As you would expect from an aluminium-shelled, premium product, build quality is almost flawless, with some slightly sharp edges being the only very minor niggle. At 23.5cm, this drive is also noticeably longer than most. Opening the drive up (which is easily achieved by unscrewing six cross-head screws but will void your warranty) reveals why: not only has G-tech left a large space in front of the drive, the controller board is also larger than most to accommodate the various connectivity-tech it supports.
Our G-Drive Q happens to be the 1TB (1,000GB) version, though 500GB, 750GB and even 1.5TB capacities are also available. The actual hard drive used is Samsung’s Spinpoint F1, which supports SATA 3.0, runs at 7,200rpm and has a 32MB cache. After formatting, you’re left with about 931GB of usable hard drive space.
The Spinpoint F1 seems to be a generally good performer and certainly doesn’t appear to be held back by the external enclosure. Comparing the G-Drive Q’s read performance over eSATA with the recently-reviewed Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB on SATA, the G-Drive consistently outperforms it with a minimum 5MB per second lead in the HDTune Pro benchmark.
Write performance is less impressive: the G-Drive has a stronger minimum transfer rate, but on average WD’s drive beat it by about 2MB per second. General USB performance, meanwhile, is fairly average with a 23MB per second average read speed and writes coming in at 17.5MB per second.
But now we come to the one factor that might hold many back from buying this drive; the price. Naturally you would expect to pay a premium for the aluminium construction and distinctive styling, but quite how much of one may shock some, since at just over £230 this is one expensive piece of kit. To put things in perspective, £150 will get you a 2TB Lacie external drive these days. Although this uses two 1TB hard drives and only offers USB connectivity, that’s £80 less for twice the storage.
For Apple MacBook owners, who are still left out in the cold when it comes to eSATA, FireWire 800 is probably the most important connection since it’s the fastest they have available to them. Either way, if you’re after ‘quad’ connectivity, Buffalo Drivestation Combo4, Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition or Seagate Freeagent Xtreme models offer FireWire, USB and eSATA at 1TB capacities for around £140. For roughly £10 more than the G-Drive Q’s asking price, you can even get the quad-interface 2TB raid-enabled and pre-Mac formatted WD Mybook Studio Edition II, with a guarantee that lets you replace the hard disks inside at will.
If you have the money, G-Tech’s passively-cooled aluminium-shelled 1TB G-Drive Q is one of the better-built external drives on the market. But when you can get big-brand alternatives with equal storage and connectivity for £90 less, or even twice the capacity with more flexibility for a mere £10 extra, it’s not exactly good value.
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