WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB USB 3.0 External HDD

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ACOUSTICS



Our WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB same idled at 17 dBA@1m and produced 18 dBA@1m when seeking.

At the ISO 7779 standard seated user distance of 0.6m on a solid wooden surface, the My Passport measured an impressive 17 dBA@.6m when idle and 18 dBA@0.6 when seeking. The acoustics were soft and smooth except for a slight buzzing noise, and seeks were difficult to detect at distance. The vibration level was fairly low, very close to recently tested internal models (between '7' and '8' on our subjective scale, see the chart at the bottom of this page for comparison). When placed on the same surface padded with foam the drive's measured noise level improved by less than 1 dB.

Noise Measurements (SPL @0.6m)
State
Seagate GoFlex 1.5TB
WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB
idle
16 dBA
17 dBA
seek
17~18 dBA
18 dBA
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

The last external drive we tested, the Seagate GoFlex 1.5TB, was a bit quieter but had an issue with vibration. When we tested the GoFlex, it generated a noticeable vibrating humming noise that varied depending on its position/angle on the tabletop and became much quieter when placed on foam. It's easy enough to deal with by slipping something soft under the drive, but somewhat annoying.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — 0.6 meters is a reasonable typical distance between a seated user and an external hard drive. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive at idle and then seeking.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1TB is a pleasant-looking, midrange external hard drive that is both decently fast and quiet. Compared to the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1.5TB, it is similar speed-wise only it doesn't have nearly as much trouble reading small files. Having USB 3.0 is a huge advantage over USB 2.0, delivering a 60 to 300% improvement in file transfers. Our My Passport sample didn't have the same vibration issue as the FreeAgent, but it did produce a bit more airborne noise. That being said, we found the WD drive to be quiet enough, i.e. you probably won't notice the noise it generates unless it's plugged into a very quiet PC in a very quiet room. It's impressive how quiet high capacity 2.5" hard drives have become, whether they be external or internal models.

The Seagate drive has advanced features, namely the modular connector and interoperability with some network-enabled FreeAgent devices while the My Passport is more of a common man's device. It's a simple, slim external drive without any bells and whistles save for the surprisingly easy-to-use security application it ships with which protects the data on the drive both from theft and destruction.

The My Passport Essential SE comes in 750GB/1TB variants in four different colors (red, blue, silver, and black), with the 1TB model selling for US$130~$140 which is about on par with the vanilla Seagate FreeAgent 1TB, and a bit more than WD Elements and bare/generic 1TB USB 3.0 2.5" hard drives. Given how well it performed against the bigger, more expensive GoFlex, we have no qualms recommending it to those looking for affordable, plentiful, and portable external storage.

Our thanks to Western Digital for the My Passport Essential SE 1TB portable hard drive sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB & Momentus 750GB
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1.5TB Portable USB 3.0 HDD
Seagate FreeAgent Go 1TB and 640GB portable USB drives

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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