My Book Studio review

Now that Apple has adopted USB 3.0 across most of the Mac range – apart, of course, from the aging Mac Pro – we can finally take advantage of the wide range of affordable USB 3.0 drives that have been available to PC users for a couple of years now.

Even so, it’s still nice to see companies such as Western Digital making an effort to produce hard drives that are specifically designed for the Mac. The company recently updated its My Book Studio range, increasing the maximum capacity of the drive – but also making a couple of other changes too.

This new version of the drive has the same sturdy and attractive aluminium case as its predecessor, making it a good match for most recent Mac models. However, Western Digital has abandoned the Smart Display – the small screen that displayed a capacity gauge and a special ‘e-label’ that could identify the drive even when it was turned off.

That’s no great loss, but we imagine quite a few Mac users will be disappointed to see that – like Apple itself – Western Digital has now abandoned Firewire too. The previous version of the My Book Studio had a USB 2.0 port and two Firewire 800 interfaces, which made it a popular choice for many Mac users – especially creative professionals who needed a fast back-up drive for their work files.

The My Book Studio provides up to 4TB storage

This new model only has a single USB 3.0 interface – which, of course, is backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 as well – so it won’t be the first choice for people who are still using older Macs with Firewire. It will, however, be ideal for newer Macs that have USB 3.0.

The drive is now available in sizes from one to four terabytes, so it will appeal both to home users who only need a small, affordable back-up drive and professional users who need a larger drive for archiving their work files. It’s reasonably priced too, starting at about £100 for the 1TB version, then £125 for 2TB and £155 for 3TB. However, we tested the 4TB model, which is a bit more expensive at around £240.

The My Book Studio performed very well in our tests, producing a consistent speed of 135MB per second for both reading and writing a 5GB batch of small test files. It also managed 135MB/S when writing large video files with the Aja benchmarking program. The read speed with Aja was slightly slower at around 125MB/s, but that set of scores still makes it one of the fastest conventional hard drives we’ve seen recently – beaten only by more expensive SSD drives with much lower storage capacity. Western Digital also includes a diagnostic utility to check the health of the drive, and an encryption program that allows you to set a password to protect your files from prying eyes.

OUR VERDICT

The My Book Studio does require its own mains supply, which means that it’s not particularly portable. However, it performs well and provides plenty of storage at a competitive price, and will be an ideal back-up companion for the latest iMacs and Mac Mini.

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