- Review Date: 06/24/11
- Bottom line:
The Seagate GoFlex Slim (320GB) hard drive is like a prize greyhound, with a distinctive slim look and USB 3.0 speed. Some might want a drive with more storage capacity, but the sleek design and zippy speeds will tempt most buyers.
Super thin. Runs at 7,200 rpm. Has USB 3.0. Includes free back-up management software. Comes with a 3-year warranty.
Higher price-per-GB than slower, chunkier drives.
For buyers looking for the best in portable storage, there are three factors to consider: Storage capacity, speed and connection options, and size. The Seagate GoFlex Slim (320GB) ($99.99 list) dominates two of these three categories, providing a fast little drive that's so thin, you'll think it was run over by a cartoon steamroller. In term of storage capacity, the Editors' Choice Western Digital My Passport Essential SE ($159.99 list, 4 stars) wins out with better price per GB, but the slim package and stylish design of the GoFlex Slim will tempt plenty of buyers.
Design & Features
The GoFlex Slim (320GB) has raised the bar on slimming down. It weighs 4.8 ounces, and measures 4.91 by 3.07 by 0.35 inches (HWD). It's thinner than a number 2 pencil. In fact, the drive may be the thinnest of its kind right now. It's also fast. The spinning hard disc inside is a zippy 7,200 rotations per minute (rpm). The drive is also equipped with a USB 3.0 connection (with an included detachable cable), which allows transfer speeds up to 10 times the speed of USB 2.0 (note that USB 3.0 is backwards-compatible to USB 2.0). The GoFlex Slim has a black anodized-aluminum enclosure that features a silky soft-touch finish, accented by a glossy stripe that runs along all four edges of the drive, and the Seagate logo on the front of the drive.
The Seagate GoFlex Slim (320GB) is a plug-and-play device, meaning that it's ready to go the moment you take it out of the box. The drive comes with NTFS formatting, which is compatible with Windows, but not with Macs. Mac users and anyone needing cross compatibility will want to reformat the drive to HFS+, which is Mac compatible, or FAT32, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems.
On the drive, you'll find Seagate Dashboard, a storage management tool that lets you know the available space on the drive at a glance, set up and manage automatic backup, and even provides encryption for securing sensitive data. Seagate covers the GoFlex Slim with a 3-year limited warranty, a full 2 years past the 1-year warranties offered by most competitors.
The Seagate GoFlex Slim has more than just sleek looks, as it comes equipped with a USB 3.0 interface, offering significantly faster transfer speeds than iUSB 2.0. Using that USB 3.0 connection, the GoFlex Slim provides strong performance across the board. In PCMark Vantage, the GoFlex Slim scored 5,713 points. It also completed our Drag and Drop test (where we transfer a 1.22GB test file onto the drive) in 15 seconds. Compare this with the similarly equipped Western Digital My Passport Essential SE, which scored 5,617 points in PCMark HDD tests, and completed our Drag and Drop test in 18 seconds.
Because the USB 3.0 interface is backwards compatible with the more common USB 2.0, we've tested performance using that connection as well. When tested using the older, slower USB 2.0 connection, the GoFlex Slim still performed very well, scoring 2,953 points in PCMark Vantage hard drive tests. It also completed our Drag and Drop test in 41 seconds. For a spinning hard drive connected via USB 2.0, these are about the best scores you can hope for. By comparison, the Buffalo MiniStation Stealth ($60 street, 3.5 stars), a USB 2.0 drive with similar capacity and aesthetics, copied the 1.22GB test file in 43 seconds, and scored 2,754 points in PCMark tests.
The 320 GB model of the GoFlex Slim sells for $99.99, which puts its cost-per-gigabyte at just over 31 cents. This price is a few orders of magnitude cheaper than the Iomega External SSD Flash Drive ($719.99 for 256GB), a solid state drive (SSD) with USB 3.0 which offers even faster performance, but does so at a steep $2.90 per GB premium. For a drive with similar speeds, the $159.99 Western Digital My Passport Essential SE features the same USB 3.0 connection found on the GoFlex Slim, but bolsters that with a massive 1TB of storage space, which works out to roughly 16-cents per GB. And finally, if the super-slim design and speedy USB 3.0 performance isn't what you're looking for, the Buffalo MiniStation Stealth is also 320GB, and works out to around 18 cents per GB.
The Seagate GoFlex Slim (320GB) is slim enough for a shirt pocket and fast enough to move large amounts of data. While the Editors' Choice Western Digital My Passport Essential SE may offer triple the storage capacity, there's no denying that the GoFlex Slim wins in looks and performance, even if it costs a bit more.
More hard drive reviews:
• Seagate GoFlex Slim (320GB)
• Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage (500GB)
• Verbatim Store'n'Go SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (500GB)
• Seagate GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive for Mac (1.5TB)
• WiebeTech ToughTech Secure Q