USB 3.0 has arrived, and with it, a whole new batch of drives designed to let you push around those Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, and Blu-ray rips of Pulp Fiction, even faster. While most USB 3.0 drives still command a premium, Iomega will be one of the first to drop the USB 2.0 entirely and fold USB 3.0 into all of its drives – without increasing prices – later this fall. We put the new eGo through its paces to see whether the upgrade is worth the wait.
Features and Design
Iomega hasn’t bothered to give the eGo a facelift to reflect its newfound speed, but that’s quite alright with us. The eGo USB 3.0 remains one of the slimmer drives on the market at just 0.625 inches thick, and its similar shape will allow you to use it with old eGo accessories, like the carrying case. At the moment, opting for USB 3.0 will limit you to only charcoal color, but that will change in October when USB 3.0 begins migrating over to even more drives and the prices drop to current USB 2.0 levels. For the record, charcoal has a clean, professional air, and if the drive enclosures weren’t plastic, the slippery glossy layered on top could almost pass for automotive-grade clear coat.
The only real clue you’re dealing with a new drive: Where a standard mini-USB jack used to lie, you’ll now find a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed connector, a new configuration that looks a bit like a long, sideways letter B. The extra pins here translate to better performance, but conveniently, that B shape also breaks it into connector into two ports, one of which you can use with old-style microUSB cables. Obviously, you won’t reap the benefits of full USB 3.0 speed, you’ll be thankful for it when you need to pull files off in a jam.
Testing and Performance
Unless you just cracked your computer out of its foam packing a few months ago – or built it yourself with one of the few USB 3.0-capable motherboards out there – chances are, you don’t have USB 3.0 onboard. We tested with a LaCie USB 3.0 PCI Express card, but just about any USB 3.0 adapter should provide similar performance. At the moment, they all use the same NEC chips.
To provide a performance baseline, we ran the eGo through the wringer at USB 2.0 speeds. It turned in write speeds of 23.67 MB/s and read speeds of 25.86 MB/s – a marked improvement over the last USB 2.0 eGo we reviewed, but still not as fast as one of our favorite USB 2.0 drives, LaCie’s tiny Rikiki, which hit speeds of 30.45 MB/s and 29.18 MB/s, respectively.
Switch over to USB 3.0, and things heat up. While claims of performance “10 times faster than USB 2.0” are sheer marketing hype, we found that you can expect an honest doubling of speed in real-life performance. We hit average write speeds of 49.35 MB/s and read speeds of 50.0 MB/s. At that speed, an entire 4.19GB DVD rip of The Empire Strikes Back transferred to the drive in just one minute, 24.9 seconds. You could hypothetically fill the drive to its entire 500GB capacity in two hours, 49 minutes.
While USB 3.0 performance is certainly impressive, it’s worth noting that Iomega’s FireWire 800 eGo still has it beat. That model hit 57.39 MB/s write speeds and 53.93 MB/s read speeds in the same transfer tests, just barely edging out the USB 3.0 model for speed supremacy.
Iomega’s eGo USB 3.0 portable drive maintains the same winning look and feel as previous iterations while essentially doubling transfer speeds. The 500GB version of the drive still commands a $20 price premium over the (list price) USB 2.0 version, but the USB 3.0 version will be a no brainer when Iomega switches the rest of the eGo line to USB 3.0, without increasing price, in October.
- Vastly improved transfer speeds
- Sleek, portable design
- Affordable (more so after October price drop)
- Backward compatible with microUSB cables
- Not the speediest competitor in USB 2.0 mode