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Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1TB USB 3.0 HDD Review

WDC is making waves on all fronts. Today Chris looks at their new portable USB 3.0 HDD that makes taking your data with you even easier.
By Chris Ramseyer on Apr 20, 2011 11:49 pm CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Western Digital



Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to portable storage products. When shopping it is important to look for a drive that is easy to use, comes with an abundant amount of features and protects the drive inside very well. All of those features can be found in the Western Digital My Passport Series of products. You don't have to take my word for it; Western Digital currently holds the title as the number one seller of external hard drives by volume with their My Passport Series.

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE is the latest addition to the Series and brings a colourful entry to the normally boring world of portable storage. With four colour options available; blue, red, silver and black, you can choose what goes best with that new purse. The choices don't stop there; the My Passport Essential SE is also available in 1TB or 750GB capacity sizes.


Today we are looking at the 1TB, black model that sports an ultra smooth piano black finish and a massive storage capacity. Included with the package is a nice, long USB 3.0 cable and a quick install guide. The drive itself holds electronic manuals and a software suite that is second to none.

The software suite, called WD SmartWare, is very impressive on its own. It includes a nice automatic backup feature, and works with the drives built in hardware data encryption to keep your data secure at all times. To be honest, SmartWare is extensive enough to be sold on its own. We could write an entire article about the software since it is such a feature rich package. You can read more about Western Digital SmartWare here.


Even with such an extensive software and accessory bundle, the stand-out feature of the new My Passport Essential SE has to be the storage capacity. After formatting, the drive has 931 GBs free for your data. This wouldn't be all that impressive from a large enclosure, but the My Passport Essential SE is just a little larger than a deck of cards.

Users looking for high capacity portable storage should also want high speed storage as well. Being tied to a desktop or terminal while your files and folders transfer doesn't allow you to be mobile. The My Passport Essential SE has that part covered as well. By pairing a high speed, large capacity drive with the high speed and growing in availability USB 3.0 port, users can enjoy near desktop levels of performance while on the move.


Our initial baseline testing of the My Passport Essential SE delivered near desktop level performance with reads over 90MB/s and writes just under 90MB/s. USB 2.0 on its best day can only deliver 30MB/s, so the My Passport Essential SE is around three times as fast as last year's model.


The My Passport Essential SE uses a single, traditional platter drive inside the case, so there is some performance variation when reading across the drive. The average read speed is 74.4MB/s and the average write speed is 56.6MB/s.


When it comes to file transfer performance, we use AS SSD's File Copy test. The My Passport Essential SE is between 10 and 15MB/s slower than the full size My Book 3.0 that is designed for home use. Portable drives are generally slower than their full sized counterparts since the enclosures need to be smaller and the platter sizes are also reduced. The My Passport Essential SE delivers solid real world performance that rivals many companies' solid state USB 3.0 flash drives, while delivering a much greater capacity and a lot lower cost.

Whether you are looking for a high capacity portable drive that is easy to install, configure and is high on accessories like most consumers, or looking for a high speed portable drive to keep you on the go, the Western Digital My Essential SE is a solid choice. The accessory package is the best we've seen in a very long time and the drive is durable. Our only complaint has to do with the ultra smooth finish; it can scratch easily, so opt for the extra case available on Western Digital's website to keep it scratch free.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Chris Ramseyer

Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

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