Verbatim 320GB SureFire FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Review
USB thumb drives have been a hot commodity but the old trusty portable hard drive that comes in a variety of sizes and connections cannot be beat. The pricing on these portable hard drives far outweigh the capacity and price premium that you get from any USB drive on the market. Consider the fact that you can get up to ten times the capacity (320GB vs. 32GB) for roughly the same amount of money; it’s virtually a no brainer to purchase a portable hard drive over the USB thumb drive. The only advantage a USB thumb drive has is less footprint size. However, portable hard drives aren’t that bigger to begin, as 2.5-inches can fit in most pant pockets with ease.
Verbatim has been a leader in data storage technology for a long time and is a very trusted name in the industry. Most people recognize the Verbatim name brand by their quality DVD and CD media, but they have recently stepped in the storage hardware segment and are looking to gain a reputation in the segment.
Today I will be reviewing the Verbatim SureFire series of portable hard drives that contain not only USB 2.0 but also the very fast FireWire 800 standard. The capacity I have here today is the 320GB version. Read on to see if the SureFire is a ‘sure-bet’ to place your hard earned money on.
“Since its beginning in 1969, Verbatim® has been at the forefront of the evolution in data storage technology. Today, more than 39 years later, Verbatim remains one of the most recognizable names in the data storage industry.
Customer-driven, Verbatim is known for adding considerable product value--above and beyond its competitors--to established media technology. As an industry pioneer, Verbatim is recognized for the role it plays in early product development and commercial product introduction of new technologies. Verbatim's leadership role is especially apparent in the evolution of optical media recording including MO and the CD/DVD family of products.
Along with its technological innovations, Verbatim has always been recognized universally for its superior manufacturing practices. Verbatim was the first media company to receive ISO certification, the de facto standard for quality management systems worldwide. This commitment to quality translates into consistent product performance and reliability. In addition, Verbatim provides toll-free technical support and service to enable its customers to maximize the performance of its products.
As a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, a recognized world leader in the chemical and computer industries, Verbatim is ideally positioned to take advantage of changes in the market while continuing to challenge the frontiers of data storage.”
Verbatim 320GB SureFire FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Product Overview
“Verbatim’s SureFire™ portable hard drive offers blazing performance in a pocket-sized drive. Made from super durable aluminum, it’s lightweight but gives you heavyweight, rugged protection for traveling. This hard drive also comes with a sleek carrying case and all the cables you need to get started. With a fast USB and an even faster FireWire 800 connection, data transfers at break-neck speed. The SureFire™ hard drive may be small, but offers big storage - choose from capacities of 250GB, 320GB or 500GB. It’s also formatted for Macs and ready to use with Time Machine. With Verbatim’s SureFire™ portable hard drive, you get dazzling speed, sleek design and tough dependability . . . in a pocket-sized drive.”
Verbatim 320GB SureFire FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Product Features
Editors Note: That 7-year warranty sure seems like a great thing. Don’t think I’ve seen one that long for an external hard drive.
Verbatim 320GB SureFire FireWire 800/USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Product Specifications
The Verbatim 320GB SureFire arrives in such a beautifully designed and premium looking package. The designers really have done a great job with the design, as on store shelves I would venture to say it would attract lots of customers. The packaging is very compact and that helps the environment.
Verbatim provides as complete a bundle as you can get. You receive a bunch of cables (that are great quality – thickness and good shielding) for FireWire and USB connection, a very high quality carrying case (looks superb) which allows the SureFire to fit tightly like a glove and a clear and concise little quickstart guide.
The first time I lay eyes on the SureFire 320GB portable hard drive, I was thoroughly excited. The product presentation looks impeccable. The aluminum constructed enclosure has a beautiful brushed aluminum look that is pleasing to the eye. The strength of the aluminum chassis is top-notch exhibiting no flex and can take a beating over the months I’ve been testing its real-world capabilities.
Another advantage given to the Verbatim SureFire, because of its aluminum construction, is that it has effective passive cooling properties. Aluminum dissipates heat much more effectively than if the enclosure were made of plastic (plastic traps heat in). However, one of the problems I think the Verbatim will have is that it has little to no open area to remove that hard drive heat. The enclosure doesn’t have any vents or openings that will contribute to lower operating temperatures. Considering it has no fan and add in that it has no vents, it will be interesting to see how hot the SureFire will get and if that will have any disastrous effects down the road. This means that whoever designed the enclosure took aesthetics over functionality, where they could have had both with just simple changes.
The top of the SureFire contains the company name and a single blue activity LED in the middle which turns purple when under usage. The rest of the enclosure is bare but we turn over the unit to see four rubber feet to prevent slippage on tables and the corresponding product sticker.
Come to the rear of the unit and we see from left to right: power connector, USB2.0 connector and FireWire 400/800 connector. It is important to note that in most cases, you will not need to use the USB power cable to operate the SureFire unless for some reason, your computer or laptop’s USB port doesn’t have enough power. I personally have not needed to use it on my PC nor my laptop and findthat not needing one cable is a treat to have.
Performance and Benchmarking Results
If you don’t read the manual beforehand, then when you plug in the Verbatim SureFire, you will realize that Windows will pick up the drive but not assign a drive letter until you format it because the Verbatim SureFire comes formatted for MAC usage (HFS+ partition). However, formatting it for the first time in Windows isn’t as simple right-click, format, nor is it as simple as making it active in Computer Management > Storage because Windows cannot read the GPT Protective Partition. What will format this drive in Windows is the DisPart tool in the command prompt which will enable the device to be able to format in Computer Management > Storage to initialize the disk and format. I wish Verbatim didn’t make it this hard because I know some people will have lots of problem formatting it for Windows use.
Testing consists of the CrystalDiskMark, HD Tune and HD Tach programs and testing between USB and FireWire 400 capabilities. However, FireWire 800 cannot be tested as I do not have access to a capable MAC or PC system.
Testing will also consist of transferring a 716MB and 1.36GB files to the Verbatim SureFire 320GB and timing with a stopwatch from start to end.
File Transfer Tests
Test 1 + 2 - FIREWIRE 400
Test 3 + 4 - USB2.0
Having seen FireWire 400 is consistently faster than USB 2.0, I can only imagine that FireWire 800 would cut those times in half and be close to the vicinity of a lower-end offering SSD card, which is certainly impressive for those who will be using the FW800 interface.
I don’t have the most accurate temperature readings of the Verbatim SureFire 320GB but I did use a thermometer to measure the exterior temperature of the drive under full load. Add in +/- 5 degrees Celsius to the number and it’s most likely almost accurate.
The Verbatim SureFire 320GB does run rather hot, much hotter than I would like. According to my thermometer, on the outside of the enclosure while under full load, I measured 43.3 degrees Celsius. So close to 50 degrees Celsius, the enclosure can be held but not really that long. This is more likely hotter than hard drives running in laptops as most laptops have vents.
Luckily, I haven’t come across any problems during using the Verbatim SureFire 320GB in and out for the past four months straight.
Aside from the fact that the Verbatim SureFire 320GB runs a little hotter than I would have liked, it is actually very fast, very portable and comes with the best bundle you can get. The included carrying case is very high quality and the enclosure has top-notch construction and comes with a 7-year warranty. Recommended
Pros and Cons