The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro is one model in Seagate's refresh of its portable hard drive line (desktop versions are available, too). The new GoFlex system this drive is a part of encompasses drives of varying colours and capacities, connection modules, and accessories.
The unique hook to these models is that Seagate has reengineered the devices to separate the drive from the bridge board that translates the drive's native SATA to another interface connection. As a result, Seagate can offer a variety of cable modules for use with a single drive - giving you plenty of connection flexibility.
Of those, only the USB 2.0 GoFlex Cable can be removed from the connector module; the rest are fixed in place.
Another potential issue, though, lies with the module concept itself. The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro drive has not one, but two connections to pass through (the bridge module's connector, and then the connection from the bridge module to your PC). We found on the shipping unit we tried that the connector module could come unseated more easily than we'd expect - a risk when a drive might be sitting on an airplane tray table or the side of a couch. Another annoyance: you have to pop the module off to use it with the dock that comes with the Pro drive, for example (Seagate says a dock that accommodates the drive with the USB 2.0 module in place will be out later this year).
In our Test Centre, the drive performed well - but surprisingly, even though the drive ran at 7200 rpm, its performance was largely comparably to the older 5400rpm FreeAgent Go we'd tested previously.
In our tests, we tried the 500GB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro drive using both the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 modules. Over USB 2.0, the drive took 145 seconds to read a 3.68GB folder of files (same as the previous FreeAgent Go), 134 seconds to read a large 3.68GB file (1 second less than its predecessor), and 155 seconds to write that large file (the same as before). The only test that appeared improved in the jump from 5400rpm to 7200rpm: Our file and folder write test, in which the GoFlex took 182 seconds to write that same folder of files, compared with 197 seconds on the 5400rpm drive.
Over USB 3.0, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Pro drive performed comparably to the 7200rpm Seagate BlackArmor PS 110, the company's first USB 3.0 drive.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>