Review: OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini dual-drive external enclosure with RAID

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One of the reasons I like Macs is that their useful life tends to be significantly longer than that of a typical Windows machine. This is especially true of the pre-Retina MacBook Pro models, where it’s trivial to upgrade both the RAM and the drive.

I’d previously swapped out the 750GB hard drive and optical drive that came with my late-2011 MacBook Pro 17 for two 1TB hard drives. Along with a RAM upgrade, that gave me a 16GB RAM, 2TB hard drive machine. The plan was to use the machine in that form for a year or two, then do a further upgrade to SSDs once 1TB models arrived and fell to a halfway sensible price.

When that finally happened, and I did the upgrade, that gave me two 1TB hard drives surplus to requirements. I could have placed each into its own external drive caddy, but one 2TB drive is more useful than two 1TB ones, so I decided instead to try out OWC’s Mercury Elite Pro mini. This is an external enclosure for two 2.5-inch drives, which supports both USB 3 and Firewire 800, drawing power from either source - making it a portable drive without the need for external power …  Read more

Opinion: Is Thunderbolt doomed to be the new Firewire, or can the new Mac Pro save it?

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I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  Read more

LaCie announces availability of $199 Thunderbolt to eSATA Hub: Connect up to 12 eSATA drives

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At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in January, LaCie announced a new product for Thunderbolt users. The eSATA Hub Thunderbolt™ Series is a $199 Thunderbolt pass-through that allows you to connect 2 eSATA drives to your Mac via the speedy Thunderbolt port.  By Daisy chaining six of the devices, you could add 12 eSATA drives to your Mac setup.

Today, those devices are now available.

eSATA speeds are up to 3Gb/s or equivalent to SATA II, so you will not be making full use of the Thunderbolt bus speed. However, you will still be much faster than either USB2 (480Mbps) or Firewire 800 (800Mbps). Apple’s Thunderbolt cables are sold separately at $50 a pop.

eSATA docking stations start at around $30, so if you have some eSATA or SATA drives laying around and want to get them on Thunderbolt, this might be a good—though slightly expensive–solution.

Seagate makes a $99 Thunderbolt to SATA drive adapter, but it is having trouble keeping stock (and it lacks a Thunderbolt pass-through) and reviewers note erratic results.

The full specs and press release follows:

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Western Digital begins shipment of their Thunderbolt Duo Drives (WDBUPB0040JSL-NESN and WDBUPB0060JSL-NESN)

We first profiled the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo at CES in January and noted the extraordinary speed of the drives, especially when daisy chained (above find 780MB/s read, 600+MB/s write). Today, Macrumors notes that Western Digital is making the drives available for $599 (4TB) and $699 (6TB).  While those prices are steep, they fall in line with new Thunderbolt parts across the line.

We’ve reviewed the much slower Firewire/USB Western Digital Studio 6TB drives and came away impressed. Those retail for around $430 currently ($270 less than the Thunderbolt version) but use energy efficient (read: slower) internal drives and slower Firewire 800 connectivity options.

Notably B&H Photo and Video is selling the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo already with $50 discounts (6TB – $649, 4TB- $549) and tax only in New York but without solid shipping dates. Read more

LaCie’s 2big Thunderbolt Series available now, daisy chain for speeds over 670MB/s

Noting a successful run with its Thunderbolt-supported Little Big Disk, LaCie’s latest Thunderbolt peripheral the 2big Thunderbolt Series is now available. Originally announced in January during CES 2012, the peripherals offer speeds up to 327MB/s, hot-swappable disks, RAID security, and of course the ability to daisy chain through Thunderbolt. To put this in perspective, the 2big offers speeds up to three times FireWire 800. Daisy chaining multiple 2bigs can get you up to 676MB/s Read (or more).

As for the design, LaCie noted the “thermo-regulated, ultra-quiet cooling fan” automatically triggers depending on the temperature, and the solid-aluminum enclosure fits nicely into LaCie d2 Desk Rack and 19-inch Rackmount Kit. You will have to grab your Thunderbolt cables from Apple, but the 2big Thunderbolt series itself will run you $650 for the base 4TB option, or $800 for the 6TB option (an 8TB option is listed but not yet available or priced). When it comes to LaCie’s advertised speeds, the company used the AJA System Test with a 17-inch, 2.2Ghz Quad Core MacBook Pro (4GB RAM) connected to the 6TB 2big model in RAID 0. The comparison chart from LaCie’s AJA tests daisy chaining multiple 2bigs is below.
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