LaCie Porsche Design Type-C Mobile hard drive review: Style for miles and clever setup

By on Jul 16, 2017 in Mobile Design | 0 comments

Some would say that there’s rarely anything sexy or unique about a USB hard drive. Some would say never. LaCie disagrees, and makes its point with stylishly designed products such as the 2TB Porsche Design Type-C Mobile hard drive. It’s undeniably eye-catching, and features a clever dual-partition/file system setup that combines top performance and near-universal compatibility.

Compatibility solved

The compatibility of which we speak concerns the FAT/FAT32/exFAT file system, which is supported by all major operating systems, including those embedded in car stereos, DVD players, industrial controllers, and other devices. Its weakness is the relatively slothful manner in which it writes large batches of small files. NTFS on the PC, and HFS+ are much faster with small files on their respective Windows and OS X platforms.

lacie porsche design slim left 3l gold hi res 731x731 LaCie

The Porsche Design Type-C is formatted at first run to have two partitions: FAT and HFS+ or NTFS.

LaCie has made it easy for even the most inexperienced user to glean the benefits of both file systems by dividing the Porsche Design 2TB into two partitions: a smaller FAT32 “Share” partition for compatibility across all systems, and a larger partition that defaults to NTFS under Windows PC, and HFS+ under OS X, under the guidance of a utility that you launch at first run. Slick.

You may, of course, reformat the drive to any scheme you’d like, and any drive can be set up in this manner if you know how. But the utility is a great touch, and as we said, handy for those who don’t possess extraordinary computer savvy. LaCie also provides its Desktop manager utility software for formatting, etc., as well as OEM versions of Intego backup and Genie TimeLine backup.

Design

Our test 2TB Porsche Design Mobile hard drive sported a matte light-gold finish (pictured), and measured 3.3 inches wide, 5 inches long, and only about about 0.4 inches thick. It’s also available in rose gold and silver, and in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB (0.8 inches thick) capacities for $110, $150, and $220, respectively. At around 7 ounces, it’s relatively light given its rugged construction, and it sports a USB Type-C connector. All models are warrantied for two full years.

LaCie includes both USB Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to USB Type-A cables (for older systems). USB-C’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s orientation-neutral: You can insert a connector into a port without worrying about which side is the top or bottom, very much unlike USB-A. USB-C has also gained notoriety as the only type of port offered on newer MacBooks. Those are actually Thunderbolt 3 ports, which now use the Type-C connector as well and can operate in USB or Thunderbolt 3 modes. The Mac is the key market for LaCie.

lacie porsche design slim rear 3l gold hi res 731x731 LaCie

Type-C USB ports and connectors are orientation-agnostic. With duplicate contacts on both sides, any way you insert the cable is correct.

Something that still confuses many users is the relationship between Type-C, USB 3.1, and 10Gbps. Type-C is just a connector, albeit a very welcome one, which was introduced with USB 3.1. The USB 3.1 standard also brought with it 10Gbps transfer rates, doubling USB 3.0’s 5Gbps. However, in a real puzzler—nearly as confounding as USB 3.0’s “recommended” rather than required color coding for the various speeds—the USB forum didn’t mandate that all USB 3.1 Type-C ports support 10Gbps.

Instead, vendors market USB 3.1 drives and Type-C ports that are no faster than USB 3.0. This is called USB 3.1 Generation 1, and the Porsche Design 2TB supports that standard. If it’s any consolation, there’s no hard drive in the world that will overtax USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1’s 5Gbps transfer rate, so this standard is fine for external hard drives (excluding some RAID setups). This is not the case with SSDs, but that’s a different article.

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