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Wiebetech Maxelerate 160GB

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Apple’s Mac mini has just celebrated its first birthday and received a new Intel makeover. If you own one, especially the PowerPC version, you may have outgrown its modest hard drive capacity and connection ports. If so, you may be a perfect candidate for the Wiebetech Maxelerate 160GB FireWire drive. This external hard drive will, at the very least, double your available disk space while adding another USB and FireWire 400 port.

Setting up the Maxelerate is easy. It’s designed to sit beneath the Mac mini, and it comes with all of the cables necessary to connect the USB and FireWire 400 ports on the mini to the built-in hub on the drive. Most mini-inspired drives are designed to look identical to the mini with a combination of white plastic and aluminum sides, but the Maxelerate uses an all-aluminum case, which is slightly smaller on top than on the bottom. And though it’s not a big enough difference to make the mini unstable, it doesn’t stack as seamlessly as the other four mini drives we’ve reviewed (Please see FireWire Buyer’s Guide and our review of the Iomega MiniMax, 250GB [   ]).

In our performance testing, the Maxelerate was a bit sluggish when compared to other mini drives, but still faster than the mini’s internal drive. Something to note: The speed of the Maxelerate, and any drive we test, will vary depending on the drive mechanism. In this case, Wiebetech had originally sent us a 120GB model that was no longer available for purchase by the time we were ready to review it. We did test it, however, and found that the discontinued drive was 14 percent faster than this 160GB model, and nearly 30 percent faster in our file duplication test.

Macworld’s buying advice

Though the Maxelerate 160GB FireWire hard drive is not the fastest of the Mac mini-inspired drive-hub combos we’ve tested, and it doesn’t blend in as seamlessly with the mini, it will greatly expand your peripheral connection options as well as your usable storage space.

Timed Trials

Copy 1GB to Drive 0:53
Duplicate 1GB on Drive 1:55
Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite 1:53

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.3.7 installed and 512MB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) 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 Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 50 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung


Price per gigabyte $1.39
Connectors FireWire 400 (3), USB 2.0 (2 plus one USB uplink port)
Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
Other capacities 250GB ($233), 400GB ($443), 500GB ($590)

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Wiebetech Maxelerate 160GB
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