With laptops getting sleeker by the day, looking for a means to expand functionality is natural. The Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock does that and not much more. We feel it does not justify its gaming moniker enough. Usually, products that emphasise gaming tend to provide a means to use external graphics cards. However with this, you essentially get a hard drive with rich I/O support and not much beyond.
Design and build
Looking at the Seagate FireCuda, it is on the bulky side. It measures 51 x 270 x 135mm and weighs 2.67kg, without its power connection. While it does have a nice matte and rubbery finish coupled with a fair dosage of LED lighting that you can customise using Seagate’s Toolkit, it will tend to be bulkier and heavier than most traditional gaming laptops these days. Plus, just throwing in LED lighting to what is essentially a hard drive makes it far from a gaming product.
Nonetheless, you get a good dosage of ports here. On the front, you are looking at two Type-A USB 3.1 ports alongside an audio input, audio output and the power button. The back of the device houses three additional Type-A USB ports and an Ethernet port. You also find a DisplayPort 1.4 to pass through your machine’s graphics, two USB Type-C ports and a proprietary power port. Content creators will be a bit disappointed even with this selection, where the notable omission is a full-size SD card slot.
There are also moving parts to the hard drive. The right side of the drive is held magnetically in place, sliding out to reveal an NVMe slot protected via a heat-sink. You should be able to place any M.2 drive here which is very convenient. Of course, this is extremely accessible however if you want to access the HDD, you will need a fair bit of patience and care. Otherwise, the device is built in a manner where it can be placed either flat or vertical. And Seagate has done well to minimise any background fan noise and ill-effects when it comes to cooling. When placed flat, there are also nice rubber feet underneath the device for ample ventilation.
Functionality and usage
As a Windows user, it is worth mentioning that the connection experience with the Seagate FireCuda was mixed. Connected to its power source and then to my machine, it failed to be detected. It merely acted as an expansion bay for ports and not as a storage device. Upon further digging, I learnt that the device only works as external storage through a Thunderbolt 3 connection, which my primary laptop lacks.
However, I was able to get it to work with accessories. Oddly, my laptop thought it was an audio product. It detected my wireless mouse and keyboard alongside my smartphone when I connected it to it and was able to charge my machine too. To test the drive’s core functionality, you need a computer with Thunderbolt 3 support. The device should work as intended then. But, we wanted to include this experience just so buyers are aware of this and check their personal PC’s compatibility before purchasing the device.
In terms of using it as a storage drive, it is nice to have the 4TB of space. I can see myself loading up games or backups here. But unfortunately, HDD drives like these tend to be a lot slower than traditional SSDs. So expect to see slower loading times with games and transfers. We think the device is meant to be more a permanent storage solution rather than one that facilitates transferring or backing up of data. And perhaps from that perspective, it may just be good enough but still nothing great.
The more we use the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock, the more we appreciate its ability to expand on our laptop’s port selection. But that is about it, which is a shame. Rather than it being called a gaming dock, it could have been named just an expansion dock. And if Seagate’s main purpose was to incorporate gaming, perhaps having a built-in graphics card would have helped massively. At its current price tag of Dh1,987 and functionality though, it is hard to recommend this product.