Picking The Right External 2.5" Hard Drive
The real star of the show today is USB 3.0, which allows the Adata DashDrive Durable HD710, Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro, and Western Digital My Passport to demonstrate their respective advantages, while allowing us to pinpoint their weaknesses without interference from a USB bottleneck. Technically, you could pick any one of these three external disks and be satisfied with it. However, each has specific strengths that endear it to a particular type of customer.
The Fastest: We cannot hand Hitachi's Touro Mobile Pro an unconditional victory when it comes to performance. It loses out to Western Digital's My Passport in the real-world read tasks we'd expect these drives to be tasked with. Moreover, Samsung's S2 demonstrates more consistently-good results overall.
Hitachi does particularly well in our synthetic metrics, where it takes a number of first-place finishes. Sporting a maximum sequential read/write rate of 125 MB/s in h2benchw, you'd expect the Touro Mobile Pro to decimate its competition in picture and music file transfers. Although it is the fastest drive of the three we tested, its advantage shrinks quite a bit. In this round-up, at least, Hitachi scores a victory, though we'd hardly call it commanding.
The Toughest: If you're shopping for an external drive able to take a beating, the number of viable options drops precipitously. Fortunately, Adata's DashDrive Durable HD710 does qualify. This ruggedized option is able to drop from a tablet to the floor or spend half an hour at the bottom of a garden fountain without compromising your data. In spite of its specially-designed chassis, the DashDrive Durable HD710 is only slightly larger than non-ruggedized drives, and barely heavier, weighing in at 0.5 lbs. Its performance is average, making it respectably quick. Even though we would have liked to see a greater-than three-year warranty on this particular model, Adata can at least rest easy knowing it offers one more year of coverage than either Hitachi or Western Digital.
The Largest: Diminutive physical dimensions do not give away the fact that Western Digital's My Passport crams in an impressive 2 TB of capacity, representing a new record for 2.5” drives. If you need to maximize this ever-important variable, the My Passport is a winner. Just be ready to pay about $200 for the drive. That's only 10 cents per gigabyte, which isn't bad overall.
The good news is that Western Digital doesn't necessarily compromise performance in its aim to serve up lots of storage space. Its 5400 RPM drive is able to outmaneuver Hitachi's 7200 RPM model in our real-world read tests. It finishes further down the stack in our write tests, and is more similar to Adata's DashDrive Durable HD710 in the synthetics. You'd likely have a hard time telling the difference during day-to-day use, though.
So, Who Wins?
Each of these three drives satisfies a purpose. And, in a way, none of them directly compete against the others as a result of their different balances between performance, capacity, and durability. As a result, we'd have an equally difficult time declaring a winner as a loser; each serves its purpose well in its specialty. The key is knowing what you're looking for in a drive before you sit down to buy one. Perhaps our comparison will help guide such a purchasing decision.