IntroductionComputers have come a long way since their introduction. The size of the computer has shrunk from needing separate rooms for the storage and processors to the size of a wrist watch. While some parts have had to shrink, the size of some parts have had to increase, though not in a physical sense; rather an increase in the speed the processors run at, the amount of memory the system can support and of course the size of the storage mediums we use.The old style of recording data within the PC remains today. Invented over thirty years ago, the hard disk; a magnetic storage device is still trusted to keep all our data stored for easy access. Originally starting at around 1MB capacity, hard disks have now grown to over 10,000 times as much, storing 1 Terabyte on the latest generation of drives. Why do we need so much?Back when PC's were originally designed, they were pure business machines, no one ever thought of a PC as a multimedia station. Running simple business applications required a simple operating system and simplistic programs like Word. Today we use PC's for music, videos and much more. Multimedia storage takes up far more space than that of a simple word document; in order to store a worthwhile combination, drive spaces have had to increase to cope with this. Not only have file's sizes increased for multimedia, but gaming has changed to include HD movies requiring even more space. Even today's operating systems are extremely complex, thus requiring more space again.While adding storage devices inside the system is good, there is a limit to the amount of space inside a case, and internal connectors are finite. External storage thanks to USB, Firewire and eSATA makes perfect sense, as the amount of devices you can connect is increased as well as moving the storage drive outside the case, in turn providing better PC cooling.Today we are looking at a full storage solution from Seagate called the Freeagent Pro. How well does this baby stack up? Let's have a look.
Inside the Box
Inside the Box
Seagate has focused its Freeagent Pro at the desktop segment market, with no expense spared. Seagate has done a good job on the package; the box the drive is shipped in is white with a full colour photo on the front along with some basic feature set info along with the size and interface supported.
On the back there is another colour photo of the drive, but no useful info is included, just a bunch of marketing hype on the drive.
The documentation included in the box is very simple but effective, being a simple setup you only need to plug in the power and an interface cable, depending on what your drive comes with.
The cables and accessories included for our model were a power converter and a USB 2.0 cable. Our drive does support both USB and eSATA but no eSATA cable was included, a definite strike against the drive. If you have eSATA on your board and want to use the eSATA interface you're going to need to buy an extra cable.
The Seagate Freeagent Pro
Now we come down to the drive. Seagate has enclosed the drive in a black casing with an interface module stand at the bottom. The Seagate logo on the drive along with the sides have an orange EL LED system inside. When the drive is successfully connected to the PC, these LEDs glow orange.
Our drive came with an eSATA port and a USB 2.0 interface port on the modular drive connector. Seagate have designed the Freeagent Pro to have a modular connector on the bottom. The connector works as a stand to keep the drive upright. This modular connector can be removed from the drive and replaced with another. Seagate has a connector setup with USB and Firewire, USB and eSATA or Firewire, eSATA and USB.
On the bottom of the drive, a single brass screw holds the drive to the modular connector. The modular connector has a simple SATA connection system that connects the drive to the modular system. The modular bay contains all the circuits for the interface chosen. Seagate includes software on the drive when you install the unit to the system. Windows XP and Vista require no drivers for USB as the drive is detected as a Mass Storage Device like any USB flash drive or generic external HDD enclosure, and eSATA simply runs into a hot plug of the SATA ports, requiring no drivers whatsoever. The software that Seagate provides is a simple backup utility that you can customise to backup specific data at dedicated time intervals. This is a very handy feature, however if you're just wanting an external drive for movie storage like me, this software is kind of redundant.
Test System Setup and HD Tach
Test System SetupProcessor: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (Supplied by Intel)Motherboard: Gigabyte P35-DQ6 (Supplied by Gigabyte)Memory: 2x 1GB DDR2-1186 Geil (Supplied by Geil)Hard Disk: 500GB Seagate 7200.9 (Supplied by Seagate Australia)Graphics Card: MSI Geforce 8800GTS 640MB (Supplied by MSI) Cooling: Gigabyte Neon775 (Supplied by Gigabyte)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP2Drivers: Intel INF 126.96.36.1993, Forceware 162Today we are using our motherboard test system to run our hard disk benchmarks. We are pitting the Freeagent Pro drive against our generic Blue Eye Gigasave combo converter with a Seagate 7200.10 250GB hard disk. Our combo converter has USB 2.0, Firewire-800 and eSATA interfaces on the back. We will be using them in all three interfaces along with the USB and eSATA interface on the Freeagent Pro.HD TachVersion and / or Patch Used: 188.8.131.52Developer Homepage:http://www.simplisoftware.comProduct Homepage:http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?request=HdTach
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