500 GB External Drives Tested

Wiebetech ToughTech XE

Wiebetech's ToughTech series is an external hard drive that comes with eSATA, USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 interfaces. The enclosure is made of solid aluminum, but the real secret is inside: Wiebetech has a drive mounting solution called FlexMount, which is designed to absorb shocks to protect the hard drive. ThoughTech XE is the SATA version; ToughTech 4 is for UltraATA hard drives.

We liked that Wiebetech offers comprehensive technical information, such as a description of the used bridge chipset in its user manual, but we could not find the maximum environment temperature the drive can run at.

Wiebetech offers the product without a hard drive, so you can install the model of your choice, or you can select 250, 500, 750 and 1000 GB capacities at price points of $224.95, $357.95, $455.95 and $ 651.95, respectively. Given that hard drive prices have dropped considerably and 500 GB drives are close to the $100 mark, we believe Wiebetech should reconsider its pricing, especially since the drive we received for review did not perform as well as the LaCie or Western Digital MyBook Premium ES models for eSATA connections.

However, in this case, the lower performance and higher product price does have at least some justification: Inside the ToughTech XE we found Hitachi's DeskStar E7K500, which isn't designed for maximum performance, but for durability. Yet, you'll be able to get a better deal by purchasing the TouchTech XE and the hard drive separately.