The Slimmest External Hard Drive - ADATA HE720

Are you looking for an external hard drive that is thin for easy portability? The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 is the world's thinnest USB 3.0 external hard drive at just 8.9mm thick. That is slim enough to easily fit in your pant pocket, purse or laptop bag! This 500GB external hard drive also features a “One touch backup” function which automatically backs up and synchronizes data. ADATA sent over the ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 500GB external HDD for to check out, so read on to learn more about it and to see how it performs!

ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720

The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 comes in very straight forward packaging that shows the company logo, product, product name and the drives capacity. Right now the DashDrive Elite HE720 is only available in a 500GB model, so there isn't going to be too much confusion if you are trying to find this drive. Inside is a Seagate Momentus Thin 5400.9 ST500LT012 500GB hard drive. This hard drive by itself runs $69.09 shipped! ADATA is selling the DashDrive Elite HE720 external drive for $79.99 shipped, so you can't complain about the pricing on this product!

ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 Features:

Model AHE720-500GU3-CTI
Capacity 500GB
Color Titanium
Dimensions (L x W x H) 117 x 79 x 8.9mm (4.6 x 3.1 x 0.4in)
Weight 164g (0.4 lb)
Interface (USB) SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (backward compatible with USB 2.0)
Interface (HDD) 2.5" SATA II
System requirements Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 / Mac OS X 10.6 or later / Linux Kernel 2.6 or later
Temperature Operating 5ºC~50ºC; Storage -40ºC~60ºC
Accessories USB 3.0 cable; Quick Start Guide
Texture Stainless steel metal brushed surface, plus mirror-like polish
Warranty 3 years

adata-he720-bundle

Inside the retail box you will find the quick start guide, the external hard drive and a 12" long USB 3.0 data cable. The ADATA HE720 is powered completely from the USB 3.0 connector, which is nice as no power cable is needed!

A-DATA HE720 External Hard Drive

The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 measures 117 x 79 x 8.9mm (4.6 x 3.1 x 0.4in), with a weight of 164g (0.4 lb). At just 8.9mm thick, ADATA says this is the slimmest external hard drive on the market. The brushed cover has a titanium color to it and doesn't show finger prints that bad. Also on top is a bright blue LED activity light that stays on when the drive is powered on and flashes when the drive is being accessed by your PC.

ADATA HE720 Drive Back Cover

The back side of the ADATA HE720 has the warranty label and that is it. Note that ADATA pressed in some small 'feet' into the devices metal casing.

ADATA HE720 USB 3.0 Port

In this last photo we can see the backup button and the USB 3.0 power/data connector. It should be noted that USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, but the HE720 will be slower. The backup button only works if you are using ADATA's One Touch Backup software that comes on the drive. This software allows you to backup and synchronize your critical data with just a touch of that button.

Now that we know the basics, let's move on to testing this drive out to see how fast it is!

Test System and Drive Info

Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.

Intel Z77 Test Platform

Bottom 140mm cooling fan

The Intel Z77 platform that we used to test the ADATA HE720 was running the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 0801 that came out on 11/09/2012. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 2T memory timings. This mainboard uses both an Intel and ASMedia USB 3.0 controller for the USB 3.0 headers. We ran driver version v1.0.4.220 (4/16/2012) on the Intel controller and ASMeda driver v1.16.2.0 (8/20/2012).  We tested on both controllers, but found that the performance results were the same as the performance bottleneck was the hard drive and not the USB 3.0 interface.  

Intel Z77 System Settings



Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-3770K

Motherboard

ASUS P8Z77-I Click Here

Memory

16GB Corsair Vengeance Click Here

Video Card

Intel HD 4000

Click Here

Hard Drive

Kingston HyperX 480GB

Click Here

Cooling

CoolIt Eco II 140mm

Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX650 Gold

Click Here

Operating System

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit

Click Here

Detailed Information with HD Tune Pro 5.00:

ADATA HE720 Drive Info

I fired up HD Tune Pro to take a look at the health of the drive and to see the drive attributes. I noticed that the drive features a 16KB alignment out of the box on a FAT32 file system. I also noticed that ADATA is using a 5400 RPM 2.5" SATA notebook hard drive inside with 16 MB of cache and firmware version 0001SDM1. According to HD Tune Pro the average speed of this drive is 76 MB/s, but we shall see on our own when we benchmark the ADATA HE720!

Detailed Information with CrystalDiskInfo 5.3.1:

Crystal Disk Info

I also fired up CrystalDiskInfo and it showed basically the same information, but I know some readers prefer one over the other, so both were included.

Performance w/ CrystalDiskMark and ATTO

CrystalDiskMark v3.0.2c

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds.

1000MB Files Test Benchmark on the ADATA HD720 500GB:

Crystal Disk Mark Benchmark

The ADATA DashDrive HE720 was able to reach 96.7 MB/s read and 103.7 MB/s write in the sequential test. Not bad performance numbers from a 5400 RPM notebook hard drive, but we are clearly limited by the hard drive and not the USB 3.0 interface with these test results.

ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.47

ATTO is one of the oldest hard drive benchmarks that is still used today. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that you can easily interpret. The benchmark was run with file sizes from 0.5kb through 8192kb with the total length being 256mb.

atto_550

Benchmark Results: The ADATA HE720 500GB USB 3.0 external hard drive was able to reach 104.6 MB/s read and 94.2 MB/s write in ATTO. Not bad performance results, but they are slightly slower than the WD My Passport Edge 500GB USB 3.0 drive that we reviewed last year that was hitting 123 MB/s read and 120 MB/s write.

HD Tune Pro 5.00 Benchmarking

HD Tune Pro 5.00 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Read Performance Testing

HD Tune Read Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ADATA HE720 500GB portable drive had an average read speed of 80.0MB/s with a burst speed of 84.6MB/s and an access time of 18.3ms. The read performance started out at 90MB/s on the outer edges of the platters before slowing to 25MB/s on the inner sectors.

Write Performance Testing

HD Tune Write Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 had an average write speed of 81.1MB/s with a burst speed of 86.2MB/s and an access time of 22.7ms.

File Testing

HD Tune File Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The file benchmark results look good with ~100 MB/s writes for most file sizes over 16KB. It should be noted that the drive never got much hotter than 32C during use.

Free Space and Final Thoughts

ADATA HE720 Free Space

Taking a look at the capacity of the ADATA HE720 hard drive we see that in Windows, there is 465GB available to the user as reported by Windows. This is with the applications and folder that ADATA shipped with on the drive. The ADATA Sync software and users guide took up about 6MB of space.

backup-button

Final Thoughts and Conclusion:

The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 500GB external hard drive was found to have solid performance, but you can quickly figure out that this drive isn't about performance, it is about the form factor. ADATA wanted to create the thinnest external hard drive in the world and at 8.9mm, they were able to do just that with the HE720. Sure the performance,  features and warranty of the HE720 don't stand out from the crowd, but the HE720 looks good and is thin! The WD My Passport Edge 500GB hard drive is 12.8mm thick, which makes it nearly 44% thicker than the ADATA HE720. We took a photo of the two sitting next to each other and you can see that image below.

ADATA HE720 Thickness

When it comes to performance the ADATA DashDrive Elite HE7720 500GB drive had 80MB/s read and 81MB/s write speed averages in HD Tune. These aren't the fastest numbers that we have seen for an external hard drive, but they aren't bad and good enough for most people that just want a simple drive to backup and transport data with. The ADATA Sync software is simplistic, but it gets basic backups going and the one tough backup button is nice.

The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 external drive for $79.99 shipped and it is only available in the 500GB capacity. The Seagate Momentus Thin 5400.9 500GB hard drive used in this model runs $69.09 shipped by itself.  The HE720 comes backed by a 3-year warranty that covers both parts and labor. You also some value added software, including OStoGo, HDDtoGO, and Norton Internet Security (60 day free trial) with the purchase of this drive.

The ADATA HE720 is a solid portable drive and we found no flaws with it. The main selling point of this drive is that it is just 8.9mm thick and has good USB 3.0 data transfer speeds. So, if that is what you are looking for, you should have just found the right external storage drive!

 

Legit Bottom Line: The ADATA DashDrive Elite HE720 is the worlds thinnest external USB 3.0 hard drive and was found to have solid performance numbers!