TUAW test-drives the G-RAID mini portable RAID storage system
G-Technology makes some of the better pro storage products we've tested in the past, and the company provided us with a new 2 TB G-RAID mini (US$449.95) portable RAID system. This is quite the powerhouse for those who need fast, portable storage, including USB 3.0 and FireWire 800 interfaces as well as a pair of 7200-RPM hard drives.
This is one drive that you won't worry about getting scratched up on the inside of your equipment bag while out on a video shoot. The diminutive drive, which measures just 5.88" x 3.25" x 1.5" (149 x 83 x 38 mm), is wrapped in a practically bulletproof aluminum casing. That aluminum adds a bit of heft to the 2.2 pound (1 kg) case, but helps in terms of dissipating heat through the integrated heat sink. There's also a cooling fan built into the bottom of the case.
On the back of the drive you'll find three ports -- two are FireWire 800 ports that can also be used with an included FW 800 to 400 cable with Macs that only support the slower standard, and one is a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port. For our benchmarks, I used the USB 3.0 port and included cable as my MacBook Pro with Retina display does not include a FireWire port. When using FireWire, the drive is bus-powered; when connected via USB 3.0, it requires the included AC adapter for power. The company also provides a nice leatherette carrying case for the drive.
If you don't need a full 2 TB of RAID storage, you might want to consider the 1 TB model that sells for $249.95. The drives can be used in either RAID 0 (striped set for performance) or RAID 1 (mirrored set for redundancy) mode, but realize that your usable storage in RAID 1 will be one-half of the installed storage amount -- in other words, the 2 TB array would be used as two 1 TB mirrored drives in RAID 1.
Functionality and Benchmarks
When I first took the drive out of its box and connected it to my test machine, it was obvious that another tech blogger had been testing the G-RAID mini. A proprietary bandwidth benchmark was on the drive, so I went into Disk Utility and reformatted the drive. I wanted to test the G-RAID mini in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations, but could not get G-Technology's RAID Configurator application to run without crashing repeatedly on my machine running OS X 10.8.4. The most recent version of this app is three years old; it's time for G-Technology to update it.
I tried to set up RAID 0 using Disk Utility, but was unable to do so. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that one of the two drives in the casing had gone bad and I was just seeing one, as the only drive visible in all utilities was just one 1 TB unit. That being said, all results you see here for benchmarks are measuring essentially a single-drive unit.
The results of 21 runs of the AJA System Test "Disk Whack" read/write test indicated an average write speed of 125.8 MB/s, with an average read speed of 122.7 MB/s. This benchmark indicates that the G-RAID mini is faster in both read and write operations than two other drives we've tested, a Western Digital WDC1001FALS-40U9B0 that measured in at 90.3 and 94.7 MB/s respectively on write and read speeds, and faster than G-Technology's own G-Drive Mobile at 86.0 and 103.6 MB/s.
The G-RAID mini paled in comparison to the Seagate STBV30000100 drive we tested last November, which topped the charts with an average write speed of 171.5 MB/s and read speed of 170.7 MB/s. But for the most part, the G-RAID mini on USB 3.0 is faster than just about all FireWire 800 drives we've tested over the years.
The G-RAID mini is a sturdy, small and solid RAID array. Unfortunately, it appeared that the unit we tested had only one working drive, and the RAID Configurator app is not compatible with OS X 10.8.4. I would highly recommend that if you're interested in this array, you purchase one and do your own testing. G-Technology's warranty provides a 30-day return policy, provided that you return the device with all cables and in the original packaging in salable condition.
- Very solid construction
- Dual interface design with USB 3.0 SuperSpeed and FireWire 800
- Quite portable
- RAID Configurator application is out of date
- Not bus-powered when connected via USB 3.0
- Price is quite high; if you can put up with the extra weight, there are many larger RAID units that are available for much less
Who is it for?
- The video or photography professional who needs a compact and light RAID array for work in the field.
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