The new WD My Passport Studio offered good performance in CNET Labs' testing. We tested the drive with both USB 2.0 and FireWire 800, and it performed according to our expectations.
In tests using USB 2.0, the drive scored 26MBps for writing and 33MBps for reading, about average among USB 2.0 portable drives we've tested. In tests using the FireWire 800 connection, it scored much higher than the rest of the USB 2.0 drives, at 69MBps for writing and 79MBps for reading. Compared with USB 3.0 drives, these numbers, as expected, were noticeably slower; however, for Macs, which don't support USB 3.0, these speeds are the next best thing after Thunderbolt.
It's worth noting that you won't likely find a single-volume Thunderbolt storage solution anytime soon because the technology offers much higher bandwidth than that of an internal drive. For this reason, most Thunderbolt storage devices will be in the form of multiple-bay drives, such as the Promise Pegasus, designed to aggregate the speed of the internal drives to match that of the connection.
The WD My Passport Studio became a little warm after operating for a while in our testing, but it remained very quiet and emitted almost no vibration.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Western Digital backs the new My Passport Studio with just a two-year warranty. This is disappointing, as with external hard drives, the warranty is the most important factor when it comes to service and support. The company's technical toll-free phone support is available from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT Friday through Sunday. At its Web site, you'll find a comprehensive set of support tools, including downloads, product RMA, a sizable knowledge base, and an online installation guide.
Good-looking, sturdy, and offering decent performance, the new My Passport Studio makes a very good investment for Mac users. Windows users, however, should keep looking for a drive that offers USB 3.0 connectivity at a better price.