WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB review

WD My Passport Ultra review

WD is now officially the consumer-facing name for the Western Digital Corporation. And the WD My Passport Ultra is officially its slimmest portable drive today that can also boast 1000 GB of storage. Take a look at Group test: what's the best portable hard drive?

The WD My Passport Ultra is by all accounts a refit of the WD My Passport Edge of last year. This Ultra version is the basic lower-cost model using an all-plastic case; a more upmarket model has now been renamed My Passport Air for more discerning users, and offers a stronger and neater aluminium case. Visit: The 7 best tablets with expandable memory.

When we last reviewed the My Passport Edge drives, 500 GB was the largest available capacity. The breakthrough this year is 1 TB in the same slim case, thanks to the availability of that capacity of hard disk using a single 2.5in disk platter, and mounted in a 7mm-sized notebook drive. There's also talk of a 2 TB version to follow this year. See Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk External Drive.

The disk inside the case forgoes the usual additional USB-to-SATA convertor. Instead is a WD custom-made 2.5in drive made for such portable enclosures, with a direct USB 3.0 connection built into the disk electronics.

The outside case is not unattractive, matt black plastic below and adorned with shiny black dot details on matt above. Various case colours are actually available, namely black as we tested, and red, blue or grey.

WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB review: Performance

The now-ubiquitous USB 3.0 interface means that data can be quickly copied into and out of the the My Passport Ultra.

In our lab tests with QuickBench, we saw read and write speeds of around 114 MB/s, which is a plenty-quick speed for most occasions.

Small-files also moved quickly, when stacked sequentially at least, at 91 MB/s reads (4 kB to 1024 kB) and 97 MB/s writes.

Random read/writes were slower, as is normal with disk-based storage, reaching just 19 MB/s for reads and 9 MB/s random write, with the same small-file averaged test.

Performance suffers more markedly if you should try multi-tasking with more than one read or copy operation at once, in part because a single-platter disk like that inside the WD My Passport Ultra has only one read/write disk head.

To illustrate, we tried copying a Blu-ray to the My Passport Ultra, and saw a real-world transfer speed of 110 MB/s. But when we added another file copy operation at the same time, overall transfer speed plummeted to just 35 MB/s. That's in common with other super-slim portable disks we've tried recently though.

WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB: Specs

  • 1 TB portable hard disk
  • USB 3.0
  • 1 TB WD10JMVW 2.5in disk with integrated USB 3.0 controller
  • 110 x 82 x 15 mm
  • 154 g
  • 1 TB portable hard disk
  • USB 3.0
  • 1 TB WD10JMVW 2.5in disk with integrated USB 3.0 controller
  • 110 x 82 x 15 mm
  • 154 g

OUR VERDICT

The WD My Passport Ultra is a very compact way of carrying a terabyte of data around, and which can be accessed rapidly thanks to its USB 3.0 interface. Power users may be more frustrated by slower performance when tasking it with several operations at once, but it works wonderfully in a more tape-like situation, for the mass storage of a large computer backup, for instance.

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