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LaCie Bolt 2TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD
MPG tested the about $1999 LaCie Bolt.
The LaCie Bolt 3 is a 2TB Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C SSD which internally contains two M.2 PCIe SSDs striped together (can also be used in separately or in RAID-1 mirror mode).
The drive itself slots into its stand using neodymium magnets, and the broad stand with non-slip material stays put. It looks cool and high tech on a desktop. It can also be used without the stand if space is an issue.
Because it has two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports for daisy-chaining, another device can be connected to one of the ports (even a 5K display, or two 4K displays). This is why it requires an external power brick; dual-port Thunderbolt 3 has a power specification that can only be met with an external power brick. That makes the LaCie Bolt much less convenient for travel than, for example, the OWC Envoy Pro EX 2TB SSD, which is bus powered (but has only one port). Horses for courses.
While the LaCie Bolt is Thunderbolt 3, it also has a (non Thunderbolt) USB-C port for computers are USB-C but not Thunderbolt 3. Performance will be much lower when connected that way.
- 2TB Storage Capacity as two 1TB M.2 PCIe Solid-State Drives
- Dual Thunderbolt 3 Ports, 40 Gb/sec
- Power your laptop while using the drive [MPG: less than full charging power for larger laptops, but ample for charging and ordinary usage at the same time].
- Rated performance: 2800 MB/sec reads, 1300 MB/sec writes
- Up to 2800 MB/s with RAID 0 mode
- Bi-directional, dual-protocol, and supports dual 4K displays or one 5K display
- Magnetic Stand and USB-C Cable Included
- Internal Thermo-regulated Blower
- Daisy Chain: Connect up to five Thunderbolt 3 or one USB 3.1 device or a high-resolution display via a single USB-C cable
- Security: AES 256-bit software encryption (encryption software is only available via download and is not available in Russia),
- Power supply: 100-240 V; 50/60 Hz; 60W
- Dimensions: 115 × 203 × 25 mm / 4.5 × 8 × 1 inches
- Weight: 785 g / 1.7 lbs (excluding display stand)
- Software: Genie® Backup Manager Pro for PC, Intego® Backup Manager Pro for Mac®, LaCie Private-Public (protect data with AES 256-bit encryption**) Download product software from here and there is also LaCie RAID Manager.
- Windows and Mac Compatible
The LaCie 2TB Bolt 3 Thunderbolt 3 External SSD sports two 1TB M.2 SSDs and two Thunderbolt 3 ports to quickly store content as well as edit hi-res videos smoothly. The two PCIe 3.0 x2 SSDs are configured in a RAID 0 array to deliver up to 2800 MB/s read and 2200 MB/s write speeds. To support these fast speeds, LaCie has outfitted the Bolt 3 with Thunderbolt 3 technology that offers speeds of up to 40 Gb/s. In addition, this technology features a reversible USB Type-C connector, which lets you connect the Bolt 3 to an included USB-C cable on the first try.
LaCie has designed the Bolt 3 with an aluminum enclosure for durability and heat dissipation. To improve cooling performance, a thermo-regulated blower and heat sink are on board. There's also a magnetic stand so you can display the Bolt 3 at an angle and easily detach the Bolt 3 for transport.
For the Bolt 3, LaCie harnessed the performance potential of the Thunderbolt 3 I/O and paired it with fast SSDs. With a pair of M.2 PCIe SSDs striped together into a 2TB volume, the result is speeds of up to 2800 MB/s.
Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt performance to USB-C (USB Type-C) connectivity at speeds of up to 40 Gb/s, creating a single compact port that does it all. Thunderbolt 3 permits daisy chaining and provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, while also supplying power.
Level up Your Workspace
You can daisy chain one USB 3.1 or up to five Thunderbolt 3 devices, which include dual 4K displays and even power a compatible laptop—all through a single USB-C cable connected to your computer. With two 4K displays, you can spread out your workspace by dedicating one display to your timeline and the other to previewing 4K footage.
Magnetized Cable Door
The magnetized cable door stays closed during normal use to conceal the interface and power supply ports, but swings open to enable easy access.
Removable Display Stand
The stand securely docks the Bolt 3 with neodymium magnets and detaches for easy transport.
Intego Backup Manager, Pro LaCie Private-Public [can also download LaCie RAID manager]
The drive itself is beefy and heavy due to its solid construction (1.7 pounds without the stand!). The construction seems industrial grade in quality and the case looks very strong—probably one could stand on it. It is of very high quality construction.
The LaCie Bolt uses a a hatch in the center of the unit which flips open to expose the two Thunderbolt 3 ports and the power cable port. This hatch shuts closed once cables are attached, for neat and tidy cable protection.
Shown below, the power input port with the power switch above it, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB-C port (marked “USB 3.1”), and the DisplayPort. Some displays take a Mini DisplayPort cable and some take a DisplayPort cable, and some take both; the other end would need to be DisplayPort to plug into the 2Big as shown here.
Do to the all-metal enclosure heat and holes in the rear end of the upward-facing end, heat dissipation is goo, but the Bolt gets quite warm in heavy use. At idle it stays slightly warm even when idle, so it is not a low power device, which might be expected of a Thunderbolt 3 device that can be daisy-chained. Still, some older and much slower SATA SSDs in external cases are much warmer at idle compared to the Bolt.
Silent—and I can hear high frequencies. No whine at idle or when in use.
How I put it to use
Given the problems with the iMac Pro and SoftRAID, I felt nervous about macOS 10.13.2 and opted to break the hardware RAID into JBOD mode. I then made a RAID-0 striped out of the two 1TB blades using Apple Disk Utility.
As this review was written, I was contemplating how best to use the Bolt. At least to begin it will fill a crucial role as a scratch disk for my huge Photoshop files; many of these are short term files I don’t backup or preserve, so I do not wish to put them on my main storage. The Bolt is perfect with its exceptional speed.
In RAID-0 stripe mode, sustained transfer speed for large read maxes-out the Thunderbolt 3 bus—it is not possible to go any faster than this. In other words: AWESOME.
Large writes are very fast and outperform the specifications by about 150MB/sec, though not as fast as the internal SSD in the iMac Pro or the internal SSD in the iMac 5K. Still, usage situations in which 1.45 TB/sec makes any difference versus higher speeds are few and far between—and check out the graph on speed versus transfer size further below.
Speed vs transfer size
These are outstanding speeds. Reads from 32KiB through 2MiB are faster than the internal SSD in the 2017 iMac Pro, although small writes are much faster in the iMac Pro.
Get LaCie Bolt 3 at OWC.
Early 2018 is an exciting time for Thunderbolt 3 with many new products emerging, particularly SSDs which deliver speed and convenience never before possible, right on the desktop.
The LaCie Bolt 3 is a finely crafted product with outstanding performance; it’s hard to go wrong with it. But for those who travel with a laptop, it is relatively large and very heavy; see the OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 SSD, which is bus powered (and not as fast as the Bolt), but much more easily transported.