LaCie's Rugged drives are popular, and this latest model adds a solid-state drive and Thunderbolt interface to the range. The drive's full name is actually 'Rugged USB 3 Thunderbolt Series' as it is equipped with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces. That's a sensible move, as it allows you to use the drive with Thunderbolt equipped Macs, as well as the majority of PCs and laptops that don't have Thunderbolt. See all storage reviews.

We tested a 120GB drive priced at £169.99, but there's also a 256GB version for £294.99 – with both models costing significantly less than the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD with the same amount of storage. And, if you need even more storage, there's a third model that has a conventional 1TB hard drive for just £209.99.

Like the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD, the Rugged drive has a sturdy metal case, but LaCie also includes a removable rubber sleeve to provide extra protection. The Rugged drive comes with bundled software. There's a utility that allows you to format the drive as HFS for use with Macs only, or to split it into both HFS and Fat32 partitions so that you can use it with Windows PCs as well. LaCie's Private-Public utility also provides password protection and data encryption to protect your files from prying eyes.

We were interested to note that the information on LaCie's web site indicates that the Rugged drive provides virtually identical performance with the USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, and our tests confirmed this, showing only slight variations between the two interfaces. When using its USB 3.0 interface it left the USB drives from Kingston and Verbatim trailing in its wake.

After switching to Thunderbolt the Rugged drive showed decent, although not market-leading, pace when handling larger video files for the Aja System Test. Don't count out the Rugged drive as an option for video-editing work.

LaCie Rugged USB 3: Specs

  • Solid state drive - external (portable)
  • USB 3.0/Thunderbolt
  • Shock resistant, rugged, 256-bit AES
  • 89x140x24mm
  • 260g
  • USB 3.0, Thunderbolt
  • LaCie Setup Assistant, LaCie Backup Assistant
  • SuperSpeed USB cable
  • Thunderbolt cable - 50cm
  • Solid state drive - external (portable)
  • USB 3.0/Thunderbolt
  • Shock resistant, rugged, 256-bit AES
  • 89x140x24mm
  • 260g
  • USB 3.0, Thunderbolt
  • LaCie Setup Assistant, LaCie Backup Assistant
  • SuperSpeed USB cable
  • Thunderbolt cable - 50cm

OUR VERDICT

The Rugged drive also surged back when copying smaller files, pulling well ahead of Elgato in those tests. That combination of results made the Rugged drive the overall winner on performance – and at a considerably lower price than the Elgato drive.

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