LaCie 4big Quadra 2TB. Ugly Box, Great Performance

A couple of days ago, I posted a review of the Data Robotics Drobo 2.0.  While I loved the featues and ease of use – I was less impressed with it’s average USB 2.0 performance, and sub-par FireWire 800 performance (well, in Windows anyway).  I decided to replace it with a LaCie 2TB 4big Quadra and promised that I would post the performance difference I discover.


Well – I’m finished with my initial testing, run on the same exact MacBook Pro 17″ 2.66Ghz notebook with Windows Vista 64-bit.  Results are exactly as I expected, see below:


Tests run on a 2.66Ghz Core2Duo MacBook Pro with a 7200RPM 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black HDD, 4GB of RAM, running Windows Vista 64-bit

  • RAID 0 Mode – USB 2.0 – 5.5GB Large File Transfer – 28,958,069 Bytes/sec. – Roughly 29MB/sec or around 1656.994 Megabytes per minute.
  • RAID 0 Mode – USB 2.0 – 389MB Small File/Folder Transfer – 7,657,999 Bytes/sec – Roughly 7.6MB/sec or around 438.194 Megabytes per minute.
  • RAID 5 Mode – USB 2.0 – 5.5GB Large File Transfer – 24,378,867 Bytes/sec. – Roughly 24MB/sec or around 1394.970 Megabytes per minute.
  • RAID 5 Mode – USB 2.0 – 389MB Small File/Folder Transfer – 12,191,366 Bytes/sec – Roughly 12MB/sec or around 697.595 Megabytes per minute.


I then shut down the computer, Powered down the Quadra, and hooked it up via the FireWire 800 cable, plugged it into the PC – then rebooted everything.  As with the Drobo, I expected to see better performance.  If not, it would definately prove that Vista FireWire support is lacking.  If it was, it would definately spell problem for Drobo 2.0 v1.3 firmware.

  • RAID 0 Mode – FireWire 800 – 5.5GB Large File Transfer – 49,686,687 Bytes/sec – Roughly 50MB/sec or around 2843.095 Megabytes per minute.
  • RAID 0 Mode – FireWire 800 – 389MB Small File/Folder Transfer – 2,857,061 Bytes/sec – Roughly 3MB/sec or around 163.482 Megabytes per minute (Verified Twice)


I didnt bother running the FireWire 800 RAID 5 tests as I expected them to be close to what I saw for RAID 0 – Stellar, although for some reason small file transfer speed slowed down quite a bit, the large file transfer absolutely cooked the USB time – telling me that the Drobo (which scored lower results FireWire 800 versus USB 2.0) still has some kinks to work out.


I also ran HDTune tests and received the following results

  • USB 2.0 – Read Benchmark Test (RAID 0 Mode)
    • Minimum Transfer Rate – 24.1MB/sec
    • Maximum Transfer Rate – 32.0MB/sec
    • Average Transfer Rate – 25.0MB/sec
    • Access Time – 16.0ms
    • Burst Rate – 20.4MB/sec
  •  FireWire 800 – Read Benchmark Test (RAID 0 Mode) 
    • Minimum Transfer Rate – 61.7MB/sec
    • Maximum Transfer Rate – 63.4MB/sec
    • Average Transfer Rate – 62.7MB/sec
    • Access Time – 15.5ms
    • Burst Rate – 50.5MB/sec
  • USB 2.0 – Read Benchmark Test (RAID 5 Mode)
    • Minimum Transfer Rate – 24.7MB/sec
    • Maximum Transfer Rate – 31.2MB/sec
    • Average Transfer Rate – 25.8MB/sec
    • Access Time – 19.7ms
    • Burst Rate – 20.7MB/sec


Now – as promised, my plan was to hook this drive up to my server via SATA-II eSATA port and run benchmarks.  WOW – Drobo eat your heart out!

Tests were run on a Dual Xeon 3.0Ghz Server with 16.0GB RAM, Windows 2008 Server 64-bit, and a relatively benign Silicon Image SiI3132 PCI-Express x1 eSATA card:

  • RAID 5 Mode – eSATA – 23.5GB Large File Transfer – 150,712,182 Bytes/sec. – Roughly 151MB/sec or around 8623.820 Megabytes per minute.
  • RAID 5 Mode – eSATA – 44.8GB Small File/Folder Transfer – 42,014,526 Bytes/sec – Roughly 42MB/sec or around 2404.090 Megabytes per minute.


I also ran HDTune tests and received the following results

  • eSATA – Read Benchmark Test (RAID 5 Mode)
    • Minimum Transfer Rate – 109.9MB/sec
    • Maximum Transfer Rate – 115.9MB/sec
    • Average Transfer Rate – 115.2MB/sec
    • Access Time – 19.1ms
    • Burst Rate – 104.9MB/sec


And keep in mind, that is with a relatively inexpensive eSATA card.  I spoke with LaCie Tech Support (who were fantastic by the way) – and they actually have benchmark results when hooked up to a Mac eSATA that are upwards of 280MB/sec on RAID 0 configurations.  This is truly an external drive that you can run as a main drive or backup.  Excellent product!

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