LaCie Little Big Disk SSD (240GB) review: LaCie Little Big Disk SSD (240GB)

Performance
We tested the LaCie Little Big Disk the same way we did with the Promise Pegasus R6, which is similar to the way we test external storage devices: by copying large amounts of data from one place to another and measure the device's throughput speed. We actually used the R6 as part of the test since it's the only other storage device we have that's equipped with Thunderbolt.

The LaCie was put through two sets of tests. In the first set, we compared its performance with that of internal drives, including traditional hard drives and solid-state drives (SSDs). In the second set, the drive was stacked up against other popular external devices that use USB 3.0, USB 2.0, FireWire, and eSATA connections.

As with the Pegasus R6, our test machine is a 2011 MacBook Pro running OS X Lion, on a SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD. Again, note that, though the fastest on the market, the notebook's internal drive has a significantly slower ceiling speed than the 10Gbps (about 1.2GBps) of Thunderbolt. But chances are we already have the best equipment on the market.

For the first set of tests, we used the Pegasus R6 connected to the LaCie and benchmarked how fast the LaCie transferred data to and from the Thunderbolt partner, with the least involvement of the MacBook Pro's hard drive. In this test, the LaCie scored the highest we've seen for a single-volume external drive, averaging 233.50MBps, faster than most SSDs we've reviewed. It was slower than the 353.24MBps of the R6, which used a RAID configuration.

In the second set of tests, we used the drive as an external storage connected to a computer, the way we test other traditional external hard drives. This means we copied data directly from the MacBook Pro's internal SSD to the LaCie to show what a general user can expect from it. In this test, the LaCie scored 184.71MBps for writing and 186.80MBps for reading, by far the fastest among single-volume external hard drives. It was still slower than Pegasus R6, which offered 210.5MBps, and 177.5MBps for write and read, respectively, with RAID 5.

In all, the LaCie's performance met our expectation: comparable to that of an internal SSD. This is, again, because it's limited by the internal SSD inside. While much lower than what the Thunderbolt standard can offer, the LaCie Little Big Disk SSD external drive still is by far the fastest among its peers on the market.

Unlike other SSD-based storage solutions, we found that LaCie was a little noisy during operation, which was a little strange since an SSD has no moving parts. We later found out that this was caused by a tiny ventilation fan on the back that emits a high-pitched noise when turned on. The drive's not noisy enough to notice in a room with a high ambient background, but it could cause some annoyance in a quiet room. We were more concerned about the durability of the fan than the noise it generates.

Data transfer: Thunderbolt vs. internal (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unit to Unit  
Self Read and Write  
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 0)
353.24 
228.06 
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 5)
323.79 
192.53 
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
233.5 
141.69 
Crucial M4
235.51 
117.99 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
Patriot WildFire
202 
99.72 
WD VelociRapter 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRapter 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Data transfer: Thunderbolt vs. external (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 0)
184.94 
212.5 
Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID 5)
177.53 
210.5 
LaCie Little Big Disk SSD
186.8 
184.71 

Service and support
LaCie backs the Little Big Disk SSD with a three-year warranty, which is good compared with the two-year warranty of the Pegasus R6. At LaCie's Web site, you can download software that accompanies the device, as well as access its documentation, knowledge base, and FAQs. If you want to contact LaCie, you'll first have to register an account with the company, however, which can be a hassle when you need help immediately.

Conclusion
The LaCie Little Big Disk SSD showed the impressive performance of a Thunderbolt-based storage device. However, as with the R6, we were a little let down by the fact that it's very expensive, and the lack of support for other peripheral interfaces. Still, if you have a Thunderbolt-enabled computer and want a compact, rugged storage device that offer stellar speed, it'll make a great (and for now the only) choice on the market, as long as you can afford it.

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    LaCie Little Big Disk SSD (240GB)

    Part Number: 9000243
    Pricing is currently unavailable.