Introduction and Testbed Setup

Seagate's premium storage brand, LaCie, has been introducing a wide variety of Thunderbolt 2 products since late last year. We reviewed the 2big Thunderbolt 2 as well as the Rugged Thunderbolt back in July. Today, LaCie is adding one more member to their Thunderbolt family, the d2 Thunderbolt 2. The original d2 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt series was, in essence, a hard drive in an external enclosure with support for both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt (first generation) interfaces. The product being launched today doesn't simply upgrade the Thunderbolt interface to Thunderbolt 2, but brings in some innovative updates.

One of the limitations of the original d2 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt unit was the SATA hard drive inside the unit. The new version, by default, ships with a hard drive, but also adds an SSD upgrade option (without sacrificing the hard drive's capacity play). The SSD is PCIe-based and not limited by the SATA bandwidth. The unit is, to our knowledge, the first external hybrid desktop storage drive. As we will see in the performance section, it also happens to be the fastest single-drive desktop storage system. On the external side of things, the new unit also has a slightly different industrial design. The detailed specifications of the review unit are provided in the table below.

LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 2 and SSD Upgrade
Internal Storage Media 1x 6 TB 3.5" ST6000DX000 HDD
1x 6 TB 3.5" ST6000DX000 HDD + 1x 128 GB Samsung XP941 PCIe SSD
Interface 2x Thunderbolt 2 + 1x USB 3.0 (HDD)
2x Thunderbolt 2 (HDD + SSD)
Cooling Aluminium Chassis (HDD)
Aluminium Chassis + Fan (SSD)
Power Supply 100-240V AC Switching Adapter (12V @ 4A DC) (HDD)
100-240V AC Switching Adapter (12V @ 5A DC) (HDD + SSD)
Included Software
  • Intego Backup Assistant for Mac
  • LaCie Genie Timeline for Windows
  • LaCie Private-Public (Software Encryption)
Product Page LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 2
LaCie d2 SSD Upgrade
Price $499 (HDD)
$499 + $299 (HDD + SSD)

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Evaluation of DAS units on Windows is done with the testbed outlined in the table below. For devices with USB 3.0 connections (such as the My Book Duo that we are considering today), we utilize the USB 3.0 port directly hanging off the PCH.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z97-PRO Wi-Fi ac ATX
CPU Intel Core i7-4790
Memory Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A2133C11
32 GB (4x 8GB)
DDR3-2133 @ 11-11-11-27
OS Drive Seagate 600 Pro 400 GB
Optical Drive Asus BW-16D1HT 16x Blu-ray Write (w/ M-Disc Support)
Add-on Card Asus Thunderbolt EX II
Chassis Corsair Air 540
PSU Corsair AX760i 760 W
OS Windows 8.1 Pro
Thanks to Asus and Corsair for the build components

Full details of the reasons behind choosing the various components in the above build, as well as the details of our DAS test suite can be found here.

Setup and Usage Impressions - Thunderbolt on Windows
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  • vFunct - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    Drobo also has an external hybrid HD/SSD storage system. Reply
  • m2inor - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    Drobo uses mSATA. LaCie is using PCIe SSD for much faster I/O. Reply
  • simonrichter - Friday, October 03, 2014 - link

    You are right, and also LaCie doesn't match up to some of the really good computer storage devices (see http://www.consumertop.com/best-computer-storage-g... for example). Reply
  • sheh - Thursday, September 25, 2014 - link

    I think USB 3.1's Alternate Modes pretty much dooms Thunderbolt. Reply
  • tricktech - Wednesday, October 01, 2014 - link

    Interested to know when you get an update on the CRC errors and temperature - on the hook waiting to buy one of these drives. Reply
  • hketterle - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    Anandtech, please review external Thunderbolt devices with a Mac system as well. The past three reviews (2Big Thunderbolt 2, Promise M4, and now the d2 Thunderbolt 2) have all been reviewed on a Windows test rig. First off most Thunderbolt users today are likely to be on Mac systems as Thunderbolt is built into all Macs of the last 3 years. Secondly, I don't think this gives particularly accurate results. The main result I call into question is the R/W speeds of the 2Big Thunderbolt 2. These are much lower than Lacie's claims, and slower than the previous version despite using higher density drives (at least on the 12TB model). It seems likely that there is a performance bottleneck in the Thunderbolt adapter or software your test rig uses.

    I really loved your earlier reviews of Thunderbolt external storage (like Anand's review with the Thunderbolt display sound issues) and would like to see your site keep up the high standard of technical review. I think this would require testing Thunderbolt with a Mac system as well.
    Reply
  • hketterle - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    haha, would have been good to read the whole review before posting. Thanks for the effort to test with a Mac too Reply
  • fredzer - Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - link

    It is much cheaper to just remove the HDD from the unit and replace it with an SSD, without buying the LaCie upgrade kit. That way, you get lots more storage (up to 1TB SSDs are available). I did this with a Crucial SSD, and it works just fine. Speeds top out in benchmarks at about 450 MB/sec, but that's probably due to the fact that my SSD is over a year old. Reply

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