Computers / Hands-on Review

In the Field: G-Technology's G-SPEED Shuttle with Thunderbolt™ 3

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Creatives have relied on G-Technology’s storage solutions for years. I have a few sitting on my desk right now, and they seem to keep getting better. The latest release is the G-SPEED Shuttle with Thunderbolt™ 3, a much more transportable option than the previously released XL model. This is meant for users who need to bring serious storage on location, or simply to different locations, and desire top speed and security for their jobs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as an everyday carry drive—it does weigh 16 lb fully loaded, making a trek through busy city streets and onto public transportation a little more difficult, but it is still quite impressive that it was possible to create a storage solution like this one.

Upon plugging it into my 27" iMac (Mid 2017), the first thing I noticed was how loud it could be. I shouldn’t have been too surprised, because it has four Enterprise Class 3.5" 7200 rpm hard drives inside. More sound damping would be appreciated, especially if you aim to use it as a working drive that you keep on your desk while editing. Besides this, getting set up could not have been easier. The drive is pre-formatted for macOS and is supported by the latest versions, including High Sierra, so I encountered no hiccups or need for extra software. I simply plugged it into a Thunderbolt 3 port and was off.

G-Tech G-SPEED Shuttle TB3
G-Tech USB 3.0 External Drive
SSD USB 3.1 Gen 1 External Enclosure

Out of the box, it comes configured as RAID 5, and I saw no need to stray from this setup because it offers a good balance of protection and speed. In a RAID 0 setup, I would expect to hit a theoretical maximum of 1000 MB/s, so RAID 5 should be close to 750 MB/s, and in my testing, it came darned close, at 720 MB/s. This was impressive for writing to the drive, though it appears there is some delay with the RAID controller because the read speeds were a bit lower, at around 500 MB/s. For comparison’s sake, I also tested a standard USB 3.0 External Hard Drive and found read/write speeds of about 130 MB/s—significantly lower, as expected. And, simply because it was already plugged in, I tested an SSD I have in an external enclosure, which rated a modest 100 MB/s write speed but a very good 500 MB/s read. Overall, none of these numbers are too surprising, but it is nice to see that the rated speed is very close to what is specified by the manufacturer. If you need some more speed, you can always switch the hardware RAID controller over to RAID 0 using the included software.

I loaded some footage and photos from my Nikon D850 review to see how it holds up during actual use, and I was impressed. One issue I had when working on that article was with the 8K time-lapse footage and files; these are massive files that require a lot of bandwidth, and to get real-time playback I needed to load them up onto my iMac’s internal SSD. On the G-SPEED Shuttle, however, the files loaded quickly and played smoothly, a noticeable improvement over my current setup. Fortunately, I don’t exactly do 8K time lapses all the time, but I could see this being an important purchase, going forward, because files sizes continue to grow and resolutions are ever sharpening. Also, if you want to get into 360° or virtual reality work, you are going to need to wrangle even larger quantities of data simultaneously. As for working with a standard 4K video project, with three tracks in DaVinci Resolve, the operation was great, just what you would expect from a setup like this.

Drive removal

Now let’s talk about operation and parts. The G-SPEED Shuttle is a 4-bay RAID array and, as such, you will occasionally want to remove and replace some hard drives. The G-SPEED Shuttle is incredibly easy to use when it comes to this aspect—you simply pop open the front door, press the intuitive release button on the drive and slide it out. Sliding it back in is just as easy; everything lines up perfectly and you don’t need to think about it. I should also mention that there are two models of the G-SPEED Shuttle, one with four hard drives and one that features two ev bay adapters and two hard drives. This may be helpful on professional film sets and for other users who want to use this drive as working storage. I would consider the model with ev bay adapters because I could use it to transfer footage from an Atomos Master Caddy using the dedicated G-Technology ev|Series Reader for Atomos Master Caddys, or simply install a CFast 2.0 Reader for easier offload.

Overall, I was very impressed with G-Technology’s latest storage solution. The G-SPEED Shuttle is an excellent choice for creative professionals. It has a solid feel and heft, which makes me feel very confident, though it manages to remain very transportable, thanks to a built-in handle and condensed design. It also features Thunderbolt 3, the latest and fastest interface that is commercially available and, with a second Thunderbolt 3 port, you can daisy-chain up to five more devices, including a 4K display. This is going to be a tough-to-beat option if you need high-end performance from your hard drives.

Is the G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle an appealing option for your workstation? Join the conversation and express your opinion below!

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