So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Hitachi G-Drive Mini external hard drive
A fast, portable external HDD with FireWire and USB 2.0
- Fast transfer speeds for an external drive
- Plenty of connection options
- High price at RRP
- Bulky enclosure
Hitachi's G-Drive Mini is aimed at users who need a portable drive but don't want to sacrifice performance. Inside is a reasonably speedy 7200RPM 500GB drive: not as quick as an SSD, but faster than the majority of external drives on the market. If your laptop has FireWire 800 the G-Drive Mini is a great external drive, but using USB 2.0 doesn't reveal its full performance.
Price$ 169.95 (AUD)
Hitachi’s G-Drive Mini is aimed at Mac users: its styling takes some cues from the unibody MacBook Pro, and its complement of FireWire 800 alongside USB 2.0 ports suits long-time Mac aficionados. It’ll still work on a Windows computer, of course, and its 7200RPM internal drive speed means it’s able to offer good transfer speeds (although USB 2.0 isn’t fast enough to show it off).
Hitachi G-Drive Mini: Design and features
The G-Drive Mini looks different to the G-Drive Slim, which was designed to be as thin as possible (as you’d expect). The aluminium finish is the same, but the Mini has a swiss-cheese perforated shell and a finned heatsink on the base, looking like a smaller version of the full-size G-Drive. The enclosure is relatively tall and slightly bulky for a 2.5in laptop enclosure.
Around the back of the drive, you’ll find a pair of FireWire 800 ports — one for connecting to your laptop or PC, and another to daisy-chain another FireWire device if needed. There’s also a mini USB 2.0 connector as a backup. A 12V power supply port is built into the back along with a power switch, but bafflingly no power supply is included. We can understand including a connector for external power for any situation where a laptop’s USB port isn’t able to supply enough power, but you’ll need to purchase a power supply separately. We do appreciate the inclusion of a power switch.
Hitachi G-Drive Mini: Performance and specifications
The hard drive inside the Hitachi G-Drive Mini is a 7200RPM SATA-II model with a 16MB cache — it’s the Travelstar 7K500. When it was originally released it was a high-performance drive amongst 2.5in models, but it has been around since mid-2010 and we’d be certain of better performance from a drive like the Seagate Momentus XT, if only it were available in an external configuration.
The Hitachi G-Drive Mini is more than fast enough to hit the maximum throughput of USB 2.0, maintaining an average read rate of 33.2MB/sec in our testing. Writing was marginally slower at 29.0MB/sec. Read access time was an unexciting 17.3ms. FireWire 800 produced better results with read speeds of 69.7MB/sec and write speeds of 55.3MB/sec. This is not as fast as an eSATA drive might produce, but most eSATA ports are not powered and therefore aren’t practical for portable use.
We’ll update this review with a graph of our results over FireWire 800 soon.
We think the Hitachi G-Drive Mini gives good performance over FireWire 800, and the best performance that can be expected over USB 2.0. It would make a good portable scratch disk for bandwidth-heavy programs like Adobe Photoshop or Premiere.
Hitachi G-Drive Mini: Conclusion
Hitachi’s G-Drive Mini may come in a slightly bulky enclosure, but its performance over FireWire 800 is enough to put it significantly ahead of any USB 2.0 drive. Newer laptops would be better served with a powered eSATA or USB 3.0 external drive, but older and newer Mac laptops (and desktops) could make good use of the G-Drive Mini.
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