LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain Portable Drive review: Rugged design meets extreme performance

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4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain Portable Drive has extremely fast Thunderbolt performance, innovative casing design, and also supports USB 3.0.

The Bad The SSD version of the drive is pricey, and its USB 3.0 performance is not the best on the market.

The Bottom Line If you want to keep your data safe from handling mishaps while getting the top Thunderbolt performance on the market, look no further than the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain portable drive.

9.0 Overall
  • Setup and ease of use 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 10.0
  • Service and support 7.0

LaCie's latest Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain is the new height among portable drives, in terms of both design and performance.

The storage device has two layers of casing to protect it against dust, water, and shocks -- even when in operation -- and now has a built-in Thunderbolt cable that's well hidden along its sides. In my testing, the solid-state drive (SSD) version proved to be the fastest portable drive on the market.

The only drawback of the drive is its hefty price: about $300 (which converts to £175/AU$320) and $500 (£290/AU$535) for 250GB and 500GB, respectively, for the SSD version. There's also a hard-drive-based version that currently goes for $220 (£130/AU$235) and $300 (£175/AU$320) for 1TB and 2TB, respectively, that isn't as fast as the SSD-based version. But if you can afford that, and want something super-fast to edit your HD content, you'll find the new drive second to none.

Pricing in other markets is not available at the time of review. For more options, however, check out the alternatives in this top list of best portable drives on the market.

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The new Rugged Thunderbolt Drive comes with a lid that seals the internal drive's port from dust and moisture. Dong Ngo/CNET

Innovative all-terrain protection design

The Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain is the successor to the Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt series. While the similar name might be confusing, the new drive's design is distinctively different from its predecessor's.

Similar to the previous model, the new Rugged Thunderbolt comes with two layers of protection. The outer layer is a removable bright-orange rubber protective case that protects the edges to keep the drive safe from shocks and drops. This case now has a watertight cover that seals the drive's USB 3.0 port from water or dust. When you use the drive with a Thunderbolt port, however, this cover can be put back in its place, meaning that the drive is protected even when it's in operation.

Drive type External Thunderbolt portable
Connector options Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 250GB (SSD), 500GB (SSD), 1TB (HDD), 2TB (HDD)
Product dimensions

3.5 x 5.5 x 1 in (89 x 140 x 24 mm)

Weight

HHD version: 12.3oz (350g) | SSD version: 8.8oz (280g)

Capacity of test unit 500GB (SSD)
OSes supported Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Windows 7 or later

Along the sides of this outer casing runs a groove in which the drive's built-in Thunderbolt cable is hidden. This cable is permanently attached to the drive so there's no Thunderbolt port on the drive and it doesn't require a separate Thunderbolt cable to work. To keep your desk from cluttering, you actually pull just part of the cable out, instead of all the way, to plug it into the host computer.

I find this built-in cable great in terms of design, and similar to that of the WD My Passport Pro, which doesn't support USB 3.0 or have a protective outer casing.

ruggedthunderoblt-6.jpg
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The drive comes with two protective layers: soft rubber gel on the outside and rugged aluminum on the inside. Dong Ngo/CNET

When the outer casing is removed, you'll find the rugged aluminum chassis. LaCie says this layer further keeps the internal storage safe from drops and being crushed in case the drive is run over by a car or even a truck.

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