Western Digital has long included portable hard drives in its range of external storage, including some aimed squarely at Macintosh users.
WD now has two new drives with a Mac slant, although there’s nothing whatsoever to make them solely for use with Apple computers.
The cheapest is the My Passport for Mac, and ironically the drive that may appeal to audiences on all platforms since it includes only a USB 2.0 interface. The more expensive drive, the My Passport Studio, is the more Mac friendly thanks to the addition of FireWire 800, a faster interface available to most Macintosh computers.
My Passport for Mac arrives set up for the Mac file system, formatted in HFS+, but can be easily reset for NTFS, FAT or EXT4 in seconds once connected to a Windows or Linux PC.
The latest WD My Passport for Mac has two remarkable attributes. The first is its capacity, now up to 1 terabyte. The second is just how light and compact a package all that voluminous capacity now comes in.
It weighs just 196g. That’s a very light piece of storage technology to pack for the capacity. If you were so inclined you could calculate an index of average capacity per unit mass; we did, and it’s an incredible 5GB per gramme. You might match that storage/weight ratio by strapping together a couple of 512GB SSDs, but it’d cost you well over £1000 for your efforts.
To make such a light drive – and compact too at just 111 x 83mm, and 19mm thick – Western Digital has used a custom 2.5in hard disk that omits the SATA interface. Instead, a micro-USB 2.0 interface and its controller electronics are integrated right into the disk chassis itself. That saves a few grammes of weight, but more significantly means that the complete drive inside its case need be little larger than the SATA-style disk inside.
Another weight saver, not to mention cost cutter, is to build the entire case out of two pieces of plastic that clip together near seamlessly. The silver and black look is low-key and tasteful, although silver paint may scratch off the top in time.
There are no other features on the drive like external power input – just a tiny white LED that glows when it’s connected.
We checked its speed credentials with Speed Tools QuickBench. Maybe the native USB controller on the disk makes another difference: we saw read speeds nudging the very highest seen for USB mass storage technology, at 38MBps for sequential reads. Write performance was more in line with usual USB 2.0 drives, at a more leisurely 28MBps.
One terabyte is a huge amount of storage to have in one lump. Just remember that with USB 2.0 as the slowest of interfaces now in common use, at 28MBps, or 100GB per hour, it will take you 10 hours to fill the My Passport for Mac to capacity, in best-case conditions of continuously writing large files. Small-file writing could double that time.