Seagate Slim review: A fast, compact drive for both Windows and Mac

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.1
  • Setup and ease of use: 9.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Seagate Slim is fast, extremely portable, and works with both Windows machines and Macs without the need to reformat.

The Bad The portable drive doesn't offer the same level of flexibility as its predecessor, caps at just 500GB, and includes a short two-year warranty.

The Bottom Line The Seagate Slim is an excellent addition to your small laptop, especially one with USB 3.0, for both storage expansion and backup while you're out and about.

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The Seagate Slim portable drive is basically the previous Seagate GoFlex Slim without the flexible module design. Instead it now supports just USB 3.0 (compatible with USB 2.0) and can't be used with any other peripheral connection via adapters.

That said, the new drive is much shorter than its predecessor and is an incredibly portable storage device. In my testing, it offers fantastic performance, and it works on both a Windows PC and Mac, without the need to reformat.

The Seagate Slim's only shortcoming is its limited 500GB capacity, though that's plenty for most people. And if you're happy with that, the drive is very affordable, costing just $60. And the Seagate Dashboard software bundle, which includes backup, utilities, and a cross-platform read/write access software driver, is a great bonus. If you're looking for a great portable drive to carry extra data or for backup on the go, this is it. For more options in terms of capacities, check out others on this list.

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 500GB
Dimensions (LWH) 4.5 x 3 x 0.4 inches
Weight 5.3 ounces
OSes supported Windows 2000 or later, Mac OS 10.4 or later
Software included Seagate Dashboard for backup and cross-platform access
Warranty
Two-year

Supercompact, cross-platform design
The new Seagate Slim shares the exact thickness of the GoFlex Slim drive. It no longer supports the flexible modular design, which enables you to use the drive with different types of peripheral connections via a swappable adapter. Instead, the new drive is now a straightforward USB portable drive. It works with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. The drive is bus-powered, meaning you just need a USB cable (one is included) to make it work with a computer.

The new Seagate Slim (bottom) next to the previous model, the Seagate GoFlex Slim. Note the GoFlex adapter design of the older model.
The new Seagate Slim (bottom) next to the previous model, the Seagate GoFlex Slim. Note the adapter design of the older model. Dong Ngo/CNET

While it's a little disappointing to lose this level of flexibility, this is not a big deal since most computers now support USB 3.0, which is faster than both FireWire and eSATA, and more than fast enough for a single-volume storage device. There's an added benefit, as well: the new Slim is now significantly shorter than its predecessor, making it one of the most compact standard portable drives on the market.

There are two versions of the new drive: the Seagate Slim and Seagate Slim for Mac. The only difference between the two is that they are preformatted for the targeted operating system (NTFS on a Windows machine and HFS+ on a Mac). But you can get either version, regardless of what platform you use. This is because the drive comes with software drivers that allow Windows to read/write Mac file systems and vice versa. The only benefit of getting the version designed specifically for your platform is that out of the box, the drive will work right away without you having to install anything.

Note that since Mac OS can read drives formatted in NTFS, the Windows version of the Slim comes preloaded with Mac software. If you want to use the Slim for Mac on a Windows machine, you will need to download the driver software because by default, Windows can't access a storage device formatted in the Mac file system.

The Seagate Dashboard software offers a few options to protect your local and online data.
The Seagate Dashboard software offers a few options to protect your local and online data. Dong Ngo/CNET

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Where to Buy See all prices

Seagate Slim (500GB, USB 3.0)

Part Number: STCD500100
MSRP: $129.99 Low Price: $138.64 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Capacity 500 GB