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Seagate 500GB eSATA external hard disk drive

eSATA drive writes at twice the speed of a USB/FireWire drive By John Virata

The Seagate 500GB eSATA hard drive is an external serial ATA drive solution targeted at those in the digital media space (such as video editors, DVD authors, audio pros and 3D animation artists) who need a faster, external, high capacity solution than what is provided via USB 2.0 or FireWire. Available in 300GB and 500GB (465GB free space when formatted on a Windows Vista PC) configurations using Seagate Barracuda drives, the Seagate eSATA drive ships with a PCI SATA card for those who don't have a PC or Mac that supports SATA. The drive is built with Native Command Queuing (NCQ) technology, which in essence reduces the physical workload of the drive by prioritizing the data commands it receives to ensure a more efficient workflow.

Look and Feel
The eSATA drive shares the same footprint as the company's USB/FireWire pushbutton backup drives. About the same size as a Mac mini, the drive features an on/off button in the front that glows blue and vents all the way around the unit. The connections are at the rear. The drive is made to be stackable with other like Seagate drives, including the USB/FireWire units, as a circular footprint on the top of the unit when placed in a horizontal position enables you to stack the drives. Also shipping in the package is a horizontal mount for those who wish to position the unit in a vertical fashion. The drive is surprisingly quiet, especially given the speed rating of the unit. I am not sure if there is a fan in the unit.

The eSATA in a vertical position


Installation
For this review, I installed the PCI-SATA card into an AMD Athlon 64 X2-based computer running on an Asus A8n-SLI premium motherboard. It has 2GB RAM and a 500GB Seagate Barracuda hard disk drive. This system is running Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2. The computer supports serial ATA both internally as well as externally via an external SATA port. If your computer does not have an external SATA port, you'll have to use the supplied PCI-SATA card. I installed the PCI card that came with the eSATA drive anyway to ensure no conflicts.

The drive is stackable with other Seagate external solutions, such as the USB/FireWire drive, below.

After installing the card and loading the driver, I connected the 500GB eSATA external drive, which has a street price of around $400. The rear of the external drive features just the SATA connection and the AC adapter. This particular drive, while physically identical to Seagate's external USB/FireWire drives, does not support those two connection standards. Seagate says the drive is up to five times faster than its USB/FireWire-based external drive solutions. It does feature pushbutton backup capabilities just like Seagate's other solutions but has a published data transfer rate of 3Gb per second, which is considerably faster, at least on paper than the other external solutions.

On an unscientific test of the drive, it was able to write 476MB of data in just 9 seconds. Compare that to 24 seconds for the same data to be written to the USB version of Seagate's 750GB external pushbutton drive, and 17 seconds for the data to be written to the host computer's hard drive, a Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM drive. That puts the eSATA drive at almost three times as fast as the external 750GB Seagate drive, and one second more than twice as fast as the host computer's Seagate hard disk drive. 3.38GB of data written to the eSATA drive from the host computer's hard drive took 7 minutes. It took 15 minutes 40 seconds for the data to be written to the USB version of Seagate's external 750GB Seagate drive. So it is safe to say, at least with the writing speed, that the drive is twice as fast as Seagate's 750GB USB/FireWire external drive. The Seagate 500GB eSATA is pretty fast for an external device. No official hard disk benchmarks were used due in part to the host system running Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2, of which there are no known (at least to the author) published benchmarks.

First Impressions
The Seagate 500GB eSATA external hard disk drive will undoubtedly find its way onto the desks of audio and video editors, as well as special effects and 3D animation artists, pretty much all digital media creators who need an external storage solution or have found their internal drive bays full. The eSATA drive offers super fast write speeds and can serve as a viable backup solution for large data volumes. If you are looking for an external solution that can store large amounts of data and is faster than USB or FireWire based external devices, then the Seagate 500GB eSATA external hard disk drive is your speeding ticket. The drive ships with a one year warranty and free lifetime technical support. Highly Recommended. For more information, visit www.seagate.com

Drive Specifications
? 7200 RPM
? 3Gb/s data rate
? 16MB cache
? Horizontal dimensions:
7.125" D x 6.5" W x 2.25" H
? Vertical dimensions with
pedestal:
7.125" D x 3" W x 6.75" H
? Weight: 2 lb. 9.6 oz.
PCI host adapter card
? Supports up to 3Gb/s transfers
? Allows up to two eSATA devices
? Dimensions: 2.52" W x 4.72" L
System Requirements
? PC users:
Available PCI 2.2 or higher card slot, Microsoft Windows XP, 2000 Pro, Server 2003 (backup software does not support Server 2003)
? Mac users:
Available PCI 2.2 or higher card slot, Mac OS 10.4 and higher

Package Contents
? Seagate eSATA hard drive
? eSATA cables
? eSATA PCI card
? CD-ROM
? Power cord
? Quick start guide
? Technical support


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:Seagate 500GB eSATA hard drive, external hard disk drives, storage solutions, external storage solutions

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