We have grown accustomed to having fast solid–state drives inside our Macs but even though SSDs have become more affordble, they are still far costlier per gigabyte than traditional spinning hard drives. Anyone needing very capacious and reasonably quick external storage would do well to consider SanDisk’s G–Drive, which connects to your Mac using the bundled USB–C or USB–A cables. Like most larger spinning drives it requires wall power via the supplied adapter but one benefit of this is that the drive can supply 45W of Power Delivery when connected to your Mac over USB–C. This is enough to charge even the largest MacBook Pro, albeit slowly, or keep one topped up. And for smaller laptops charging will be quicker. Read our Western Digital G Drive 12TB Review.
WESTERN DIGITAL G-DRIVE 12TB
12TB model $ westerndigital.com
Features Up to 20TB of storage capacity, 5Gbps USB-C port, up to 45W Power Delivery (PD) to Mac
Needs macOS 10.12 or later, USB–C or USB–A
Lots of storage space
Bonus 45W PD is great
Fast enough for most tasks
No extra port for daisy chaining
The drive’s enclosure is finished to a high standard in aluminum and on the back, in addition to the power socket and USB–C port, there’s a Kensington lock port. The drive comes pre–formatted for macOS and mounts right away. It’s also ready for Time Machine with no extra setup needed. Inside there’s a 7200RPM Ultrastar enterprise–grade hard drive, which comes in 4, 6, 12, 18 and 20TB capacities. The 12TB review model strikes a good balance of size and price, with only the most prolific video editors working in 4K or 8K likely to run up against its limit. For reference the 18TB model costs $ and the 20TB $
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test more or less corroborated SanDisk’s claim of 260MB/s read and write, coming in a hair underneath at 245MB/s. A 27GB virtual PC disk image file copied from our Mac’s SSD to the G–Drive in 1m42s which is respectable for a spinning drive. The USB–C port on the drive is only 5Gbps but that’s still faster than the drive is able to read or write, so it’s sufficient. Blackmagic suggests this speed is suitable for working with high–res video at up to 4K, though 8K and higher files may struggle. The WD G–Drive is certainly more than fast enough for Time Machine use, streaming movies or sample libraries for music apps, photo library storage and editing, and everyday backup and file transfer.
Although they are now largely relegated to use in external drives and not inside computers, spinning drives seem set to offer much better cost–per–gigabyte value than SSDs for some time to come. Though they’re not as fast, there are many uses for which they’re plenty fast enough. Running macOS efficiently or editing multiple streams of 8K video requires extreme speed but backups or media editing of less demanding file types don’t. And realistically, most people won’t be editing material that demanding. This is a solid hard drive for everyday use, and the Power Delivery is an excellent added bonus, meaning one less power adapter to worry about. For laptop users especially where Apple charges a lot to upgrade the SSD storage, adding a drive like this could take care of all your media storage needs.
THE BOTTOM LINE. A solid and capacious external drive for many users.