LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 review
LaCie strides purposefully into the professional 4K video-editing arena with the 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2. This slimline 1U rack system accommodates eight LFF SATA hard disks and teams them up with a pair of high-speed Thunderbolt 2 ports.
LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 review: design and features
LaCie has clearly worked closely with parent company Seagate: the 8big uses the same chassis as its Business Storage 8-Bay rack appliance, which earlier this year became the world’s first appliance to squeeze eight LFF drives into a 1U chassis.
The 8big is currently available in 12TB and 24TB raw capacities, and our review system came with eight 3TB Seagate SATA drives preloaded in sturdy carriers. To fit a drive, you pop open the drive bay cover by flicking back its locking buttons, drop it into a free bay, slide it towards the combined SATA/power connector and push the lock down.
LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 review: setup and expansion potential
For testing we used an Apple Mac Pro, connecting the 8big to one of its six Thunderbolt 2 ports. Storage-hungry video editors will like the 8big’s expansion potential: a single Mac Pro can support up to 36 appliances for a capacity as high as 1.7PB when LaCie makes 6TB drives available.
Arrays are configured using LaCie’s RAID Manager. This provides a tidy web interface that gives a complete visual rundown on all physical and virtual drives. The 8big is delivered preconfigured in a RAID5 array for all drives, but you can delete this and go for stripes, mirrors or RAID6.
The 8big has dual redundant PSUs plus three small hotplug fans. These are monitored via the RAID Manager, which warns you by email if there are any problems. General noise levels are reasonably low with only the PSU fans emitting a gentle whine.
By and large, the 8big is well designed. However, we recommend ensuring it has good airflow around it. The internal cooling seems least effective around the two inner rear drives, and as a result the lid can become warm to the touch. We certainly wouldn’t advise placing anything directly on top of it.
LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 review: performance
For performance testing, we started with the Aja System Test utility configured for a 16GB file size and a top video frame size of 4,096 x 2,160 with 10-bit RGB. Averaging the results from five runs, we saw impressive read and write speeds of 1,180MB/sec and 1,120MB/sec respectively.
We also ran general performance tests using Intech’s QuickBench 4 software, which returned average read and write speeds for its 2MB-10MB large test of 1,133MB/sec and 1,089MB/sec. LaCie quotes a top speed of 1,330MB/sec for 4K workflows, but this was achieved using RAID0 striping.
Even if you connect the 8big to a Thunderbolt 1 port, you won’t be disappointed with its performance. Using a 13in MacBook Pro with a 2.3GHz Core i5, and 4GB of DDR3 memory, we saw QuickBench 4 report sequential read and write speeds of 738MB/sec and 825MB/sec. Drobo’s little 5D Thunderbolt 1 box couldn’t muster more than 343MB/sec and 225MB/sec for this test.
LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 review: verdict
The 8big is LaCie’s first Thunderbolt 2 rack appliance, and it’s a stunner – it sets a very high standard for the rest to live up to. It provides ample hardware fault tolerance and expansion potential, and its top performance makes it an ideal storage appliance for 4K video-editing workstations.
|Warranty||3yr limited warranty|
|Hard disk configuration||8 x 3TB Seagate SATA LFF hard disks|