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    TUAW test-drives the G-RAID mini portable RAID storage system

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    G-Technology makes some of the better pro storage products we've tested in the past, and the company provided us with a new 2 TB G-RAID mini (US$449.95) portable RAID system. This is quite the powerhouse for those who need fast, portable storage, including USB 3.0 and FireWire 800 interfaces as well as a pair of 7200-RPM hard drives.

    Design

    This is one drive that you won't worry about getting scratched up on the inside of your equipment bag while out on a video shoot. The diminutive drive, which measures just 5.88" x 3.25" x 1.5" (149 x 83 x 38 mm), is wrapped in a practically bulletproof aluminum casing. That aluminum adds a bit of heft to the 2.2 pound (1 kg) case, but helps in terms of dissipating heat through the integrated heat sink. There's also a cooling fan built into the bottom of the case.

    Gallery: G-Technology G-RAID mini | 5 Photos

    On the back of the drive you'll find three ports -- two are FireWire 800 ports that can also be used with an included FW 800 to 400 cable with Macs that only support the slower standard, and one is a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port. For our benchmarks, I used the USB 3.0 port and included cable as my MacBook Pro with Retina display does not include a FireWire port. When using FireWire, the drive is bus-powered; when connected via USB 3.0, it requires the included AC adapter for power. The company also provides a nice leatherette carrying case for the drive.

    If you don't need a full 2 TB of RAID storage, you might want to consider the 1 TB model that sells for $249.95. The drives can be used in either RAID 0 (striped set for performance) or RAID 1 (mirrored set for redundancy) mode, but realize that your usable storage in RAID 1 will be one-half of the installed storage amount -- in other words, the 2 TB array would be used as two 1 TB mirrored drives in RAID 1.

    Functionality and Benchmarks

    When I first took the drive out of its box and connected it to my test machine, it was obvious that another tech blogger had been testing the G-RAID mini. A proprietary bandwidth benchmark was on the drive, so I went into Disk Utility and reformatted the drive. I wanted to test the G-RAID mini in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations, but could not get G-Technology's RAID Configurator application to run without crashing repeatedly on my machine running OS X 10.8.4. The most recent version of this app is three years old; it's time for G-Technology to update it.

    I tried to set up RAID 0 using Disk Utility, but was unable to do so. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that one of the two drives in the casing had gone bad and I was just seeing one, as the only drive visible in all utilities was just one 1 TB unit. That being said, all results you see here for benchmarks are measuring essentially a single-drive unit.

    The results of 21 runs of the AJA System Test "Disk Whack" read/write test indicated an average write speed of 125.8 MB/s, with an average read speed of 122.7 MB/s. This benchmark indicates that the G-RAID mini is faster in both read and write operations than two other drives we've tested, a Western Digital WDC1001FALS-40U9B0 that measured in at 90.3 and 94.7 MB/s respectively on write and read speeds, and faster than G-Technology's own G-Drive Mobile at 86.0 and 103.6 MB/s.

    The G-RAID mini paled in comparison to the Seagate STBV30000100 drive we tested last November, which topped the charts with an average write speed of 171.5 MB/s and read speed of 170.7 MB/s. But for the most part, the G-RAID mini on USB 3.0 is faster than just about all FireWire 800 drives we've tested over the years.

    Conclusion

    The G-RAID mini is a sturdy, small and solid RAID array. Unfortunately, it appeared that the unit we tested had only one working drive, and the RAID Configurator app is not compatible with OS X 10.8.4. I would highly recommend that if you're interested in this array, you purchase one and do your own testing. G-Technology's warranty provides a 30-day return policy, provided that you return the device with all cables and in the original packaging in salable condition.

    Pros

    • Very solid construction
    • Dual interface design with USB 3.0 SuperSpeed and FireWire 800
    • Quite portable

    Cons

    • RAID Configurator application is out of date
    • Not bus-powered when connected via USB 3.0
    • Price is quite high; if you can put up with the extra weight, there are many larger RAID units that are available for much less

    Who is it for?

    • The video or photography professional who needs a compact and light RAID array for work in the field.
    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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