500 GB External Drives Tested

Power Consumption

Power Consumption off Windows off idle load
LaCie d2 Quadra 2.3 W 5.1 W 12.3 W 17 W
Western Digital My Book Premium ES 2.9 W 3.2 W 10.8 W 12.5 W
Western Digital My Book Pro 2.5 W 3.6 W 12.9 W 14.6 W
Wiebetech ToughTech XE 0 W 4.6 W 11.9 W 17 W

Conclusion

As you can see in the benchmark section, the performance advantage of modern SATA drives with eSATA interfaces versus traditional USB 2.0 (or even Firewire 800 aka IEEE1394b) is undeniable. eSATA clearly allows users to operate any hard drive product externally without creating an interface bottleneck. Our recommendation is very clear: If you need an external storage product, make sure it comes with eSATA if you can afford it, instead of USB-only connections.

Western Digital has a broad product range, offering the MyBook Pro with USB 2.0 and Firewire 1394b, and the MyBook Premium ES, which comes with USB 2.0 and eSATA. The latter delivers the best performance at up to 82 MB/s, but for some reason, WD only provides a one-year factory warranty. Both products include EMC's Retrospect Express 7.5, which is more versatile than the Express HD version we found bundled with LaCie's d2 Quadra, which we liked best due to its quadruple interface (USB 2.0, 1394a, 1394b, eSATA), high-performance, backup software, cooling solution and still-acceptable price tag.

Wiebetech's TouchTech XE is an interesting product, as the drive is housed in a shock-absorbing cage, which should provide better protection for the drive for long-term use compared to the other devices we reviewed. The product is well designed and Wiebetech even uses Hitachi's E7K500 high-reliability drive - yet it doesn't perform as well as the other models and doesn't come bundled with software, either.

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