LensVid Exclusive: Lacie Rugged USB-C Review

Over a year ago we did a review of the Lacie Rugged RAID and really liked the performance and capacity of this hardy portable multi drive. When we prepared for Photokina last year we took it with us but we wanted to have a second backup and Lacie just announced their new USB-C type Rugged drives so we had a quick talk with them and they were kind enough to send us a 4TB unit to our hotel – which as we will explain in a moment – really helped us.

To Photokina we took an unbelievable amount of gear (too much actually) and we recorded over 100GB of videos and images during 5 days. This was critical information that we could not afford to lose and so we had to have another back up. As much as we loved the Rugged RAID it has one major drawback – if you are using a PC you need to connect it to the AC (unless you have a thunderbolt 2 on your laptop which is extremely rare). This meant that we could only use it in our hotel room and not in the airport or while driving or any other place where we didn’t have a an outlet that we could use.

The rugged USB-C hooked to our laptop


The new 4TB Rugged USB-C on the other hand does not have this limitation and you can power it from your laptop like any normal drive – this proved important on our last day when we had to back up our final interviews including the one with the CEO of Sigma as we were rushing from the convention center to the airport without any time in our Hotel room.

That is it for the introduction – now let’s talk about the drive itself. As you can see it is significantly thinner than the Rugged RAID which host two physical drives but this specific model has the same capacity of 4TB (in a non-RAID form of course).

The Rugged USB-C weighs 338 grams compared to the 534 grams that the thicker two drive Rugged RAID weighs.

Both are considered rugged however the Rugged USB-C is officially rated at a drop resistance of 4 feet (or 1.2m) while the Rugged RAID is rated at 5 feet (or 1.5 meters). In both cases we are talking about a fall when the drive is in non-operating mode mind you. We didn’t really want to risk it but the drive did got some bumps here and there and nothing seemed to happen to it.

Metal chassis with rubber protection


As for water resistance – the Rugged USB-C is only good in mild rain while the Rugged RAID is rated as IP54 which gives a little bit better protection – this is due to the existence of a front cover which comes with the unit (unless you lose it of course).

The Rugged USB-C comes in the package with two cables – an orange USB-C to USB-C and a black USB-C to USB-A (with actual USB 3.0 blue connector). These are pretty short cables of around 20 inches or 50cm. In comparison the Rugged RAID has a built in Thunderbolt 2 cable and it also comes with a USB 3.0 connector and cable.

The Rugged USB-C is fully powered using the USB cable. This is in contrast to the Rugged RAID drive which can only be powered using the Thunderbolt 2 cable and otherwise needs both the USB 3.0 cable and the included power cable connected to power it – which takes away the whole concept of portability with that drive.

Now let’s talk about the performance of the Rugged USB-C. We tested the drive on our main desktop rig which has a 6 core Intel Extreme Processor, 32GB RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 PRO SSD. We also tested it on our slower and older Lenovo Yoga PRO 2 laptop. Sadly both computers don’t come with a built in USB-C which is still pretty new so we had to test the drive with the included USB C to USB 3 cable.

The results on both computers seemed pretty similar so we shall go with the ones from the desktop. As you can see on the screen right now the CrystallDiskMark score shows 84MB/s Read and 112MB/s write – not particularly fast. When we connected the drive to our USB 3.1 port we got a very minor increase in read speed to 89MB/s with the same write results.

Just for compassion sake the Rugged RAID set to RAID 0 is unsurprisingly almost twice as fast with 174MB/s and 181MB/s write. Of course nighter are even remotely close to the  blazing fast score of our Samsung 850 PRO SSD in RAPID mode which is an unbelievable  4277MB/s and 3708MB/s write (keep in mind of course that this is a fully syntactic test).

Real world results are better than the synthetic test results


We also wanted to perform a real world test so we copied about 6.5GB of images and videos from the drive to our desktop computer and back again. The results were pretty interesting – we got 56 seconds of transfer time to the drive which translates into more or less 114MB/s write and 64 seconds of transfer from the drive to the computer which translates into 100MB/s read (which is actually significantly faster than the syntactic test – very surprising).

Even with the faster real world score this still isn’t the fastest 2.5″ HHD around. Although other users did report up to around 130MB/s read and write with the USB-C which we didn’t test yet, but we hope to do soon and we will update the written article on LensVid when we do that.

So let’s sum this quick review of the Lacie Rugged USB-C drive. In terms of pricing the Rugged USB-C is certainly more expensive than comparably sized regular portable HHDs. For example you can get a WD 4TB Black My Passport for less than half the price of Rugged USB-C. So who will want to spend twice as much for this drive? we think that the answer is professionals who are looking for a on the go rugged backup drive that they can count on to survive in almost any situation.

Of course an SSD drive can be even more rugged, thinner and lighter, however at the moment a 4TB SSD will cost close to 6 times as much (and you will need and external enclosure as well) making it more or less an impractical buy for most users.

At the end of the day our experience with the Lacie Rugged USB-C drive has been a very positive one – we have used it in Photokina and it proved invaluable and we continue to use it as our monthly secondary backup drive.

Rugged backup – Lacie rugged USB-C


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