by Thomas Sullivan

Western Digital My Book Studio Review (3TB)

This summer WD revamped their My Book Studio line of desktop external hard drives. The new My Book Studios feature an all metal aluminum enclosure and an increased capacity 3TB Caviar Green hard drive inside. The result is a drive that blends in perfectly with Apple's aluminum-cased products and offers rapid transfers over FireWire 800.

The aluminum case does more than just look good though, it's part of WD's plan to keep the Green drive inside cool. The enclosure doesn't have a fan, so the metal materials and vent holes are key in keeping the external drive cool and quiet. Since the drive is largely designed for Mac users, it's formatted HFS+ Journaled by default and features dual FireWire 800 ports. PC users aren't left out though, as the drive can be reformatted to NTFS and offers a USB 2.0 port for compatibility.

WD My Book Studio Specs

  • Interface - Dual FireWire 800, USB 2.0
  • Capacity -
    • 1TB WDBC3G0010HAL
    • 2TB WDBC3G0020HAL
    • 3TB WDBC3G0030HAL
  • Height 6.5 Inches, Length 5.3 Inches, Width 1.9 Inches
  • Weight 2.6 Pounds
  • Operating 41° F to 95° F
  • Non-operating -4° F to 149° F
  • Formatted HFS+ Journaled

Design and Build

WD's My Book Studio line has always looked good, feauring the rounded front and generally minimalist design. The WD brand badge and pinhole access light are all that adorn the front and sides of the drive. This time of course the drive is aluminum instead of plastic, which is actually quite a feat. Bending aluminum to the precise specifications WD needed for this drive isn't easy. The work paid off though, the enclosure looks great and feels strong, excessive pressure to its sides and top yields no flexing or squeaking.

The top, back and bottom are poked full of holes for passive ventillation. The top simply has two screws for access to the internals, the bottom has two more screws and a pair of rubber feet. 

The back features the dual FireWire 800 ports and a USB 2.0 port for compatibility. There's also a power connector, as desktop external hard drives require their own power supply, and a Kensington lock port for physical security. 

While it voids the warranty, the My Book Studio can be taken apart with some careful attention to detail. The case is held together by friction and four small Phillips head screws, which when removed allow the two case halves to slip apart. Much effort is needed to slide each segment apart, since they are very tightly fitted together, but it can be done without damaging the case.

Once the case is apart, the drive's internals don't look too much different than those inside the plastic My Book models. The drive inside the case is a standard issue 3TB Western Digital Caviar Green, with a circuit board attached to add the USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 interface.

Performance

The Western Digital My Book Studio comes with USB 2.0 for compatibility, but the performance is all in the FireWire 800 interface. We connected the drive to our test rig via FireWire 800 to see how it performed under best conditions. Using CrystalDiskMark we measured an average sequential read speed of 88.1MB/s and a write speed of 78.6MB/s. Switching to the USB 2.0 connection, speeds dropped to 34.6MB/s read and 28.9MB/s write.

Software

The WD My Book Studio ships with a software package called WD SmartWare in a folder on the drive. The highlight is the backup program, which lets users configure the way they want to back up their computer. Backup options include specific files and folders, or the user can specify the type of files they want to back up by category, like music. Once configured the all continues to run in the background, updating the backup as files are modified.

Similar to the portable WD external hard drives we just reviewed (My Passport Studio, My Passport for Mac) the My Book Studio software also includes software to manage a password for the drive, control power settings and perform diagnostics.

Conclusion

The Western Digital My Book Studio offers a nice blend of storage and style with its 3TB Caviar Green inside a brushed metal enclosure. The new metal body is a huge step up in terms of looks and durability compared to older plastic models, although it does add some heft if you plan on traveling around with it.

Performance of the My Book Studio is provided by two FireWire 800 ports on the back, as well as USB 2.0 for compatibility. With speeds peaking at almost 90MB/s read and 80MB/s write, FireWire 800 is more than enough given the low-power Green drive inside.

Overall if you are in the market for a stylish new high-capacity external drive, the My Book Studio from Western Digital doesn't disappoint.

Pros

  • Great looking brushed metal case
  • Strong performance from FireWire 800
  • Quiet, passively cooled, design

Cons

  • No eSATA for PC users

Bottom Line:

The Western Digital My Book Studio blends performance and capacity all into one, very stylish, brushed metal case. Offered in capacities ranging from 1TB to 3TB, the My Book Studio is sized for any need.

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