Users are always damanding more and more storage space, not only inside their computers, but also as portable external hard disk drives. Nowadays, 2 TB portable external drives are becoming popular, and we will test two models: the Seagate 2 TB Backup Plus Slim and the Western Digital 2 TB My Passport Ultra. They are both compact drives and make use of the USB 3.0 interface. Let’s check for the results!
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Portable external hard drives make use of 2.5” hard disk drives internally, which is the same kind of hard drives used in portable computers (desktop hard drives are usually available in the 3.5”, which is obviously bigger). The power for those drives come from the USB port itself.
The following table shows the main characteristics of the devices we are testing.
|Manufacturer||Model||Model #||Nominal Capacity||Price|
|Seagate||Backup Plus Slim||STDR2000102||2 TB||USD 100|
|Western Digital||My Passport Ultra||WDBMWV0020BBK||2 TB||USD 100|
Now let’s take a closer look at the tested drives.
[nextpage title=”The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB”]
The Seagate Backup Plus Slim comes only with a manual and a USB 3.0 cable.
Figure 1: accessories
Figure 2 shows the Backup Plus Slim 2 TB. It is really slim, measuring 4.5 x 3.0 x 0.5 inches (114 x 76 x 13 mm) and weighing 5.7 oz. (161 g). The top cover is made of aluminum.
Figure 2: the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB
At the rear of the unit is the USB 3.0 port, as shown in Figure 3. The activity LED is on the top part of the device.
Figure 3: rear
Figure 4 shows the bottom of the drive.
Figure 4: bottom
[nextpage title=”Inside the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB”]
Removing the cover of the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB, we found a 2.5” Seagate/Samsung hard disk drive, model ST2000LM003. It features a SATA-600 interface, 32 MiB cache, and spins at 5,400 rpm. The drive is connected to a removable USB 3.0 interface.
Figure 6 shows the bottom of the hard disk drive.
As seen in Figure 7, the interface that converts the SATA-600 drive to USB 3.0 is very small and can be removed from the drive.
[nextpage title=”The Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2 TB”]
The Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2 TB also comes only with a manual and a USB 3.0 cable.
The drive has a plastic case with the USB 3.0 and the activity LED on the same side. The My Passport Ultra measures 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.8 inches (110 x 82 x 20 mm) and weighs 8.2 oz. (233 g).
Figure 10 shows the bottom of the device.
[nextpage title=”Inside the Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2 TB”]
Opening the WD My Passport Ultra 2 TB, we found a 2.5” hard disk drive, model WD20NMVW, with the USB 3.0 interface embedded on its printed circuit board. It has 8 MiB of cache and spins at 5,200 rpm. An interesting detail is that this drive is 15 mm thick, while common 2.5” drives are 9.5 mm or 7 mm thick. This is because this little drive has four platers inside.
Figure 12 shows the detail of the drive. Notice that it has rubber pads at the sides; they help absorb vibrations and even small impacts, which is an excellent feature to have on a portable hard disk drive.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested both the drives using DiskSpeed32 and CrystalDiskMark programs. They were connected to a USB 3.0 port. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the HDD being tested.
- Processor: Core i7-4770K
- Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme4
- Memory: 16 GB G.Skill Sniper (DDR3-1600/PC3-12800), configured at 1,600 MHz
- Boot drive: Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GiB SSD
- Video card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750
- Video resolution: 1920×1080
- Video monitor: Phillips 236VL
- Power supply: Corsair CX500M
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
DiskSpeed32 is a disk drive benchmarking program that makes a read test of the entire drive, thus taking a long time.
The graph below shows the burst read speed for each tested hard disk drive, in kiB/s.
THe WD My Passport Ultra was 14% faster in the burst speed test.
The next graph shows the maximum sequential read speed for each tested drive, in kiB/s.
Both the drives reached the same performarmance in this test.
The following graph shows the average transfer speed in kiB/s. This is the test that really matters in this software.
In this test, the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB was 16% faster than the WD My Passport Plus 2 TB.
CrystalDiskMark is a disk drive benchmarking program that measures the write and read speed in different block sizes. We compared the results in sequential read and write, and in 512 kiB and 4 kiB block sizes read and write. We configured it for five repetitions of each test of 1 GB of random data.
The graph below shows the sequential read speed for each drive, in MiB/s.
In the sequential read test, the Backup Plus Slim was 21% faster than the My Passport Ultra.
The next graph shows the write speed of sequential data, in MiB/s.
Also in the sequential write test, the Seagate Backup Plus SLim performed 22% faster than the My Passport Ultra.
The following graph presents the read speed in 512 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
Both drives performed equally in the 512 kiB random read test.
The following graph presents the write speed in 512 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
An in the 512 kiB random write test, the two units also performed the same way.
The read speed in 4 kB blocks, in MiB/s, is shown in the next graph.
In the random read test with 4 kiB blocks, the My Passport Ultra was 15% faster than the Backup Plus Slim.
The following graph presents the write speed in 4 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
In the random write test with 4 kiB blocks, the WD My Passport Ultra 2 TB was 29% faster than the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB.
In our tests, the Seagate drive was a little faster in sequential tests, but the WD model was a little faster while accessing small blocks of data. Thus we can consider it a technical tie.
The Backup Plus Slim takes advantage of being, as its name says, slim. This can be important if you have to carry it with your laptop in a briefcase. It is also lighter than the WD My Passport Ultra. On the other hand, the WD My Passport Ultra fits inside its casing using four rubber pads, which makes it, at least theoretically, more resistant to small impacts.
Costing exactly the same, we can only conclude that both the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2 TB and the WD My Passport Ultra 2 TB are excellent portable external hard disk drives.
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