Model: Silicon Power 1TB Armor A15 USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive
Manufacturer: Silicon Power
Provided By: Silicon Power
Silicon Power is a relatively new name in the storage industry. Founded in 2003 by a group of professionals specializing in international business, global marketing and technical engineering, the company has already established itself as one of Taiwan's top manufacturers. With an eye for attractive and versatile design, Silicon Power has built its brand around the concept that its customers deserve products that represent who they are in life and mirror their personality. The end result is a variety of uniquely designed storage products including USB flash drives, memory cards and solid-state drives (SSD).
Along with their flash based storage solutions, Silicon Power offers a growing number of portable hard drives. One of the latest additions to their product lineup is the Armor A15. Available in 500GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities, this rugged drive meets the U.S. military's drop-test standards with two-stage anti-shock technology. Along with a durable, anti-shock outer casing, the Armor A15 is equipped with an advanced internal hard drive suspension system. The drive also features a one touch backup button as well as a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface which allows transfer speeds up to 10x faster than USB 2.0. To top it all off, the Armor A15 works with Silicon Power's SP Widget backup and security software and is covered by a 3-year warranty.
|Silicon Power Armor A15 USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
With specs and features like this, it's hard not to be impressed by the Armor A15. However, as you all know by now, we're not ones to take things at face value. In this review, we'll take a closer look at Silicon Power's portable hard drive and then put it through its paces to see how well it performs. Does the Armor A15 have what it takes? Keep reading as we find out.
Packaging and Contents:
The Armor A15 comes packaged in a simple, yet attractive, black, blue and yellow box. The front advertises key features like the drive's 1TB capacity, USB 3.0 interface and shockproof outer casing. There is also a large, plastic window which lets you look inside the box and see what the drive looks like. The back of the box provides a bit more information, including the Armor A15's specifications, package contents and key features. Inside the box you'll find the drive as well as a USB 3.0 cable and User Manual.
Compared to Silicon-Power's other portable hard drives, the Armor A15 is a bit on the large side. The drive measures 136 x 82.5 x 19.8 mm and tips the scales at a whopping 200g. The extra bulk is primarily due to the black and green anti-shock rubber casing which covers most of the drive.
On top of the Armor A15 you can see its OneTouch quick backup button, which lets users instantly synchronize data with their computer. This button also has a bright blue LED that will light up when the drive is powered on and flash to show when data is being transferred.
Along the back, you can see the Armor A15's SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface. This connector not only transfers data but provides power for the drive..
I wasn't able to crack the Armor A15 open. However, using CrystalDiskInfo, I was able to see what hard drive was in the enclosure. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that Silicon Power has used Seagate's Momentus ST1000LM024 hard drive. This drive features a SATA 3.0Gb/s interface, 8MB cache and a 5400 RPM rotation speed.
As with most USB drives, the Armor A15 was very easy to install. Those running Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7 can simply plug the drive into any available USB 2.0 or 3.0 port on their computer. If the computer is already turned on, plug and play will automatically detect the drive.
If installed correctly, the Armor A15 should show up in the Device Manager. Under Windows 7, the drive is identified as a "PHD 3.0 Silicon-Power DB USB Device".
The Armor A15 comes formatted with FAT32, giving the 1TB model about 931GB of usable space. If you plan to store files larger than 4GB in size, you'll want to convert or reformat the drive with NTFS.
While the Armor A15 doesn't ship with it, the drive is compatible with Silicon Power's SP Widget software. Available as a free download, SP Widget provides seven major backup and security functions for use with Silicon Power's portable hard drives and USB flash drives.
SP Widget's browser interface is pretty straightforward. Along with a meter that shows how full a drive is, there are a handful of icons along the right hand side of the screen. From here you can launch functions that will sync or backup your Documents, Favorites, Folders or email. You can also create your own custom backup tasks which can compress and encrypt your data and be scheduled to run at specific times.
The software also includes features to encrypt/decrypt files outside of a backup task and lock your computer when you are away.
The last major feature of SP Widget is Norton Internet Security. The version available for download through the browser is only a 60 day trial. However, Silicon Power has cut a deal with Symantec, which lets users extend their subscription at a discounted rate.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card, Intel 82567LM-3 gigabit network card and Patriot SuperSpeed USB PCIe host card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the Silicon Power Armor A15, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46 and HD Tune Pro 5.00.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
Silicon Power doesn't really say what kind of speeds the Armor A15 is capable of. Using CrystalDiskMark we can see that the drive is able to read at 125.7 MB/s and write at 122.1 MB/s when connected to a USB 3.0 port.
HD Tach RW 220.127.116.11:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Armor A15's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
When connected to the computer's USB 3.0 port, the Armor A15 had average read and write speeds of 87.0 MB/s and 86.0 MB/s, respectively, as well as a burst speed of 160.7 MB/s. The drive wasn't nearly as fast when using USB 2.0 though. Compared to what we saw with USB 3.0, the Armor A15's read and write speeds dropped by more than 58 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Armor A15's sequential read and write speeds. The test was run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the Armor A15's read speeds topped out at about 124 MB/s and its write speeds at 123 MB/s when connected using USB 3.0.
HD Tune Pro 4.61:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I used it to benchmark the Armor A15's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
Once again, the Armor A15 performed very well when connected to the computer's USB 3.0 port. The drive had average read and write speeds of 82.9 MB/s and 81.4 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 166.5 MB/s when reading.
Using USB 3.0 didn't have nearly as big of an effect on the Armor A15's random read and write performance. Nevertheless, the IOPS and average speeds were, in most cases, higher than what we saw when the drive was connected to a USB 2.0 port.
The Armor A15 is an excellent choice for those who need a rugged, yet affordable, portable hard drive. Built to withstand both shock and vibration, Silicon Power's drive protects your data using an anti-shock rubber casing as well as an advanced internal hard drive suspension system. For a portable drive, the Armor A15 also packs some impressive performance. Thanks to its USB 3.0 interface, it was able to read and write at speeds in excess of 120 MB/s. The Armor A15 is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0, but, as you saw in our tests, it's much slower when operating in this mode. Silicon Power rounds all this out with a three year warranty and their SP Widget software which helps users protect and backup their data.
The 500GB, 750GB and 1TB versions of the Armor A15 are available now and can be purchased from Amazon.com for as little as $48.
- Available in 500GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities
- Fast transfer rates with USB 3.0
- Backwards compatible with USB 2.0
- Good looking and well constructed design
- Durable anti-shock rubber outer case
- Advanced internal hard drive suspension system
- Meets the U.S. military drop-test standards
- One touch quick backup button
- USB powered
- Works with SP Widget software
- Reasonably priced
- 3 Year Warranty
- SP Widget software is Windows only
- Only available in black and green color scheme
- Design is not water or dust proof