For owners of Thunderbolt-equipped Macs who want to put the fancy new interconnect port to good use, there are still precious few options. Thankfully, LaCie has released another, the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Edition 240GB SSD.
Like the other products in LaCie’s Little Big Disk line, the Thunderbolt Series are aluminum, portable, external two-drive RAID arrays that can be used in mirrored or striped modes. (You can reconfigure the drive using OS X’s Disk Utility.)
The drive is available from the online Apple Store for $900. Like with the other Thunderbolt storage offerings, LaCie doesn’t include the necessary Thunderbolt cable, which Apple sells for $50.
Also, like the other Thunderbolt drives we’ve tested, the Little Big Disk SSD has only the Thunderbolt connection. While all of Apple’s current line of Macs (aside from the Mac Pro) include Thunderbolt ports, these products would be much more versatile if they had FireWire or USB ports. The Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series do offer two Thunderbolt ports, however, which allows you daisy chain more Thunderbolt devices or an Apple Cinema Display with Mini DisplayPort.
A drive with a similar design as the LaCie SSD, the Little Big Disk Quadra ($369 for a 1TB 7200 rpm model), can use power via FireWire. The Thunderbolt SSD drive needs external power, making it not as portable as the Quadra. The Thunderbolt connection does supply some bus power, but not enough for the two SSDs in the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt.
In terms of speed, the LaCie SSD put up some big performance numbers. In read tests using the AJA System Test, the SSD reached 478.6MBps, much faster than the 207.2MBps that the 2TB Little Big Disk hard drive ( ) posted, and more than six times as fast as the portable Avastor XMR 1.5TB ( ) two-drive RAID’s score over FireWire 800. The Promise Pegasus R6 12TB four-disk Thunderbolt RAID was only 11 percent faster in the read test than the two-drive LaCie SSD. Write tests using AJA were a different story though, with the Pegasus getting 707.6MBps, versus the LaCie SSD’s 258.4MBps. The LaCie SSD was still 36 percent faster than the 2TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt hard drive, and 3.5 times faster than the Avastor.
In our reading and writing folders and files in the Finder, the differences between the results flattened out quite a bit, with the LaCie SSD nipping at the heels of the Pegasus in our Read tests, with a the four-drive RAID still putting a little distance between it and the LaCie SSD.
Macworld’s buying advice
It only works with Thunderbolt-equipped Macs, but for those who can use it, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Edition 240GB SSD packs a big performance punch in a small package.