LaCie’s 2big RAID is a sleek, solid drive if you don’t need Thunderbolt
posted Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8:00 AM EDT
Near the end of 2017, LaCie released the 2big Dock, a two-disk RAID 0/1 desktop drive designed to be a part of a ingest/work/store solution that took advantage of Thunderbolt's speed and daisy-chain capabilities. But the 2big Dock, as good as it is in its use case, was built with a very specific workflow in mind: you were going to ingest footage through the front-facing ports, edit on the very good RAID 0 speeds until the project was complete, then offload the project onto a daisy-chained drive for long term storage. LaCie has given it some thought since then, and realized that not all folks are going to need all those features, but would still want the option for a RAID 0/1 drive and USB-C.
To fill that role, LaCie has announced the 2big RAID. Using the same general design as the 2big Dock but without the front-facing import options and dropping the Thunderbolt 3, the 2big RAID is a more affordable solution for a broader audience. Plus, with a space grey finish, it will look very nice next to new iMac Pros and MacBook Pros.
The 2big Raid comes reformatted in exFAT and also comes with an easy link to LaCie's toolkit application which easily and quickly lets you decide how you want to format your 2big RAID of the default shipping specifications aren't what you're looking for. For example, though it comes as exFAT RAID 0, you may instead want to change that to MacOS Journaled encryption for better performance, or RAID 1 for lower overall speed, but better security. Each of these options was quick and easy to pick and set my drive up in under 3 minutes.
For any ensuing changes to the drive after this initial setup, you can easily change these options again using the LaCie RAID Manager. It's a little disappointing that you can't reformat the drive using the very simple Toolkit app, though. That was a much better experience than their RAID Manager application, and it feels weird to need two applications to achieve the same task.
The 2big RAID is an extremely simple product, which makes it pretty easy to review but also means very few people will have problems using the device or getting the most out of it. Thanks to the initial setup now being super streamlined, even novices at backup and storage can easily get the drive set up how they want, and the simplicity of the device means it's up and running within minutes of taking it out of the box.
The front of the 2big RAID features two doors that house the two Seagate Ironwolf Pro disks, the highest-end enterprise-grade drives that Seagate offers. These can be swapped out of the 2big RAID once full easily and stored for later access if wanted. The process is smooth and you never feel like you're going to break anything, since you never have to muscle any part of the process or hear an unpleasant click (these are common complaints for me, since I always worry about damaging my data when doing a disk swap. Too many drives always make my heart skip a beat in this regard).
The rear of the 2big RAID enclosure is far, far simpler than the 2big Dock, with only a power switch, power supply, desk lock, and USB-C port next to the sizable fan. Compared to the 2big Dock, this is much easier for those less familiar with all the possible options for connectivity that exist today.
Since we're talking about the fan, I do want to mention that this is a pretty quiet drive. I haven't yet heard the fan, and if it's like the 2big Dock (and I suspect it is), I probably won't really ever hear it to a degree where it bothers me. But though this drive is quiet, it's not silent. The two drives working together are audible as the magnetic disk writes. It's not loud, but it's there. This is a pretty typical situation for any HDD system, though.
With all the aforementioned technological slimming down, you may think that performance would suffer, especially when you note that the 2big RAID doesn't feature Thunderbolt 3 like the 2big Dock does. In testing, I was pleasantly surprised to find that performance was pretty much on par with the 2big Dock.
Though the performance has dipped slightly over the 2big Dock (which you can see in our review here), the highest-end speed setting of RAID 0 through USB-C on the 2big RAID comes very close to the same settings through Thunderbolt 3 on the 2big Dock.
Since this drive is built of two typical spinning disk HDDs, seeing the kind of performance we see here is about as good as you can expect. HDDs are far slower than SSDs, and even working in tandem in RAID 0, you can only expect so much. So while they're not the best numbers we've seen out of a setup like this, they are very close.
The 2big RAID is available this month with MSRPs of $419 (4TB), $529 (8TB), and $739 (16TB), which becomes more of a good deal when compared to the 2big Dock the higher the capacity you choose to pick up. At any capacity, however, it is a better deal than the 2big Dock if you don't need the front-facing USB, SD and CF ports or the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.
I will say that the price seems a bit high, given that RAID 0 is less of an emphasis on this device than on the 2big Dock, and as a Raid 1 your usable storage capacity is half what you see on the side of the box. With 8 TB Seagate drives typically under $200, the price point here feels like it is heavily influenced by the look and design of the drive. This is fine, but $419 for 2 TB of usable RAID space seems like a bit much.
What I liked:
- The space gray aluminum is sexy, especially when up against my Apple ecosystem of the same color
- Very easy to setup the first time, with an excellent software tool provided by LaCie
- Pretty fast in both RAID 0 and RAID 1, and only marginally slower than a Thunderbolt device with the same disk setup
- Comes with a 5-year warranty and a month of Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps
What could use improvement:
- Price is a bit high, especially since the usable capacity is cut in half once you use the much more secure RAID 1
I appreciate what LaCie is going for on this drive, and especially enjoy the look and design of the 2big RAID. It's also great that it is a slimmed down, more affordable solution than the 2big Dock without losing much speed and performance. I only wish the price cut was a bit more noticeable, since though you are saving $90 on the 16TB iteration, it's only $70 cheaper in the 8 TB iteration, and the 2big Dock doesn't come any smaller than that. So while it is a savings, it doesn't feel significant enough of a break for those who don't need Thunderbolt 3 or the dock functionality. It's a very well-designed device that will fit the bill of needs for many of you, but the price point may just high enough to be prohibitive.