The hardcore Mac user has a lot to like with the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt Series (6TB) ($749 list). Its RAID 0 array is both capacious (6TB) and speedy (300+MBps throughput). It’s a hard drive for those who work on still and video graphics as their day-to-day jobs, since clients never seem to give you enough time. As a work drive or scratch drive, it’s unrivaled. If you’re the type who upgrades you Mac laptop or desktop on a yearly basis, this is the drive to keep all of your stuff on.
Design and Features
Call it the big brother to the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt (240GB SSD) ($899.99 list, 4 stars). The 2big shares the same sort of aluminum brick with fins look of the Little Big Disk, but of course on a much grander scale. The drive enclosure is about 7 by 3.5 by 8 inches (HWD) and weighs about eight pounds. With those specs, the 2big is meant to stay on your desk. It comes with an AC adapter, but you’ll have to supply your own Thunderbolt cable (like Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable). On the back you’ll find a cooling vent, the port for the AC adapter, two pass-through Thunderbolt ports, and the two embedded drive sleds. Each sled can be removed after you unlock them with a coin. Each sled on our unit holds a 3TB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive, which can be replaced if either one burns out.
The drive came preformatted with HFS+ for systems running Mac OS X, and the drives were set for RAID 0 (fastest performance, largest capacity, no data redundancy). You can use LaCie or Apple’s disk utilities to change the drive to a RAID 1 (full data redundancy, only 3TB capacity) or to JBOD (two unified or two separate drives). The front of the chassis has LaCie’s familiar backlit blue dot, so it will match any other LaCie peripherals you have lying on your desk. The dot also acts as the drive activity light and the drive’s power button. The 2big comes with a utility disk containing backup software and drive management software, but the drive is fully useable out of the box. The drive comes with a stand attached, which you can remove for rack mounting or horizontal placement. The 2big comes with a 3-year warranty, pretty standard for a drive in the “expensive” category.
You can use the drive as is as a scratch disk, work drive, transfer drive, or backup drive. It works out of the box with Time Machine on Mac OS X, but you’d be wasting your money if you used it as a simple backup drive. Thunderbolt has a theoretical 10 Gbps dual link throughput, and that would be wasted if you just left the drive to backup your data very few hours. The two Thunderbolt ports on the 2big allow users to connect several drives and a display up to the single Thunderbolt port on a MacBook Pro or other Mac desktop like the iMac. Drives like the Seagate GoFlex Turbo ($179.99 list, 4.5 stars) along with the Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter ($99 list, 4 stars) are a better bet for transferring data from one Mac to another. The 2big’s best fate is as a scratch disk or work drive for your most demanding users.
Though you won’t reach Thunderbolt’s theoretical limits with the 2big, it’s a very fast drive. The drive takes a scant 12 seconds to transfer our 1.2GB test folder. This is effectively equal to the Seagate GoFlex Turbo plus Thunderbolt adapter and the Little Big Disk (13 and 11 seconds, respectively). However the Promise Pegasus R6 ($1,999 list, 3.5 stars) beats all comers with a 6 second transfer time. The 2big is very good at the AJA System test, where it measured a 320MBps read and a 304MBps write speed. At the AJA System test, the Goflex combo lags in the rear (100MBps/90MBps), while the Little Big Disk and Promise Pegasus are faster. The Promise Pegasus R6 is the fastest with a stellar 480MBps read and 620MBps write speed. This fits the pricing and positioning, since the 2big slots in between the GoFlex on the low end and the Pegasus R6 on the high end. It’s a good choice for users concerned with performance, but don’t need the extra data security that the six hard drives in the Pegasus R6 provide.
The LaCie 2big Thunderbolt Series (6TB) drive array is a very good choice for the desk-bound video editor or anyone else who need to transfer and backup a lot of data quickly. Its astounding 6TB capacity is great for the graphic artist dealing with raw images and video files. It has a galaxy more drive space than the LaCie Little Big Disk and a lot more performance than a simple single drive like the Seagate GoFlex Turbo with Thunderbolt adapter. It’s saner than the Promise Pegasus R6, though it lacks the Pegasus’ data redundancy and multiple hard drives. Essentially, if you know you’ll need the speedy storage, the LaCie 2big is a good choice.
More hard drive reviews:
Western Digital My Passport for Mac (1 TB)
LaCie 2big Thunderbolt Series (6 TB)
Clickfree C6 Portable (1TB)
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk (4TB)
Seagate GoFlex Turbo (750GB)