Hands-on with the LaCie Rugged RAID: Thunderbolt speed in a rugged enclosure

LaCIe Rugged RAID

LaCIe Rugged RAID

LaCie is a brand that’s probably quite familiar to Apple World Today readers, producing stylish storage products for Mac for years. Today I’m looking at the new LaCie Rugged RAID (US$419.99, available today), featuring up to 4 TB RAID 0 or 2 TB RAID 1 (mirrored) storage in an portable bus-powered enclosure designed to put up with shock, dust and even being splashed with water.


  • Dimensions: 1.3 x 3.6 x 5.8 inches (34 x 91 x 148 mm)
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs. (0.56 kg)
  • Internal Storage: 2 x 2 TB HD
  • Interfaces: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0
  • RAID Modes: Preconfigured RAID 0, Hardware RAID 0/1
  • Rugged Design: IP 54 rated, 1.5 meter (5 ft) drops, can withstand being run over by a 2205 lb/1000 kg car


LaCie’s Rugged line of drives features a design by Neil Poulton that is almost iconic in nature, featuring bright orange exterior padding over an aluminum enclosure. A Thunderbolt cable is built into the device and wraps into a niche around the outside of the drive, and there’s an additional USB 3.0 port for Macs that don’t have a Thunderbolt port… like that new MacBook, for example.

A removable foam cover (spare included) goes over the USB 3.0 port, RAID switches, and the power supply port. That power supply port isn’t really necessary unless you’re plugging into a non-powered USB hub; I was able to test the drive under bus power for both USB and Thunderbolt. LaCie does include an external power adapter with plugs for most countries.

The big deal with this drive? The ability to put up with impacts, dust, sand, and the occasional water splash. The following video from LaCie shows the drive at work with a professional surfing photographer who copies images to the drive and then mails it to a magazine publisher.

The IP 54 certification means that it’s dust protected (“Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment; complete protection against contact (dust proof)”) and that “water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.”


I benchmarked the Rugged RAID with our standard tool — QuickBench, part of Intech’s SpeedTools Test Suite. Since the Rugged RAID can be configured either as RAID 0 or RAID 1, I tested it with a Thunderbolt connection in both configurations.

RAID 0 (striping) provides no redundant protection for your data, but maximizes speed and capacity by writing to both hard disk drives simultaneously. For protection, RAID 1 (mirroring) writes the same data to both drives simultaneously, giving users a backup copy of the data at the expense of capacity and speed.

LaCie’s specifications state that the RAID 0 configuration can achieve 240 MB/s in both read and write mode, while RAID 1 achieves 115 MB/s in read mode, 120 MB/s in write. Let’s take a look at my benchmarks, which test speeds with both small (4 - 1024 KB) files, large files (2 - 10 MB), and extended files (20 - 100 MB).

RAID 0 Configuration - approximately 4 TB capacity

Standard Test (small file size):

  • Sequential Read - 177.060 MB/s

  • Sequential Write - 206.268 MB/s

  • Random Read - 25.527 MB/s

  • Random Write - 140.735 MB/s

Large Test (larger file size):

  • Large Read - 254.392 MB/s
  • Large Write - 373.267 MB/s

Extended Test (much larger file size):

  • Extended Read - 249.769 MB/s
  • Extended Write - 274.505 MB/s

RAID 1 Configuration - approximately 2 TB capacity

Standard Test (small file size):

  • Sequential Read - 103.685 MB/s
  • Sequential Write - 122.383 MB/s
  • Random Read - 20.559 MB/s
  • Random Write - 68.543 MB/s

Large Test (larger file size):

  • Large Read - 125.413 MB/s
  • Large Write - 166.983 MB/s

Extended Test (much larger file size):

  • Extended Read - 124.249 MB/s
  • Extended Write - 122.521 MB/s

As expected, the LaCie Rugged RAID does better with large files sizes, actually exceeding the specified speeds in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. What this means is that for anyone who does work with large files — photos or video, for example — this is an excellent drive for backing up those files. In day to day usage as a Time Machine backup of the hundreds of thousands of small files that are produced by OS X and applications, it’s going to be about as fast as any drive.


The LaCie Rugged RAID isn’t cheap — if you’re looking for inexpensive USB 3.0 backup storage, there are external drives that are available for as little as $120. But if you’re looking for speed with RAID 0 striping or security with RAID 1 mirroring, all in a rugged package that can put up with drops, sand, water splashes, and being run over by a car, then the Rugged RAID is the drive you want.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars possible): ★★★★★