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Review: G-Tech G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt

Dockable drives double as desktop and pocket storage: That's the value proposition of this 2TB, $750 RAID system.

Repeat this phrase three times: Dockable drives double as desktop and pocket storage.

Got it? That’s the essence of the G-Technology G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt.

Form Factor

The G-Dock ev is a desktop two-bay docking chassis, labeled EV because it is part of G-Technology’s Evolution Series. The G-Dock ev measures just under 8 inches long, 5” wide, and 3.5” high, encased in the brushed aluminum that screams “Mac-compatible product to sit alongside your Mac Mini, iMac, or even the older-style Mac Pro and not be aesthetically out of sorts.”

Speaking of the dual dockable drives, which G-Technology refers to as a G-Drive EV, each one is removable and doubles as pocket storage, or standalone drives. Since they house 2.5” wide 1 TB drives, the dockable drive enclosures are 3.5” wide, the typical size of any pocket 2.5” hard drive enclosure.

If you remove one of the two G-Drives, and turn it on its side, the height of the G-Dock chassis is the same as the width of the G-Drive. What’s more, if you hold one of the removable drives parallel to the G-Dock ev at either end of the G-Dock chassis, the removable drive’s surface is the same as the chassis’ surface (width and height). Okay, I know it’s geeky to point that out, but I like good design, and someone apparently thought through the dimensions of the G-Dock ev.

The removable drives are also the same style as the chassis, with perforated “vent” holes along the sides that mimic the front of the G-Dock ev chassis. Using USB 3 SuperSpeed connectors, each removable drive can be connected directly to a computer’s USB 3 connector (Figure 1, below).

Figure 2. Connecting via USB 3.0.

We did our testing with a 2012 Mac Mini and a 2013 MacBook Air. You’ll see the results of each a bit later in this review.

Connectivity

We’ve mentioned both Thunderbolt and USB 3 SuperSpeed connectors, but to clarify completely, only the removable G-Drives themselves have USB 3 connectivity.

The G-Dock ev chassis has a fairly spartan backplane (Figure 2, below), with the power button, a slot for a Kensington lock, the power adapter connector, and two Thunderbolt connectors.

Figure 3. The G-Dock ev’s spartan backplane.

Via the Thunderbolt connectors, which are first-generation 10 Gbps bi-directional connectors, it’s possible to daisychain one G-Dock ev chassis to another one, up to six total for a storage total of 12 TB since each drive holds 1 TB of storage.

You can also daisychain a monitor into the mix, but it is a recommended best practice to only put a mini DisplayPort- or Thunderbolt-equipped monitor at the end of the daisychain of devices.

In addition to the USB 3 SuperSpeed connector on the G-Drive modules, a dust cover hides the SATA connector necessary to dock a G-Drive into a G-Dock (Figure 3, below). The dust cover isn’t retractable, only removable, so we found we had to keep track of the small plastic dust cover if we hoped to protect the G-Drive if we threw one in a bag to carry to a remote location.

gdock1

Figure 3. SATA port dust cover removed.

The SATA connector, which aligns with the backplane of the G-Dock, is the same SATA connector found on most 2.5” drives, and contains both the power and data portions of the SATA interface. The alignment of the SATA connector is a bit offset from normal drives, to accommodate the USB 3 SuperSpeed and SATA connectors on the back of the G-Drive module. The upshot of this alignment means that one can’t drop a standard SATA drive into the slot in a pinch, as the drives don’t align. Not that most people would even think to do this, but we’ve had odd in-field situations where we’ve needed to temporarily access a bare drive, for which we carry an additional SATA-to-USB connector.

To extract a G-Drive from the G-Dock, simply push on the release connector located to the right of either slot on the G-Dock ev.

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