While it may seem like your hard drive will always have room for all your media, at some point it’s going to hit its limits. So the prudent approach is to purchase a new drive before you reach that point. With its 750GB capacity, Iomega’s UltraMax provides enough space to alleviate your storage woes. And, at $304, it’s very reasonably priced.
The UltraMax features a slender silver anodized aluminum case with a silver plastic stand that helps it stand vertically. A blue LED activity light sits behind the ventilation perforations on the front panel while a security port allows you to tether the unit to your work table as necessary. Besides the 750GB capacity unit we reviewed, the drive also comes in a 500GB version, as well as a 1.5TB model that uses two drives and a larger enclosure.
To operate the UltraMax, simply plug in the external power supply and cable the drive to your Mac using one of the four available types of ports—FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB, or eSATA. The UltraMax comes with dual FireWire 800 ports to allow you to connect multiple devices. If you want to use the eSATA port, you’ll have to purchase an eSATA PCI interface card for your Mac. All in all, we found the connector spacing on the drive’s back panel to be slightly roomier than the one on the similarly styled OWC Mercury Elite AL Pro ().
Once you turn on the power switch, the UltraMax automatically mounts on your Mac’s desktop. Unlike some other drives, Iomega’s model comes formatted as HFS+, so there’s no need to reformat it before using it with your Mac. It’s also bundled with a copy of EMC’s Retrospect Express backup software.
Performance was somewhat mixed. In our file duplication and low memory tests, the UltraMax clocked in with the slowest or next-to-slowest times among all the 750GB and 1TB drives we looked at. The drive turned in better numbers in our copy test—in fact, only OWC’s Mercury Elite AL Pro outpaced it.
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 800
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 400
Copy 1GB file to USB 2.0
Copy 1GB file to eSATA
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 800
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 400
Duplicate 1GB file via USB 2.0
Duplicate 1GB file via eSATA
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 800
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 400
Low-memory Photoshop: USB 2.0
Low-memory Photoshop: eSATA
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
Price per gigabyte
eSATA (1), FW800 (2), FW400 (1), USB 2.0 (1)
Macworld’s buying advice
With four different types of connectors from which to choose, Iomega’s UltraMax 750GB offers maximum flexibility for those who need it—and it does so at a very respectable price.
[Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and a writer living in San Francisco.]