its rugged design. The unit manages to provide excellent protection and performance without adding much bulk. Available in storage ranges from 320GB to 1TB, it is one of the best external hard drive available on the market.
If you are constantly on the go, carring an external drive to keep all of the ever-growing digital content in this digital age is essential. Storing content on the Cloud means it can be accessed easily, but only if there is an internet connection available. The old and trusty external storage via flash drive or hard drive is the way to go when you need to access large contents of data quickly offline.
USB 3.0 brings a theoretical transfer speed up to 5.0 Gbit/s (625MB/s) or 10 times faster than the USB 2.0. This is plenty of bandwidth for quick data transfer: where it used to take 10 minutes to transfer a full DVD movie can be achieved in 1/3 of time with USB 3.0. The external portable drive with USB 3.0 port offers a great way to carry terabytes of data on your pocket. Many external portable drives now uses 2.5′ drive that is lightweight and with the USB 3.0, it is fast enough than the spinning platter at transferring data.
Today we have the rugged portable external storage from Silicon Power, the Armor A80. Let’s take a closer look.
The Armor A80
Packaged in a pretty light paper box, we get a glimpse of the physical unit from the see-through windows on the front. Additionally, we also get to see some marketing logos highlights the Armor’s durability such as anti-pressure, US Military standard, water resistant, and shock proof. On the upper right corner, there is a link directing to Silicon Power’s website
Inside we find a plastic cutout holding the external storage secure during the shipping and our previous mishap. The Armor is shipped with a 6 feet USB 3.0 cable and an User Guide. The included USB cable is a male Type A to male Type A. It is a bit unusual to see it on a portable drive since many of them are using mini-USB connector or Type A to Type B connector. This means if you ever need to transfer data, you would need to use the included cable as opposed to many other cables that came with your other peripherals as they are probably not going to be compatible. Luckily, Silicon Power was kind enough to include another short USB cable tucked on the side of the Armor that we will see just a second. It is designed so that if you are carrying the drive, you do not need to bring the long cable with you.
The drive sports a dark blue color with black accents on left and right. The Armor has a curve design on the top and the bottom. It is quite comfortable to carry it since there is no sharp edges to be found. It is however slightly larger than many less-rugged portable storage like the Seagate GoFlex. However, the added ruggedness does not add much to its bulk or weight as the Armor A80 has a dimension of 139 x 94 x 18.1 mm and our 1TB model weighs 270 gram, not too terribly heavy at all.
The body of the Armor is carved out of a single piece of metal that provides very good protection against drop. The metal is very thick and not bendable. At first glance, we thought it maybe it was plastic due to the bright imperial blue color. It is hard to show from the picture but the surface of the Armor has some texture that gives it some glimmery effect. The nice thing about the case is that it is not a finger print magnet. The left and right side are sealed with plastic and two screws secure the plastic to the case.
On the left we find the single USB 3.0 port with a flap protective cover. On the right side, there is a small compartment where the aforementioned USB cable is hidden. It’s a nice touch from Silicon Power to neatly hide the cable. However, we feel that the cable could have been secured to the drive a bit more since it is just being held by the plastic tab. So if it happens to fall out from your pocket, it is quite easy to lose the cable. Additionally, the cable that is included is very short and rigid and makes it a bit hard to use since you would have to place the drive very close to the PC.
It is very easy to open the Armor up as we just have to unscrew the two screws on either side and pull the plastic cover off the metal body. If we look at the plastic covers closely, we can notice that around it is a strip of rubber seals to prevent the water going into the interior of the drive. The L-shaped plastic cover is designed to hold the PCB and the hard drive in place which acting as a bumper to buffer the drop.
Peeking from the side, and we can see the hard drive is also being secured with two pieces of rubber to absorb any impact.
Taking the hard drive out of the metallic outer casing and we get a better glimpse on how the hard drive is being protected. Here we can see that Armor A80 uses Samsung Seagate ST1000LM024. The drive comes with 8MB of cache and spin at 5400 RPM with SATA 3 Gbps interface. This is not the the fastest or the largest 2.5” drive on the market. Do not worry much that it uses 3Gbps as oppose to the standard 6 Gbps as even at 3 Gbps it is fast enough for any mechanical drive as the spinning platter speed would be the slowest components in the chain of the commands. We do wish to have a little bit larger cache onboard though. Luckily it is not too difficult if you choose to swap the drive out with a faster model or a larger capacity unit.
A rather small PCB with USB controller is being used in the Armor A80. Here we can see ASMedia ASM1051 USB controller is being used. The controller provides the needed interconnect between the USB and the SATA. It is compatible with SATA 3 Gbps and 1.5 Gbps only so even if you install a 6 Gbps drive, you would still be limited to 3 Gbps speed.
Silicon Power’s latest Armor A80 is designed to be rugged enough to withstand torture. The unit is water, pressure, vibration, and dust proof. The storage device is certified IEC529 IPX7 which means that it will survive in water at the depth of less than 1 meter up to 30 minutes without being damaged. This way, if you ever accidentally drop the hard drive in a puddle or in the swimming pool, you can rest assured that it will not get damaged. In addition, it is also certified for US-MIL-STD-810F. The unit survived through a freefall drop test at 122mm height with 26 contact point.
While we normally do not go through these rigorous damage test in our lab, it just so happened that on the day that we received the the Armor A80, we (accidentally) dropped the box from the third floor of our building. The Armor A80 fell from the third floor to the first floor and hit the concrete below. The height is actually taller than what the unit is certified for, and we were a bit worried that the Armor A80 would get damaged as we rushed toward the wreckage. Luckily, the unit survived without any damage and it has absolutely no issue operating at all. Granted, the fall was with all of the retail packaging and the shipping box, which offers added protection, but it is rather reassuring that the unit passed our unofficial “drop test”.
- Dimensions: 139 x 94 x 18.1 mm
- Weight: 270g
- Standard Compliance：USB 3.0 / 2.0
- Data Transfer Rates：Max. 5 Gb/s (USB 3.0 Mode)
- Max. 480 Mb/s (USB 2.0 Mode)
- Power Supply：DC 5V (Power supplied through USB)
- Operating Temperature：5℃~ 55℃
- Storage Temperature：-40℃~ 70℃
- Supported Operating Systems：Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Linux 2.6.31 or later, MacOS 10.4 or later (only USB 2.0 currently supported)
- Three-year warranty
- Color: Blue
Out of the box, the Armor A80 is formatted as FAT32 for greater compatibility. Unless you are going to be using the drive with an older system that is running Windows 98 or OS X 10.6 or older, we would suggest you format it to NTFS. The NTFS offers greater security and supports file size larger than 4GB.
Additionally, NTFS is also much faster when comes to read and write. We can see that the drive tops off at 44MB/s read and write when it is format to FAT32. With NTFS, it almost tripled the transfer rate to 116 MB/s. The result we get here pretty much what we would expect from a 2.5” mechanical drive.
In terms of noise-level, the Armor A80 runs very quiet thanks to the 5400 RPM drive it uses. Even under heavy usage of transferring files, we can hardly hear any noise. The metallic casing also helped out with the noise reduction and heat dissipation.
There is no shortage of external hard drives on the market. The Silicon Power Armor A80 stands out for being a rugged external storage with small foot-print and lightweight. The included short USB 3.0 cable is nice idea though we do think its storage can be improved. The choice of USB type A to Type A cable is also a tad odd as well which makes it rather difficult to use if you forgot to bring your cable.
Overall, we like its curved design and the metallic body offers plenty of protection against scratch and fingerprints. The drive is currently retail at $95, which is a tad expensive for a 1TB external drive. However, Silicon Power sweetened the deal slightly by backing the Armor A80 with three year warranty, slightly better than one or two year that is offered by other manufacturers. We rather pay a little bit extra for the peace of mind that our data are being protected against accidental drop and water spill with the Armor A80.
|OUR VERDICT: Silicon Power Armor A80|
|Summary: We like Silicon Power Armor A80 light-weight, portability, performance, and ruggedness. If you can overlook the small issue with the cable, it would be the best durable portable storage on the market. We bestow the drive our Bjorn3D Silver Bear Award.|