capsule review

ToughTech XE Quad 500GB

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Drive vendors usually seek to differentiate their wares from those of other vendors. However, when a full-featured but reasonably priced enclosure becomes available, it gets widely adopted by many vendors, who simply brand the drive with their own logo. Such is the case with WiebeTech’s ToughTech XE Quad 500GB, which uses the same commodity enclosure that EdgeTech’s DiskGo Quad Interface 500GB (   ) and Rocstor’s Rocpro 300 C 500GB (   ) use. Unlike some quad-port drives, the ToughTech XE charges a premium without providing extras—such as an eSATA expansion card that would allow you to use the fourth port (WeibeTech does offer a line of expansion cards).

The drive features a brushed aluminum enclosure; quiet, fanless operation; and a single-pin power connector that’s easy to plug in. The hard-disk mechanism featured in the unit we reviewed is shock-mounted in the enclosure, lending itself to safer portability. Installing the ToughTech entails connecting its lightweight 7-ounce external AC power adapter and then connecting the drive to an available port on your Mac.

Although there is ample room on the back panel, the unit lacks a dedicated FireWire 400 port. Instead, WiebeTech includes a FireWire 400-to-800 adapter cable. While many other drives with all-metal housings have antitheft ports, the ToughTech, with its plastic back panel, is missing this feature.

The ToughTech performed decently in our tests, but we did experience one glitch during operation: the drive would not mount to our desktop unless we cycled the power. WeibeTech shipped us a replacement drive, which did not exhibit this problem.

timed trials

Copy 1GB File to FireWire 800 0:32
Copy 1GB File to eSATA 0:29
Duplicate 1GB File via FireWire 800 0:48
Duplicate 1GB File via eSATA 0:49
Low-Memory Photoshop: FireWire 800 1:23
Low-Memory Photoshop: eSATA 1:23

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


Price per gigabyte $0.80
Connectors eSATA, FireWire 800 (2), USB 2.0
Rotational speed 7,200 rpm
Other capacities 250GB ($225), 750GB ($610)

Macworld’s buying advice

Although offering decent performance and a reasonable feature set, nothing short of a superb software bundle could justify the $100 disparity between the ToughTech XE Quad 500GB and comparable drives from other vendors—even drives that use the same commodity case. But since the ToughTech includes no extras, such as bundled software, a better deal may be had elsewhere.

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

ToughTech XE Quad 500GB
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