There is certainly no shortage of portable hard drives on the market today and if you look at some of our prior reviews, like the WD My Passport Ultra or the Seagate Backup Plus for Mac you’ll know that while they all work in basically the same way, they also each try to offer something that sets them apart from the competition. And the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive is no exception. Whether it’s the USB-C support or the polished aluminum case, this portable hard drive is worth a closer look.
Apple Tech Talk Scorecard
|USB-C Support||The side edges could have a softer profile.|
|Includes USB 3.0 Cable for Mac and PC use|
Who is LaCie
LaCie was founded in 1987 as La Cie Ltd., in Tigard, Oregon and focused on computer storage solutions based on the SCSI interface. Since Apple adopted SCSI as its primary interface standard, the market for LaCie products grew along with the popularity of the Macintosh.
In 1995, LaCie, which by that time was part of Plus Development, a subsidiary of Quantum Corp., was acquired by électronique d2, a Paris, France based Electronics Company that was also involved in the development of SCSI hardware and looking for an entry into the North America computer market.
Since 2014, LaCie, has been the premium brand of Seagate technology, and designs world-class storage solutions with a focus on photographers, videographers, audio professionals, and other power users, but there products are certainly an option for everyone.
What sets LaCie drives apart from many of its competitors is their attention to both form and function. As they state on their web site:
“Since 1992, we have collaborated with visionary designers to bring you cutting-edge products. From Ziba Design to Porsche Design GmbH, as well as Karim Rashid, Ora-Ïto, and Philippe Starck, a who’s-who list of prominent designers have made their mark on our products. The talent of these designers ensures that you are not just getting a way to store your files — you are buying a product where design and technology merge to result in complete usability.”
LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive
The packaging of the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive is very Apple-like. The white box is what you would expect to see hanging on display in your local Apple store. When you open it you’ll find a clear plastic holder that contains the drive, a USB-C cable, a USB-C to USB 3.0 (Type-A) Adapter Cable and a Quick Start Guide.
We have unboxed a lot of hard drives but have to admit this one made us pause once we took it out of the package. Silly as this might sound, this is a pretty hard drive and we took a minute to just admire it as it sat on the desk waiting to be put to work.
The hard drive case is a beautiful brushed aluminum with polished aluminum on the edges. The drive is a mere 6.8 oz. and at 3.3” wide (84mm) x 5” long (128mm) and 0.4” high (10mm), it’s not the smallest portable drive on the market but it has a diminutive look and feel to it that makes you think it is smaller than it actually is.
There is a single USB-C port on (what we consider) the front edge of the drive with a small white LED next to the port to show disk status and activity.
The drive is available in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models. The 1TB and 2TB models have the same exterior dimensions and weight. The 4TB model is double the height at 0.8” (21mm) and slightly heavier at 11.1 oz.
Our only negative comment about the design is that the edges of the side protrude slightly from the top and bottom surfaces and they have a bit of a rough edge. It’s not sharp enough to cut you but it feels unfinished and we would have liked that edge to be a little softer.
LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive – Set-Up
When you first connect the drive to your Mac, is mounts on the desktop with a drive name of LACIE SETUP. In looking at the drive in Disk Utility we found that the drive itself registered as a 2TB drive, with a Master Boot Record Partition map and the MS-DOS (FAT32) format.
It had one Child Partition which was the LACIE SETUP mounted on the desktop. That was a small 273MB partition which contained a set-up file.
Launching the Set-Up program presents the user with a simple to follow process for how you want to format the hard drive. The default is a 400MB partition in the FAT32 format for use on a Windows machine and the remainder in the native HFS+ format for Macs. The on-screen instructions suggest to move the slider to the right if you will only use the drive on a Windows platform, all the way to the left for Mac only or anywhere in between for mixed usage. We elected to format the entire disk in the HFS+ format.
The next screen offers you the ability to install some additional software to use with the drive. By default the User Manual is selected and you don’t have the option to unselect it. You also have the ability to choose the LaCie Desktop Manager and the Intego Backup Assistant. We installed both of these which appear in your application folder.
The Desktop Manager is billed as an application to assist in the management of the drive. It allows you an easy way to change the device name and reformat the drive if needed. We could see this being a real asset if you own multiple LaCie drives but you may not want to bother with it for only one drive.
The Intego software seems a little more useful and is a nice reminder that if you’re not backing up your data, you should. The version included with the drive is the Backup Assistant version which requires that you be backing up data from or to the LaCie drive. A “Pro” version which doesn’t have that restriction is available for purchase from the LaCie website.
When we first mounted the drive it showed the usual orange hard disk icon that Mac users are so familiar with. Once we went through the set-up process, the icon was updated to a sleek representation of the drive. That icon stays associated with the drive even if you move it to a different computer. We thought that was a nice touch and certainly makes it easier to distinguish one drive from another when multiple drives are mounted.
On some level, the additional software and the whole set-up application seems like overkill. We could just have easily plugged in the drive and reformatted it with Disk Utility, especially since the additional software is available for download from the LaCie support page at any time, but that wouldn’t have given us the special drive icon so in the end, we were glad we went through the process.
LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive – Test Results
The folks at LaCie clearly understand that USB-C is so new that many people don’t yet have the hardware to take advantage of it. They even advertise this drive as, the drive that “works with any computer — the one you own and the one you might have on your wish list.” We fall into the latter category.
Unfortunately, we do not yet have access to a Macbook with a USB-C connection either so we are not able to test how close we could come to the advertised 5Gb/s bus speed, but thanks to the included USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter cable that is included with the drive, it is ready to use out of the box.
We tested the drive using the Blackmagic Speed Test application on an older MacBook Pro with a USB 2.0 connection. We saw write and read speeds in the mid 30MB/s range.
We then tested the drive on a 2015 MacBook Air with a USB 3.0 connection and, as expected, got significantly faster speeds in the 125 to 130MB/s range.
These results are pretty typical of the speeds we have seen from other drives on these machines and as you often hear, “your mileage may vary.”
The Bottom Line
There is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to selecting an external hard drive and some would argue that they have become somewhat of a commodity item and are basically all the same.
The LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive certainly changes that. The USB-C connectivity ensures that this hard drive will meet your data transfer needs now and well into the future.
The LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive carries a two year warranty and is currently available exclusively at your local Apple Store or on line at apple.com, with an MSRP of $109.95 for the 1TB model, $149.95 for the 2TB model and $229.99 for the 4TB model. It will also be available on LaCie.com and from LaCie resellers in the coming weeks.
There are certainly less expensive hard drives available but if you have a situation where you may want or need to have an external drive on your desk at all times and if aesthetics is important to you, we can think of no better drive to have on display. We think the LaCie Porsche Design 2TB Drive says that where you store your data is just as important as the data itself.
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