Pros

Lots of capacity for the price; decent speed

Cons

No software included; no vertical stand included; loud

Star Rating

Seagate Expansion

Introduction

The Seagate Expansion 2TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive is basically a big black box, with hard edges and nothing on the top or sides but the Seagate logo. Inside the housing is Seagate's 5900rpm hard drive, which sells for about the same price as a bare drive, making this external a better deal. All that comes in the box is a simple instruction booklet, the relatively large power adapter, and the USB3 cable. Unlike competing drives, it doesn't come with a stand to mount it vertically, and due to the slightly beveled sides, it doesn't stand securely when placed on its side. 

Features

As a backup drive, this model really doesn't have that much to offer. It comes with no software - the only program on the hard drive itself is the warranty registration app. So, for the average user, this drive doesn't provide everything you need in the box to run it as a full-featured backup drive. Also, the drive only has a 1-year warranty, which is below average, and actually lower than other Seagate products. This concerns me given its intended purpose as a storage drive. In addition, we were surprised that no on/off switch was provided. For the purposes of a backup drive, especially one that uses as much power as this one (more on that below), we would think that most users would want the option to turn the drive off when not in use.

Performance

Our test bench for this drive consisted of an Intel Core i7-3770K quad-core processor, an Asus Maximus V Gene motherboard w/ USB 3.0, 16GB of RAM, and Windows 7 x64.

This Seagate is a good 2TB external drive, offering a large amount of storage at a fair price. It's also relatively fast using a USB3 connection. We used CrystalDiskMark to determine the speed of the drive. The data averaged over 3 runs are as follows:

Bench

We found that the power use of this drive is less than ideal. At idle, it uses approximately 7 watts, which is a very significant amount for a backup drive, and it's even a bit high for an applications drive. During sequential operations, it uses between 9 and 10 watts, also a very high number for a drive in this performance class. Once the computer is put to sleep or turned off, it uses about 1 watt.

In addition, we found that the operating temperatures of this hard drive are unusually high.  When first turned on, the drive idles at a temperature of 37C in an ambient of 26C, but slowly heats up over hours of idling to about 46C, and reached 47C under sustained use. That's relatively high and and may have an impact on the lifespan of the drive. Luckily, the case just gets slightly warm, which makes me thing the hard drive's built-in temperature readings may be incorrect. The drive is also somewhat audible, even at idle, and while this is expected of a 3.5"" desktop-class drive, it's not ideal.

Conclusion

A solid value, but slim on features.  We could see this best being used as a storage drive for frequently accessed data or applications. It is fast and has a large capacity. Competing 2TB drives often come with more space-efficient (and attractive) vertical designs and included backup utilities.

It's available from Newegg for $109.99, with free shipping, as of our publication date.

Special thanks to Seagate and Newegg for providing this review sample.