Silicon Power Armor A85 1TB Rugged USB 3.0 HDD Review




/ 4 years ago

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Introduction


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Today’s review is one of the fun ones and one that I’ve been looking forward to since I got the shipping information on it. Today I have a special drive in the testing area, the Silicon Power Armor A85. It is a portable and rugged USB hard disk drive with 1GB capacity. Other capacity options include 500GB, 2TB, 3TB, and also an impressive 4TB sized one.

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Whether you’re just a clumsy user that tends to drop things or your active and on the go all the time, you will want to choose a sturdy external storage medium. The Silicon Power Armor A85 is such a drive as it is both waterproof and shockproof, meeting the IP68 standards. This is achieved through a three-piece design with an aluminium exterior, seamless rubber covering, and an internal hard drive suspension system.

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The internal suspension system makes the first layer of defense, giving it an excellent vibration damping function. The second layer applies rubber covering to provide shockproof capability through a buffer effect. Last but not least, the heavy-duty aluminum case creates the third layer of protection against pressure. On top of the physical resistance, the drive also offers file resistance in the form of software. The SP HDD Lock Utility is a free software that lets you encrypt the entire drive and the SP Widget software provides functions such as backup and restore as well as AES 256-bit encryption and cloud storage connectivity.

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We should dive a little deeper into the details in regards to the resistance, as most people probably don’t know what these certifications include. The SP Armor A85 is compliant with the U.S. military drop-test standards MIL-STD 810G Method 516.7 Procedure IV, transit drop test. This is a freefall test from 122cm height on 26 contact points. The transit drop test is to perform 26 drops on each face, edge, and corner from a height of 122cm above the floor. The drops could be divided among no more than 5 test items. The IP68 certification promises no penetration of dust and a protection against water immersion for more than 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter. Further, the drive can withstand a pressure up to 500kg of force.

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Functionality is one side of it all, design is another. Silicon Power didn’t fail here either as the metallic casing provides a great look and the sandblasted surface also provides a great resistance to scratches, fingerprints, and dirt.

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The small rubber band around the drive isn’t just for design, although it does give it a final touch. It is in fact a clever little gadget to easily pack the USB cable with the drive. Just slip it under the rubber ring and you got both the drive and cable together.

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Feature Highlights

  • Compliant with the U.S. military drop-test standards MIL-STD 810G Method 516.7 Procedure IV (transit drop test), a free fall test (122cm) on 26 contact points.
  • Advanced internal hard drive suspension system
  • Meet IP68 dustproof/waterproof standard
  • Pressure-resistant with aluminum casing
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen1 (USB 3.0) interface
  • Intelligent cable-carry design
  • Easy to plug and use; no external adapter required
  • Offers SP HDD Lock Utility free software download for full disk encryption
  • Free-download SP Widget software provides powerful functions such as data backup & restore, AES 256-bit encryption, and cloud storage for efficient data management.

Package and Accessories

The Armor A85 comes in a package that shows the included drive off through the transparent front. You also get all the vital information on the drive right on the front, such as capacity, connection type, and warranty.

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The rear has more details on the drives features and the full specification listing.

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Inside the box is a small user manual besides the USB 3.0 type-A to type-A connector cable and the drive itself.

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Software


Silicon Power has a nice range of software to go with their drives and two of them are particularly useful for the Armor A85 drive: The SP Widget and the SP HDD Lock Utility.

HDD Lock Utility

In case you want to lock your entire drive and prevent it from being accessed when it’s being plugged in, then you’ll want to use the SP HDD Lock Utility which is available as free download from the official SP website. The tool will work with the A65 and A85 drives.

The usage is as simple as it could be, set a password and confirm it, set an optional password hint, and finish by saving the settings. That’s all. Just unplug the drive and you’ll be presented with a prompt to unlock the drive when you connect it the next time.

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When you do connect the drive, you’ll be presented with this prompt that will allow you to unlock the drive by entering the password you previously set. Pressing the hint button will show the set password hint if you previously set any. As last resort, you also got the option to reset the entire drive which includes both data and password. Everything will be lost, but you’ll be able to use the hardware again, should you have lost the password.

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SP Widget

The SP Widget has quite a few functions and backup is the key in most areas, but it can also encrypt files for safe keeping as well work with the DropBox cloud service.

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Naturally, there aren’t any backup jobs defined by default, so you’ll be presented with an empty list when first opening this feature.

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But, creating new backup jobs for all your vital files is as easy as it could be and it’s divided into four pages. The first one will allow you to set a name for the backup job and an optional comment. You also got some general settings such as deleting previous versions of the job when it’s repeatedly executed and create shortcuts. It can even compress the content, but that will take some extra time each time the job is executed.

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Next, you can select the files and folders you want to backup.

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And, of course, the next step is to set the target destination. After all, you can have quite a few drives connected at the same time.

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The last page contains the scheduling, when you want the backup to be performed.

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And that’s it, your backup job is done and can now be completed with just a few mouse clicks.

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The next option in the SP Widget is to encrypt files. You can choose whether you want to delete the originals when completed or keep them too.

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We can also use the SP Widget to backup our favourites from installed browsers.

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That is also just a few clicks and very settings away from being completed. Keep your backups local and to yourself.

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You can also sign into your dropbox account and connect your Armor A85 with your online account, for that extra layer of backup.

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Drop and Submerge Tests


When I have a drive like the Armor A85 here in the test lab, I simply have to perform drop and submerge tests too. The drive is rated to handle it, so it shouldn’t be a problem – in theory.

Submerged Drive

The drive is rated to handle a depth of up to one meter for over 30 minutes. I can’t simulate that kind of depth here in the office, but I can put it in a bucket of water for 30 minutes and see whether it still works after doing so.

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The drive even floated half way for me with the plastic/rubber end staying at the surface.

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Dropping Drive

The Armor A85 is rated to withstand drops from up to 1.2 meters on all sides. A normal table is 70-80cm high and that is a very likely location for the drive to drop from. A quick turn and suddenly you swoop your drive off the table. I will do this five times and then see whether the drive still works as it should

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Results

The drive survived both testing areas without a hitch and the drive still worked flawlessly after both tests and also in between. I naturally tested the drive between the two types of tests here too. It didn’t show any physical damage, scratches, or bumps after the drop tests. Dust off the dirt and it’s ready to be used.

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Test Procedure


Testing a drive like this is a pretty straight forward process. A mechanical drive does not have the same impact from wear and tear as solid state drives and as such the drive doesn’t require any long-time conditioning test. I’ll still be running extensive tests with various data fillage scenarios and benchmark applications.

First, I’ll test the drive empty after which I’ll gradually fill it with 25% data at a time and retest it under each of these fill scenarios. This will give us a detailed view on the drives performance as it fills up and whether that has any impact on the performance or not. For these tests I’ll be using the well-known ATTO, Anvil’s Storage Utilities, AS SSD, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tools.

Following the fillage tests, I’ll be using AIDA 64 and IOmeter to get a more detailed view of the drive’s raw performance. These tests run best with an unpartitioned drive and as such exclude data fillage, but in return, we get even more details on the drive’s performance, including access times, sequential, and random performance.

Test system:

Software used:

  • AIDA64 Storage Benchmark
  • Anvil’s Storage Utilities
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • AS SSD Benchmark
  • CrystalDiskMark 64bit
  • IOMeter
  • Windows 10 Pro
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AIDA64


AIDA64 is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. It provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring.

It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives and is compatible with most Microsoft Windows operating systems. It also has a disk benchmark tool, and that is the one I’ll be using.

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The Linear Read and Write tests measure the sequential performance by reading or writing all sectors without skipping any. It gives, as the name says, a linear view of the drives overall performance from start to end.

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SP_ArmorA85-Bench-aida write linear

The Random Read and Write tests measure the random performance by reading or writing variable-sized data blocks at random locations on the surface of the drive. The Random tests are actually a combination of both speed and access times as it moves the position before each new operation.

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-aida read random

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-aida write random

The Access time tests are designed to measure the data access performance by reading or writing small 0.5KB data blocks at random locations on the drive surface.

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-aida read access

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-aida write access

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Anvil’s Storage Utilities


Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a new benchmarking utility that we have started using here at eTeknix, it’s completely free to download and has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it.

Empty Drive

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25% Data Fill

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50% Data Fill

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75% Data Fill

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Drive Performance Analysis

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Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

SP_ArmorA85-ChartComp-Anvils

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AS SSD


The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view into one of the operations he’s going to do many times.

Empty Drive

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25% Data Fill

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50% Data Fill

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75% Data Fill

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Drive Performance Analysis

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ATTO


The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Empty Drive

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25% Data Fill

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50% Data Fill

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75% Data Fill

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Drive Performance Analysis

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Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

SP_ArmorA85-ChartComp-ATTO

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CrystalDiskMark


CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.

Empty Drive

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25% Data Fill

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50% Data Fill

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-cdm 50

75% Data Fill

SP_ArmorA85-Bench-cdm 75

Drive Performance Analysis

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Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

SP_ArmorA85-ChartComp-CDM

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IOMeter


IOmeter

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It is used as a benchmark and troubleshooting tool and is easily configured to replicate the behavior of many popular applications. One commonly quoted measurement provided by the tool is IOPS.

IOMeter allows the configuration of disk parameters such as the ‘Maximum Disk Size’, ‘Starting Disk Sector’ and ‘# of Outstanding I/Os’. This allows a user to configure a test file upon which the ‘Access Specifications’ configure the I/O types to the file. Configurable items within the Access Specifications are Transfer Request Size, Percent Random/Sequential distribution, Percent Read/Write Distribution, Aligned I/O’s, Reply Size, and TCP/IP status among others.

Sequential Performance

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Random Performance

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

At the time of writing the Silicon Power Armor A85 1TB drive can be found at NewEgg for just $80.43, at Amazon UK for £64.00, and through Geizhals for €74.30.

SP_ArmorA85-ChartComp-PricePerGB

Conclusion

The Silicon Power Armor A85 is a beautifully designed drive, as I already mentioned on the first page. The metallic enclosure with the black top and rubber ring around the drive keeps it simple, but it works. The drive presents itself well, especially considering it is a rugged drive. Usually, this kind of drive has huge external rubber bumpers that also may look cool, but not so classy. The Armor A85 brings style into the rugged market segment.

The rubber ring around the drive isn’t just for looks, it also doubles as a practical cable holder for the included USB cable. A clever way to utilize the feature and one that also complements the design.

With a drop resistance from heights up to 122cm and the ability to stay submerged in up to a meter of water for over 30 minutes, the Armor A85 provides excellent protection for your valuable files. Speaking of valuable, the 256-bit encryption ability also provides excellent protection for your valuable digital files.

Performance wise we didn’t see anything spectacular, but it was right on what is to be expected. Basically, it is a 2.5-inch HDD and a performance slightly above the 110MB/s marker is what we expect here. And the Armor A85 delivered that steadily across the fillage tests.

Pros

  • Constant performance
  • Great protection
  • Stylish design
  • Great value for the price
  • Free Backup and Encryption software

Cons

  • Not the fastest test results we have seen

“The SP Armor A85 provides style and protection to your files when you’re on the go, but also when you’re at home. On top of that, it’s cheap per GB of storage and comes with a great software bundle.”

Editors-Choice

Thank You Silicon Power for providing us with this sample.

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