Photo Gear

Mac Photographers – Would a La Cie Thunderbolt Hard Drive Speed up your Post Processing?

While Apple introduced the Thunderbolt interface in 2011, peripheral manufacturers have been slow to develop products for the new interface.  Those products that have been developed have been pretty pricey.  Recently though, La Cie introduced more reasonably priced Thunderbolt hard drives.  But, is the speed of the Thunderbolt drives worth the investment?
 
I recently purchased a LaCie d2 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series 4TB External Hard Drive to replace my Drobo Storage Array connected via FireWire 800.  I decided to go with the La Cie drive as the price of the new Drobo 5d Thunderbolt Storage Array is quite expensive.

 
La Cie d2 Thunderbolt Hard Drive

Performance Results

The La Cie Thunderbolt Drive performed quite well compared to the Drobo.  Here are some of my performance results of the La Cie Thunderbolt Drive.
 
Uploading 18.95 GB of Canon Raw Files from an 800X CF Card using a Firwire 800 Card Reader and a Firewire 800 / Thunderbolt converter.
  • La Cie Thunderbolt Drive – 5:19 minutes
  • Drobo – 20:28 minutes
Zoom in to 2:1 ratio in Lightroom 4 for a 345 MB tiff file
  • La Cie Thunderbolt Drive – 3.3 seconds
  • Drobo – 6 seconds
Launch a 26.69 MB Canon raw file in Photoshop CS6 from Lightroom 4 with Photoshop already open
  • La Cie Thunderbolt Drive – 4.3 seconds
  • Drobo – 9.3 seconds
Launch a 26.69 MB Canon raw file in Nik Software’s Viveza 2
  • La Cie Thunderbolt Drive – 10.2 seconds
  • Drobo – 22.5 seconds

Overall, the La Cie Thunderbolt drive performed significantly better than the Drobo on Firewire 800 on all tests.  I’m also doing a nightly backup to the Drobo to protect me from not using a RAID device for my working drive.
 
If you’re interested in more details, here is the equipment that I used for the tests.
  • Lexar 32GB UDMA 7 800x Compact Flash card with 674 Canon 5d Mark iii raw files totaling 18.95 GB
  • Delock FireWire 800 Compact Flash Card Reader
  • Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 adapter
  • iMac 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8 GB memory
  • Drobo 4-Bay USB 2.0/FireWire 800 SATA 6GB/S Storage Array connected to the FireWire 800 port
  • La Cie d2 USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt 4TB external hard drive

Related Blog Posts
Mac Photographers – Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter to Upload Files.  Is it worth it?
The Truth about Checking the Number of Shutter Actuations on a Canon 7d and 5d Mark III DSLRs
Sanho HyperDrive COLORSPACE UDMA2 Multimedia Storage Review

One Comment

  • Mike Alexander

    Use a single LaCie thundrbolt plus a RAID La Cie Thunderbolt and find them excellent and reliable (so far – 3 years so it's Thunderbolt 1 which is slower). Images go onto single LA Cie and are backed up to both the RAID array and Amazon Prime, so have 3 copies of everything, one off site, which is ideal.

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