I’ve been holding off on getting a Thunderbolt drive for quite some time. Between really wanting a drive that also has an eSATA connection and waiting to see what the future of the MacPro turned out to be, I’ve been in a holding pattern and have shuffled things around to eek out a few more months at a time. At some point, however, that’s no longer sustainable with the mounting storage needs that I seem to have.
I just exited the holding pattern.
This is the 2TB LaCie Little Big Disk, Thunderbolt Edition. Based on the nods the drive has gotten from trusted folks so far, I picked it up so that I can have a fast, huge, and portable place to store and work with tons of data while in the field. The 500GB drives I’ve been using will still be useful for backups, but they just weren’t going to cut being primary work drives for the things I’m looking at doing in the very near future. And since all of the equipment I’m going to use in the near future in the field—my MacBook Air as well as a loaner iMac or the like—has Thunderbolt, this drive makes a lot of sense.
For what I need this drive for, speed is a priority, but so is capacity. So I went with the 2TB HDD version instead of the version with twin 120GB SSDs. Still, it’s pretty damn fast. How fast? Let’s let Blackmagic Disk Speed Test answer that:
Not shabby. Not shabby at all. Obviously, this is straight-line performance on an empty drive and not a measure of how fast the drive is for random access. It’s also slower than the SSD version, which Patrick Lenz is now using for his iMac boot drive. For storing photos and video files on the road, however, this should work just fine.
So, what’s not to like? Three things:
Having to use an external power cable is annoying and potentially limiting when using on the road with a laptop. There’s probably a power limitation somewhere that forces this, but still. Sub-optimal. Very sub-optimal. If I find myself on a long plane ride without an AC outlet—which happens all of the time—I won’t be able to work with data on this drive.
The drive isn’t as quiet as I’d like. There are two spindles in there and absolute quiet isn’t going to happen with traditional hard drives, but this drive seems a bit more noisy than I’d expect based on my time with other portable drives.
There’s only one choice in Thunderbolt cables: 2m long. Great for the desktop. But on the road, I could certainly go for a 1m cable. And for daisy chaining devices, a 0.5m cable would be even better. Of course, this is Apple’s problem to fix, but it’d be really nice not to have all this cable gunking up the works.
Obviously, none of these issues are deal-breakers. The benefits the drive offers overshadow them, especially since LaCie is currently the only game in town for this size Thunderbolt drive. And long term, none of these issues will be a problem at all when it’s time to crack the enclosure open and drop a couple of SSDs in it for use with a desktop.