Storage Guide

USB 3.0 1TB Portable (2.5-inch) HDD Shootout

USB 3.0 1TB Portable (2.5-inch) HDD Shootout


Big Storage In Your Pocket

Big Storage In Your Pocket

With HD movie content (and even some image files - thank you 36-megapixel camera) now reaching extremely large file sizes, it can take hours, even days to backup an entire hard drive's worth of content. Fortunately, reasonably large capacity SuperSpeed USB 3.0 portable hard drives are now becoming more available and affordable (despite the hard drive shortage crisis). USB 3.0 is an upgrade to USB 2.0, using a new serial bus capable of transmission speeds up ten times faster than USB 2.0's 480Mbps theoretical transfer rate. This brings USB 3.0's transmission speeds up to a maximum of 5 Gbps, which can give you about 400MB/s in actual usage. While USB 3.0-ready products were available as early as two years ago, it's not till recently when the product variety as well as host systems equipped with USB 3.0 was notably apparent.

At this point of time, most new notebooks and desktop motherboards ship with at least one USB 3.0 port. Still, never assume as we even have found certain Ultrabooks to even forego this important feature. To check if yours is USB 3.0 compatible, look for a blue colored USB port:

 

Or one with the SS (SuperSpeed) logo next to it:

 

For this shootout, we looked for USB 3.0 drives with a 1TB capacity that are portable in nature. This meant ruling out the bulky 3.5-inch HDD counterparts and focusing on the more compact 2.5-inch drive based solutions. At the time of testing, five manufacturers made drives that met our criteria: Buffalo, Imation, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital - we asked each manufacturer to send us their best candidate and this is what we ended up with:-

  • Buffalo MiniStation Extreme HD-PZU3
  • Imation Apollo Expert M250
  • Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex Ultra Portable
  • Toshiba Canvio 3.0 Plus
  • Western Digital My Passport Essential SE

We'll be putting each drive through a set of benchmarks to find out which gives the best performance on specific tasks. Of course, design, aesthetics, ease of use, portability, and any additional handy tools or utilities will be factored into our final decision as well. Here's how the various drives compare at a quick glance:-

1TB Portable HDDs Compared
Model Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Imation Apollo Expert M250 Seagate FreeAgent Go Flex Ultra Portable Toshiba Canvio 3.0 Plus Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
Interface Type USB 3.0 USB 3.0 USB 3.0 USB 3.0 USB 3.0
 Supplied USB Cable Length Built-in (15cm) and extension (50cm) 47cm 50cm 47cm 47cm
 LED Activity Indicator  Yes (Orange for USB 2.0, blue for USB 3.0) Yes Yes Yes Yes, but too small
 HDD Specs - Rotational Speed 5400RPM  5400RPM 5000RPM 5400RPM  5200RPM
HDD Specs -  SATA Revision  SATA 2.0  SATA 2.0 SATA 1.0 SATA 2.0  SATA 2.0
HDD Specs - Buffer Size 8MB 8MB 16MB 8MB 8MB
Shock Protection US Military Grade Shock Protection - - - -
 Carry Case Yes  - - -
Security
  • Secure Lock Manager
  • Password protection with encryption
-
  • Password protection with encryption
  • Password protection with encryption
  • Password protection with encryption
Software
  • Buffalo Turbo PC EX
  • Backup Utility
  • RAMDISK Utility
  • Eco Manager
  • Secure Lock Manager
  • Arcsoft TotalMedia Backup
  • Easy Backup Software
  • Drive Space Alert
  • NTI BackupNow EZ
  • WD SmartWare
  • WD Automatic Backup
 Dimensions 89 x 128 x 18mm 78 x 127.4 x 17.2mm 89 x 119 x 16.5mm 81 x 119.3 x 16.5mm  83 x 110 x 18mm
Weight 230g 190.1g 280g 178.6g 200g
Warranty 3 years 3 years 3 years  3 years  3 years 
 Price S$239  S$149 S$229 S$189 S$169.99