More people are using external drives for storage of photos, videos and music, and CalDigit have released a drive called the AV Pro which is optimised for Audio and Video, and here is our review.
This is how CalDigit describe the drive:
The CalDigit AV Pro is the first Single Drive Solution that makes no compromises. It is truly one of the most powerful single drive solutions on the market today. The AV Pro evolves as the storage demands of its users expand.
What is most impressive about the AV Pro is that it can not only accept regular 3.5” HDD’s, but also the much faster, more secure 2.5” SSD’s. When it comes to storage capacity, the AV Pro can store a huge amount of data for such a small device. With a regular 3.5” HDD installed the AV Pro can store up to 4TB of data, and with an SSD installed it will be available in capacities up to 480GB.
The AV Pro has been optimized for Audio and Video, making it the perfect companion for professional Audio and Video software. The CalDigit AV Pro is powerful enough work with these high end applications, and extremely easy to use.
Who are CalDigit?
From their website:
At CalDigit, we know storage. Quality, performance, and support are our forte. CalDigit has specialized in creating storage solutions for creative professionals for over ten years. CalDigit was the first to provide external PCIe storage as well the first to bring USB 3.0 to the Mac. CalDigit products are designed to provide users with reliability, performance, style and flexibility. CalDigit is a single vendor support company; we design, build, and assemble all of our products. This results in the ability to provide users with unparalleled support and service.
CalDigit emphasizes the use of quality components to produce products that would lessen the chances of component failure, and loss of productivity. Every product undergoes real world testing, cutting it to perfection. We believe in building a trust with our customers, which is why we offer legendary technical support.
What’s in the Box?
• 1 x CalDigit AV Pro
• 1 x Drive Module
• 1 x USB 3.0 Cable
• 1 x FireWire Cable
• 1 x AC Adapter
• 1 x Drive Key
• 1 x Drive Stand
• 1 x Manual (Preinstalled)
A Closer Look
When you first connect the drive you need to run the CalDigit Drive Assistant software that is sitting on the drive itself.
You then follow the steps in the Drive Assistant.
I had some issues using the Recommended setup with it sticking at 30%. I tried it several times on multiple machines but for some reason I couldn’t get past 30%, so I started it up again and chose the Manual Format option and did it all myself – which to be fair only took a few moments and I was comfortable about doing it.
We ran the usual performance tests using HD Tune Pro 5.00 and CrystalDiskMark 3.0.2.
The average Read speed was 272.7 MB/s with an average Write speed of 186.9 MB/s, which is a fair bit slower than CalDigit claim as “up to 430 MB/s”. I ran the tests multiple times on a number of machines and the results didn’t change.
The review drive we were sent was the U3+FW800 SSD 240GB variant. It was only tested using USB 3.0 as I didn’t have any hardware available with FireWire 800 on it.
Plugging in the drive and getting going was simple and quick, but I have no idea why the Recommended Setup didn’t work for me, however performing a manual format worked perfectly, as did the drive so it wasn’t a huge deal.
The inclusion of a stand was a good idea – that way you can decide to leave the drive laying down (if you have the room on your desk) or on it’s side. The drive when in the stand was very sturdy.
I was slightly disappointed with the performance testing results considering the drive was an SSD as the claims of up to 430 MB/s, and you can get some very fast SSD’s these days, such as the Samsung 840 but there is nothing stopping you from swapping out the SSD, and this is one of the useful features of the AV Pro. Also different equipment and setups may yield faster results, and to be fair, it’s not like the results were bad, they were good!
UPDATE: Having spoken with CalDigit, we were not able to get the 430MB/s speed because the AV Pro uses the latest USB 3.0 Technology called UAS (USB Attached SCSI), and in order to get that speed it has to be used on a Mac or PC that has USB 3.0 ports and drivers that support UAS. All Macs with USB 3.0 support UAS, and any Windows PC with a motherboard that supports UAS can get that speed. My motherboard didn’t support that which is why I couldn’t get it.
Opening up the drive bay was as simple as inserting the key and sliding the bay out. The drive sits in the bay and can be easily removed by unscrewing a few screws – simple as that. Then you just slide the bay back in and it locks into place.
The design and feel of the drive is good and solid – its made of aluminium and it’s not that heavy, although it’s not really the sort of external drive you can slip in your pocket and carry around with you, but then if that’s what you are looking for you probably won’t be looking at this one.
If you are someone who does a lot with audio and video then you really should take a look at the AV Pro, it may just be the external drive you have been waiting for.
There are two main variants – HDD and SSD, with different sizes of drive available for both.
The model we had for review retails for £309 but as usual look around for the best deal.