Hitachi G-Drive Slim: Design and setup
The G-Drive Slim is less than a centimetre thick at 9.9mm, and measures 82mm wide and 129mm long. It's not much bigger than a smartphone and we found we were easily able to fit it in the pocket of our jeans — we don't expect you'll be doing this often but it goes to show that the G-Drive Slim isn't bulky and won't significantly increase the girth of your MacBook Air carry case or laptop sleeve.
The finish of the G-Drive Slim is aluminium, like the body of Apple's recent laptop and desktop computers. It doesn't have the same smooth feel as Apple's products, though, and we found it was easier to scratch. Where Apple's laptops are virtually scratchproof we were able to leave a slight mark on the G-Drive Slim with a fingernail (though it did go away after some buffing). The matte black plastic strip running around the outside edge of the Hitachi G-Drive Slim sets off the aluminium nicely but we would have preferred Apple-esque scalloped edges.
The Hitachi G-Drive Slim only uses USB 2.0 — you can buy other hard drives in the Hitachi G-Technology range that have FireWire and USB 3.0, but they're bulkier and more expensive. Given the average performance specs of the G-Drive Slim's internal TravelStar Z5K500 2.5in HDD, we're not too fussed by the lack of FireWire but USB 3.0 would have been nice.
Hitachi G-Drive Slim: Performance
The G-Drive Slim performed roughly on par with other USB 2.0 external hard drives we've tested. Hitachi's slim drive took 6min 55sec to write 13GB of files from the Medion Akoya E7220 we used to test it, and took 6min 19sec to copy those same files back onto the notebook again. These times translate into 31.34MB/sec write speeds and 34.31MB/sec read speeds. CrystalDiskMark verified these figures with a 37.36MB/sec read and 36.34MB/sec write report. If you're regularly copying large files or folders back and forth from your USB external hard drive we'd recommend a FireWire or USB 3.0 product, but for general everyday use the Hitachi G-Drive Slim is acceptable.
We did notice that we could hear the disk head of the Hitachi G-Drive Slim clicking during its operation. A slightly audible constant click during writing or reading isn't a big deal, but in an ideal world a bit of extra internal sound deadening would have muffled the click (albeit at a slight weight cost).
Hitachi G-Drive Slim: Conclusion
If you've got a MacBook Air and the combination of looks and slim profile are important to you, we'd recommend you consider the Hitachi G-Drive Slim. If you can get your hands on one before you buy it, see whether the imperfect finish is anything you'd worry about. Otherwise it's a small drive for a reasonable price.