WiebeTech MicroGB 40GB review:

WiebeTech MicroGB 40GB

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Small and light; versatile USB 2.0 and FireWire interfaces; pleasing performance.

The Bad No weekend telephone assistance; sparse online support; no Mac partitioning utility.

The Bottom Line The MicroGB gets points for its versatile USB and FireWire ports, as well as its portability and capable speeds, but it falls short on support policies and resources.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall

WiebeTech's 40GB MicroGB has plenty of small, lightweight, and capable competition, but its versatile connectivity gives this drive an edge. The price drop WiebeTech announced just before post time also makes it appealing. However, the MicroGB loses a little luster because of its sparse software and support policies. WiebeTech's 40GB MicroGB has plenty of small, lightweight, and capable competition, but its versatile connectivity gives this drive an edge. The price drop WiebeTech announced just before post time also makes it appealing. However, the MicroGB loses a little luster because of its sparse software and support policies.

Small and easy
The WiebeTech MicroGB is a little bigger (5.5 by 3 by .75 inches) and heavier (9 ounces) than the SmartDisk FireLite FLFW40, but it has two key advantages. Its new price of $329 makes it more affordable, for one. But more importantly for a portable drive, its USB 2.0 (1.1-capable) and FireWire (IEEE 1394) interfaces mean it can be used with nearly any computer (the FireLite FLFW40 lacks a USB connection).

Installation involves little more than removing the drive from its box and connecting a USB or FireWire cable to the drive and your computer. The well-written setup guide, warranty sheet, and update notice found in the box are more than sufficient to get you started using the drive. If you're using an IEEE 1394 connection, the drive will run on bus power; using USB requires the included AC adapter. The drive comes preformatted for DOS, so if you want to use it extensively or exclusively on a Mac, you might want to reformat it to HFS. Alas, there are no Mac utilities to help partition the drive under older Mac operating systems.

We be testing the WiebeTech
In CNET Labs' tests, the MicroGB performed well using both connections (we show only the FireWire results in the chart). HD Tach rated the MicroGB's IEEE 1394 burst-transfer rate at 37.3MB per second, its maximum read speed at 24.7MB per second, and its maximum write rate at 16MB per second--all scores that tie or slightly beat those of the SmartDisk FireLite FLFW40. In our real-world transfer tests, the drive wrote large files at 15MB per second and small files at 3.2MB per second; it read them back at 17.7MB per second and 2.7MB per second, respectively. Attached to a USB 2.0 bus, the drive performed 15 to 25 percent slower, and when using USB 1.1, all transfer rates dropped below 1MB per second due to that technology's limited bandwidth. The MicroGB also runs quietly and stays cool to the touch, so you can comfortably pick it up and take it with you at any time.

Office hours
The one area where WiebeTech falls short is in its support policies. The one-year warranty is typical, but phone support is available only Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Online support consists solely of an e-mail link to tech support, so forget instant Web gratification if you need to troubleshoot a problem.

The MicroGB's dual USB 2.0/FireWire connectivity, good performance, and diminutive size makes it great for sneakernetting or using as a storage adjunct for notebooks. But its lack of Mac utilities and its limited online support are definite drawbacks to this otherwise impressive drive.

HD Tach 2.70 tests
Measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)
Maximum write speed   
Maximum read speed   
Read-burst speed   
EZQuest Cobra+ (120GB; 7,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
20.8 
31.6 
37.0 
WiebeTech MicroGB (4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
16.0 
24.7 
37.3 
SmartDisk FireLite (40GB; 4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
15.6 
24.6 
36.8 
 
Write tests
Measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)
Small files   
Large files   
EZQuest Cobra+ (120GB; 7,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
3.96 
18.42 
SmartDisk FireLite (40GB; 4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
3.39 
14.84 
WiebeTech MicroGB (4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
3.2 
15.05 
 
Read tests
Measured in MB per second (longer bars indicate better performance)
Small files   
Large files   
EZQuest Cobra+ (120GB; 7,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
2.93 
20.3 
SmartDisk FireLite (40GB; 4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
3.18 
19.73 
WiebeTech MicroGB (4,200rpm; IEEE 1394)
2.71 
17.68 
 
CNET Labs' tests evaluate the range of performance you may expect from a hard drive. The HD Tach test measure a drive's maximum sustained write and read speeds. In addition, it measures read-burst speed, which evaluates the performance of the drive's read-ahead memory and the drive controller.

While WiebeTech's MicroGB was bested by the SmartDisk FireLite FLFW40 in our real-world transfer tests, HD Tach rated the MicroGB slightly faster overall. And though we tested the drive with its USB 2.0 connection, this chart shows only the MicroGB's FireWire results; the drive performed about 15 to 25 percent slower using its USB 2.0 connection.


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