Pros: Fast data throughput; great HD video performance; small unit
Cons: Pricey; requires mains power
Apple’s Thunderbolt connection standard allows you to edit HD video using a MacBook Pro like never before – even topping the throughput possible with an eSATA add-in card. LaCie’s Thunderbolt version of its Little Big Disk is a two-drive box that’ll easily slip into your laptop bag.
The Thunderbolt Little Big Disk is available in 1TB and 2TB hard drive versions, but the one that many editors will be after features two 120GB SSDs for ultra-fast performance. All are available exclusively through the Apple Store, though at time of writing the SSD hadn't appeared yet.
We benchmarked our unit using BlackMagic Design’s free Disk Speed Test app, which is designed to tell you if your storage is fast enough to feed its editing hardware.
Using the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt in the standard striped mode (RAID 0), we clocked a write speed of 245.8MBps and a read speed of 476.6MBps – more than enough for real-time HD or 2K editing.
In comparison, the 5,400rpm drive built into our MacBook Pro topped out at 92.0MBps (write) and 93.2MBps (read), which is just about good enough for SD formats.
We tested the Little Big Disk with both drives mirrored (in case you need the extra security), and got relatively good results (127.6MBps write and 419.9MBps read). But with only 120GB of storage, you’ll only really want to do this if you’re editing on-set in a swamp, for example.
Thunderbolt allows multiple Little Big Disk to be daisychained together, and you can even plug your monitor in too – though this will affect performance.
The SSD version of the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt isn’t without flaws. Its price will keep it out of the reach of most users – though it’s well worth the cost – and while Thunderbolt can deliver power, the Little Big Disk has to be plugged into the mains. Even so, its performance alone makes it a winner.