by Lyle Smith

LaCie Porsche Design USB Key Review

The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key is made for consumers who love great industrial design and also need something for compact portable storage. It is constructed with solid steel and is one of the smallest thumb drives on the market; however, despite its slim size, its solid single-piece design is built like a rock. To further add to its durability, the connector is recessed slightly in order to protect itself from physical damage. The LaCie drive also has 256-bit AES encryption to make data protection secure and gives users the ability to configure password-protected private folders on the USB flash drive. The Porsche Design USB Key comes in capacities of 16GB and 32GB.

Despite the USB 3.0 interface and premium steel enclosure design, the drive is only specced to deliver speeds up to 95MB/s, well below what most other premium USB drives offer today. But LaCie has always been about great design, so in this case the Porsche Design effort is more geared to those who are looking for a fashionable USB key, and are not too worried about performance numbers. For further usability LaCie includes several software packages with the drives including; LaCie Private/Public password protection, Wuala Secure Cloud Storage, LaCie Genie Timeline for Windows and Intego Backup Assistant for Mac.

The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key is available now at a street price around $30 for the 16GB capacity and $50 for the 32GB the 64GB model. That price is inclusive of a two-year warranty. Our review drive is the 32GB capacity.

 Specifications 

  • Capacity:
    • 16GB (9000228)
    • 32GB (9000251)
  • Interface : USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible*)
  • Interface Transfer Rate: 95MB/s
  • Software Suite for Download:
    • LaCie Private/Public password protection
    • Wuala Secure Cloud Storage
    • LaCie Genie Timeline (Windows)
    • Intego Backup Assistant (Mac)
  • Size: 53 x 12x 4mm / 2.1 x 0.5 x 0.15 in.
  • Weight: 8 g / 0.3 oz.
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

Design and Build:

The LaCie Porsche Design USB key has a very slick looking, minimalist design with an all-steel casing, which feels very sturdy when gripped. Fashion was definitely the priority here, as it's one of the few USB keys that we would actually show off, rather than just throw it in our laptop bag or pocket and forget about it. 

On the front-side, the product name is exquisitely engraved just above the keyring hole.

The backside demonstrates its unique, solid single-piece design, showing off clean lines and smooth fit and finish. Though the top and side of USB connector is well protected by the metal chasis, it does leave the bottom exposed to the elements.

The LaCie Porsche Design is a very thin USB key, measuring only 4mm thick, so it will do equally well in a pocket or even on a key ring.

Performance

In this review, we include the following comparables from our database of USB flash drive reviews:

All four drives listed above are generally each company's top-in-line USB 3.0 offerings. This means that they will all outperform the LaCie Porsche, which is not a high-performance USB key like its comparables. The LaCie product does compete at a similar price point to some of these, so they're included for contextual dollar per MB of throughput metrics.

Using our Consumer Testing Platform, we measured transfer speeds from the LaCie Porsche Design USB Key Flash Drive with IOMeter. In the sequential read speed column, it measured 86.8MB/s, while write activity hit 20.3MB/s. Here, the top performer was by far the Lexar JumpDrive P10, which clocked in at blistering speeds of 252.4MB/s read and 225.9MB/s write. The Patriot Supersonic Magnum trailed closely behind with 247.0MB/s read, but fell well short in the write speed column at 151.3MB/s. The Kingston DataTraveler HyperX kept a somewhat adequate pace with speeds of 199.2MB/s read and 117.0MB/s write. Lastly, the SanDisk Extreme tallied in at 194.5MB/s read, while write activity reached 177.9MB/s. As expected, the LaCie Porsche Design came in last place by quite a large margin.

Switching to random large-block transfers, the LaCie Porsche Design reached speeds of 86.7MB/s read and 4.9MB/s write. We measured 177.6MB/s read and 43.5MB/s write for SanDisk Extreme USB flash Drive, while the Patriot Supersonic Magnum boasted read and write speeds 166.3MB/s and 39.1MB/s respectively. The Lexar JumpDrive P10 had a similar read benchmark registering at 167.7MB/s, but with a much slower write speed of 14.8MB/s. Finally, the Kingston HyperX clocked in at only 149.3MB/s read and 4.9MB/s write.  LaCie finishes at the end of the pack again, but not as far back as it was during the sequential benchmarks.

For relative pricing and performance comparisons, the LaCie in the 32GB capacity that we've reviewed is available at a street price of roughly $50, which is a bit more expensive than the $41 SanDisk Extreme 32GB model. The Lexar JumpDrive P10 is the most expensive, going for $69 on most websites; however, that price gets you higher top-end sequential performance. The other two comparables--Kingston DataTraveler HyperX and Patriot Supersonic Magnum--do not have a 32GB equivalent.

Conclusion

The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key is a mainstream USB flash drive that quotes minimum performance figures of 95MB/s for sequential read. LaCie's Porsche USB line is offered in 16GB and 32GB capacities with a somewhat high price point when only comparing its transfer speed numbers. However, consumers aren't paying for a performance per-dollar basis here, they are paying for its top-in-class design. This is by far the nicest looking USB key that we have seen as well as having one of the most quality builds, there's really nothing like it on the market. That being said, consumers will have to decide what they want based on their needs: beauty or performance. That's not to say its performance was poor in the overall market, just compared to its top-in-class brethren. It will definitely get the job done as far as the majority of consumers are concerned.

In terms of tested performance, the LaCie Porsche Design USB Key posted results that were less than the actual quoted figures of 95MB/s. In our testbed, the LaCie drive clocked in at 86.6MB/s read and 20.3MB/s write in the sequential data columns. With those numbers, it's obvious LaCie Porsche USB Key wasn't designed for performance enthusiasts, which is fine because not all consumers care about top-in-class transfer speeds. Some people just want a USB drive that looks great on their keychain, while being durable enough to handle life's bumps and bruises (which is very hard to come by). For them being able to store and transfer data at a reasonable rate is all that's required; the LaCie Porsche Design USB Key certainly does that.

Pros

  • Beautiful top-in-class design
  • Sturdy build
  • Utility software not preloaded

Cons

  • Slower than it could be
  • Rear-side connectors are exposed

Bottom Line

The LaCie Porsche Design USB key's sleek, industrial design is beautiful and extremely well built. The drive gives up quite a bit of performance though, so it's up to the buyer to decide if giving up throughput is worth the elegant design.

LaCie Porsche Design USB Key at Amazon.com

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