3.5 star rating

LaCie Little Big Disk Review

Pros: Three times as fast as USB 2.0; Can be used with external monitor; Sleek design
Cons: Expensive; Thunderbolt cable not included; Currently only compatible with Macs
The Verdict: The first Thunderbolt drive is super expensive, but blazingly fast.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

When Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro line over the summer, it became the first notebook maker to include Intel's new Light Peak transfer technology, otherwise known as Thunderbolt. Too bad there were no peripherals to take advantage of its 190 MBps theoretical throughput. LaCie's Little Big Disk, an external hard drive, is the first accessory that uses the Thunderbolt port, but is this $399 device--$899 as configured with dual SSDs--really worth its high price?

Article Continued Below

Design

Designed by Neil Poulton, the all-aluminum casing of the Little Big Disk feels like it can take a serious beating. Its minimalist look matches up well with the latest MacsBook Pros and MacBook Airs; the only splash of color is a big blue power button that lights up when data is being transferred. While the drive has a small fan, ridges in the exterior of the case also act as a passive cooling system. On the back of the drive are two Thunderbolt ports, a Kensington Lock slot, and a port for power--the Little Big Disk needs to be plugged in to work.

LaCie Little Big Disk

Measuring 5.5 x 3.3 x 1.6 inches and weighing 1.4 pounds, the Little Big Disk feels like a brick. This is not a peripheral you'll want to travel with much. The drive also comes with a small aluminum foot that must be attached with screws using the included hex wrench.

Unfortunately, the Little Big Disk doesn't come with a Thunderbolt cable. You'll have to buy this $49 accessory separately.

Performance

To test the Little Big Disk, we connected it to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. We then timed how long it took to copy a 5GB folder of multimedia to and from the drive, as well as a 3GB ISO file. We then repeated the test with a 7,200-rpm Seagate FreeAgent Go drive connected to the Mac via USB 2.0.

The results were pretty dramatic. Writing the 5GB folder to the Little Big Disk took just 55 seconds, a rate of 92.5 MBps. By comparison, writing the same folder to the Seagate drive took 3 minutes and 18 seconds, a rate of 25.7 MBps. The USB 3.0 average for external hard drives is 44.9 MBps, so Thunderbolt provides more than double the performance.

LaCie Little Big Disk

We saw a similar spread with a 3GB ISO file. We copied it to the Little Big Disk in just 31 seconds, a rate of 99.1 MBps. Even better, we were able to copy it back to the MacBook Pro in the same amount of time: 31 seconds. The Seagate drive took a longer 1 minute and 42 seconds to write the file and 1:30 to read it.

LaCie Little Big Disk

What does that mean in real-world terms? Using the Time Machine utility, we backed up 42.2GB of files on the MacBook Pro in 24 minutes and 26 seconds. That's impressively fast, and plenty of incentive for users to back up more.

Configurations

LaCie Little Big DiskOur review unit of the Little Big Disk came with dual 120GB Intel SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration and costs an exorbitant $899. Those without trust funds will be able to purchase the Little Big Disk with either a 1TB, 7,200-rpm drive for $399 or a 2TB, 5,400-rpm drive for $499.

Verdict

While we've concentrated on its throughput speeds, Thunderbolt can be daisy-chained with up to six devices, including the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display ($999), making the Little Big Disk a bit more versatile than its USB counterparts. Still, $899 is a lot to pony up for a first-gen technology--and that doesn't even include the cable. But for those who need to back up massive amounts of data, the Little Big Disk could be priceless.

Tags: LaCie Little Big Disk, LaCie, Thunderbolt, portable hard drives, Apple, Storage, backup, business, reviews

Technical Specifications
LaCie Little Big Disk
http://www.lacie.com


Capacity240GB
Rotational SpeedN/A
Seek TimeN/A
Read/Write SpeedN/A
PortsThunderbolt
Storage TypeSSD
Size1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3 inches
Weight1.4 pounds
AUTHOR BIO
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor
Michael A. Prospero has overseen reviews on Laptopmag.com since 2007, focusing on producing the most thorough and authoritative mobile product reviews. After receiving his Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia in 2003, Mike worked at Fast Company. Prior to that, he worked at The Times of Trenton, George and AlleyCat News.
Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor on
Twitter Google+
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE