capsule review

Review: G-Technology G-Drive mini

At a Glance
  • G-Technology G-Drive mini

    Macworld Rating

Designed to look right at home with the Mac, G-Technology's aluminum G-Drive mini is a portable external hard drive that is one of the fastest of its kind that we’ve tested. With a 7,200 rpm 500GB drive mechanism that’s formatted for the Mac, the G-Drive mini supports FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0, giving you a wide variety of connectivity options. If you use a FireWire connection, the drive can draw power from the FireWire port, eschewing the need for an external power source. (An optional AC adapter ($20) is available for powering the drive via USB; some USB ports don’t supply enough juice to power the drive.)

Though G-Technology has been a player in the Mac storage business for several years, the company was recently acquired by Fabrik. Fabrik also owns SimpleTech. G-Technology’s products are targeted at technology professionals, with SimpleTech catering more to the general consumer. I found the G-Drive mini to be a zippy little drive that will likely please both consumers with large storage needs and professionals who need a speedy and safe connection.

G-Drive mini
G-Technology's G-Drive mini

Testing with the FireWire 800 connection, the G-Drive mini finished our 1GB copy test in about 33 seconds—an impressive score for portable or desktop drives. It took the G-Drive mini only 46 seconds to duplicate the same file, and the drive took on average 1 minute and 28 seconds to finish our low-memory Photoshop test. These scores are considerably faster than those for most portable drives, even besting the speedy FreeAgent Go by about 10 seconds in each test. The scores are on par with most desktop drives that have FireWire 800 support.

The G-Drive mini doesn’t use a fan to keep cool; instead, its aluminum case acts as a heat sink, drawing heat away from the drive mechanism. The drive runs very quietly as a result. There’s also a power switch, which is helpful when you want to save energy but still keep the drive plugged in. The drive comes with FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 cables, and each one is only 23 inches long. This length works well if you’re connecting to a laptop or an iMac, but is inconvenient for use with a tower system. The drive comes with a three-year warranty and a nice leather case for carrying purposes.

Timed trials

Copy 1GB file via USB 2.0 0:54
Copy 1GB file via FireWire 400 0:42
Copy 1GB file via FireWire 800 0:33
Duplicate 1GB file via USB 2.0 1:20
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 400 1:05
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 800 0:46
Low-memory Photoshop: USB 2.0 1:38
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 400 1:34
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 800 1:28

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How we tested: We ran all tests with drives connected to a Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Xeon with Mac OS X 10.5 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive with each available port—FireWire 800, USB 2, and 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 CS3 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 Chris Holt

Macworld’s buying advice

The G-Drive mini is a portable drive that offers connectivity flexibility. And if you need zippy data transfers, the G-Drive mini is an ideal choice.

[Chris Holt is a Macworld assistant editor.]

[Editor's note: Updated to include drive capacity. Also corrected price.]

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Fast
    • Powered by FireWire bus
    • Comes Mac-formatted
    • Good price

    Cons

    • Adapter for USB power connection is optional
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