capsule review

G-RAID mini 200GB hard drive

The big performance benefits of SATA technology have never been more apparent than with the G-RAID mini. This portable speed champ looks like a shrunken version of the company’s full-size G-RAID model, right down to the Oxford 924 controller. Featuring an aluminum chassis designed to blend in with a Mac Pro or G5 tower, this fast—but pricey—triple-port, portable RAID packs enough power to handle the heftier data-juggling tasks typically reserved for desktop drives. With two high-performance 7,200-rpm SATA mechanisms packed into a tiny space, the integrated, slightly noisy fan mounted on the bottom of the chassis is a necessity.

Internally, the G-RAID mini’s drives are hardwired in a RAID 0 (striped) arrangement and come formatted as a single Macintosh volume The drive mounts immediately on your Mac’s desktop when you plug it into an available FireWire 400, FireWire 800, or USB port.

A second FireWire 800 port—a standard feature on many triple-port drives—allows for a simultaneous connection to other FireWire devices. Completing the illusion that the drive could have been an Apple creation, the included data cables look identical to the white cables that ship with a Mac. The G-RAID mini can operate on FireWire bus power, and a small AC adapter is provided for use with a USB connection.

Not only was the G-RAID mini the top performer among the portable drives we’ve looked at recently, it encroached into desktop territory, winning two out of three tests against the top-performing Western Digital MyBook Pro Edition 500GB desktop drive (   ). Among portable drives, the G-RAID mini edged out the LaCie Little Big Disk (   ) in the copy test, beating it by 10 percent in both the duplicate and Photoshop tests.

timed trials

Copy 1GB to Drive 0:34
Duplicate 1GB on Drive 0:47
Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite 1:27

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.4.8 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 25 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

specifications

Price per gigabyte $3.25
Connectors FireWire 800 (2), FireWire 400, USB 2.0
Rotational speed 7,200 rpm
Other capacities 160GB ($499); 5,400-rpm models also available

Macworld’s buying advice

If you’re a video or audio editor seeking desktop performance in a portable package, the G-RAID mini is the drive to beat when it comes to speed. Its chic aluminum styling, flexible triple connections, and superb performance make it a winner. Portable drives should be seen and not heard, and that’s the G-RAID mini’s one flaw—it generates some fan noise—a result of the trade-off between tiny and fast. The G-RAID mini is also offered in 160GB and 320GB capacities, as well as slower and less expensive 5,400-rpm versions.

[ Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and writer living in San Francisco. ]

G-RAID mini 200GB
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