Seagateâ€™s GoFlex Slim Portable Hard Drive Review
Thin is in! Feast your eyes on one of the thinnest USB portable hard drives ever, Seagate’s GoFlex Slim 320GB Portable Hard Drive. It’s not only thinner than most any portable hard drive, it’s faster too! It’s a 7200RPM disk drive with a USB 3.0 connector, wrapped in a tough anodized metal casing. Plus it’s both Mac and Windows compatible!
What’s in the box
GoFlex Slim 7200 RPM drive
Pre-loaded premium backup software with encryption & synchronization
NTFS driver for Mac pre-loaded on drive*
GoFlex™ USB 3.0 interface adapter
18-inch USB 3.0 cable
Quick start guide
3-year limited warranty
The Seagate GoFlex Slim is slimmer than a pencil, and it’s barely thicker than the USB 3.0 cable that plugs into it. How Seagate managed to squeeze a hard drive, and a 7200RPM drive at that, into this sleek drive is beyond us! It’s also a good looking drive, and it’s built tough. The drive is encased in a tough matte black anodized casing, but unfortunately it’s pretty quick to show grease and finger prints. Like most of the other GoFlex drives, the Slim has a removable interface adapter, though the stock USB 3.0 adapter is currently the only one available. Removing the interface adapter allows you to integrate the drive with GoFlex Net or GoFlex TV HD Media Player. There is an activity light on the interface adapter itself, right above where the USB cable plugs into. The USB 3.0 cable is an appropriate 18 inches. It weighs 5.6 ounces.
The GoFlex Slim is a 7200RPM USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive. For now it’s only available with a 320GB capacity. 7200RPMs is faster than most portable hard drives, which are generally 5400. Usually if a portable hard drive is 7200RPM, it’s very bulky. GoFlex Slim is backward compatible with USB 2.0, you don’t need to swap the cable or interface adapter. USB 3.0 allows for speeds 10 times that of USB 2.0. The drive comes pre-formatted and ready to use straight out of the box. No Windows drivers were required. It comes pre-loaded with Seagate’s Dashboard software that includes backup tools and file encryption (Windows Only). It also comes with an NTFS driver for Mac so it can be used interchangeably between Mac and PCs. The drive is capable of being used for Time Machine Backups on a Mac, but it needs to be formatted to HFS+ first. The GoFlex Slim will easily snap in to the GoFlex Net, acting as storage for the entire house. GoFlex Net allows you to also access your content anywhere in the world with the use of Pogoplug, take a look at our review for more info. Slim will also slide into the GoFlex TV HD Media Player, allowing you to play all of your media on the big screen.
GoFlex Slim has two key features: it’s very thin and it’s very fast. If you use it mainly as a USB 2.0 drive, you basically lose the speed feature. USB 2.0 bottlenecks the speed capabilities, and the drive functions the same as any other nice 5400RPM portable hard drive. Using USB 3.0, the drive is noticeably faster. It’s not quite as fast as Solid State Drive (SSD) speeds, but it’s really not too far off. The drive itself is whisper quiet while it’s transferring. You can feel that it’s spinning fast if you touch it, but other than that there is no vibrating or rattling.
Out-of-the-box the drive worked perfectly on Windows. On a Mac, the drive is read-only until the included software is installed. The software bundles Seagate’s Drive Settings with Paragon NTFS for Mac. After installed, a restart is required and the NTFS driver must be activated. After this few minute process, the GoFlex Slim works perfectly on Mac. When running the Mac Installer, you are also given the option to set up the drive as “Mac Only” which allows you to use the drive with Time Machine. This option will erase your drive, whereas the “Mac and PC” option will keep all of your files intact.
On my Windows 7 machine, I transferred a 700MB movie from my internal hard drive (OCZ Agility 2 SSD) to my GoFlex Slim over USB 3.0 and it only took 8.2 seconds, and 25.1 seconds over USB 2.0. It took my WD Passport Portable 5400RPM hard drive 23.3 seconds. I also transferred 500 MP3s (2GB) to the GoFlex Slim and it took 58.3 seconds using USB 3.0, and 1 minute 40 seconds over USB 2.0. It took the WD Passport 1 minute 35 seconds. Over USB 2.0 the WD Passport was a smidge faster than the Slim, most likely because the USB 2.0 write times are slightly faster, whereas the read times are slightly slower.
Over USB 3.0, the sequential read and write times of the GoFlex Slim are 116MB/s read and 102MB/s write, which are near SSD speeds. Compare that to the 37MB/s read and 34.5MB/s write over USB 2.0. The WD Passport was comparable to the USB 2.0 speeds at 36.8MB/s read and 36.7MB/s write.
Had this been one month earlier, the GoFlex Silm would have been the thinnest portable drive we’ve ever reviewed. OCZ’s Enyo Portable SSD takes the cake for thinnest (and fastest) portable drive thus far. Of course, the Enyo is much pricier and offers much less storage, but rightfully so. Seagate’s GoFlex Slim is darn good looking and feels very durable. That said, 320gb is more than most people will need, but we wouldn’t mind some larger drives in the future. Also, USB 3.0 isn’t quite mainstream just yet, but it’s gaining traction slowly but surely. This means that there is a good chance you won’t be able to make use of the performance boost, but this drive is future-proof and will provide more value as more computers are produced with USB 3.0. The Seagate GoFlex Slim is priced at just under $100, which means you are paying a 30-40% premium for the sexiness, sleekness, and speed boost, not to mention integration with the rest of the GoFlex lineup. But that is not a bad deal at all. Seagate’s GoFlex Slim has just been released and can be purchased from Seagate.com (or Amazon.com) for $99.99.
Update 06/12/12: Check out our review of the Seagate Backup Plus portable external hard drive for 2012.