One USB3 external hard drive candidate that was especially disappointing was the Sans-Digital TowerRAID TR4UT-BP. I used Sans-Digital quite successfully for USB2/RAID Thinkpad backups, however I simply could NOT get their USB3 based product to work, and the problem was clearly not with the Thinkpad W520. There appear to be problems with a number of emerging USB3 products, however the Thermaltake product, mentioned in the earlier post, I have had good success with. To make matters worse with the Sans-Digital product; I was promised a refund, however I finally had to have the bank issue me a credit for the Sans-Digital charge. Due to this experience, this is probably the last time I will purchase a Sans-Digital product.
For external USB 3 storage I found that many of the emerging USB 3 products are not yet ready for prime time; in other words they are simply not working. I initially wanted an external RAID unit, however none of the RAID units I evaluated worked adequately. I settled on the Thermaltake Max 5G Active cooling enclosure without RAID capability and then purchased a server grade 2TB drive from Western Digital.
The new Thinkpad W520 came with a 150GB solid state hard drive. I use the SSD for the HOST OS; Windows 7 64 bit Professional. I ran a few disk performance runs against the SSD, as well as my secondary Seagate 500GB hybrid drive; where all of my virtual machine reside. I am using the Crystal Disk performance tool. here are some results.
Here are the results for the primary hard drive; the 150GB solid state drive.
Here are the results for the secondary internal hard drive; the Seagate 500GB hybrid drive, which I also used over the past year in my older Thinkpad T41p.
Here is the Windows 7 Performance Rating for the new Thinkpad W520. Quite impressive
My new Thinkpad W520 has been a great investment for multiple virtual machine software development purposes. Configured with an INTEL CORE I7-2920XM processor, solid state primary drive and 16GB of memory the multiple virtual machines run about twice as fast as my older Thinkpad T41p.
I still use my Seagate 500GB hybrid drive as my secondary drive, where I have all of my virtual machines located; the primary hard drive being used for the HOST OS only.
I am still using VMWare for virtualization, as was the case for the older Thinkpad T41p. No need to consider a move away from VMWare Workstation 7. I have been quite pleased with VMWare, after switching from the Microsoft Virtual PC product in 2009. I also use VMWare ESXi Server for the hosting environment offered to my clients.
The primary reasons I purchased the W520 include the faster processor, as well as the solid state primary drive and of course the availability of USB3. The faster processor plus USB 3 has reduced my full backup time from nine (9) to two (2) hours.