The Great 1TB USB 3.0 Portable HDD Shootout


Conclusion

Unveiling the Best Portable Drive

To determine a winner, we would be paying close attention to the drives’ performance, features, value and design. On a whole, the six drives were pretty comparable in terms of performance, which was what we had expected seeing that the drives have identical basic specifications. Design-wise, the drives were mostly comparable too as most of them had the same slim, rectangular form factor which makes them extremely portable - save for the bulkier Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt and the more square-shaped Western Digital My Passport. Therefore, the biggest differentiator here were their features and value proposition. Before we unveil the winner, let’s take a quick look at the final score breakdown.

Do note that we have revised the ratings of some of the drives that were previously reviewed to better factor in the current playing field and a refreshed comparison. This is because the previous review ratings and findings are applicable for products reviewed at that point of time. All revisions have been noted in brackets for proper clarity and accountability. All pricing information is accurate at the point of conducting this group test.

Breakdown of Scores
   Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt G Drive Mobile USB Imation Apollo Expert M300 Seagate Backup Plus Verbatim Store 'n' Go Western Digital My Passport
 Performance 7.5 (adjusted up from 7) 7.5 8 8 (adjusted down from 9) 7.5 8
 Features 8 7 8 9 7.5 7
 Design 8 7.5 7.5 8.5 7.5 7.5
 Value 6.5 (adjusted up from 4) 5 9 8 (adjusted down from 8.5) 7.5 7.5
 Price $299 $195 $129 $169 $149 $149
 Overall 7.5 7.0 8 8.5 (adjusted down from 9)
7.5 7.5

In the end it was a close fight between the Seagate Backup Plus and Imation Apollo Expert M300, however, we felt that the Seagate Backup Plus just about edges it. In terms of performance, the two were very comparable, but we felt that the Seagate had a superior feature set thanks to its Dashboard backup utility. Apart from being easy to use and setup, the Dashboard backup utility could even automatically save and backup your photos on Facebook and Flickr, which we think it’s pretty nifty. Further brownie points of course goes towards its pleasing design and the exchangeable interface concept. In fact, power users can even unplug the USB 3.0 interface and connect the drive directly to an internal SATA data and power interface if so required.

That said, the Imation Apollo Expert M300 is still a very accomplished drive. It has above average performance, and also comes bundled with ArcSoft’s backup utility and a free cloud storage account with 4GB of storage space. Best of all, it’s the most affordable drive of the lot. Overall, it's a tough combination to beat.

Speaking about affordability, on the other end of the price spectrum we have the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt. It is by far the most expensive drive (though prices have been revised for the better since its launch) but it does offer the option of both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity. To further substantiate its price point, you only need to look at the cost of the expansion connectors for Seagate's GoFlex devices, such as the Seagate Backup Plus. In its dedicated review, we've noted that each expansion connector costs as much as S$125! If you factor in the cost differential, you'll see why the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt costs quite a bit more than the competition, but yet it's justifiable from a certain perspective. If you find yourself often transferring files between systems that have both interfaces, this drive could come in useful since both interfaces are integrated directly on the drive. Note that it's also a tad bulkier than the other drives to accommodate this aspect.

The Western Digital My Passport was one of the fastest drives and it comes with a useful but basic backup utility. It's still a good option, but that’s not enough to make it in this competitive environment.

The Verbatim Store ’n’ Go drive offered really average performance, but it does come with ArcSoft’s backup utility. It's a decent proposition, but far from being the best.

The G Drive Mobile USB from G Technology was disappointing because of its ho-hum performance, lack of features and rather exorbitant price. It may be slim and good-looking, but with its recommended retail price of $195, we expected more from the drive, in terms of features and bundled utility, if not performance.

Final Ratings