Let's take a look at LaCie’s 1TB Thunderbolt “Little Big Disk” (Part no 9000106). The first thing you will notice is that this drive is tiny and extremely well made. When you pick it up it feels nice and solid. The case is extruded aluminium and has 2 Thunderbolt connections so you can daisy chain additional drives or other Thunderbolt devices.
For those of you that like dimensions it’s 85mm high, 40mm wide and 140mm long. As you can see from the above it fits nicely in your hand so it’s truly very portable. Included in the package is a universal power supply, various AC power adaptors, a mounting stand & associated Allen key, a quick install guide and a utility CD. One important thing to note is that a Thunderbolt cable is NOT included. For the tests today we are using an Apple 2m cable.
From the rear you can see the dual Thunderbolt ports, DC power inlet, a Kensington lock and what appears to be a small fan. Plugging the power in and nothing happens; drives do not spin up without a Thunderbolt connection. Pushing the front button doesn't help to power this baby up. When I plugged the drive into to my MacBook Pro’s thunderbolt port it sprung into life and I could hear the drives spin up, although the unit is still very quiet. The drive mounts on the desktop straight away and by default mounts as a 1TB drive as you would expect. You can then use the front power button to power the drive down and back up again as required. When removing the drive best practice would always be to unmount the drive on the desktop then power the drive down with the front power on/off button prior to disconnecting the Thunderbolt cable and DC power.
The enclosure contains 2 x 2.5” 500GB 7200RPM drives although this is not immediately obvious when looking at the drive enclosure. When you open up disk utility you’ll see the two individual 500GB shown and as such the default configuration is RAID 0 which will give you the best speed but no protection against drive failure. In fact, with RAID 0 if either of the 500GB drives should fail then you will lose access to files on both 500GB drives.
Loading up the AJA disk utility will show you that this “Little” disk is no toy. You can pull just over 200MB/sec in write performance and almost 220MB/sec in read performance. Actual reading will vary depending on the frame rate of the test chosen which is not uncommon with most drives. I tried a few different settings and most results were around this 200MB/sec mark.
To conclude, I really like this “Little Big Disk”. It’s nice and compact, robust and certainly delivers in terms of speed. It’s therefore an ideal solution for a high speed drive for portable editing applications where you need some serious speed in a small form factor. Just be aware that the default RAID 0 provides no protection from a disk failure so be sure to take backups of important work. The drive can be reconfigured into a RAID 1 configuration using Apple’s Disk Utility although you’ll sacrifice probably about 50% of your write speed when moving to RAID 1.