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G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt review: G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt

G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
6 min read

The G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt is the third dual-bay Thunderbolt drive I've reviewed and compared with the other two, the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo and the LaCie 2big, it's the fastest one. Unfortunately, it's also the most expensive, costing some $700 for 4TB (or $850 and $1,000 for the 6TB and 8TB, respectively), and the only one that doesn't allow users to replace its internal hard drive.


G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt

The Good

The good-looking <b>G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt</b> is very fast for a dual-bay external drive of its type. The drive supports RAID 0 and RAID.

The Bad

The G-RAID with Thunderbolt is comparatively expensive among similarly configured devices. Its hard drives are not user-serviceable, and like all Thunderbolt drives, it doesn't come with a Thunderbolt cable or support any other connection types.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, the G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt makes a decent investment for Mac owners who have the funds for a fast storage solution.

Other than that, the latest addition in the Thunderbolt storage ecosystem is overall very similar to the rest: fast, expensive, supports only Thunderbolt connections, and doesn't include a much-needed Thunderbolt cable, which costs another $50.

That said, if you're in the market for a Thunderbolt-based storage device, the G-RAID with Thunderbolt is another decent investment among the limited amount of Thunderbolt storage options on the market.

Design and features

Drive type 3.5-inch-based dual-bay external hard drive
Connector options Thunderbolt
Size (WHD) 5.13 by 2.88 by 9.25 inches
Weight 5 lbs.
Available capacities 4TB, 6TB, 8TB
Capacity of test unit 8TB
OSes supported Mac OS 10.6.8 or later

The G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt bears the same design as other G-RAID drives; it's shaped like aluminum brick. The drive is shiny and is about as compact as an external drive that houses two 3.5-inch hard drives can be. It's also good-looking; similar to a Mac Pro desktop computer, just much smaller.

On the front, the drive has one large, square white light that shows the power status (solid white) and the activities of the hard drives on the inside (flashing white). On the back it has two Thunderbolt ports, a little ventilation fan, and a power button that you'll need to press and hold for a few seconds to turn the drive on or off.

The G-RAID is the second Thunderbolt drive I've worked with (the other is the Promise Pegasus R6) that comes with a power button. And you'll need this power button since, unlike the rest of the Thunderbolt drives, the G-RAID doesn't share the same power status as the computer to which it's plugged in. This means it will stay on even when the Mac is turned off and won't turn on by itself if the when the connected Mac is powered on.

The two Thunderbolt ports mean that it can be used in a daisy chain setup as any part of the chain. I tried it with a few other drives and it worked very well. Up to four other Thunderbolt devices can be used with the G-RAID to connect to one computer.

The two hard drives of the G-RAID come in a RAID 0 configuration, offering one single HFS+ volume that is the total of the two hard drives' capacities, which was 8TB in the case of my review unit. RAID 0 also allows for very high performance, but if one of the hard drives dies, you'll lose data on both. For data safety, you can use a Mac's Disk Utility to change the hard drives into a RAID 1 configuration, a process that took just a few seconds in my trials. In RAID 1, the drive offers just half of the total storage space.

Unfortunately, unlike the LaCie 2big or WD My Book Thunderbolt, the G-RAID's internal hard drive can't be replaced by the users (unless you want to dismantle the drive and risk not being able to put it back together properly). This means there's less appeal to use the hard drives in RAID 1 because if something happens to one of the hard drives, you'll need to call G-RAID anyway, and can't just replace the hard drive yourself.

There's nothing to setting up the G-RAID with Thunderbolt. Out of the box, the drive works immediately once plugged to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac running OS X 10.6.8 or later. You do need to turn it on via the power button on the back. The drive takes just a few seconds to boot up and be ready.

Performance and pricing
What shortcomings the G-RAID with Thunderbolt has above, it more than makes up for in performance.

In tests with other Thunderbolt drive, it's the second fastest, trailing behind just the Pegasus R6. In RAID 0, the drive scored some 254MBps when copying data from the R6. When copying data within itself from one place to another, it registered 121MBps. When I switched it to RAID 0 and repeated the same tests, it again was faster than any other dual-bay Thunderbolt drive, registering 154MBps and 74MBps, when copying from the R6 and within itself, respectively.

The drive was also impressive when it was set to copy data back and forth from our test machine, which is a MacBook Pro of late 2011 model that runs a top-speed solid-state drive. In RAID 0, it scored 193MBps in the write test, slightly slower than the Pegasus R6. In the read test, however, it scored 192MBps, topping the chart. When switched to RAID 1, it scored 147MBps for both write and read, no longer faster than the R6 but still faster than other dual-bay drives.

Overall, the G-RAID with Thunderbolt performed well in my testing. The drive did vibrate noticeably and was a little noisy during heavy loads. This won't be a matter, however, if you put it under the desk or on soft material, such as a piece of cloth.

What I found much bigger of a problem is the pricing. Comparatively, at $700 for 4TB (or $850 for 6TB) the G-RAID costs significantly more its peers. The WD My Book Thunderbolt, for example, costs just $550 for the 4TB and $650 for the 6TB. This is a difference that its top performance might not be able to justify.

Data transfer -- Thunderbolt vs. internal (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unit to unit  
Self read and write  
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 0)
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 5)
Plextor PX-256M2S
OCZ Vertex 3
G-RAID with Thunderbolt (RAID 0)
Crucial M4
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
OCZ Agility 3
Patriot WildFire
G-RAID with Thunderbolt (RAID 1)
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
Seagate Barracuda XT
WD VelociRapter 300GB

Data transfer -- Thunderbolt vs. external (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
G-RAID with Thunderbolt (RAID 0)
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
G-RAID with Thunderbolt (RAID 1)

Service and support
The length of the warranty is the most important thing for storage devices and G-RAID delivers, offering a three-year warranty, compared with a one- or two-year from others. At the company's Web site, you'll find a section dedicated to the drive where you can find all you need in terms of support.

While very fast and good-looking, the G-RAID with Thunderbolt's current high pricing will likely steer users to other contenders. For those who can afford it, however, it'll make a very good storage solution.


G-Tech G-RAID with Thunderbolt

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 9Support 6