Most external drives are horribly limited by the performance of USB 2.0, which is why Seagate opted to outfit the GoFlex Slim with a USB 3.0 interface. If you've got a notebook with a USB 3 interface, you'll want to use it:

Seagate GoFlex Slim Performance Comparison
  128KB Sequential Write 128KB Sequential Read 4KB Random Write (8GB LBA Space) 4KB Random Read
Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB USB 2.0 29.2 MB/s 33.3 MB/s 0.77 MB/s 0.24 MB/s
Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB USB 3.0 114.6 MB/s 112.6 MB/s 0.53 MB/s 0.24 MB/s

Over USB 2 the GoFlex slim tops out at about 33MB/s. Move over to USB 3 and you're pushing over 110MB/s at top speed. I noticed a reduction in 4KB random write performance over USB3 (likely an artifact of the NEC USB controller) but overall it's much faster.

The GoFlex Slim is obviously a platter based storage device and thus we get lower performance at higher LBAs. Over USB 2.0 you wouldn't know as we're limited by the performance of the interface:

Switch over to USB 3.0 and you'll get a familiar stair step pattern as the drive fills up the outer sectors of its single platter and moves inwards:

Final Words

Despite housing a 7200RPM 2.5" drive, the Seagate GoFlex Slim is pretty quiet thanks to its single platter design. You can tell something is spinning if you're in an absolutely quiet room, otherwise you'd be hard pressed to know you even had it plugged in.

Most 2.5" 320GB external hard drives range from $55 - $80 depending on styling and internal drive used. Given that range the GoFlex Slim definitely comes at a premium. If you've got a laptop with a USB 3.0 interface and want something extremely portable the GoFlex Slim gets the job done. Even over USB 2.0 the drive works well, it's just considerably slower. I didn't encounter any strange issues during my testing of the drive.

Seagate FreeAgent Go (left) vs. Seagate GoFlex Slim (right)

Seagate FreeAgent Go (left) vs. Seagate GoFlex Slim (right)

If you're ok paying a price premium for reducing thickness, the GoFlex Slim works. It's certainly a much nicer form factor to carry around than more traditional external 2.5" enclosures.

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  • Gigantopithecus - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    Sorry Seagate, shaving a few mm off a portable external drive's height is simply not worth a >100% cost increase to me.
  • AstroGuardian - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

  • GullLars - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    First, this is not news on an external HDD, it's news on an _External HDD ENCLOSURE_ that comes bundled with a standard 7mm 2,5" HDD.
    Second, this is really not a big deal, as +- a couple of mm on the hight of the external enclosure only matters to one in a million users.
  • tno - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    Thin drives come into play for those that are traveling light. This might, again, not have any bearing on your user experience, but for some it does. In addition to the slim size you're also getting USB 3.0, and as is always the case with the GoFlex line, the future proof of the interchangeable adapters. Put money on Seagate being one of the first to put Thunderbolt on an external drive.

    My only concern is reliability. Having a single platter design should mitigate reliability concerns but heat will definitely come into play in these drives. I imagine that if Anand had noticed heat related slow down, he would have mentioned it, as he has in the past.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    Don't forget that a single 320GB platter is also an improvement over a single 250GB platter. I've got the first 640GB 2.5" HDD in a laptop I'm testing, and it feels a bit faster than previous 500GB HDDs, likely because of the increased areal density.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Comparing to the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500GB (since I don't see a 320GB in normal thickness) the slim is ~4 ounces lighter. I'm sure someone will complain that is noticeable, IMO it won't matter. Otherwise the 500GB is a 5400 RPM drive, don't know how many platters but might well be a pair of 250GB ones, so it would be slower. Otherwise it is still a GoFlex and USB 3.0. Given the increased storage space and the fact that it isn't a boot drive I would think most users are better off saving the $40 (it is $59.99 at newegg) unless they really want a thin drive.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    Yeah...I mean I can kind of see the point in using notebook drives in external enclosures instead of desktop drives, but Seagate's "normal" 2.5" external drives go up to 1.5TB...I've got one, and it's plenty small. Even from the pictures the difference here seems ridiculous. Much smaller capacity for a few MM shaved off the top? Who cares?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    This. Or a capacity decrease at the same price.
  • Rasterman - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - link

    yeah its pretty dumb, why not just use a 1TB 12.5mm notebook drive, 5mm of extra thickness for 3x the storage at the same price.
  • nadca - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Please tell me you're trolling.

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