d2 Quadra full review

Low-cost external hard drives are ten-a-penny these days. However, most use a standard USB 2.0 interface, or possibly FireWire 400 (which is the slower of the two versions of FireWire). Those two options are fine for most home and small business users, but many professional users need a bit of extra performance for tasks such as video editing, or when backing up really large amounts of data.

LaCie’s d2 Quadra provides that extra performance by including no less than four different interface options. As well as USB 2.0 and FireWire 400, it also includes two FireWire 800 interfaces and the latest eSATA interface as well. Our review unit was a 500GB model, but other sizes are available up to 1TB.

Other aspects of the Quadra’s design are also aimed at professional users, such as the fact that its slimline chassis can easily be stacked. This allows users to link multiple drives together to create customised, high-capacity storage systems.

However, it’s the drive’s performance that is most important. Not surprisingly, the USB 2.0 interface is the slowest, taking 430 seconds to back up a 10GB folder of files. FireWire 400 increases the speed to 350 seconds, while FireWire 800 – which will be the most common option for owners of the Mac Pro or MacBook Pro – performs the same task in 270 seconds. The eSATA interface has the potential to offer even higher speeds – up to 3Gbps compared to the 800Mbps of FireWire 800. However, Macs don’t have eSATA interfaces as standard, so you’ll need to buy a suitable adaptor from LaCie or another manufacturer. The speeds of these adaptors themselves can vary, so eSATA performance is more dependent upon the configuration of the complete Mac system.

We’re not entirely sure why LaCie includes three back-up programs with the drive, but it’s nice to have the choice, especially since Time Machine is fairly limited when it comes to options such as scheduling backups of specific sets of files.

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