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G-Technology G-Drive Mobile: Review and giveaway

It's been a while since TUAW reviewed a hard drive. Recently, G-Technology sent one of their 1 TB G-Drive Mobile USB 3.0/2.0/FW drives (US$179.95) to run through the paces. That relatively low price is a result of not having a Thunderbolt interface, and since all of the new Macs are coming with USB 3.0, I thought it would be a good drive to test out. I don't currently own a USB 3.0-equipped Mac, so the benchmarks listed below were provided by my colleague Erica Sadun.

Design

As the name implies, the G-Drive Mobile is designed for use with laptops. The enclosure is made to match the color of your favorite aluminum MacBook, broken only by a big "G" logo on the top, an LED on the front, and the ports on the back. The drive weighs just 10 ounces but for some reason seems more solid than that light weight would indicate.

Size-wise, the G-Drive Mobile is quite compact, taking up a space 5 inches long x 3.27 inches wide x only 0.39 inch tall.

Three ports line the back of the drive; two FireWire 800 ports (also compatible with FW 400 with the proper cable), and one USB 3.0 port. The drive is bus-powered and does not need an external power source.

The drive ships with three cables; a USB 3.0 cable, a FW 400/800 cable and a FW 800/800 cable.

Benchmarks

TUAW uses a standard industry benchmark to compare the I/O capabilities of disks and arrays. The benchmark uses the AJA System Test, which simulates reading and writing video. The specific test used was the Disk Read/Write test, also known as the DiskWhackTest, set at a video frame size of 720 x 486 8-bit and a file size of 128 MB.

GTechnology GDrive Mobile USB Review and giveaway

As you can see, the results were quite encouraging for this portable bus-powered drive. Write test results for the G-Drive Mobile were just less than those achieved for the internal SATA drive on a 2009 iMac, while the read results were actually better than those of the internal drive. However, those results paled in comparison to another USB 3.0 drive that Erica Sadun picked up for $99 during a Black Friday online sale (now selling for $128.48). A Seagate Expansion 3TB USB 3.0 drive saw results consistently higher than those from the G-Drive Mobile, with a write benchmark result of 171.5 compared to the 86.0 from the G-Drive, and a read benchmark to match -- 170.7 compared to 103.6 for the G-Drive.

The Seagate drive, however, requires an external power adapter. For desktop use, that's acceptable, but MacBook users are going to be happier with the G-Drive Mobile.

What's encouraging about all of the USB 3.0 results -- even for the "slower" G Drive Mobile -- is that they're better than any of the FireWire 800 drive results to date and outpace the USB 2.0 drives by about two-and-a-half times. As Erica's Black Friday experience shows, the pricing on USB 3.0 drives is also incredibly low. This indicates that Mac users are now able to get speedy storage at a bargain price instead of having to pay a premium for professional-quality Thunderbolt drives.

TUAW will begin testing Thunderbolt external drives in 2013, and we look forward to sharing those results for those of you who need the fastest drives possible. In the meantime, USB 3.0 seems to be a good reason for upgrading to a new Mac soon.

Conclusion

While it's not the fastest USB 3.0 drive we've tested, the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile still provides read/write speeds that are approximately the same as those of internal SATA drives. For mobile users who want a fast bus-driven external hard drive, the G-Drive Mobile is perfect.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Faster than all of the FireWire 800 drives we've tested
  • Bus-powered, doesn't need an external power supply
  • Exterior matches MacBooks

Cons

  • Not as fast as some other USB 3.0 externals

Who is it for?

  • Anyone with a USB 3.0-equipped Mac who wants a compact, bus-powered 1 TB hard disk drive

Giveaway

And now, per the TUAW policy on review equipment, it's time for some lucky TUAW reader to get his or her hands on this little USB 3.0 drive. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before December 6, 2012 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a G-Technology G-Drive Mobile external hard drive valued at $179.95
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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