There's a ton of external hard drives on the market. The way to stand out: offer more capacity or make it cheaper.
G-Technology has taken the offer-more-capacity route, with its 500GB G-DRIVE mini hard drive. It's a handsome external drive that has Mac written all over it, from the cheese-grater front panel to preformatting for journaled HFS Plus (the primary disk format used by Mac OS, starting with version 10.3).
The G-DRIVE mini is a triple-interface drive (FireWire 400, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0) that can be bus-powered from FireWire, but not from USB. (USB on its own cannot provide the needed current to power the drive without the use of an external power supply.) We connected the drive to a MacBook via FireWire 400 and had no trouble seeing the drive. We dragged a few files between the G-DRIVE mini and the MacBook's hard drive, and the G-DRIVE mini didn't keep us waiting.
We hooked the G-DRIVE mini to a Windows PC for some performance benchmarking. HD Tune reported that the internal drive is actually a Hitachi Travelstar 5K500-series drive. The drive is a 5400rpm, 3-platter part that includes an 8MB buffer and uses a 2.5"x12.5mm form factor (a skosh thicker than the typical 2.5"x9.5mm hard drive found in a typical notebook computer). The drive itself is very quiet, quoted at 22dBA at idle and 24dBA when seeking. A white LED on the front panel blinks when the drive is being accessed.
Using FireWire 400, the drive registers an average 38.5MB/sec transfer rate, with a maximum of 39.5MB/sec. The transfer rate is practically flat through the 85% point of the drive, when the performance begins tapering off. HD Tune reports an access time of 19.1ms and CPU utilization of 3.3%.
For icing, the G-DRIVE mini ships with a full complement of cables - FireWire 400, FireWire 800 and USB are all here. A black leather case with elastic sides also ships with the drive. The only missing part is a 5V power supply so the drive could work over USB, but odds are, if you're buying this drive to use with a Mac, you won't really miss this, because you will probably be using one of the FireWire ports instead.
There's really not much we can say, other than it's about as quick as an external drive gets... and it's tiny. If you're editing on the road, this drive should be on your short list.
Drive Specs: 5400rpm, 8MB cache
Dimensions: 4.9375" L x 3.1875" W x .875" H
Weight: Less than 9 oz.
- Mac-ready out of the box (but can be reformatted for Windows)
- Can't be bus-powered from USB (a 5V power supply would be nice)
- A bit pricey
Half a terabyte in the palm of your hand... color us impressed.
Charles Fulton is Videomaker's associate editor.