Ignore the ‘for Mac’ label of this most portable of portable hard drives. The Western Digital My Passport Edge for Mac is a highly pocketable external storage device for any PC platform, accelerated by its USB 3.0 interface.
See: more portable hard drive reviews.
When WD first stamped out its redesigned My Passport drives in premium aluminium cases, Mac users were the obvious audience. Besides the Micro-USB 2.0 port was a FireWire 800 interface, a relatively speedy way to transfer data and a useful step-up in performance from dawdling USB 2.0.
Now that Apple has rigged all its latest Macs with USB 3.0, the faster connection has started to trickle into the My Passport drive range, some of them slimmed down with a new 7mm-thick hard disk inside.
The push for ultrabooks by Intel has had an interesting side effect in making such thinner storage. Where once the 2.5in SATA disk was fixed at the 9.5mm form factor (with occasional 12.5mm or even thicker versions appearing for the largest storage capacities), we’re now starting to see these single-platter hard disks in 7mm shape – and not just in ultraportable notebooks.
WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB: Features
Build quality of this little drive is essentially faultless, a black anodised aluminium top melding through precision machining into the natural-finish aluminium lower section below, all nipped together by four Torx screws underneath.
The only distraction from the clean design is the wide USB 3.0 port, and an LED that flashes white on disk access.
Storage capacity of the thinnest version here is ‘only’ 500GB, with a WD Scorpio Blue SATA notebook disk hiding inside.
WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB: Performance
In the lab the Western Digital My Passport Edge for Mac proved to be about as quick as any 2.5in hard disks we’ve tested recently.
Tested in Windows 7 over USB 3.0, we saw sequential speeds up to 120MBps in the ATTO benchmark.
That may be a little optimistic for real-life transfers, particularly for smaller files. But in QuickBench for OS X, we saw even 32kB files flying across at over 100MBps.
Random read/writes are much slower as you might expect with spinning-disk tech; averaged across all small file sizes from 4kB to 1024kB, the WD My Passport Edge for Mac 500GB could average 20 and 28MBps respectively for reads and writes.
Looking at the graph plots from HD Tune Pro in Windows again, the disk reached a maximum of 115MBps reads and a minimum of 54MBps when scanning across the whole disk.
Write performance was around the same, spanning 113 to 53MBps between ‘empty’ and ‘nearly full’ disk states. The gave an average across the disk for read/writes of 88/86MBps, which is a reasonable estimate of real life performance.
All told, this portable drive showed excellent performance, a notable step-up from even the faster FireWire 800 models, and is more remarkable when you consider its modest size. The WD My Passport Edge for Mac also remained near-silent in use.