capsule review

Rocpro 300 C 500GB

Quad-port (four-port) hard drives have recently come on the scene, and they offer greater choices in connectivity. The quad-port moniker may imply an ability to connect to your Mac from four separate ports—via FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and eSATA (external SATA)—but that’s not the complete picture.

FireWire 800 is backward-compatible with FireWire 400, and Rocstor’s Rocpro 300 C 500GB forgoes a FireWire 400 connector and instead provides a cable for plugging it into FireWire 400 ports. The eSATA port is faster than FireWire 800, but taking advantage of eSATA’s speed requires spending money on an expansion card—an item that Rocstor doesn’t offer.

The fact that the enclosure for this drive is the same enclosure that Edge Tech (makers of the DiskGo Quad Interface 500GB [   ]) and WiebeTech (makers of the ToughTech XE Quad 500GB [   ]) use is a testament to its quality. It comes with a fairly small power adapter, shock mounts for the drive mechanism, and offers quiet, fanless operation. The design is clean and simple, though the plastic construction of the back panel precludes it from having an antitheft slot, which is often found in drives with all-metal enclosures.

Installing the Rocpro involves plugging in the light 7-ounce external AC power adapter and connecting the drive to an available port on your Mac. The drive mounts immediately on the desktop, but it’s formatted for Windows. You can easily reformat it through Apple’s Disk Utility. The drive was a good performer overall in our testing.

timed trials

Copy 1GB file via FireWire 800 0:33
Copy 1GB file via eSATA 0:31
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 800 0:50
Duplicate 1GB file via eSATA 0:44
Low-Memory Adobe Photoshop CS test: FireWire 800 1:16
Low-Memory Adobe Photoshop CS test: eSATA 1:14

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the drive connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.4.8 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800 and eSATA. We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 25 percent.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

specifications

Price per gigabyte $0.56
Connectors eSATA, FireWire 800 (2), USB 2.0
Rotational speed 7,200 rpm
Other capacities 250GB, 320GB, 400GB, 750GB

Macworld’s buying advice

Though lacking in extras, the affordable Rocpro 300 C 500GB will adequately address a basic need for additional storage. While drives like this one, which are based on 3.5-inch hard-disk mechanisms, are not the hallmark of portability, the small AC adapter and shock-mount construction of this unit make it convenient and sturdy enough to take on the road. Rocstor also offers this drive in other capacities, from a 10,000-rpm 150GB model to 7,200-rpm models sporting 250GB to 750GB.

[ Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and a writer living in San Francisco. ]

Rocpro 300 C 500GB
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