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Maxtor’s 1394 External Storage drive uses a fast interface, is compact and easily installed. Unfortunately, these good points aren’t enough to outweigh its comparatively high cost per megabyte: this 80GB drive costs £274 (ex. VAT) -- more than LaCie’s IEEE 1394 drive, which offers twice the capacity.
The 1394 External Storage drive comes in Maxtor’s standard external enclosure, which achieves its compact 4.8 by 15.3 by 22cm size thanks to the use of an external power supply. It’s designed to stack with other drives of the same design, saving you desk space. However, you probably won't want to stack up too many drives, as we found that the topmost one isn't entirely secure.
The external power supply connects to the rear of the drive using a mini-DIN connector, and there are also two 6-pin IEEE 1394 ports. This allows you to daisy-chain devices together without needing a FireWire hub.
This drive’s performance is respectable for an external unit -- its High-End Disk WinMark 99 score of 14,600 is only beaten by Maxtor’s USB 2.0-interfaced 3000LE. Performance with mainstream workloads is more modest, its Business Disk WinMark 99 score of 6,520 ranking sixth out of eight.
This is the only external product in this review not to use Maxtor’s D540X range of drives, but the DiamondMax 80 Ultra DMA 100 drive used falls into line by having a rotational speed of 5,400rpm. The product is also available with a 40GB drive, but if you’re going to get an external unit you may as well make it a high-capacity one.
Not so long ago an 80GB drive would have seemed enormous, and plenty large enough for most people. Even if this is enough storage for your current needs, it doesn’t alter the fact that LaCie is offering a drive with the same interface, but double the capacity, for slightly less money. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this drive updated to a higher capacity soon, and then it may be worth re-investigating. Until then, you can get more for your money elsewhere.