Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II Review

Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II Review

by Jerry Jackson

When it comes to external hard drives, if you’ve seen one, you’ve probably seen them all … unless you’re talking about a 4TB external hard drive with USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800 and eSATA ports to connect to just about any computer you own. That’s where the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II comes in. Western Digital was kind enough to give us a sneak peak at the new 4TB version of the My Book Studio Edition II ($649.99). Considering how much I love external hard drives, how could I refuse?

Chances are good that if you’ve ever gone shopping for an external hard drive you’ve seen or even purchased one of the My Book series of external hard drives from Western Digital. My home office is littered with a dozen different external hard drives and six of them are My Book storage solutions. Not only are external hard drives essential for saving all my work files, family photos, video library, and installing all my games and applications, but I need to make backups of my important files in case the primary hard drives inside my notebooks or my desktop happen to fail. That’s where the Studio Edition II comes in.

This attractive dual hard drive external storage solution is offered in your choice of 1TB ($279.99), 2TB ($329.99), and 4TB ($649.99) capacities … but that’s not what makes this product so special. The My Book Studio Edition II is all about choice. You have four different options for connecting this drive to a computer, and you have two different choices for RAID configurations as well.

Build and Design

In terms of the basic external shape and dimensions the My Book Studio Edition II is almost identical to the My Book Mirror Edition external RAID enclosure we reviewed last year … only this one is painted silver and comes pre-formatted for Mac OS X.

  • Height: 6.54 in (166 mm)
  • Depth: 6.06 in (154 mm)
  • Width: 3.87 in (98 mm)
  • Weight: 5.2 lb (2.63 kg)

While the size and shape are reasonably compact, it’s clear that the My Book Studio Edition II is designed to be a desktop storage solution that doesn’t travel everywhere with you like the My Passport series of external notebook drives. You’re meant to leave this brick on your desk at home or the office and only use the massive storage when you need it.

One change I noticed with the My Book Studio Edition II compared to the standard My Book series is that the blue LEDs on the front of the My Book drives have been replaced with a white LED stip that pulses up and down when the drive is active.

Of course, the real attraction to the My Book Studio Editon II isn’t the LEDs on the front … it’s the quad interface on the back of the enclosure. The system offers four interfaces: eSATA and FireWire 800 for the fastest possible performance as well as FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 for the best possible compatibility. Below is a photo of the various cables that are included with the My Book Studio Edition II, including the power adapter.

This brings us to my single biggest problem with this product: Western Digital didn’t include an eSATA cable! There are already tons of USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800 storage solutions on the market, but the My Book Studio Edition II is pretty unique in offering four methods of connecting the drive to a computer. Since eSATA is the fastest interface option for this drive I simply don’t understand why Western Digital doesn’t include an eSATA cable. I’ll have more to say on that subject later in the review.

One of my favorite design features of the My Book RAID enclosures is the easy-access top panel for simple servicing of the drives. If you ever need to replace one of the two drives inside the My Book Studio Edition II all you have to do is press firmly on the top panel until it springs open. Next, unscrew the thumb screw holding the metal drive plate and remove the drive plate. Now you have open access to both drives … they’re even labeled A and B to help you identify which drive needs to be replaced. It’s the same design we first saw in the My Book Mirror Edition and it’s still my favorite RAID enclosure design.

The My Book Studio Edition II next to the My Book Mirror Edtion


Western Digital also includes the following standard suite of software:

  • WD Anywhere Backupis a simple yet effective backup and recovery application that provides around-the-clock data protection. It features automatic backup to multiple destinations and synchronization of working files to keep them current.
  • Memeo AutoSync software(30-day trial) automatically syncs the latest version of frequently used files and encrypts files for extra protection
  • WD Mionet(30-day trial of Mionet) online backup allows access to backup files from any computer with an internet connection. Also allows for remote control of your desktop from another computer via the internet.

Performance and Benchmarks

As previously mentioned, the My Book Studio Edition II is now available in three capacities: 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB. With the maximum capacity of 4TB (two 2TB Western Digital Caviar Greendrives), that translates to more than 800,000 high resolution digital photos (with an average file size of 5MB per JPEG) or more than 1,500 hours of DVD quality video (for an average video file that requires 2.597GB per hour). In other words, most normal consumers won’t run out of space anytime soon.

The HDTunebenchmark measures the overall performance of a drive both in terms of transfer speeds (read/write), access time (the amount of time spent searching for data on the disk) and CPU usage (how hard your computer has to work in order to use the drive). The HDTunebenchmark indicates that the performance of the My Book Studio Edition II depends heavily on the connection being used. USB is the slowest, followed by FireWire, with eSATA being the fastest data transfer option.

WD My Book Mirror Edition in RAID 0, via USB

WD My Book Studio Edition II via USB

WD My Book Studio Edition II via FireWire 400

WD My Book Studio Edition II via eSATA

Attois another synthetic benchmark we use to test the performance of a storage drive. Below you can see the average read and write times for the My Book Studio Edition II using USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and eSATA. We’ve also included the benchmark for the My Book Mirror Edition which is nearly identical but only offers a USB 2.0 interface.

WD My Book Mirror Edition in RAID 0, via USB

WD My Book Studio Edition II via USB

WD My Book Studio Edition II via FireWire 400

WD My Book Studio Edition II via eSATA

Clearly, the eSATA interface provides the fastest performance from the My Book Studio Edition II. That’s what makes the lack of an eSATA cable all the more perplexing. If Western Digital hadn’t included an eSATA connection then this wouldn’t be a problem, but eSATA is one of the main reasons you’re likely to purchase this particular hard drive enclosure, so why not include a cable that costs less than $10 to give customers roughly four times the speed of USB 2.0?

Still, even with the slower USB 2.0 connection the most important performance factor in my mind is that I rarely notice the difference between the speed of my notebook’s internal hard drive and the WD My Book Studio Edition II in real world use. I still have three old external USB 2.0 IDE hard drives that only perform at 8.9MB/sec (compared to 24MB/sec with the My Book Studio Edition II over USB) and I seldom complain about the speed of those old drives unless I’m trying to transfer video or tons of old files.

One minor headache I experienced while testing the Studio Editon II was the fact that the power adapter kept coming unplugged whenever I moved the enclosure. The power jack doesn’t have a particularly tight fit, so if you move the enclosure the weight of the power cord might be enough to unplug the device.

Heat and Noise

The My Book Studio Edition II runs quiet and cool. There isn’t much more to say in this section of the review. The drives get warm after hours of serious use, but never get hot. In terms of noise, even when transferring files, the drives cannot be heard over the cooling fan in a notebook. Of course, when the drives aren’t accessing any files the My Book Studio Edition II is completely silent.


The Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II is a wonderful update to the My Book family and offers consumers and working professionals a variety of options to fit their storage needs. Graphic artists, photographers, and videographers who need tons of fast storage have a great all-in-one solution. Likewise, consumers who have huge media libraries now have a single storage location that works with a variety of computers. The $650 price tag for the 4TB model might look extreme, but considering that 2TB hard drives cost $250 a piece a $150 fee for a quad interface external enclosure doesn’t sound too bad at all.

Bottom line, the My Book Studio Edition II is one of the most versatile external hard drives on the market, and one of the fastest … assuming you can find an eSATA cable to connect it to your computer. If you need tons of storage space with super fast transfer speeds, you’ll have a hard time finding a better solution than this.


  • Extremely fast eSATA performance
  • USB, FireWire, and eSATA compatibility
  • Very quiet


  • No eSATA cable included
  • Power jack doesn’t fit tight
  • Comes pre-formatted for Macs, but PC users can re-format

Pricing and Availability

The Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II ($649.99 for the 4TB model) is available for purchase on the Western Digital websiteor at many retail and online stores.





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