Seagate touts their FreeAgent GoFlex Slim 320GB as the world's slimmest portable hard drive. Not content with just that, the drive also offers a USB 3.0 data interface, to offer fast transfer speeds too.
While it may be slimmer by upto one-third, compared to Seagate's normal GoFlex portable drives, I must say that this angle gets old real quick. Indeed, if you've been using a Seagate FreeAgent Portable series drive, you will surely see this drive as being thinner and lighter, but not by all that much to make it a "cool" product to spring for.
However, I am impressed with the specifications that Seagate has managed to offer with this product. Let's see - a 2.5-inch thin laptop HDD (ST320LT007), rotation speed of 7200rpm, 16MB buffer and a USB 3.0 data interface. All this in addition to the best part of a GoFlex drive, wherein you can detach the USB adapter on the drive and connect it directly to a desktop PC over an internal SATA cable.
Memeo Backup and Sync software is offered on the drive. When you connect it for the first time, the drive installs the Seagate Dashboard, which lets you manage these applications -- and makes backing up and syncing easy.
A 3-year warranty is offered upon the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Slim 320GB. While it barely got noisy in tests, it's worth noting that it got very warm to the hand during prolonged use, hitting 40 Celsius degrees. This means using the drive sparingly to prevent this kind of heating would be a good idea. The drive offers 298.1 GB of formatted storage capacity.
Seen side-on, the drive width is roughly as much as that of a typical pencil. Image courtesy itbusiness.ca
To prevent bottlenecks, we use our top-end test-rig for testing. Seeing as the USB 2.0 interface does not cross 33 MB/s at the most, the speeds mentioned below were as seen over a USB 3.0 port.
Shown below are results from a cross-section of the tests we ran. Note that performance recorded by different synthetic benchmark tools can sharply differ and is normal.
Read and Write, HD Tach RW (full).
Read and Write, Crystal DiskMark.
Read and Write graphs, from HD Tune Pro.
On synthetic benchmarks we measured read and write access times averaging 17.19 ms and 25.98 ms (milli-seconds) respectively, with a CPU usage of 6 per cent on average. The drive racked up a HDD Score of 5372 in PC Mark 05, which is a one-fourth gain over normal USB 3.0 drives. The read/write speeds can be seen above.
Real world tests were carried out when the drive was empty. File read/write speeds for a single large file (6.42 GB) stood at 101.1 MB/s and 97.19 MB/s respectively. File read/write speeds for multiple smaller files (1287 files totalling up to 2.33 GB) stood at 92.3 MB/s and 19.16 MB/s respectively. I have no qualms in saying the speeds I saw were extremely good indeed.
The GoFlex Slim 320GB is a worthy buy for high-end ultra-portable laptop users who travel frequently and want minimum space/weight addition. It is also good if you'd like to show your peers that you have a really thin external HDD. In any case, this drive offers superb performance.
Although it is a very good product by itself, I find it hard to recommend when you can get a (slightly thicker) 500GB USB 3.0 drive for about the same price.