At A Glance: Blazing Speeds

I’ve been editing with G-RAIDs from G-Technology for quite a few years now. They have always represented good value for the money, but the models I’ve used in the past were pretty much relegated to USB and FireWire 800 interface models. Enter Thunderbolt, the new Intel interface that Apple began adding to their laptops back in early 2011. I recently had a chance to try out G-Technology’s latest iteration of their G-RAID with Thunderbolt on an actual project.

The G-RAID with Thunderbolt lineup presently consists of two models, a 4 TB and an 8 TB RAID. I put the 4 TB model through its paces, editing a four-camera shoot of a live concert performance my company recently shot for musician Rain Perry’s new album, Men. The concert was shot on various cameras—a GoPro, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS Rebel T3i, and a Panasonic AG-HPX170. All footage was converted from native formats to Apple’s ProRes LT. According to Apple, each stream of 720p ProRes LT at 23.98 fps requires 41 Mbps. Since I had four cameras to work with, I needed a drive that would provide me with a minimum of 164 Mbps throughput.

The box includes the G-RAID enclosure, a power adapter and an installation guide. There has been grumbling because drive manufacturers don’t include a Thunderbolt cable with their drives, but this seems to be the industry standard and not unique to G-Technology. The Thunderbolt interface requires some active electronics contained within the cable and that makes the cables relatively expensive. A quick trip to the local Apple Store remedied this issue for a mere $39.99.

The G-RAID with Thunderbolt comes Mac-preformatted, so all you need to do is hook it up, transfer your media to it and begin editing. It’s also worth mentioning that the G-RAID with Thunderbolt is formatted for RAID 0. Each housing contains two physical drives, which are raided together. The upside is that RAID 0 is the fastest RAID format. The downside is that RAID 0 features no redundant backup. If either drive in the RAID experiences a problem or goes down, all data is lost. As long as you use a RAID 0 drive with all of your data backed up to secondary drives, you’re safe if it crashes, although you’ll have downtime to retransfer and rebuild a project from your backups.

The G-RAID with Thunderbolt is fast and as simple to use as any other external single drive, but more expensive than USB 3.0 drives. With a list price of $599.95, the 4 TB version ends up costing just $150 per TB of storage. If you go for the 8 TB version, that cost goes down to just $100 per TB.

But let’s get back to fast. In comparison, my own single-drive FireWire 800 G-Tech drive benchmarks on my MacBook Pro, using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, at around 60 Mbps read and write. How fast was the 4 TB G-RAID? How about real-world numbers of 246 Mbps read and 248 Mbps write speeds! While the edit isn’t yet finished for the concert, so far the G-RAID has worked well, renders are very fast, and it effortlessly supports four streams of 720p 23.98 ProRes LT, with plenty of throughput to spare.

G-Technology’s G-RAID with Thunderbolt is impressive. Sure, there are faster Thunderbolt RAIDs out there, but they’re larger, more expensive and more complex to set up and manage. This drive is perfect for the laptop editor who needs truly high-speed throughput in a small, simple and inexpensive package.

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For more information about the G-RAID lineup, visit www.g-technology.com.

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