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LaCie d2 Quadra 1TB Quad-Interface External Hard Drive Hardware Review

LaCie d2 Quadra 1TB Quad-Interface External Hard Drive Hardware Review

Quick Silver

Quick Silver

Over the course of the past year or so, we've been telling you the benefits of the eSATA (er, external serial AT attachment) interface for external hard drives and why we think that interface is probably going to take over the world. And now we have held in our very hands the drive that (we think) allows us to truly put our money where our mouth is. We present to you the LaCie d2 Quadra quad-interface external hard drive.

The beauty of this drive (other than its good looks) is that it is not only fast, but it's versatile too (besides, looks aren't everything). If you have to take some footage to another computer that is eSATA-impaired, you can still make use of your choice of the drive's USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 connections (although none of those connections will be able to unleash the raw performance that the drive is capable of.)

The d2 Quadra ships with a mounting kit to allow the drive to stand upright, along with two CD-ROMs: EMC Retrospect and LaCie's d2 Storage Utilities CD, which includes user manuals and LaCie's own 1-Click Backup, SilverKeeper and SilverLining Pro utilities.

Vroom!

We attached this drive to HP's brand-new xw4600 workstation (reviewed in this issue) to put it through its paces. The Intel Core2 Quad-based machine with 2GB of RAM is a screamer, to be sure, and it is one of the first machines we've seen that includes an eSATA port on the motherboard (bravo, HP!).

We used the freeware HD Tune utility, version 2.54 (www.hdtune.com) to see what kind of performance the drive was capable of and to compare it to the drive that was shipped with our HP workstation.

HP shipped the xw4600 that we tested with a Seagate ST3160815AS SATA hard drive, which maxed out at 73.9MB/sec and averaged 57.9MB/sec for the data transfer rate. The access time was 14.9ms, and the drive could operate in bursts of up to 116.8MB/sec. The CPU usage was a paltry 0.9%. These are very respectable performance figures - not the barnburning numbers we'd get if the computer shipped with a 15,000rpm boot drive, but certainly very respectable nonetheless. (Note that it is completely possible to have an xw4600 configured with a 15k hard drive.)

We attached the d2 Quadra to the workstation with a USB cable first (unfortunately, our workstation lacks an internal FireWire interface, so we had to scrounge around for a FireWire card in order to import any video from a DV camcorder into this machine). The drive's blue activity LED illuminated, and the unit was quickly detected by the system as the Hitachi HDS721010KLA330 hard drive mounted inside LaCie's elegant enclosure growled to life. Before we formatted the drive, we first ran HD Tune on it. The drive turned in a consistent performance level, ranging from 32.5 to 33.3MB/sec and averaging 33.1MB/sec. The access time was 13.8ms, and the overhead of the USB interface raised the CPU usage up to 4.5%. We would fully expect the performance of FireWire to be very close to that of the USB interface - that is to say, pretty quick with a consistent level of performance.

We then attached the drive to the computer, using the hot-swappable eSATA interface. The workstation didn't see the drive when we turned it back on, but a reboot solved that quickly enough. HD Tune's numbers were now dramatically better: data transfer rate now ranged from 41.5-82.9MB/sec, averaging 69.4MB/sec. Access time remained similar, at 13.6ms, and the burst transfer rate rose to 94.9MB/sec. CPU usage was slashed to 0.9% (same as the Seagate drive included with the HP workstation).

The performance of the eSATA port easily trounced the performance of the USB port. This is not to say that you shouldn't use the USB port, though. The performance of the drive when using the USB port is still excellent and more than fast enough for practically any video stream you might be able to think of. It's just that if your computer has an eSATA port, you'll immediately notice the difference that it offers, and in a big way. And LaCie can help you with this if your computer doesn't have an eSATA port: a SATA 3Gbps 1-lane PCI Express card with two external ports is available for $70 (along with a complete array of other interface cards, starting at $25 for a USB 2.0 PCI card.)

The $500 pricetag is pretty fair for everything that you get, too, especially considering that all the cables you'll possibly need are included in the box. If the price of the 1TB model is too rich for your blood, you can also get 320GB, 500GB or 750GB versions, starting at $180. The software provided is useful and valuable.

We think this drive will do a lot to bring eSATA to the forefront - between the drive's great performance and its remarkable versatility, it's a hard act to follow.

TECH SPECS

Drive Specification: One 1TB 7200rpm drive, 32MB cache
Drive Specification: One 1TB 7200rpm drive, 32MB cache
Dimensions: 1.7" x 6.3" x 6.8"
Weight: 3.31 lbs.
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista; Mac OS 10.2.8 or higher

Strengths

  • Excellent performance
  • All major interfaces included
  • Just format and go

Weaknesses

  • None significant

SUMMARY

A versatile and portable drive that's ready to perform.

Charles Fulton is Videomaker' s associate editor.

LaCie USA
22985 NW Evergreen Parkway
Hillsboro, OR 97124
www.lacie.com

$500

Tags:  February 2008
Charles
Fulton
Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:00am