March 1st, 2013 by Josh Shaman
G-Technology 4TB G-DRIVE Review (0G02537)
The G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB is a high-capacity desktop storage device. Just a couple of weeks ago, we reviewed its sibling G-DRIVE mini 1TB and found a lot to like leaving us with high expectations for this bigger brother. The G-DRIVE 4TB is an update on previous models and now offers USB 3.0 connectivity and doubled capacity at 4TB. This model is designed for Mac users who want a sleek, rugged enclosure that has loads of connectivity. In line with the rest of the HGST G-Technology, the G-DRIVE 4TB is likely to be a favorite amongst Mac users and creative professionals for its style, performance, and reliability.
Compared to the mini, the larger drive does come with much larger proportions (note the dimensions). So while the G-DRIVE mini was easy to tote at the size of a pack of cards, this model is book-sized making it less portable. On the other hand, inside the tough enclosure sits a substantial Hitachi 3.5" 4TB 7,200 RPM drive. While Hitachi could've gone with a lower-cost 5,400 RPM drive, they upped the ante and went for performance. Also, by including dual FireWire cords and a USB 3.0 cord, the 4TB keeps in line with its sibling and goes beyond what other external drives offer in terms of accessories. Consumers will also be pleased that the G-DRIVE comes preformatted for Mac but can also be formatted for NTFS or FAT32 for Windows users.
The G-DRIVE USB 3.0 ships in 2TB and 4TB capacities, both with a three-year warranty. Our review model is 4TB and carries a street price of $325.
G-Technology G-DRIVE 4 TB Specifications
- Capacity: 4TB
- 7,200 RPM 3.5" hard drive, 64MB cache
- Interface: 1xUSB 3.0, 2xFireWire 800
- Included in box: 1 USB 3.0 cable, 2 FireWire cables (800; 800 to 400)
- Cooling System: Integrated heat sink
- Size (LxWxH): 9.25" x 5.24" x 1.82" / 235 x 130 x 46mm
- Weight: 2.98 lb / 1.35 kg
Design and Build
The G-DRIVE matches current generation Mac notebooks that would likely pair with this type of external hard drive. The entire body is strong, aluminum, perforated in the front and on the sides for ventilation. In addition to looking modern and refined, the G-DRIVE has structural integrity and stands up to substantial pressure.
Upon inspection, the main body houses the HGST Deskstar 7K4000 hard drive inside, and a top piece that covers the drive sled provides some sound deafening and added protection for the drive. This piece is held in place with six screws. Inside the chassis, there are not any rubber grommets in place to provide protection in the event of a drop, but there are four rubber pads on the bottom of the enclosure to keep it from sliding around on a desk. The front of the enclosure displays the G logo and a small white access LED.
On the bottom, the enclosure houses an impressive heatsink, while the back of the unit accomodates all of the ports: USB 3.0, twin FireWire ports, and a power input. Next to the power input, Hitachi includes a power switch which allows users to fully shut down the device (otherwise USB 3.0 still draws some power).
As with the G-Drive mini, the 4TB doesn't support Thunderbolt, though that's not a huge concern given that Thunderbolt doesn't provide a performance enhancement to hard drives. On the other hand, the new Macs likely to be paired with this drive support USB 3.0. USB 3.0 has transfer rates that outperform the rates most consumer desktops and laptops can reach or demand, so few people will be turned off by the lack of Thunderbolt connectivity.
- G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB (Hitachi Deskstar 7k4000, 7200RPM, USB 3.0)
- LaCie Blade Runner 4TB (Seagate Barracuda XT, 7200RPM, USB 3.0)
- Western Digital My Book Essential (4TB Hitachi Deskstar 5k4000, 5400RPM, USB 3.0)
- Seagate GoFlex Desk 4TB (Seagate Barracuda XT, 7200RPM, Thunderbolt)
Using our consumer test platform, we measured transfer speeds from the G-DRIVE 4TB utilizing its USB 3.0 interface. Sequential read and write speeds measured 163MB/s and 162.8MB/s respectively, while random large-block transfers measured 64MB/s read and 65MB/s write. For bulk storage and routine backup, the G-DRIVE 4TB is more than sufficient. For those who might need more performance from a hard drive based solution, Hitachi also offers an 8TB dual-drive solution in the G-RAID Thunderbolt family.
By comparison, the G-DRIVE has competitive sequential read and write numbers while outpacing its rivals in large-block random testing. The LaCie Blade Runner posts 177MB/s sequential read and 176MB/s sequential write test speeds with large-block random access at 57.3MB/s for reads and 46.3MB/s for writes. The Western Digital My Book Essential posts 128.4MB/s sequential read speeds and write speeds of 128.3MB/s with large-block random access speeds at 50.3MB/s read and 50.2MB/s write. The Seagate GoFlex Desk, measured over Thunderbolt, posts 170.9MB/s sequential read and 170.6MB/s sequential write speeds with large-block random access at 55.6MB/s for reads and 44.9MB/s for writes. The G-DRIVE benefits from the fast drive inside enabling it to post significantly better random large-block numbers than its competition.
The HGST G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB has robust capacity coupled with the performance of a top 7,200RPM hard drive. That combination produced top numbers in large-block random access testing, and its sequential read and write numbers also stood up to the competition.
Providing USB 3.0 connectivity is a strong update for this model which comes formatted for Mac. The G-DRIVE's design is also amongst the best we've reviewed - it's modern, compact, and well-constructed. The case is a bit more cumbersome than others to remove because of screws and a tight fit, but is otherwise stellar and most people won't be taking it apart anyway. If we're to complain much at all, the premium for the G-DRIVE enclosure over the bare drive is a touch higher than some competing devices, but overall it's a complete package ready to go out of the box with all cables needed.
- High-end enclosure design
- 7,200 RPM hard drive inside
- Included cables
- No Thunderbolt
The G-Technology G-DRIVE 4TB delivers performance with a sleek yet rugged appearance easily paired with Macs. It carries a premium pricetag, but the G-DRIVE makes up for that with its elegance and top-notch performance.