Final Words & Conclusions
Final Words & Conclusions
When I got the chance to review an external drive like this, I was really rather excited. Despite flash storage in PCs being a long established 'thing' (sometimes with simply insane levels of performance), personal SSDs that are easily taken on the go are fairly uncommon still. Their advantages over traditional portable HDDs are easy to see for pretty much any involved party. I would certainly think their increased reliability and lack of moving parts is chief amongst those, given that these are products that were custom made for being taken around with you. Second is their massive performance uplift over regular spinning disks, which - in the portable form factor, at least - are still chugging along at 5,400rpm. There is just no competition other than price. On the surface, then, a product like this is nearly a no-brainer (if you can fork up the cash required for a model such as this). However, before you go and potentially buy it or something like it, some words.
Perhaps my only major gripe with this unit comes in this section, and I think you will all know what it is. The drive did not, quite simply, hit the speeds advertised by Seagate in any way, shape, or form. Even in the most ideal sequential read/write scenario, the drive only manages about 411 MB/s of read, and around 380 MB/s of write. Whilst not at all bad, it is below the advertised speeds of this drive. I'm not sure how this happened, but the numbers just don't lie, I am afraid. I suspect that some of this may well be to do with the use of USB 3.1 Gen 1, instead of the newer Gen 2 standard. The hardware on the inside of this product certainly cannot be lacking, so aside from a lack of actual chips reducing flow to the inbuilt controller (not an excuse a 1TB+ unit should have, really), I cannot imagine what the problem is. Perhaps this is TLC vs NAND in action, as well. However, if we take a step back for a second, is the performance so bad? I mentioned earlier that the Seagate drive managed to score only just below the flagship external SSD from 2015, Samsung's T1. For the first outing from Seagate in this space, that's not a bad result at all. The performance, relatively speaking, is pretty solid as well. 411 MB/s and 380 MB/s on the reads/writes respectively is nothing to sniff at.
I suspect the use of USB 3.1 Gen 1 and not the newer standard is due to cost saving, as nobody can have failed to notice the bit earlier in the article when I mentioned pricing. If you did, here's a quick recap. For the unit I have here now, the 1TB model, it is around a 100 bucks cheaper than the equivalent Samsung drive. On a decent day, you could get a SATA based 500 GB SSD for that money, or certainly one of these and maybe a 250GB T5 from Samsung. Think of it, therefore, as either money saved, or free storage. Whichever you choose, this product is certainly decent value. I will absolutely not say no to saving nearly 100 GBP for the sake of losing some performance that I would heavily question going noticed by anybody outside of a canned benchmark.
I will briefly mention build quality. It's stellar. Best of the best quality and what you get for that is a very sleek, well made, and tough little drive that really does feel pretty exquisite. Add to that the portability of such a device, and really it's the perfect portable pocket rocket. If I were, however, to have one downside to this unit (aside from the claimed vs. actual performance), it would be the lack of... um, 'extras'? The drive does, admittedly, come with Seagate's fairly nifty Toolkit (allowing for drive/folder mirroring), but other than the usual assortment of Seagate tools (that aren't exclusive to this device), that's pretty much it. Products like WD's My Passport come with a whole host of backup and security software, whereas you are pretty left to fend for yourself, here. Now, there are numerous freeware encryption services on offer in 2018, and you could even pay a bit more for Windows 10 Pro, and then use Bitlocker to Go to encrypt your SSD (though paying full price for Windows 10 Pro just for this is a little bit foolhardy, though not a bad idea if you were going to get it anyway?). I guess it's time to wrap things up.
Let us get the elephant in the room out of the way, and right away. Do I recommend this drive? Actually, yes, I do. The performance is a not way up there, but surely massively fast, I am also 100% sure that we have not seen the full picture, and there is something else at play here. I tested with a variety of different devices (all using either full on Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C ports, or at least running the USB 3.1 Gen 1 standard), and the results were exactly the same. The drive is around 10-20% behind that of the T5, but you must also take into account the much-reduced price. That is, for the most part, the way of the tech world. Pay less, get less. In fact, that's basically the way of the world. I think for most people, however, the product I have here will be plenty fast. Remember that the average user isn't looking for the best of the best, all the time. He/she is more likely on the hunt for something that will do the job and will do it well (and maybe exceed expectations). This drive seems to fit the bill. It's certainly plenty fast, and not lacking in performance. For a first attempt, therefore, it's pretty sweet overall. Price is a massive thing in the modern world, and to have a product that comes fairly close to something that might well cost 100-150 GBP/EUR more isn't something to bemoan. At the end of the day, there is tech for everyone out there, whether on a budget or whether you're looking to truly splash the cash around. I think this device falls very neatly into the middle category, and its performance/price reflects that.
You are, luckily, still getting many of the niceties that help other more premium-priced products stand out. Excellent build quality, great looks, and compatibility across the board with a variety of devices and operating systems. The included two months to Adobe's Photography Plan really isn't too bad either, and says a lot about who is probably going to be buying this product (if not your own the go business-ite, then a creative or photographer. It's pretty simple. Personally, I say this a 'but if you're not bothered about the deficit vs. the T5.' If you are, then don't, and you're clearly the type of buyer who really needs the extra bandwidth and performance your extra money can give! And that's ok, that is why there are different products out there. I would also perhaps urge a little caution, and I would like to find out definitively re. The performance in real life vs. tests. I still think it's solvable, for sure. Subject to that, however, I think it's a pretty obvious win. I was a bit negative during the benchmarks section because that, realistically, is the time to be negative. Now, however, I can take a different stance, with the context of everything else that goes into one of these product reviews.