LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt review review: Rugged and affordable Thunderbolt hard drive

Like the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, the new LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt comes with one Micro-USB 3.0 port and one Thunderbolt port on one side. This means the drive can only be used at the end of a daisy chain, in case you want to use it with other Thunderbolt devices. Generally, up to six Thunderbolt devices can be connected to another in a daisy-chain setup. The drive can be used with either USB or Thunderbolt at one time, but if you mistakenly connect it to a computer using both USB and Thunderbolt, you won't break it; it will only connect to the host computer via the connection that was plugged in first.

And plugging the drive into a computer is all there is in terms of setting it up. Out of the box, the drive is preformatted using HFS+ and will work immediately once connected to a Mac (running OS X 10.6.8 or later), including support for Time Machine backup. The drive does work with Windows, but in that case you'd need to reformat it into either FAT32 or NTFS. The drive doesn't come with any bundled software.

I tested the SSD version of the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and it performed excellently with both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

Note that the drive's performance, when used with Thunderbolt, is limited by that of its internal drive; obviously, it can't compare with other multiple-volume Thunderbolt drives in terms of performance, since they come with RAID setups that can manipulate their internal drives to offer speeds faster than that of each individual drive.

For the Thunderbolt standard test, I used a MacBook Pro running OS X Lion, on a SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD, which is the same standard as the SSD inside the Buffalo. And in this test, the LaCie scored 150MBps for writing, which was noticeably faster than the 121MBps of the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD. In reading, however, the LaCie registered 155MBps, slighly slower than the Elgato's 169MBps.

For the USB 3.0 test, I used a Windows 7 computer, and in this case the LaCie scored 92MBps and 112MBps for writing and reading, respectively, making it among the fastest of USB 3.0 portable drives.

In all, the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt performed very well and proved worthy of its $200 price tag.

Data transfer -- Thunderbolt vs. External (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 5)
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
Promise Pegasus R4 (RAID 5)
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt (via USB 3.0)

With great performance, affordable pricing, support for both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, and an included Thunderbolt able, the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt makes for one of the best deals going among portable drives on the market.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Capacity 256 GB
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.