Over the last few years Western Digital has taken to the drawing board, redesigning their entire external drive line-up. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Mac based portable storage, turning the My Passport into an extension of the MacBook itself. To do this WD has foregone the Firewire ports found on Studio model and has went with a single USB 3.0 connection, utilizing a custom PCB.
In the lab today we have the 500GB My Passport Edge for Mac. Coming in at just 10mm thick, the Edge offers maximum portability for those on the go. Utilizing the included WD Smartware software, the My Passport is easily configurable as an automated backup device, with compatibility of the Edge extending as far as Mac OS in its preformatted Journaled file system (JFS) and even Windows after a simple reformat. We are using it in the Windows configuration for this review.
Our Edge review sample was delivered to us in it retail packaging. Here we find the capacity listed at the top right with a nice product image front and center.
Upon opening the packaging we find the Edge tucked away behind a clear plastic container.
The scope of delivery for the My Passport Edge is all based on simplicity, as we found the drive, USB 3.0 cable and user manual in the box.
The single USB 3.0 connection sits on the edge of the drive with a white LED to indicate drive activity.
The back of the drive carries all the model identifiers. I should also point out that the entire shell of this drive is made of CNC machined aluminium and offers maximum durability.
When I review any product, as you may know by now, I always tear them down and show you the bare parts. Some may not think that this is necessary, but to those of you that enjoy seeing internals as I do, it makes the entire process worth it. Seen above we found the Edge to use a WD5000LMVW drive. This drive is a custom variant of what I believe to be part of the Blue series from WD.
The backside of the drive shows off the custom red PCB for the Edge. Up top notice that the PCB houses the USB 3.0 connection on-board.
As of late WD has begun to push their WD SmartWare software out with all of their external storage devices. I find this a great part of the bundle, as it only enhances the storage ability. Here we have updated our SmartWare to version 2.0, and upon opening it, we found it picked up our My Passport and My Net router in one shot.
Setting up the My Passport as a backup solution was rather simple with SmartWare. After setting up our backup frequency and enabling the device as the solution, it took off with the power of USB 3.0 moving it along rather quickly. The entire process took no more than five minutes.
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Retrieving or restoring you're backed up files is just as simple as it was to back them up. Through SmartWare you find two options of restoring, to the original location or to separate folder of your choosing.
Another option from within Smartware is Dropbox as you may have noticed on the main page. After setting up your account to work with Dropbox, SmartWare will allow for direct backups.
To test external storage platforms I utilize three of the most well-known and respected benchmark applications. ATTO Disk Benchmark is the first and is recognized as the industry standard for marketing specifications. The second, CDM or Crystal Disk Mark, offers sequential read and write metrics, 512K random read and writes and 4K data with Queue Depths up to 32. Through DiskBench we offer real-world testing as it offers a custom data set that can be controlled by the user. For our testing I use a 10GB directory of mixed data that includes, pictures in both the RAW and JPEG file formats, AVCHD video and documents in both the XLS and DOC formats.
Testing the My Passport Edge in ATTO left us with a peak read speed of 112MB/s with the write speed following closely at 110MB/s.
Looking over our numbers achieved within CDM, I found the My Passport matching sequential numbers with ATTO. More impressive, the 512K random writes were touching 60MB/s.
In our real-world testing with DiskBench, we found the WD My Passport to be most impressive, becoming the fastest drive in our charts despite plenty of competition from our set of ADATA drives.
Having the opportunity to test quite a few external storage options over the past few months, I have come away quite impressed with the My Passport Edge, and not just in terms of performance. The drive itself is designed to be thin and act as an extension to your MacBook, but I think it would really complement any Ultrabook or notebook, too.
The included WD SmartWare software offers one of the easiest solutions when it comes to data backup and restoration, which I find to be something that really enriches the environment the end-user experiences. The additional support for Dropbox is also a welcomed addition, and I suspect as Box.com gains popularity we may find this included as well.
Performance of the Edge was top-tier with our unit topping out at 112MB/s in both ATTO and CDM. Real-world testing netted us a chart leading 105MB/s in directory copy.
Pricing of the Western Digital My Passport Edge in its 500GB capacity is set at a very comforting $79.99 with availability extremely high. Western Digital covers the Passport Edge with a three year warranty.