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Performance

So the drive looks great and there are some cool features. However the software bundle sucks because it’s demoware. So what’s left? How about a benchmark using our old friend HD Tach under Windows Vista…

Western Digital My Passport Elite 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Review

The drive performs fairly well for a portable 2.5 inch USB 2.0 drive with a maximum transfer of 29.7 MB/s and an average read speed of 27.4 MB/s. Random access times were 17.2ms while CPU utilization was 21%. This puts it on par with the similarly spec’d Samsung drive inside the Buffalo TurboStation Mini 320GB under stock performance, while beating it on both CPU utilization and access times.

Final Thoughts

Western Digital has shown that it can build some very nice looking external drives with the MyPassport Elite. The soft touch finish and the compact size make it easily one of the prettier portable USB 2.0 hard drives on the market. However, the honeymoon was over on the soft touch finish the minute it ventured into my rather cluttered laptop bag. This communing with my other gadgets seems to have taken that velvety feel away from the enclosure and has even left some scratches that are now starting to take away from the luxurious exterior.

Western Digital My Passport Elite 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Review

I wondered why Western Digital included the 20% off carry case coupon and I guess I found out why. There’s nothing horribly wrong here. Stuff does get scratched. However, when one of the main marketing features of the drive is that soft touch finish, I expect it to last more than a couple weeks. Other than that, the casing seems very well built and should offer plenty of protection for the drive inside. I was also pleased to see that Western Digital took the time to seal up the drive from the elements by eliminating any gaping holes. The slide cover on the USB port was a nice touch and I can definitely see value in having a capacity gauge.

One of the things that I really hate about software bundles that come with hardware is the useless demoware bundle. It’s like a throw pillow. It serves no purpose. I think Western Digital made a big mistake in including so much non-full version software with the MyPassport Elite. It really doesn’t add anything to the value proposition if people have to pay extra money for it. Thankfully, they did include a really good backup utility in WD Anywhere Backup, however, I still can’t figure out why anyone would want to hide the fact that there is real software that comes with it, on the backside of the startup guide, and in the Japanese section no less.

Overall, we have a very smartly designed and attractive portable hard drive unit with a flawed finish so you might want to take that 20% discount afterall on the case. The capacity gauge is useful and the WD Anywhere Backup makes it a complete package for most users but be ready for a bit of a treasure hunt for the super secret bonus CD key in the package. I wonder if they give prizes out for finding it?

Pros

  • Slim design makes it very portable and no bulky USB cable to ruin its small foot print
  • Sliding cover keeps the USB port safe and clean
  • Useful capacity gauge works even without a PC (just give it power).
  • Five Year Warranty

Cons

  • Soft-touch finish doesn’t last
  • Why make the CD key for the only functional piece of software so hard to find?

Overall Rating: 8.5 / 10.0

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