LaCie updated many of its desktop drives to include the new Thunderbolt 2 specification, and while some of the drives retained the same external design, the 2big Thunderbolt 2 has quite a different look than before. It also features hardware RAID, a handy USB 3.0 port for increased versatility, and a hidden compartment that conceals the ports and RAID selector.
The new chassis is 1.6-inches shorter, 0.8-inches wider, and 0.7-inches deeper than the previous generation. The glowing blue "eye" remains, albeit smaller, and functions as a power button for the drive, as well as a drive status indicator. When connected via Thunderbolt, a short press of the blue power button puts the drive in standby mode; via USB 3, a short press puts the drive in power-saving mode. A long press of the power button shuts down the drive.
When your RAID fails or you remove a drive without warning, the blue eye on the front of the drive turns a warning red.
Swappable drive bays now load in front of the device instead of the rear, sliding on caddies that also serve as two-thirds of the drive's front face. At the top of each drive caddy is a small cutout for each drive's status light to shine through. You can easily remove the caddies from the drive by pulling down from the top of them, however, removing the physical drives from their respective caddies will void your warranty. Unfortunately, to preserve your warranty, you must buy spare drives from LaCie that come pre-attached to the caddies.
The unit we tested came populated with two Seagate desktop hard drives (ST6000DX00). They're standard 3.5-inch, 7200-RPM drives. (Seagate is the parent company of LaCie.)
The 2big Thunderbolt 2 is kept cool by a temperature-regulated fan mounted in the rear of the drive. The bottom of the drive has some interestingly-shaped rubber feet that keep the drive from sliding on a smooth surface and help minimize vibrations. A removable aluminum panel at the back left corner of the 2big Thunderbolt 2 covers up all the ports (a pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports, USB 3.0, and power) as well as the RAID controls.
It may take some force to get the side panel open or closed, especially with all the cables hooked up.
To remove the aluminum panel, you push it in and towards the rear of the drive. Then you can connect the power cord and the Thunderbolt or USB cable before replacing the aluminum panel that also helps to grip and secure the cables in place, preventing accidental disconnects. Positioning the cables inside the compartment can be tricky and I needed to exert some force to get the panel open and closed. After opening and closing the compartment several times during testing, I left the cover off.
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