G-Technology and Hitachi make a durable RAID for pros and home. (December 19th, 2010)
G-Technology has stepped up its storage plans ever since Hitachi took ownership, and the G Speed Q is no exception. The 8TB RAID drive looks great on paper, boasting enough power to handle some pro features for audiovisual editors but just a low enough price to serve as a high-end home storage server. Read through our G Speed Q review to see just how well it works.
Product Manufacturer: G-Technology
Price: $349 (2TB), $899 (4TB), $1,499 (8TB)
- Up to 8TB of space.
- eSATA, FireWire 800 and USB ports.
- Enterprise-grade hard drives.
- Good performance on USB if needed.
- Cross-platform Mac, Windows support.
- Long warranty.
- Expensive for personal use.
- RAID software not working on Windows 7 as of writing.
- Windows XP limited to 2TB version.
Hardware and design
The G Speed Q carries as four hot-swappable Hitachi Ultrastar "enterprise-class" SATA hard drives, each spinning at 7,200RPM and designed to withstand constant use. With four disk drives, a RAID controller, cooling fans, and an internal power supply, the G Speed Q weighs in at a whopping 12.5 pounds but is reasonably sized considering the amount of hardware inside the case. Both RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 5 (parity) are supported by the G Speed Q, which for a four-bay drive (where RAID 1 wouldn't work).
Befitting its role, the array is very flexible for connections and supports USB, eSATA, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800. One of each data cables is included with the G Speed Q along with some additional mounting screws and the keys needed to unlock the hot-swappable drives. In addition to power and data connectivity, there is also a Kensington lock port and a power switch on the back of the device. Our only wish for links would be Ethernet, but NAS would definitely boost the price.
Anyone familiar with G-Technology's frequently Mac-oriented single drives will be familiar with the design and build of the G Speed Q, which is conspicuously solid. The unit is housed in a plastic but study design, and each drive has an LED that shines blue when everything is operational. Even with the giant cooling fan and the four high performance hard drives the G Speed Q is whisper quiet, which may be a relief for those who have the array on the desk.
Our test unit was a fully equipped 8TB model of the G Speed Q; there are 2TB and 4TB versions if your requirements are more modest. Before we begin, a disclaimer: Windows XP doesn't recognize storage devices this large due to its inherent file system support, and we were only able to access the first 2TB of storage with Windows XP. We did some additional testing with a Windows 7 computer and, as you might expect, could fully access the entire capacity of the device. Unfortunately we couldn't reformat the RAID settings because the RAID controller software from G-Technology is not yet functional on Windows 7. Our testing was done with a RAID 0 performance configuration in place. A Mac OS X version of the RAID configuration software is available.
The Windows 7 computer we tested the G Speed Q with has 4GB of RAM and a relatively modest AMD Athlon II 240e processor clocked at 2.8GHz; we'd expect slightly better performance on a faster system, but not by a wide margin. We were limited in terms of connectivity options and could only test through USB 2.0, though for now this is still a realistic condition. Our test software was the 64-bit version of Crystal Disk Mark 3.0, where we ran a 1GB sequential read-write test five times. The G Speed Q had data transfer rates of roughly 30MB per second while the internal disk drive of our test PC had transfer rates of roughly 114MB per second; clearly, the drive in a RAID stripe is more bandwidth-limited than the processor.
For a more subjective test, we copied several gigabytes of music files to and from the drive to get a more real-world test that focuses on smaller files and we were impressed with how quickly the files copied even on the slower interface, suggesting that there's still an advantage in having the drives striped even if you use the basic USB connection.
The G Speed Q is priced at $349 for a 2TB edition, $899 for the 4TB model and $1,499 for the 8TB version. All three models come standard with a three year warranty and support as well as the same features, so the only real determining factors are the amount of storage you need and the price can afford. If you're on a USB 2.0-only system, you may want to avoid buying more than you absolutely need and roll the savings into an eSATA or FireWire card. Mac users usually won't have this issue.
There is certainly a price to be paid for high quality storage devices; at the low end, cheaper drives exist if you're just looking for personal backup or expansion. Still, G-Technology has really delivered with this unit. The G Speed Q delivers a great combination of long-lasting drives and good performance. If you live or die on an external RAID for tools like Adobe Premiere or Apple Logic, this can easily be a go-to choice.