Review: 4TB G-Drive By G-Technology

When a PC is out of storage space, there are several ways to fix the problem. People used to upgrade their primary drives or add new ones, but thanks to USB 3.0 you can finally have an external drive that’s as fast as its internal counterpart, but has the added benefit of mobility.

We’ve taken a look at the a professional external hard drive, the 4TB G-Drive from G-Technology, a California-based storage specialist owned by Western Digital through its subsidiary HGST – a former division of Hitachi which it acquired in 2012.

In addition to its massive 4TB capacity, this particular G-Drive offers USB 3.0 and FireWire connectivity, all in a good-looking aluminium package. It’s a bit on the heavy side and at £250 it s not exactly cheap, but solid transfer speeds and build quality are worth paying for.

Space for data

Since being founded in 2004, G-Technology has firmly established in the media market, with a reputation for reliable external drives and NAS enclosures. Ours came with a three year warranty and free technical support. The company has also delivered early support for things like FireWire and Thunderbolt.

The aluminium body of the drive is somewhat reminiscent of the Power Mac G5, Apple’s previous generation workstation. But then again, G-Technology never made a secret of its leanings towards Apple. To put it bluntly, G-Drive is as good looking as any device that came out of Cupertino.

Inside, we find a single Deskstar 7K4000 hard drive with a 64MB cache, spinning at 7200 RPM. It’s connected to the internal board through 6Gb/s SATA.

On the outside, there’s support for USB 3.0 as well as older USB versions, and FireWire 400 and 800. New models do not feature an eSATA interface on the back like the older models did.

On paper, this results in transfer rate of about 165 MBps but these claims are a bit optimistic for any external drive operating in the real world. When running the G-Drive through SiSoftware Sandra Pro, we saw average write speeds of around 135 MB/s and read speeds of around 130 MB/s – still incredibly fast, all thanks to USB 3.0.

When it’s busy, the drive blinks with a soft white light – we thought it was fairly neutral, but it could end up annoying some users. G-Drive isn’t loud, but the sound would be audible in a quiet room. Sure, you won’t hear it next to a workstation, but lucky ultrabook owners will certainly know when it’s switched on.

The enclosure is made out of solid metal which proves beneficial for cooling, but in combination with an internal heat sink, makes for quite a heavy package – around 1.3kg. At least you can count on it not falling apart – and there’s a mounting for a Kensington lock on the back.

The drive ships in an impressive cardboard box [for those impressed by cardboard boxes – Editor] with cables for every type of supported connection and a universal power supply.

It comes pre-formatted for MacOS and is compatible with TimeMachine. The drive is easy to format for Windows, however  we should mention a limitation for Windows XP users. If you have failed to upgrade your Windows XP system and are running all the risks that entails, but decide to splash out on a top end external drive, you should be aware that you will only see 2TB of the capacity.

We should note that a 4TB drive is not really necessary for backup purposes, so consider a smaller model.

Thanks to their solid reputation, the G-Drives do not come cheap – a 4TB version retails for £249.95 at the Apple Store, but can be found online for a bit less.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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