By Barry Goch
When I was asked to review the G-Technology G-Speed Shuttle SSD drive, I was very excited. I’ve always had great experiences with G-Tech and was eager to try out this product with my MSI 17.3-inch GT73VR Titan PC laptop… and this is where the story gets interesting.
I’ve been a Mac fan for years. I’ve owned Macs going back to the Mac Classic in the ‘90s. But a couple of years ago I reached a tipping point. My 17-inch MacBook Pro didn’t have the horsepower to support VR video, and I was looking to upgrade to a new Mac. But when I started looking deeper, comparing specifications and performance, specifically looking to harness the power of industry-leading GPUs for Adobe Premiere with its VR capabilities, I bought the MSI Titan VR because it shipped with the Nvidia GTX1070 graphics card.
The laptop is a beast and has all the power and portability I needed but couldn’t find in a Mac laptop at the time. I wanted to give you my Mac-to-PC background before we jump in, because to be clear: The G-Speed Shuttle SSD will provide the best performance when used with Thunderbolt 3 Macs. That doesn’t mean it won’t be great on a PC; it just won’t be as good as when used on a Mac.
G-Tech makes the PC configuration software easy to find on their website… and easy to use. I did find, though, that I could only configure the drive NTFS with RAID-5 on the PC. But, I was also able to speed test the G-Speed Shuttle SSD as a Mac-formatted drive on the PC, as well as using MacDrive that enables Mac drive formatting and mounting.
We actually reached out to G-Tech, which is a Western Digital brand, about the Mac vs. PC equation. This is what Matthew Bennion, director of product line management at G-Technology said: “Western Digital is committed to providing high-speed, reliable storage solutions to both PC and Mac power users. G Utilities, formatted for Windows computers, is constantly being added to more of our products, including most recently our G-Speed Shuttle products. The addition of G Utilities makes our full portfolio Windows-friendly.”
The packaging of the G-Speed Shuttle SSD is very clean and well laid out. There is a parts box that has the Thunderbolt cable, power cable and instructions. Underneath the perfectly formed plastic box insert, wrapped in a plastic bag, was the drive itself. The drive has a lightweight polycarbonate chassis. I was surprised how light it was when I pulled it out of the box.
There are four drive bays, each with an SSD drive. The first things I noticed was the drive’s weight and sound — it’s very lightweight for so much storage, and it’s very quiet with no spinning disks. SSDs run quieter, cooler and uses less power than traditional spinning disks. I think this would be a perfect companion for a DIT looking for a fast, lightweight and low-power-consumption RAID for doing dailies.
I used the drive with Red RAW files inside of Resolve and RedCine-X. I set up a transcode project to make Avid offline files that the G-Speed Shuttle SSD handled muscularly. I left the laptop running overnight working on the files on more than one occasion and didn’t have any issues with the drive at all.
The main shortcoming of using a PC setup using the G-Shuttle is the lack of ability to create Apple ProRes codec QuickTime files. I’ve become accustomed to working with ProRes files created with my Blackmagic Ursa Mini camera, and PCs read those files fine. If you’re delivering to YouTube or Vimeo, it’s not a big deal. It is a bit of an obstacle if you need to deliver ProRes. For this review, I worked around this by rendering out a DPX sequence to the Mac-formatted G-Speed Shuttle SSD drive in Resolve (I also used Premiere) and made ProRes files using Autodesk Flame on my venerable 17-inch MacBook Pro. The Flame is the clear winner in quality of file delivery. So, yes, not being able to write ProRes is a pain, but there are ways around it. And, again, if you’re delivering just for the Web, it’s no big deal.
My main finding involves the speed of the drive on a PC. In their marketing material for the drive, G-Tech advertises a speed of 2880 MB/sec with Thunderbolt 3. Using the AJA speed test, I was able to get 1590MB/sec — a speed more comparable with Thunderbolt 2. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that using the G-Tech PC drive configuration program? I could only set up the drive as RAID-5, and not the faster RAID-0 or RAID-1. I did also run speed tests on the Mac-formatted G-Speed Shuttle SSD and I found similar speeds. I am certain that if I had a newer Thunderbolt 3 Mac, I would have gotten speeds closer to their advertised Mac speed specifications.
Overall, I really liked the G-Speed Shuttle SSD. It looks cool on the desk, it’s lightweight and very quiet. I wish I didn’t have to give it back!
And the cost? It’s 16TB for $7499.95, and 8TB for $4999.95.
Barry Goch is a Finishing Artist at The Foundation and a Post Production Instructor at UCLA Extension. You can follow him on Twitter at @gochya.