capsule review

WiebeTech RTX100-SJ (1TB)

At a Glance
  • WiebeTech RTX100-SJ (1TB)

    Macworld Rating

No one plans on losing data; yet one day, the worst can suddenly happen, causing your projects to grind to a halt and your hair to turn white as you fret over the fate of your files. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Once you’ve settled on a backup strategy to help mitigate potential data loss disasters, you’ll need some suitable external storage to implement your plan. With the WiebeTech RTX100-SJ 1TB external hard drive and its ability to swap out hard disk mechanisms from its case with ease, you’ll worry less about your data, but you’ll also spend money for peace of mind.

WiebeTech RTX100-SJ (1TB)
Housed in a sleek black aluminum case with matching black cabling and a vertical stand, the drive features a lockable latched door on the front, a design that’s ideally suited to a backup rotation strategy. Using this scheme, you purchase multiple hard disk mechanisms and periodically swap the most recently backed up mechanism for the oldest one, ideally toting the mechanism you remove to a location physically separate from your computer. To eject a drive mechanism, simply flip the tab on the front of the chassis; the door unlocks and swings open, ejecting the drive. An included small plastic device engages the lock to prevent the door from opening at other times.

To operate, simply plug in the external power supply, connect the drive to your Mac via either of the two available ports (mini-USB or eSATA), flip the power switch on the back, and format the drive with Disk Utility. Since Macs aren’t equipped with eSATA ports, you’ll need to purchase a SATA interface card appropriate to your model of Mac to enjoy the drive’s maximum speed. We found general performance to be about average, compared with other 1TB drives we’ve recently looked at, though in the low memory test, the drive’s 32MB cache helped make it the winner in eSATA performance.

Timed Trials

Copy 1GB file to USB 2.0 0:53
Copy 1GB file to eSATA 0:31
Duplicate 1GB file via USB 2.0 1:24
Duplicate 1GB file via eSATA 0:41
Low-memory Photoshop: USB 2.0 1:30
Low-memory Photoshop: eSATA 1:10

Times are in minutes:seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with drives connected to a Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Xeon with Mac OS X 10.5 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive with each available port—FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2, 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 CS3 Suite 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 53 cents
Connectors eSATA (1), USB 2 (1)
Rotational speed 7200 rpm
Other capacities 500GB

Macworld’s buying advice

If you’re serious about backing up your data, this drive makes shuffling among multiple drive mechanisms much easier. But at $527 it’s no bargain. It lacks features found in less expensive drives, such as FireWire, a security port, a drive activity indicator, and extras such as bundled software. Besides the 1TB capacity drive we looked at, the RTX100 series also comes in a 500GB version, and both capacities are available in a quad-port version (FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and eSATA). For ultimate flexibility, you can buy the empty enclosure ($100 dual, $200 quad port) and add a drive of your own.

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

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Includes eSATA port
    • Has latching access door for easy swapping of hard drives

    Cons

    • No FireWire
    • No security port
    • Pricey
    • No bundled software
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