SanDisk G-RAID 2 Drive review: Thunderbolt 3 shines

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With World Backup Day around the corner, we’re taking a look at one of the more unique ways to improve your storage setup. Designed with Apple setups in mind, SanDisk’s G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive arrives with plenty of novel features that start with onboard Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and carry over to user-replaceable hard drives. But do those premium features make the steep price tag worth it? Our latest Tested with 9to5Toys review takes a closer look.

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Hands-on with SanDisk’s G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive

It’s not quite a traditional hard drive and not a full-fledged NAS, but SanDisk’s Professional G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive is about as reliable of a package for Mac storage as they come. Everything is centered around the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, which arrives with on-paper specs of up to 500MB/s. Alongside a build-in hub for daisy-chaining other storage or Thunderbolt peripherals, there is a metal enclosure that should fit right in with your Apple setup.

Available in four different configurations off the shelf, SanDisk’s G-RAID 2 Drives also notably feature a pair of user-upgradeable 3.5mm hard drives. Each of the NAS-like HDD bays can easily be slotted out, providing anywhere from 8TB to upwards of 36TB configurations off the shelf. But with steep starting prices of $599.99, are these worth the price? Let’s take a closer look.

Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:

  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a single USB-C port 
  • Dual, 7200RPM Ultrastar hard drives inside 
  • Daisy chaining for up to 5 additional devices 
  • Ready to go in RAID 0, configurable to RAID 1 (mirroring) or JBOD 
  • 5-year limited warranty

9to5Toys’ Take

I’ve been using the SanDisk G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive over the past few days in preparation of World Backup Day and have definitely landed on some thoughts for what the package does well and what it doesn’t.

First and foremost is the target demographic, which is aimed quite squarely at Apple users. While any Thunderbolt 3-equipped system is going to be able to take advantage of the system, Mac owners in particularly will find this to be a compelling options. It has such a slick design that should pair nicely with your setup in the aesthetic categories, and of course backs that with some features to match.

On the actual spec side, SanDisk claims that you’re looking at upwards of 500MB/s transfer speeds, at least on paper. In real world usage, those claims are too far off of reality. Tested with a series of M1 Macs, including the new Mac Studio, I was looking at an average of 472 MB/s read speeds and closer to 455MB/s write speeds. The full BlackMagic disk test has a breakdown of what to expect, but my main takeaway is that SanDisk isn’t messing around and delivers what you’d hope from the spec sheet.

Aside from its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, my favorite part has to be the fact that SanDisk makes the G-RAID 2 so easy to upgrade. Future-proofing storage systems isn’t something we typically see when there’s this much polish applied to the final product, which is why being able to go in and swap the drives yourself is such a big perk. Clicking open the front vent will allow you to pop out each of its two 3.5mm drives. So whether you’re looking to upgrade down the line or just want the peace of mind that if there is a drive failure five years from now, you’ll be able to remedy the situation without replacing the entire unit.

All of that said, the SanDisk G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive isn’t going to be for everyone. I think that the $600 starting price tag makes that pretty evident, but I’ll put it plain as day in writing just in case. If you’re reading this and go, “Wow, why would anyone spend that kind of cash on a system with just 8TB of storage?” then you’re likely going to be better off with a NAS (our top recommendations right here).

For everyone else, myself included, the faster transfer speeds are going to make this a much more compelling option for those with massive libraries of content who need quick access. Other systems may be better at archiving data that you may access once in a blue moon, but the SanDisk G-RAID 2 Desktop Drive fills a roll that many other packages can’t.

Combining the best of both worlds between traditional hard drives and their more cost-effective storage capabilities with the improved access speed of SSDs, SanDisk has delivered a system ideal for content creators and the like. If World Backup Day has you thinking it’s time to invest in a storage system and going with a full-blown NAS isn’t on the table, the G-RAID 2 Drive checks off all the boxes for my Apple setup.


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