LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Review

Updated March 31, 2014
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LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt
Bottom Line

The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt comes two ways: as an external solid-state drive (in sizes up to 500 GB) or as a mechanical external hard drive (up to 2 TB). The former favors speed and durability while the latter offers much more capacity per dollar. Reviewers, who mostly test the SSD model, praise the drive's fast speeds, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, and shock-resistant casing.

Performance

Fast, flexible and portable. Reviewers test the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt and find it offers very good performance overall. CNET's Dong Ngo tests both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connections, with results he says "proved worthy of its $200 price tag." Joel Santo Domingo at PCMag.com says the LaCie drive really shines in its throughput for video-heavy jobs. This LaCie drive doesn't require an external power supply; you can take it on the go. A setup utility makes configuring the drive for use with a Mac, PC or both very easy. The supplied backup software is both PC and Mac compatible, and the drive ships with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables.

ProsFast Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces, Solid-state (SSD) technology in versions up to 500 GB, Very durable for a portable drive, Good value for an SSD drive with ThunderboltConsHigh price per GB, Largest capacity is not solid-state

Reliability

Tough but not invulnerable. LaCie says the Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt drive can withstand falls from up to 4 feet, thanks to its sturdy aluminum chassis and an orange bumper-sleeve that protects its edges. However, unlike the ioSafe Solo G3 (Est. $360 for 3 TB), the drive is vulnerable to moisture and heat damage. It's backed by a two-year warranty.

In the Amazon.com reviews for the 1-TB HDD version of this drive, there are few complaints about actual drive failures. However, many owners say the included Thunderbolt cable is a cheap knockoff that tends to overheat. We saw reports of cable failure, skin burns and, occasionally, damage to the drive itself. Several reviewers recommend spending the extra $50 on a more reliable cable.

Value

Value depends on the configuration. The SSD versions of this drive are quite pricey: around $200 for 120 GB, $350 for 256 GB and $500 for 500 GB. However, reviewers say that for an SSD, this is actually a very competitive price, especially with the USB and Thunderbolt cables thrown in. The larger versions of this drive, which use a traditional spinning platter, are cheaper: $200 for 1 TB or $300 for 2 TB. However, this is a pretty high price per GB compared to other traditional external hard drives, such as the WD My Book (Est. $115 for 3 TB). Still, the rugged construction and Thunderbolt connection may justify the cost for some users.

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WD 3TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBFJK0030HBK-NESN
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Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt (120GB SSD), Joel Santo Domingo, Sept. 25, 2012

PCMag.com awards the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt an Editors' Choice nod and 4.5 stars out of 5. Joel Santo Domingo says the 120 GB SSD version is "one of the fastest single mechanism drives we've tested," justifying its high cost per GB.

2. CNET

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Review: Rugged and Affordable Thunderbolt Hard Drive, Dong Ngo, Updated Oct. 5, 2012

CNET gives calls the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt 4 stars out of 5, calling it "fast, flexible, rugged and affordable." Dong Ngo tests the 120 GB SSD version and finds the performance of both the USB 3.0 and the Thunderbolt to be excellent.

3. Macworld

Review: LaCie Rugged USB3 Thunderbolt Series Portable SSD Is Fast and Affordable, Kean Bartelman, Nov. 27, 2012

Macworld gives the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt 4.5 "mice" out of 5. Kean Bartelman tests the 120 GB SSD configuration and says it "yielded impressive speeds." While two other Thunderbolt drives perform better, Bartelman notes that the LaCie drive costs considerably less than these competitors.

4. PC Advisor

LaCie Rugged USB 3 Thunderbolt Series Review, Cliff Joseph, Nov. 26, 2012

Britain's PC Advisor reviews the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt external drive in its 120 GB SSD version, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. Reviewer Cliff Joseph says it vastly outperforms other USB 3.0 drives and keeps pace with other Thunderbolt drives, at a much lower price.

5. TheWirecutter.com

The Best Portable Hard Drive, Kimber Streams, March 25, 2014

The Wirecutter says the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt is the best choice for users who need both a rugged portable drive and a Thunderbolt connection. However, Streams says for those who can use them, USB 3.0 drives offer comparable speed for much less money.

6. Amazon.com

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series 1TB External Hard Drive (9000294), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014

While most experts review the SSD versions of the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt, about 80 users at Amazon evaluate the 1-TB HDD version. They give it 3.8 stars overall, saying it's fast, sturdy and easy to set up. However, we saw some complaints about defective drives and cables.