by Lyle Smith

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 2TB Review

The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt is designed to give consumers the ultimate physical protection of their data against all kinds of threats. Not only is the Rugged beast of a device, it is arguably is one of the more affordable drives of its class and even includes a standard USB 3.0 cable as well as a Thunderbolt cable. The Rugged USB 3.0 2TB is also currently the highest capacity bus–powered storage solution on the market that uses Thunderbolt technology; the single connected cable can draw enough juice to power the drive from the host computer. The new 2TB model is essentially the same as its lower-capacity brethren performance-wise, quoting speeds of 110MB/s, while LaCie offers SSD models for those who need a higher transfer rate.

Even with the generous capacity upgrade, the new LaCie Rugged has not increased in size or weight all the while offering the same features that current users are accustomed to. With its USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports, consumers can take advantage of the fastest transfer speeds available on both the PC and Mac. The USB 3.0 port is also backwards compatible, which allows the LaCie Rugged to connect to any computer with USB 2.0. Additionally, the iconic rubber sleeve is MIL-compliant, giving superior data protection from accidental drops up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) so that users can be pretty confident that their data is still accessible after an impact. Though the drive isn't safe from moisture or water, users will find that the drive is still very rugged due to its aluminum casing when the rubber layer is removed. AES 256-bit encryption is also included to help protect files from prying eyes.

Because LaCie Rugged is equipped with a USB 3.0 port and a Thunderbolt port on one side, the drive can only be used at the end of a daisy chain. Additionally, the drive can be used with either USB or Thunderbolt at one time, not both; it won't break it if you do, but it will only connect to the computer using the connection that was connected first.

The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 available at a street price of $299.99 (MSRP) and is protected by a two–year limited warranty. It is also available in 500GB, 1TB, and 1.5TB capacities as well as 1TB and 1.5TB "mini" formats. We will be looking at the 2TB model for this review.

Specifications

  • Capacities:
    • 1TB (Item Number: 9000294)
    • 2TB (Item Number: 9000299)
  • Interface:          
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port (USB 2.0-compatible)
    • 1 x Thunderbolt port
  • Rotational Speed (rpm): 5400rpm
  • SSD Type: SATA 6Gb/s
  • Interface Transfer Rate:              
    • USB 3.0: 5Gb/s
    • Thunderbolt: 10Gb/s
  • Average Transfer Rate (Thunderbolt & USB 3.0):
    • SSD: 385MB/s
    • HDD: 110MB/s
  • Maximum Drop Height:  1.2 meters (4 feet) in non-operating mode (dropping is not recommended in operating mode)
  • Software :          
    • Easy setup (LaCie Setup Assistant)
    • Automatic backup (LaCie Backup Assistant)
    • AES 256-bit encryption: LaCie Private-Public software with password protection
    • 10GB Wuala Secure Online Storage (1 year included)
  • Size: 89 x 140 x 24 mm / 3.5 x 5.5 x 0.97 in.
  • Weight:  260 g / 9.2 oz.
  • Box Contents:
    • LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series
    • USB 3.0 cable (USB 2.0-compatible)
    • Thunderbolt cable (50cm)
    • Quick Install Guide
    • Complete software suite preloaded
  • 2-Year Limited Warranty Included

Design and Build

The LaCie Rugged has a very appealing and modern design. Bright orange colors on devices like these could look cheesy and off putting; however, in this case, the look totally works. It's obvious that the Rugged was made to withstand bumps and bruises with the rubber sleeve surrounding the drive. On top of that, the drive also has a sturdy, and sleek looking, white metal chassis.

Located on the bottom side of the drive are both the USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports. Both connections draw enough juice to power the drive on their own.  Designed by Neil Poulton is also embedded on the orange sleeve.

Of course for those wanting a more minimalist device, the bumper can be easily removed to expose the enclosure.

Performance

In this review, we include the following comparables that offer Thunderbolt connectivity in a portable hard drive:

We measured transfer speeds from the LaCie Rugged 2TB over Thunderbolt connected to a mid-2013 Apple MacBook Air using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test with a 5GB test file. In this environment, read speeds measured in at 112.2MB/s, while write activity hit 113.8MB/s. The G-Tech came in with 125.5MB/s read and 124.1MB/s write speeds, but it's a lower 1TB capacity and features a 7K HDD inside. 

In a our Windows 7 environment, we measured the Rugged's USB 3.0 performance with sequential 2MB speeds of 112.2MB/s read and 114.0MB/s write. Random transfer speeds hit 75.4MB/s read and 88.0MB/s write. The MiniStation faired a bit better, registering 115.1MB/s on both the sequential read and write tests. The large-block random access speeds, however, only measured 46.3MB/s for reads and 49.1MB/s for writes. The G-DRIVE drive showed sequential speeds of 120.3MB/s read and 124.7MB/s write. Its 7,200RPM hard drive though allowed it to maintain those speeds as the workload shifted to random transfers, which measured 120.3MB/s read and 82.3MB/s write.

Conclusion

The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt 2TB is a relatively speedy portable hard drive that takes full advantage of both the Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interface. In our testing, results were slightly higher than what LaCie quoted for this product, delivering read speeds of 112.2MB/s, while write activity hit 113.8MB/s in a Thunderbolt Mac environment. The Rugged posted 112.2MB/s read and 114.0MB/s write when connected to a USB 3.0 Windows 7 machine. As far as its comparables go, the LaCie drive beats the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt and G-Technology on the dollar per GB basis, but does give up a little bit in max throughput.

Durability and reliability is where the Rugged truly shines due in part to its rubberized orange bumper-sleeve as LaCie claims that it can withstand falls from up to 4 feet in non-operating mode; however, it's still susceptible to moisture and heat damage. Though though the rubber sleeves only protects the drive's edges, it is still very rugged without them due to its aluminum casing. The SSD LaCie models have the extra rugged reliability over mechanical hard drives due to the nature of the technology of no moving parts and provide performance for those who desire throughput more than capacity.

Pros

  • Good Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 performance
  • Very durable for a portable drive
  • Value-add software bundle

Cons

  • No daisy-chain ability

Bottom Line

With its durable design, simple setup, and good Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 performance, the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt is a great option for those looking for high-capacity portable storage.

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 2TB at Amazon

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