Mac and Windows people don’t often meet on common ground, at least in regards to hard drives, file systems, and transfer technology, but G-Technology’s mobile drive might just offer a common denominator, catering to both the USB 3.0 of the PC world, and the Thunderbolt found on Macs.
If you have both a Mac and a Windows PC in your office or home, chances are you’re all too aware how much fun it is to move files between them.
At home, my fiancee has a Mac, whereas I’m more of a PC person. At work, that same problem rears its head, as my main computer for review writing is that Windows computer, and yet almost all the computers in the workplace are made by Apple.
While network attached storage can help with this, it doesn’t always have the speed that a USB or Thunderbolt port might have, and when it comes to hard drive or thumb drives, you generally have to rely on one or the other, but not always.
Case in point, G-Tech’s G-Drive Mobile, which is 1 terabyte drive that makes it possible for either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt to connect to its 1024 gigs of storage with ease, and without an extra power dongle.
In principle, it’s not an overly complicated device: it’s a portable hard drive with a 2.5 inch 7200 RPM drive inside, with two connectors for you to use: USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.
That’s it, and in the box, you’ll even find cables for each, which is a nice touch, since while we’re used to seeing a USB 3.0 inclusion with a hard drive, Thunderbolt cables are generally optional, and not all Thunderbolt drive purchases come with one included, which is something we’ve seen on some of G-Tech’s own drives.
We’re keen to a 7200 RPM drive also, as that extra amount of speed will make a big difference for people loading large files, especially when most portable drives on the market use the lower 5400 drives.
In the hands, the G-Technology mobile drive is about the same size as hard drives from a year or two ago — a little bigger, if we’re being completely honest — covered in a casing that’s cold and solid enough to feel like aluminium, though it does pick up scuff marks a little too easily and more like plastic.
Like most hard drives, the G-Drive Mobile is light enough to be taken with you in a backpack or messenger bag, but heavier than some of the slimline portables out on the market today. If your data is critical, we probably don’t have to tell you that bringing this, regardless of a few extra grams, is totally worth it.
With two ports available, this mobile G-Drive will work for those of you with just USB 3.0, just Thunderbolt, or a combination of both, with the latter of these something only recent Mac users will have access to, but the importance of having both transfer ports is that G-Technology isn’t singling any specific operating system out to use the technology (there are only a handful of Windows computers supporting Thunderbolt).
Speed-wise, the ports operate at similar speeds, though as we watched our tests work, we couldn’t help but feel Thunderbolt edged USB 3.0 out, just enough, offering slightly faster read and write speeds as a 5GB file was tested in the Blackmagic Disk Test.
In a real world test, there’s a big difference, though it’s one that will likely only bother those where speed is the biggest priority.
Moving a 2GB file, we found the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile managed a mere 19 seconds over Thunderbolt with a 2013 iMac, with USB 3.0 on that same computer and same file netting a 48 second time.
Regardless of what port you’re using, that’s less than 30 seconds per gigabyte, with speeds that will satisfy anyone with a need to move large files over, such as those creative types who just happen to have big files with them.
Obviously those with Thunderbolt are getting the better sustained speeds, but thanks to the USB 3.0, Windows users will see fast speeds, too, and there’s even some backwards compatibility for computers with only USB 2.0 (they won’t get the USB 3.0 speeds, but will still be able to use the hard drive, so that’s something).
There are a few other drives that do this too, mind you, with LaCie having one encased in orange rubber, but we haven’t tested that one.
What we can say, however, is that this setup — USB 3 and Thunderbolt on a portable drive — makes so much sense, and if you’re like us and you have both Windows and Mac in your environment, it’s worth looking into.
G-Technology’s G-Drive Mobile can be found now in stores.