• Price: 110 . 127 . 170 . 247

  • Company: LaCie

  • Pros: Great design; quiet; many port types.

  • Cons: Mediocre performance.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

LaCie has a reputation for the design of its hard drives: there’s a generation of designers that still call external hard drives ‘LaCie drives’ after the ubiquitous blue models of the late 1990s. The d2 Quadra combines an innovative noise-reducing design with a choice of inputs and some well thought-out software – though its performance in our tests is underwhelming.

The d2 Quadra’s case is clearly designed to look good next to a Mac Pro (or Power Mac G5) – but it’ll look just as good next to a range of standard black and silver PC chassis.

The design isn’t just about looks, though: its metal construction and surface area-maximizing ribbed sides has allowed the d2 Quadra to do without a fan. This makes the unit quieter than most other desktop hard drive systems – so it’s great for those working with audio, or anyone who doesn’t like a continuous background buzz. It’s also smaller and uses less power than comparable units.

As the name suggests, the d2 Quadra has four interface options: USB 2.0, FireWire, FireWire 800 and eSATA. These run the gamut of the ubiquitous, the Mac-friendly and the niche-but-fast – and allow the drive to be passed around the studio, shared between your workstation and laptop, and used as a fast media drive on top-spec workstations.

However, this drive’s performance was a bit of a let-down. Comparing it with the drives we looked at in our September 2007 issue, the Quadra was faster overall than Seagate’s FreeAgent Pro (which also lacks a FireWire 800 port). However, it was slower over FireWire and FireWire 800 than the Best Buy-winning MyBook Pro Edition. That lacked an eSATA port, but Western Digital has since released a version with eSATA. The Quadra’s eSATA performance wasn’t much faster than FireWire 800, as you need a multi-drive system to take full advantage of eSATA.

The LaCie Set-up Assistant software for Mac that’s included is excellent, formatting the drive with a main HFS partition and a small ‘exchange’ partition accessible by Windows PCs.

The d2 Quadra is an outstanding concept, but its mediocre performance means it falls short of a Best Buy award.