GTech GDrive Mobile with Thunderbolt

We dig into the GTech GDrive Mobile ... and watch WORST tear-down vid OF ALL TIME

Portable 1TB USB 3.0 HDD with Thunderbolt to boot

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Enclosure disclosure... Plus: WTF - put DOWN the screwdriver!

While connecting using Thunderbolt on Mac OS X presented no problems, using Windows is a different story. On Boot Camp running Windows 8.1 and a Thunderbolt equipped PC with Windows 7, the drive wasn’t seen. However, it would work with USB 3.0. This didn’t seem to make sense.

ASMedia driver installation sorts out Windows woes with Thunderbolt

ASMedia driver installation sorts out Windows woes with Thunderbolt

Apple suggests turning off Fast Boot to fix Thunderbolt drive recognition problems in Windows 8, however, I’ve not found this to be a reliable remedy. So after a lot of poking around, I decided to run the driver available on the Elgato site. In the notes it mentions that it’s for an AS Media ASM 1061 controller and the GDrive has one too. With all else having failed, this seemed to be worth a shot and whaddya know? It worked too.

Testing on Windows 7 with an HP Zbook 17 also required the ASMedia driver installer to see the drive using Thunderbolt. Although the ZBook has its own Thunderbolt Manager, that could see the drive, it wouldn’t mount it unless the ASMedia driver was installed. Admittedly, GDrive supplies this formatted to HFS+ for Macs but if Thunderbolt is to catch on, it seems the drive makers need to test it on a few PCs equipped with the interface to iron out some of these issues.

Thunderbolt transfer rates on the Mac as shown in Activity Monitor

Thunderbolt transfer rates on the Mac as revealed in the Apple Activity Monitor utility

Although lacking a decent transfer rate benchmark utility for Mac (suggestions in comments welcome), I ran the Apple Activity Monitor and noted results of disc image copying from there. The figures were encouraging, typically around 144 to 151MB/s and peaking at 160MB/s.

Given the expense of Elgato’s Drive+ and yet the convenience of this dual interface enclosure, I wondered if the GDrive’s HDD could be substituted with an SSD. Could simply swapping media deliver a massive performance boost or did the GTech circuitry have bottlenecks?

GDrive mobile components

Easy once you know how: GTech Gdrive mobile laid bare – click for a larger image

First, there was the need to dismantle it and just to speed things along, I browsed on YouTube for some hints and discovered what is arguably the worst take-apart on the web – it doesn’t even have sound, except some cheesy music near the end. This poor GDrive didn’t stand a chance. Still, there were a few clues there on how not to do it.

Youtube Video – note all the bent bits after it's been whacked about with the screwdriver...

The dismantling wasn’t too much of a trial, the trickiest part being the inner chassis that needs some gentle prising to release it from the catches it clips over. In place of the HGST 1TB HDD, I used the same 480GB Intel 730 SSD from when I ran my Elgato tests.

Circuit board with hard drive in situ

GDrive mobile Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 circuit board with hard drive in situ – click for a larger image

Although the Intel 730 SSD is power hungry and unsuitable for portable use, it nonetheless delivered some tasty figures for what had now become a GTech GDrive enclosure. The speeds of around 330MB/s for USB 3.0 and 348MB/s for Thunderbolt aren’t exactly taxing the SSD’s potential transfer rates, but its Thunderbolt figures match the Elgato certainly beat it with much faster USB 3.0 performance.

OK, so I’m getting a bit carried away here, but a 512GB Elgato Drive+ does cost £760. When you consider a 512GB SSD can be had for £245, the temptation to see if the GDrive could manage a similar portable performance for a total cost of just over half the price was irresistible. That said, Thunderbolt enclosures do exist and a dual drive model from Startech has just turned up for testing, so watch this space.

GTech GDrive Mobile with Thunderbolt

USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, if you can afford it

The Reg Verdict

The words “Thunderbolt” and “expensive” never seem to be very far apart and it has to be said that there are plenty of 1TB USB 3.0 drives available for £50-£60. So paying three times that amount for Thunderbolt connectivity with a slightly more expensive 7200RPM hard disk drive inside doesn’t seem to add up. Yet, as stated earlier, Thunderbolt appeared on Macs for at least a year before USB 3.0 was supported, so this GTech GDrive Mobile does have some practical advantages. Whether you’ll be willing to pay over the odds for such, even with a Thunderbolt cable thrown in, is another matter. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

 GTech GDrive Mobile with Thunderbolt

We dig into the GTech GDrive Mobile ... and watch WORST tear-down vid OF ALL TIME

Host-powered portable 1TB HDD with Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfacing with cables.
Price: £168 (1TB) RRP

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story


Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.