LaCie Big Disk Quadra
Heavier than other external drives
LaCie Big Disk Thunderbolt
Needs external power
Little Big Disk Quadra vs Thunderbolt
Most Mac users would be familiar with LaCie. It’s created a niche in portable storage by creating drives that are not only functional but look great. However, it’s also given us an opportunity to compare two products that only differ in that one uses the new Thunderbolt standard for connectivity while the other uses FireWire 800.
Both the Little Big Disk Quadra and Thunderbolt series devices are built from the same, solid aluminium casing. One critical difference is that the Thunderbolt unit requires an external power supply to run as the Thunderbolt interface doesn’t supply power. The Quadra also has USB and eSATA connectors along with a pair of FW800 sockets. The Thunderbolt only has Thunderbolt connections.
Theoretically, Thunderbolt delivers up to 10Gbps whereas FW800 is limited to 800Mbps. However, with hard drives, performance is dictated by more than just the interface. There’s also the speed of the drive to consider. Both units we tested shipped with drives that operate at 7200rpm.
We tested the two devices by copying the same files to them and then copying files back from the drives. When writing data, we found the Thunderbolt drive to be about 21 percent faster. Copying files back to our Mac’s hard drive, Thunderbolt was about 19 percent faster. When writing small files, this difference will barely be noticeable but it equates to about three seconds per gigabyte.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
Both drives offer solid build quality and good performance. It will take a while for Thunderbolt to hit the mainstream so, if you’re sharing the drive around, the Quadra might be a safer bet. But for personal use the extra speed of the Thunderbolt is worth looking at.