Today we are going to take a look at our second Thunderbolt 3 drive here on LensVid and this time it’s the new LaCie 2big Dock RAID solution.
We have already talked a bit about Thunderbolt 3, its big advantages and some of the complexities (especially for PC users) on our recent review of the G-Tech 16TB Thunderbolt 3 drive, so we are not going to repeat all of this here aside from stating that with the help of the good people on ASUS we were finally able to fix our TB3 issues on our main test machine just as we were wrapping up this review.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the Lacie 2Big Dock 20TB edition.
The Lacie 2Big Dock 20TB – small and powerful
Design, build and connections
The 2Big Dock is very well built with a full metal enclosure that has a nice feel too it. Unlike the G-Tech that we tested, Lacie actually put a mini docking station in the front (hence the name) including an SD card reader, a CF card reader and a USB 3.0 port. There is also a large blue LED that lets you know what is the drive’s status and two horizontal bays that host the
dual Segate 10TB IronnWolf Pro NAS drives which on their own cost over $750 if you buy them off the shelf (LaCie also has 2Big Dock units preconfigured with up to 24TB and you can replace the drives yourself easily if you want).
Fast Pro drives – 2Big Dock
On the back of the unit, you have quite a few more connections including a Displayport, a USB 3.1 type C port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a power cable connector (like the G-tech drive it comes with a pretty large power brick). It also has a Kensington security slot if you want to lock the drive and the grill for the internal 60mm silent Noctua fan which sadly you can’t control (more on noise later).
The back of the unit – lots of connections
The unit is smaller than the G-tech and quite small in general, it measures just over 22cm (8.5″) long and 12cm (4.5″) wide with a height of 9cm (3.5″), but it is equally as heavy with the drives and all that metal, weighing over 2.8kg or 6.3 pounds.
The device comes with two cables, a short 50cm or 20 inch TB3 to TB3 cable (we are guessing that this is a 40Gbps cable and not the slower 20Gbps cable the G-tech came with but we are not sure), as well as a USB 3.1 type C to type A cable. We don’t care very much for the short Thunderbolt 3 cable especially since buying long fast TB3 cables can be very expensive. We ended up getting a longer 2 Meter 20Gbps cable so we can place the drive further away from us.
Just like in our previous review there are three main things to test when it comes to a drive like this, transfer speed, noise and reliability. One note before we start, similar to the G-tech, the Lacie came pre-formatted for MAC. If you are using a PC like we do, you will need to use the Lacie Raid manager to reformat it for Windows (this is a nice piece of software that was very recently updated as well).
We will start with transfer speeds. We tested the drive in RAID 0 (in this case 18.65TB are available to the user) and in RAID 1 (where only 9.5TB are available to the user). We tested the drive using CrystalDiskMark (ver. 6.0) and we also did a real-world test moving files to and from the drive to the computer which used a Samsung 840 SSD. We tested speeds in CrystalDiskMark on both TB3 and using USB 3.0 (and just for comparison also with USB 3.1). We didn’t test the JBOD mode. You can look at the results on this table:
You can see that the drive performed very well in RAID 0 with 457MBs read and 454MBs write, with a bit over half the speed in RAID 1 (which is also kind of nice). Using either USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 brought the speed significantly lower and if you are considering connecting this drive using anything but TB3 we would suggest that you look for a different, less expensive option (although in RAID 0 results can still be considered to be O.K.).
We also tested the front SD card reader with some very nice score – especially when using a fast Sandisk 280MBs Extreme Pro U3 card.
Our real-world results of transferring 3.6GB of data (15 video files) were a bit perplexing. We got around 156MBs to the computer, but about 360MBs to the drive. We suspect that our system had some bottle-neck with the SSD.
We re-did the real world test when we were finally able to make our main computer work with TB3 using the ASUS ThunderboltEX 3 add-on card. Interestingly we got very different results with over 300MBs on average to the computer but only a little over 200MBs to the drive (this time with a much larger test folder with over 60TB for more accurate results).
As for reliability, it is still early for us to tell with only three months of use and we might do a follow up in a year’s time if people might be interested. We can say that at Backblaze 2017 Q3 data stats report, out of more than 1200 similar 10TB Seagate drives they had 0 drive fails (that is very nice to hear but in all honesty the few months that these drives have been around is too little time although the sample rate, in this case, isn’t that small).
When it comes to noise level there are a few things that you need to keep in mind including the fan in the back (which is actually not that noisy on this unit), as well as the spinning and seek noises of the drives themselves. In our noise test, the ambient noise was usually under 30db and the drive from about 50cm or about 20 inches registered a jump to about 35db after a noisy start but with clicks/seek sounds every few seconds that can go up to 40db. We find these noises to be quite annoying. Just like the G-Tech 16TB TB3, operating noise seems to be the biggest downside of this otherwise really outstanding unit.
So what do we think about the LaCie 2big Dock drive? this is, again, one of the first large capacity TB3 drives on the market, and as such, it is pretty impassive. The unit is very well built has plenty of connectivity with a very useful front SD/CF card readers, has easy to replace enterprise level drives and has a very impressive transfer speed for a two drive RAID solution.
On the downside, at close to $1200 this is a lot of money per TB (the 16TB version cost 200 dollars less which is about $50 more than the similarly sized G-tech that we tested; the 20TB versions actually cost the same). Although you can get the same capacity out of a WD My Book Duo Desktop RAID for under $800, you will certainly not get the same speed, drive quality or extra functionality out of that unit.
High performing two drive unit
Just like with the G-tech, for us, the biggest issue with this drive seems to be the noise and on this drive with the short cable there is no way to hide the drive very far and it can be distracting especially if you are working on sound critical projects. We actually purchased a longer cable and we are going to try and place the unit in a cabinet with some soundproofing to reduce some of the noise (do make sure you have sufficient airflow in the cabinet if you are doing this so the drive won’t get too hot), and we really hope to see more soundproofing and silent drives on TB3 storage solutions in the future.
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