CipherWave Fusion external hard drive review

CipherWave delivers a seemingly well put together, well priced external storage device

By - September 11, 2011
Overall score70%
9 Design and build quality
6.5 Performance
7 Features and usability
7 Value for money

We hadn’t heard much about CipherWave before we received the Fusion external hard drive to test, so fortunately, the drive was impressive from the outset.

Its sturdy build quality is complemented by an aluminium casing which is not only rugged and easy on the eyes, but also cool to the touch, making it an ideal material in which to enclose a piece of hardware which generates heat.

It also comes with a padded pouch, which is ideal if you’re going to be carrying it around a lot. So first impressions were wholly positive.

CipherWave is offering its range of external hard drives in a number of flavours, including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, SATA and SSD variants.

The products are assembled in South Africa, and you can even specify whether you want yours pre-formatted for Windows or Mac use.

They come in 160GB, 320GB, 500GB, 640GB, 750GB and 1TB sizes.

The particular drive we got to play with was a 500GB USB2.0 SATA drive.

The drive is powered via the included USB cable, and operating it is a simple plug and play process, which is just what we expect from an external hard drive.

Usually when we review storage devices we can find the publisher’s quoted read and write speeds online, and then compare them against real world findings. CipherWave offers no such reference material, but we were ultimately quite happy with the speeds on offer.

A 4GB HD movie took 2:21 minutes to copy from a regular SATA hard drive to the CipherWave external.

The copy started over 100 MB/second, but gradually slowed until it hit around 35 MB/seconds where it remained stable.

In comparison, our reference Kingston 500 GB external SATA drive took just over 3 minutes to copy the same file.

Copying the same folder from the external to the desktop took around 2:40 minutes, managing a consistent copy speed of about 25 MB/second.

The Kingston reference drive took 2:45 to copy the same file from the drive to the desktop.

The speeds on offer with the CipherWave external drive we tested were by no means “high-end”, but then it’s not trying to be a high-end device, and it’s certainly not priced like a high-end device.

Having said that, the read speed was surprisingly decent, especially for files smaller than 2GB which it can easily transfer from start to finish at around 80 MB/second.

CipherWave Fusion external hard drive USB 2.0/3.0

CipherWave Fusion external hard drive USB 2.0/3.0

Having looked at the basic form factor and performance, we turn to features.

Unlike some drives, the CipherWave external drive does not appear to offer any sort of internal shock protection.

It is a fairly basic drive, but one of the more interesting features on offer is the online backup trial.

This is a free trial which makes use of Cipher’s online storage facility, allowing you to store up to 10GBs of data on their servers for a month – thereafter you will have to decide if you want to pay for the service going forward.

Arguably the most important thing one looks at when considering an external hard drive is reliability.

Obviously knowing that your data is safe on a drive is imperative to its value proposition.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to test the long term reliability of a product in the space of a review, and because CipherWave is a fairly unknown quantity in the consumer electronics space, some might prefer to hedge their bets with an established brand when it comes to external storage.

Having said that, my experience with the CipherWave Fusion drive gave me no reason to doubt its physical integrity.

Customers automatically get a 1 year warranty, which can easily be extended to 3 years simply by registering the device within 7 days of purchase.

A 3 year warranty is more than you will get on most external hard drives, so that should count for something.

All in all, the CipherWave is a nice looking external hard drive which exhibits a high build quality and offers decent performance for the price.

The CipherWave USB 2.0 SATA external hard drive is available in the following sizes:

  • 160GB – R352
  • 320GB – R368
  • 500GB – R448
  • 640GB – R588
  • 750 GB –  TBA
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