by Rob Williams on September 16, 2013 in Storage
When we took a look at WD’s My Passport Ultra last month, we gave props to its slim form-factor. Little did we realize, WD was set to launch the “Slim” model mere weeks later, whittling the drive down to a bit under half an inch. That’s not the only thing the Slim offers, however, so let’s explore what else it brings to the table.
For most of our performance-type content, we hold nothing back when explaining our methodologies and beliefs. But as this is simply an external storage review, we don’t feel there’s quite as important a need to do that. If you’ve read our other performance content, you already know how seriously we take our testing practices, as it’s obvious that coming up with an accurate end score for any benchmark is very important. In the case of external storage, we repeat all tests at least twice to verify that our results are accurate.
| ||Techgage Storage Test System|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 3.60GHz|
|Motherboard||ASUS P9X79-E WS|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Beast 4x8GB – DDR3-2133 11-12-11|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB|
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
WD My Passport Slim 1TB (USB 3)
WD My Passport Ultra 1TB (USB 3)
WD My Passport 2TB (USB 3)
|Power Supply||Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W|
|Cooling||Thermaltake WATER3.0 EXTREME Self-Contained Liquid Cooler|
|Et cetera||Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit|
For our real-world transfer tests, the source files are stored on our OS drive, which avails us a top-end read speed of 500MB/s+. Unless the USB device we’re testing is able to write in excess of that, there should be no bottleneck.
Drives are formatted to NTFS with 4K sector sizes.
To start things off, we’re using Iometer, a popular storage benchmarking application that’s as effective as it is customizable. It’s for both of those reasons that we choose to use it, and also thanks to the fact that it’s capable of outputting the results to both MB/s and IOPS (in/out operations per second). The latter is the value we focus on, as it’s become a standard for measuring performance in enterprise/IT environments.
Admittedly, running this test on most USB flash drives, is not entirely important given the typical manner in which they’re used, but it’s our goal to see where one excels over another when dealing with such an intensive test. IOPS performance would be very important if you were to install an OS on a flash drive, as long as the bandwidth throughput is also good.
| ||Database||Workstation||File Server|
|WD My Passport 2TB||57.59||29.22||76.85||19.09||77.77||19.37|
|WD My Passport Slim 1TB||39.52||19.58||45.96||11.64||48.02||11.86|
|WD My Passport Ultra 1TB||38.32||18.56||45.18||11.55||46.25||11.70|
Our results are interesting right-off-the-bat; the Slim and Ultra perform identically. Let’s see if our other benchmarks turn this into a trend.
HD Tune Pro 5.0
One of the simplest methods for testing storage is with HD Tune, and as it’s able to give reliable and repeatable results, we like using it in our testing. Although the program offers a good range of testing methods, we use the basic test that gives us read speeds and also access latencies.
|HD Tune Pro 5||Minimum||Average||Maximum||Latency|
|WD My Passport 2TB||50.8||84.8||110.7||17.9ms|
|WD My Passport Slim 1TB||53.7||85.8||113.0||16.3ms|
|WD My Passport Ultra 1TB||56.0||91.0||118.8||16.4ms|
For the most part, I think it’d be safe to say that any mobile 5400 RPM drive is going to perform pretty similarly to one another – a fact backed-up with the help of HD Tune. The Ultra drive interestingly enough had a higher average result than the other drives, but all are pretty even overall.
Over the past few years, many storage companies have been jumping on the CrystalDiskMark bandwagon to help strut their product’s performance, and it’s easy to understand why. Compared to others, CrystalDiskMark delivers results that are much higher, and in some regards, they could be considered unrealistic given that real-world tests and even other synthetic benchmarks never seem to back up its claims. We include it for the sake of interest and because it is still a very thorough benchmark.
|WD My Passport 2TB||115.0||44.51||0.567||107.6||70.23||1.759|
|WD My Passport Slim 1TB||114.1||42.54||0.553||113.0||62.36||1.606|
|WD My Passport Ultra 1TB||121.0||43.92||0.566||118.7||62.98||1.441|
While there are slight performance differences between the drives here, the results overall make them look about even – you’d certainly not notice the difference in the real-world.
For real-world testing, we use a set of files and folders for the sake of measuring transfer speeds, and also convert images and music on the storage device to see just how well it fares for large intensive operations. For the transfer speeds, we use both 4GB and 16GB files and folders, and for the former, we also perform copy tests, which refers to copying the file or folder on the storage device.
| ||4GB File||4GB Folder||16GB File||16GB Folder|
|WD My Passport 2TB||37.547||80.584||144.29||325.429|
|WD My Passport Slim 1TB||39.81||62.92||142.93||237.47|
|WD My Passport Ultra 1TB||37.08||57.77||97.12||102.68|
Our synthetic tests make all three of the drives here look identical, but real-world testing proves that performance can in fact vary from drive to drive. Along with the other My Passport drives, the Slim performs quite well, managing to copy over our beefy 16GB folder in a mere 4 minutes, and a 4GB solid file in 40 seconds. Not too shabby.
When WD’s My Passport Slim hit my doorstop was delicately handed to me by a friendly FedEx worker, I felt like I knew everything there was to know about the product before I took it out of the box. In truth, the Slim is very much like the Ultra that I took a look at just last month. The main differences, of course, are that it’s thinner, and built using a much sturdier chassis. As our performance reports show, its speed doesn’t suffer as a result of its slimness.
Software-wise, the bundles are identical, so those that will want to go with the Slim are those who appreciate having the smallest portable mechanical drive on the market weighing in at 1TB that won’t break the bank (unlike 1TB flash drives – oy!).
WD’s My Passport (Black), Ultra (Blue) & Slim (Gray)
The software bundle is suitable enough, with the most significant app being SmartWare, used to keep regular backups of your data. The fact that you’re able to continually backup to both the drive and your Dropbox account is quite nice, though I do truly wish WD would update the software to include other popular backup services, such as SkyDrive and Google Drive. Why the software is limited to just a single solution is truly odd, to say the least.
At the moment, the Slim 1TB costs about $120, which is a $20 premium over the Ultra. If a savings of 0.13 inches and 18 grams in addition to the upgrade to a metal chassis is worth that to you, then you are simply not going to go wrong with this drive. If you want to save money, and don’t mind those forgoing those enhancements, the Ultra remains a very good option.