G-Technology G-RAID 3 External Hard Drive Review

Stack o’ Storage

The G-RAID 3 is an external hard drive that directly attaches to a computer which performs all RAID operations in hardware transparent to the operating system. The G-RAID 3 is another Mac-inspired design from G-Technology, bearing much resemblance to a Power Mac G5 or a Mac Pro. While its ‘cheese grater’ grille is finer than the grille of said computers, it is still a close match. The external hard drive is very handsome and would look great sitting next to or on top of just about any computer. There is side ventilation and a rear-mounted temperature-controlled fan.

A 3TB version of this drive also exists; however, an important side note is that Windows XP cannot handle single partitions larger than 2TB. So that version of this drive would only be worth considering if you’re a Mac OS or Windows Vista (among other operating systems) user, or if you didn’t mind partitioning the drive into two volumes.

Through the Wringer

This is the first external drive we’ve reviewed that directly attaches to a computer which performs all RAID operations in hardware (specific credit due to the onboard Oxford 936 bridge chip), transparent to the operating system.

The drive is preformatted as HFS+ and includes a very polished-looking G-Drive icon. Attaching the drive to a MacBook, Finder reports the drive’s capacity as 1.8TB.
No drivers or utilities were required to get the system running. Which is good, because the included CD had old information recorded onto it. There was documentation, but nothing specific about the G-RAID 3 (although it’s really just a next-gen G-RAID 2 with an eSATA port and temperature-controlled fan). No drivers or utilities specifically for the G-RAID 3 exist on G-Technology’s web site. Curiously, no manual seems to exist for the G-RAID 3 yet, either… but in all honesty, you won’t need one.

This drive demonstrates a true example of plug and play, particularly if you’re using a Mac. If you’re using Windows, all you have to do is initialize, partition and reformat the disk as NTFS and you’re all set.

There is a status indicator on front of drive that glows when the drive is running but is brighter when the drive is being accessed.

Hard Drive Performance

Preliminary performance testing was performed on a Pentium 4 3.2GHz HT-based computer with an Intel 865-family chipset and VIA FireWire controller. The FireWire connection had significantly better performance than USB 2.0 according to HD Tune, with a maximum transfer rate of 37.6MB/sec, average of 37.3MB/sec and minimum of 24.3MB/sec, an access time of 13.2ms, burst rate of 35.5MB/sec and CPU usage of 2.9%. The USB connection turned in a maximum transfer rate of 30.9MB/sec, an average of 30.3MB/sec, a minimum of 17.8MB/sec, access time of 13.4ms, burst rate of 20.2MB/sec and CPU usage of 13.2%.

The particular machine on which most testing was performed doesn’t include FireWire 800 or eSATA ports, so we moved the drive to the Polywell workstation that was reviewed elsewhere in this issue. Using the eSATA connection, the G-RAID turned in outstanding speeds well in excess of its FireWire performance: maximum transfer rate of 211.8MB/sec, average of 175.4MB/sec, minimum of 110.8MB/sec, access time of 13.2ms, burst rate of 172.2MB/sec and CPU usage of 2.7%. This is yet another reason why we keep beating the eSATA drum: it simply beats the pants off of USB 2.0 and FireWire.


Bottom Line

If your computer has an eSATA port, there’s no simpler way to get a fast stripe set connected. You’ll be amazed at the speed-odds are it’ll outperform the boot drives in the vast majority of video workstations. However, if your computer lacks an eSATA port, an external hard drive with a single drive mechanism (not using RAID) will likely give you the same level of performance, and probably for less money.

TECH SPECS

Drive Specs: 2 7200rpm drives, 16MB cache each

Dimensions: 9.25″ L x 5.125″ W x 2.875″ H

Weight: 3.85 lb.

Strengths

  • Quad-interface design
  • Quiet
  • Well-built

Weaknesses

  • Speed advantage of striped drives only realized over eSATA
  • Pricey

SUMMARY

A great drive, but it’s only really worth it if your computer has an eSATA port to exploit the drive’s raw speed.

A great drive, but it’s only really worth it if your computer has an eSATA port to exploit the drive’s raw speed.

A great drive, but it’s only really worth it if your computer has an eSATA port to exploit the drive’s raw speed.

G-Technology Inc.

1830 E. Warner Ave.

Santa Ana, CA 92705

www.g-technology.com


Price: $579

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