Storage

Rocstor Rocpro 850 500GB

You'd struggle to find a more generic-looking desktop hard drive than the Rocpro 850. But while other drives seem more fashionable, the Rocpro 850 has speed on its side, leaving competing non-SSD desktop hard drives in the dust. It also offers versatile connection options and a competitive price. Though designed for audio-visual professionals, budget-conscious consumers will also find the Rocstor 850 an appealing drive.

The Rocpro 850 is equipped with two FireWire 800 ports, an eSATA port, and a USB 2.0 port. The drive comes with a handy-carrying case and cables for each connection type, and Rocstor even includes a FireWire 800 to FireWire 400 cable.

At just under three pounds, the Rocpro 850 will be safely relegated to your desk. Its physical dimensions are similar to that of Verbatim's Professional Quad-Interface Desktop Hard Drive ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) or Seagate's FreeAgent Desk for Mac ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ). The Rocstor 850 is a couple inches thick, about half a foot wide, and rectangular. You can throw it into your backpack, but you'll feel as if you're carrying a laptop.

The Rocpro 850 uses a simple universal power cord. There's no bulky, ball and chain-like power adapter found on many hard drives. The aluminum enclosure is fanless, meaning that it runs a bit warm to the touch. The Rocpro 850 isn't particularly loud, but you'll hear it as it starts up and works through disk-intensive processes.

We recently reviewed the Rocstor Airhawk A9 ( Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ) and were impressed by some of the scores produced by the drive. The Rocpro 850 exceeded expectations on our benchmarking tests. It proved itself to be not only competitive to other drives, but in many cases superior. It took only 32 seconds to copy a 1GB file using the Rocpro 850's eSATA connection; this result is one of the faster times we've seen on a non-SSD desktop model. Every GB connection test in fact was comparative to Verbatim's Professional Quad-Interface Desktop Hard Drive, one of the top-performing desktop drives we've tested.

The duplication tests were similarly impressive, though slightly behind the Verbatim's best times. The RocPro finished our 1GB duplication test while using its eSATA connection in 35 seconds. The Verbatim, meanwhile, finished the same test in 34 seconds.

The Rocpro 850 was competitive, though slightly behind, the Verbatim in our low memory Photoshop tests. The Rocpro 850 finished the regime of tests while using its eSATA connection in 1 minute, 11 seconds. While this was slightly off the Verbatim's eSATA time, the Rocpro 850 proved to be the overall faster drive due to the consistency of its speed scores across all connection types. The Rocpro 850 finished our low memory Photoshop tests while using FireWire 800 connection in only 1 minute, 12 seconds, and finished the same tests in 1 minute, 19 seconds when using its FireWire 400 connection. Both of these times are much faster than the Verbatim when compared to the same connection types. Interestingly, the Verbatim's FireWire 400 score and the Rocpro 850's USB 2.0 score were exactly the same.

The Rocpro 850 uses a 7,200 RPM drive mechanism with a 32MB cache and an Oxford 924 chip set. The 3.5-inch SATA drive is manufactured by Hitachi. The drive comes packaged with Intelli Stor, a Symantec backup solution for PCs. No Mac software comes with the drive.

The 500GB Rocpro 850 is $130, which works out to $.26 per gigabyte. The Verbatim, in contrast, offers a 1TB model for $230 and a price per gigabyte of $.23 cents. Though we did not review it, the Rocpro 850 also comes in a 1TB model that is priced at $158, easily beating out the Verbatim's pricetag.

The Rocpro 850 comes with a two year limited warranty and two years of toll free tech support.

Macworld's buying advice

The Rocpro 850 500GB is a solid performer in our benchmarking tests and is further recommended by a strong warranty and a competitive price. In the arms race of desktop drives, the little things--such as price per gigabyte, split-second speed differences, and aesthetics--can make all the difference. The Rocpro 850 is worth a look because it can go toe to toe with the best competition in the hard drive market.

[Chris Holt is a Macworld assistant editor.]

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