By James Galbraith, MacworldJUN 10, 2008 3:29 am PDT
At a Glance
Four connection options
No cool fans makes for quiet device
Generous software bundle
No CD copy of the bundled applications
The LaCie d2 case design has been a staple in LaCie’s
external hard drive and optical drive business for years. The company has based many products on this basic design, including the
Little Big Disk. Over the years, LaCie has implemented design changes, like a bigger button and corrugated cases for better heat dissipation. Recently, with the introduction of the new d2 Quadra Hard Disk, the company has updated the look of the original d2 external drive case to incorporate some of those changes found in those newer products.
The “Quadra” designation refers to the four types of connections that the drive supports: FireWire 400, FireWire 800, eSATA and USB 2.0. Thoughtfully, the drive comes with all four types of cables; which port you’ll want to use depends on your Mac. USB 2.0 provides the slowest performance, but USB ports are available on all current Macs as well as most Macs sold over the last 10 years. FireWire 400 is faster than USB 2.0 and ships on all Macs except the
MacBook Air () and also has been featured on most Macs for the last decade. FireWire 800 is faster than both USB 2.0 and FireWire 400, but only ships on higher-end models such as the
Mac Pro. However, the fastest connection available on the d2 Quadra Hard Disk doesn’t come standard on any Mac—eSATA requires either a PC card to operate on laptop Macs, or an installed PCI card for Mac tower systems. As with most drives using 3.5-inch mechanisms, the d2 Quadra Hard Disk requires external power.
Additionally, the drive comes with LaCie’s useful ShortCut Button utility, a System Preference pane that allows you to browse and select just about any application on your Mac to be launched at the push of the big blue button. (I used the blue button to run an
Automator application I made that unmounts the disk.) The one minor irritation about the software bundle is the lack of a physical disc copy of the applications; the utilities and applications come loaded on the drive itself and install automatically when you run the included LaCie Setup Assistant. While this is an environmentally friendly (and probably cost reducing) way to deliver the software, if you were to, say, reformat the drive before copying the applications over (like we did) you might find yourself (as we did) downloading the individual applications from the LaCie and EMC websites.
In our testing, we found the d2 Quadra Hard Disk to be good all-around performer. We compared the d2 Quadra Hard Disk to Buffalo’s
DriveStation TurboUSB (), Iomega’s
UltraMax Hard Drive (), Maxtor’s
OneTouch 4 Plus (), Other World Computing’s
Mercury Elite-AL Pro (), SimpleTech’s
SimpleDrive USB 2.0 External Hard Drive (), Western Digital’s
My Book Studio Edition (), and WiebeTech’s
RTX100-SJ (), the d2 Quadra Hard Disk didn’t win any of our timed trials, but it didn’t come in last in any of them, either.
As mentioned earlier, there was no surprise that the drive performed best when attached via eSATA, but for a single drive device like this, the performance difference may not be worth the effort and expense of buying and installing a third-party eSATA card.
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 800
Copy 1GB file to FireWire 400
Copy 1GB file to USB 2.0
Copy 1GB file to eSATA
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 800
Duplicate 1GB file via FireWire 400
Duplicate 1GB file via USB 2.0
Duplicate 1GB file via eSATA
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 800
Low-memory Photoshop: FireWire 400
Low-memory Photoshop: USB 2.0
Low-memory Photoshop: eSATA
Times are in minutes:seconds
How we tested. We ran all tests with drives connected to a Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Xeon with Mac OS X 10.5 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive with each available port—FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2, and eSATA. We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS3 Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 25 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung
Price per gigabyte
eSATA (1), FW800 (2), FW400 (1), USB 2.0 (1)
320GB, 750GB, 1TB
Macworld’s buying advice
The LaCie d2 Quadra Hard Disk is versatile in terms of connection support, generous in terms of software bundles, and solid in terms of performance. If you’re in the market for an external hard drive, the d2 Quadra Hard Disk definitely deserves your consideration.