The GoFlex Turbo is much like the others in Seagate Technology's GoFlex family of portable drives, such as the GoFlex Ultra-portable or the GoFlex Pro, with one big difference: its internal drive now spins at 7,200rpm, increased from 5,400rpm or slower in the previous models. On top of that, it's the first portable drive from Seagate that comes with one free data recovery attempt included during its two-year warranty with a plan called SafetyNet.
Unlike the GoFlex Ultra-portable, the Turbo doesn't offer storage capacities larger than 750GB, making it very similar to the recently reviewed Hitachi Touro. The GoFlex Turbo is slightly more expensive than the Touro, at its estimated prices of $120 for the 500GB version and $140 for the 750GB version. To be fair, the drive was released today and external hard drives tend to be sold for less on the street than their suggested retail prices, soon after their release date.
At the current prices, however, the added spinning speed and the SafeNet data recovery service don't provide enough appeal to make the Turbo a better deal than the previous models. While it would make a great companion for a laptop, especially one that's USB 3.0-ready, until the GoFlex Turbo gets cheaper shoppers should also check out the Hitachi Touro and the previous GoFlex models for similar portable storage options that could be better deals.
|Drive type||2.5-inch external USB hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0, eSATA, USB 3.0, FireWire 800|
|Dimensions||4.33 inches 3.27 inches by 0.5 inch|
|Available capacities||500GB, 750GB|
|Capacity/Interface of test unit||750GB/USB 3.0|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.4.6 or higher|
|Software included||Memeo Instant Backup/Memeo Backup Premium|
The GoFlex Turbo is slightly smaller physically than the GoFlex Ultraportable. Other than that, it shares the same design. The drive comes in two parts: the hard drive and the adapter. The hard drive is a 2.5-inch high-speed SATA internal hard drive housed in a plastic chassis. On one side, the chassis has a small opening to reveal the internal hard drive's standard SATA female connector. The adapter part has a male SATA connector and a Mini-USB 3.0 port. These two parts can be snapped onto each other and fit tightly to form the GoFlex Turbo external hard drive. The drive comes with just one standard Mini-USB 3.0 cable, which serves both as a data and power cable.
With this flexible design, the drive can support connection types other than USB 3.0, such as FireWire or eSATA, if you use other adapters, which cost extra. It's unlikely that you'd need any other types, however, as USB 3.0 is currently the second-fastest peripheral connection for an external hard drive, trailing behind Thunderbolt, and it's backward-compatible with USB 2.0. If you have an eSATA or FireWire adapter from a previous GoFlex model, it'll work with the Turbo, too.
This flexible design has made Seagate's GoFlex drives some of the most appealing portable drives on the market. Besides the fact that you can use the hard drives and adapters interchangeably when you have multiple GoFlex portable drives in the house, you can also use the adapters with any internal SATA laptop drive. This makes a GoFlex external hard drive a great investment for those who work regularly with internal hard drives, such as technicians or enthusiasts.
Out of the box, the GoFlex Turbo is formatted using the NTFS filesystem, making it work immediately with any Windows computer. Generally, Macs running OS X can read but not write to hard drives formatted in NTFS. To make the Turbo fully compatible with both platforms, Seagate includes on the drive a customized version of Paragon NTFS for Mac. This software gives Macs running OS X 10.4 or later full (read and write) access to the GoFlex Turbo. Note that the included software is customized to work only with GoFlex portable drives from Seagate. If you want the Mac to have the same access to other drives formatted in NTFS, you'll need to buy a separate retail version of the Paragon NTFS for Mac software.
If you don't want to use Paragon's software, you can reformat the Turbo drive into FAT32, which is fully supported by both Mac OS X and Windows. In this case, however, the drive won't be able to store files that are larger than 4GB.
Unlike the GoFlex Ultra-portable, the GoFlex Turbo doesn't come preloaded with movies. We believe, however, that consumers won't miss this, as most of these movies require extra payment to be viewable. The drive does come with full versions of Memeo Instant Backup and Memeo Backup Premium for home users. Unfortunately, we found the software rather intrusive and unhelpful. For example, in order to use it at all, you're required to register for an account with Memeo, regardless of whether you want to use its online backup service or not. After that, each time the software runs, you're greeted with services that you'd have to pay extra to use. As local backup software, we generally find Memeo to be bloated and unintuitive. While it works as intended, we'd recommend using simpler backup software if you're using the drive with Windows, even the Backup and Restore tool available in Windows 7. For Mac users, it's best to use the GoFlex Turbo with Time Machine. If you want an easy backup system, we'd also recommend the recently reviewed Clickfree C6.
Since the GoFlex Turbo is equipped with an internal drive that spins at 7,200rpm, we expected an increase in performance compared with the previous models that are based on 5,400rpm internal drives. And, in our testing, the Turbo was indeed faster than its predecessors. When compared with drives from different vendors, however, its write speed, though fast, could use some improvement.
When used with USB 3.0, the drive offered a sustained real-world write speed of 80.3MBps, noticeably faster than the GoFlex Ultra-portable's 78.8MBps, but slower than the Clickfree C6's 87.7MBps or the Hitachi Touro's 86.2MBps. In reading, the Turbo did much better at 109.5MBps, being the second-fastest on our chart of tested portable drives, just behind the 115.5MBps of the LaCie FastKey, which has an unfair advantage as it's based on a solid-state drive.
When used with USB 2.0, which is still the most popular cross-platform connection type, the GoFlex Turbo did much worse, with 27.1MBps and 32.8MBps for writing and reading, respectively, landing at a low-average position on the charts.
All and all, the GoFlex Turbo's performance was very good. While it's not the fastest portable drive we've seen, we believe most users won't be disappointed with its throughput speed.
Service and support
Seagate backs the GoFlex Turbo with a two-year warranty, which is one year shorter than it offers for the GoFlex Pro. To make up for this the company includes with the drive its SafetyNet Data Recovery Service, which covers one data recovery attempt for free during the warranty. Seagate's Web site contains a comprehensive list of forums, knowledge bases, driver downloads, installation help, and FAQs to help you troubleshoot your drive. The company's technical support is also available via live chat, e-mail, and phone from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT weekdays.
As usual with Seagate's GoFlex portable drives, we loved the GoFlex Turbo for its compact and flexible design. The drive also offers very good performance and will make most, if not all, users happy. Its current prices, however, need to be lowered, which they will likely be, and a better backup software application is needed for the drive to offer similar value to the rest of its peers.