HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2011 Editor's Choice - Part 2

Best 2.5-inch Portable External HDD

Best 2.5-inch Portable External HDD

Portable external hard drives are one of the most sought after personal computing products. Everyone needs storage to house their content produced or downloaded. Programs, patches, updates, media -  everything is getting larger in size as our expectations in quality rises ever higher. To top that, we need to backup of our data and sometimes, backup the backups. In this Tech Awards 2011, we once again compared a variety of new 2.5-inch portable external hard drives that fit our selection timeline. We chose a capacity point of 500GB that is popular as well as offering the widest variety of drives.


  • Buffalo MiniStation 500GB (HD-PXT500U2/B-EU)
  • Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus 500GB
  • Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro 500GB
  • Toshiba Portable HDD (Art series) 500GB
  • WD My Passport Essential (with USB 3.0 / 2.0)

And the Winner is...

The Buffalo MiniStation 500GB (HD-PXT500U2/B-EU) wins our vote for the Best 2.5-inch portable external HDD.

Although a couple of drives tested supported USB 3.0, we chose to test all of them at USB 2.0 speeds since the majority of users are still on this interface. Besides, at this point of time, USB 3.0 implementation is fairly standard across the board and it just depends if a user wishes to pay more for a USB 3.0 capable drive or not. 

From our suite of performance testing, Buffalo's MiniStation HD-PXT came out tops in benchmarks, even surpassing last year's Verbatim's Executive Portable drive consistently. Buffalo's secret is in their Turbo drivers that ships with this series of drives and it seems to be living up to its name. So for the vast majority who've yet to embrace USB 3.0 equipped systems, Buffalo's drives give a performance edge over all others - provided that you install the Turbo drivers.

Not only was it tops in performance, but it was tops in features:- Backup software, built-in drive encryption, shock-proof build, built-in USB cable, an extension USB cable and a visible hard drive activity indicator LED. It is a tad larger than the competition in size and bulk, but it's still a very portable drive and far less bulky than the Hitachi SimpleTough we evaluated a year earlier. While the competition this time round all had interesting aspects and features of their own, the Buffalo MiniStation HD-PXT offers the most for your money and it is our preferred choice.

Other notable options for consideration are the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro and Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus for their versatility and unique features too.

As usual our selective choice of benchmarks and scoring table are enclosed here for your viewing.

Criteria/Model Buffalo MiniStation HD-PXT Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro Toshiba Portable HDD (Art series) WD My Passport Essential (with USB 3.0 / 2.0)
Physique 8.0 9.0 9.0 7.5 7.5
Features 9.0 9.0 9.0 7.5 8.0
Performance 9.0 7.5 8.0 7.5 7.5
Value 9.0 8.0 8.0 6.5 8.0
Overall 9.0 8.5 8.5 7.0 8.0
Price S$105 S$159 S$139 S$105 S$119

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end of this article.

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