|Seagate FreeAgent Go 640GB External Hard Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Hank Tolman - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 10 December 2009|
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Testing & Results
We have already established that the Seagate Manager software that comes with the FreeAgent GO drive is very useful and versatile, setting the drive apart from the competition. The size and portability of the FreeAgent GO also make it excellent for a portable drive. Now we will test the Seagate FreeAgent GO 640 GB USB drive against two Western Digital External drives to see how it holds up in speed tests, access time, and CPU usage against the competition. I tested the drives using my Home Theater PC, since that is system that will get the most use out of the FreeAgent GO.
FreeAgent GO Results
I started off the testing with HD Tune 2.55. HD Tune is a hard disk benchmarking and information tool. You can use it to measure the raw performance of your drives, including transfer rate, burst rate, access time, CPU usage, and more. In addition, it provides detailed information about supported hard drive features, as well as current temperature, S.M.A.R.T information (if available) and an error scanner. The test system was completely rebooted between tests. It's really not difficult with Windows 7, as the boot time for the system is somewhere around 20 seconds. Each test was run five times, the best and worst results were discarded, and the average of the other three tests were taken for the results.
As you can see above, the two USB 2.0 drives have practically the same CPU Usage, and it's really not all that much. The 1394b drive kind of worries me, but it is a much older drive than the other two. As far as access time is concerned, the Seagate FreeAgent GO drive is much slower than the two Western Digital Drives. Compared to the 1394b drive, this is to be expected, but against the other USB 2.0 drive, it is somewhat surprising; although, 4 milliseconds isn't going to be very noticeable.
The transfer rate tests from HD Tune show again that the two USB 2.0 hard drives are very evenly matched. For both the Seagate FreeAgent GO and the Western Digital My Passport, the Average and Maximum Transfer Rates were very close. This is a very good sign, showing that the drives run consistently very close to their maximum rates. The fact that the 1394b My Book is quite a bit faster than the other is to be expected.
For the real file transfer tests I used actual files on the computer and clocked them with a stopwatch to see how close the transfer rates actually came to those provided by HD Tune. For the large file transfers I moved two DVD ISO files totaling 9.22 Gbs between the test system and the test drives. For the small files, I moved 30.44 Gbs of MP3 files. The system was rebooted between each transfer.
As you can see, the file transfer rates for the large files were very close to the average times produced by HD Tune, with a slight decrease in transfer rate during the write test. There was also nearly a 10 MB/s decrease in transfer rate on the FreeAgent GO drive between the large file read test and small file write test. Also notable was the fact that the difference in read/write speeds were closer for the Wester Digital My Passport drive than for the Seagate FreeAgent GO. During the read tests, the FreeAgent GO consistently beats the My Passport Essential, but the opposite is true in the write tests. Again, the 1394b drive easily outpaces the USB 2.0 drives.
The tests prove that the Seagate FreeAgent GO can certainly keep pace with the competition. It doesn't impress by beating out the other USB 2.0 drive, but it also doesn't lag behind at all. The speeds for the drive are very consistent and very good overall. Add to that the software that comes with the FreeAgent GO, the dock, the carrying case, and the metal casing, and I'd say Seagate has a hand up on comparably priced Western Digital drives.