by Lyle Smith

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 Review

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 is a palm-size, mobile drive designed for creative professionals who want to stream and edit their HD (4K or 3D) video at home as well as in the field, a much desired feature for consumers with mobile creative workflows. The new LaCie drive quotes blistering read speeds of 1,375MB/s in addition to dual Thunderbolt 2 ports for daisy chaining, a nice compact size for field-based creative workflows, and virtually silent dual cooling. The new LaCie drive also comes equipped with a set of PCIe SSDs preconfigured in RAID 0, which is definitely a welcomed out-of-the-box feature. 

Quoting read speeds of 1,375MB/s from a device that literally fits in your hand was almost unheard of up until recently, so when LaCie claimed that their new Little Big Disk--which sports the ever-powerful Thunderbolt 2 connection--can boast these numbers, we were eager to get our hands on one and put it through our gauntlet.  If these performance numbers correct, videographers will be able to work directly from RAW files, which will allow them to have full quality from their footage as well as the ability edit videos in real time. Additionally, photographers will be able to manage, navigate, and edit large photo libraries of RAW files on the go, without having to worry about annoying lag.  

The LaCie Little Big Disk is compatible with Kensington locks (a physical anti-theft system designed by Kensington Computer Products Group) to prevent theft and unauthorized access locks and includes AES 256-bit encryption software.

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 is available in a 1TB capacity for an MSRP of $1299, inclusive of 3-Year Limited Warranty.

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 Specifications

  • Internal Storage Media : 2 x PCIe Gen 2 SSDs
  • Interface :  2 x Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • Interface Transfer Rate:  20Gb/s
  • Average Transfer Rate:
    • Reads: 1,375MB/s
    • Writes: 1,180MB/s
  • Interface Technology: Bi-directional 20Gb/s permits a high-resolution display and editing raw 4K video
  • Daisy Chain: Connect up to six Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt technology-compatible devices, including LaCie Thunderbolt Series products, to a computer via a single Thunderbolt cable
  • RAID Modes:
    • Preconfigured RAID 0 striped set
    • RAID 0 / 1 / JBOD configuration using Mac OS Disk Utility
  • Security: AES 256-bit software encryption
  • Kensington lock compatible
  • Silent Cooling: All-aluminum enclosure with improved internal heat dissipation
  • Thermo-regulated cooling fan: effective and whisper-quiet cooling
  • Software:          
    • Intego Backup Manager Pro
    • LaCie Private-Public (protect data with AES 256-bit encryption)
  • Power Supply: 100-240Vca; 50/60Hz
  • Dimensions: 40 x 140 x 85 mm | 1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3 in.
  • Weight: 620 g | 1.4 lbs (without drive stand)
  • System Requirements:                
    • Computer with a Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt port
    • Mac OS X 10.8.5 and later
    • Minimum free disk space: 600MB recommended
  • Box Content:   
    • LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2
    • External power supply
    • Thunderbolt cable
    • Drive stand for upright use
    • Quick Install Guide
  • Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty

Design and Build

LaCie is known for their sleek and well built external devices, and the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 is no exception. The entire enclosure (even the front panel) uses LaCie's classic d2 aluminum casing. As per usual, the drive is rock solid, which will make users confident that it will protect the interior while they are in the field working or simply on the go. The drive itself is very small and can fit in the palm of a hand, making it ideal for mobile or desktop use, though it does require a power supply for operation.

The back panel of the Little Big Disk shows the two Thunderbolt ports, which allows for a daisy chain of up to six Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt technology-compatible devices. The power connector and Kensington lock slot are also located on the back.

Once you take a peak on the inside, it’s obvious that the Little Big Disk’s interior was built with overheating prevention in mind, as it has been essentially redesigned in order improve its heat dissipation system. This means that the fan is only required some of the time. In addition, because the thermoregulated fan is a bit larger and adjusts its speed according to temperature, the drive is virtually silent; we didn't even know there was a fan inside until we took it apart. The enclosure also has a gap in the front to allow for better airflow and happier, cooler SSDs inside.

Taking the LBD apart the powerhouse is revealed; two Samsung SSDs with PCIe interface. The drives may be configured in RAID0, RAID1 or JBOD, depending on the required use cases.

Performance

We measured transfer speeds from the new LaCie Little Big Disk drive connected to a new MacBook Pro that supports Thunderbolt 2 using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test with a 5GB test file. In this environment, the Little Big Disk measured read and write speeds of 1147.7MB/s and 1092.0MB/s respectively in RAID0, and 1123.4MB/s and 586.3MB/s in RAID1. In RAID1 there appear to be benefits of host system caching occurring, but in either event the drive is exceedingly fast. 

The AJA System Test benchmark is the method that LaCie makes their performance claims against. The configuration specifically is 4K video with a 16GB test file. In this test the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 performs much better, just about reaching it's quoted speeds, boasting 1300.9MB/s read and 1178.2MB/s write in RAID0. In RAID1 the drive shows 608.8MB/s write and 1301.8MB/s. 

We also decided to run the AJA test with the drive configured in RAID0 connected to a current MacBook Air that does not have Thunderbolt 2. The LBD essentially saturates the Gen1 Thunderbolt technology keeping the LBD from running free, but the results are impressive nonetheless. Write speeds topped 830MB/s and reads were 880MB/s. Of course these are a far cry from what Thunderbolt 2 was able to accomplish, but some users may be able to live without the top-end performance to get 1TB of storage that can turn those numbers on older Mac gear. 

Conclusion

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 is a highly portable and extremely speedy drive that takes full advantage of the new Thunderbolt 2 interface. It's certainly not cheap at an MSRP of $1299, though if you're willing to invest in the new Little Big Disk, you will own a drive with lightning transfer speeds and is small enough to fit into your hand or laptop bag while on the go. We were also very impressed (but not surprised) of how sturdy and incredibly well built LaCie’s new hardware is, so that we--as well as other mobile users--will have peace of mind that our data will be physically safe.

As far as performance goes, our test results showed blistering results with the LBD setting speeds of 1300.9MB/s read and 1178.2MB/s write in a AJA benchmark platform. In the BlackMagic environment, LaCie drive measured read and write speeds of 1147.7MB/s and 1092.0MB/s respectively. And even those souls unfortunate enough to have Thunderbolt 2 in their machines, can still drive interface-saturating reads of 880MB/s and writes of 830MB/s over Gen1 Thunderbolt. Overall, this is a drive that is hard not to love and is a perfect companion for creative professionals looking for speed, reliability, and design.

Pros

  • Blistering speeds
  • Impressive engineering for thermals
  • Excellent build

Cons

  •  Limited upgrade opportunities

Bottom Line

Enthusiasts will find a lot of love with the new LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 as it delivers top-in-class performance on every level.

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 at Amazon

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