Freecom Mobile Drive Mg review: Portable drive gets a Thunderbolt update
We liked the original Mobile Drive Mg that Freecom released a couple of years ago, as it was neatly designed and included ports for both Firewire 800 and USB 3.0. A lot has changed since then, of course, so Freecom has now released an updated model that still has USB 3.0 but replaces the Firewire port with the newer, faster Thunderbolt.
The design of the drive hasn’t really changed. It sticks with a slimline magnesium case that measures just 1.5cm thick and weighs a mere 175g. It’s not quite as slim as Seagate’s aptly-named Slim drive, but it’s still light and compact enough to slip into your jacket pocket when you’re out and about with your laptop, and the magnesium case is sturdy enough to cope with a few knocks every now and then. Our only minor complaint about the design is that the status indicator LED is tucked away right at the back of the drive so you can’t really see it unless you pick the drive up and turn it around.
This Thunderbolt version of the drive is only available with 1TB capacity, priced at £179.00. It’s designed specifically for Macs, so it comes already formatted in Apple’s HFS+ format and is compatible with Time Machine. If you want to use it with a PC as well then Freecom includes a piece of software that will reformat the drive for you, and which also explains the differences between the Mac and Windows formats for you. Freecom also includes a program called Green Button that allows you to save power by putting the drive to sleep after a specified interval.
Performance is good, although there’s not a great difference between the two interfaces. Its results in our tests were very consistent – 104MB/s write speed, and 106MB/s read speed – and those results remained the same with both interfaces, and with a mixture of large and smaller file sizes. That suggests that the drive mechanism inside the Mobile Drive Mg is pretty much running flat out, and doesn’t really exploit the full speed of the Thunderbolt interface.
The Mobile Drive Mg is made out of sturdy, stylish magnesium
Even so, it does still outpace the original Firewire version of the Mobile Drive Mg, as well as edging ahead of USB 3.0 rivals such as the Seagate Slim, which could only manage around 87MB/s for write and read speeds. If you’re not bothered about the Thunderbolt interface then you can opt for a version that just has USB 3.0 for £129.00. The original Firewire version is still available for £129.00 too – although it’s almost out of stock now – and remains a good option for owners of older Firewire Macs.
It’s a shame that the Mobile Drive Mg doesn’t fully exploit the speed of that Thunderbolt interface. However, Apple introduced Thunderbolt on the Mac more than a year before it finally got around to adding USB 3.0, so this is still a good choice for people who don’t have the option of using a less expensive USB 3.0 drive.