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 Mac Mini Accessories

Review: LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub   
Tuesday April 11, 2006 10:47 AM EST

When LaCie announced its new LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub for the Mac mini back in January, we couldn't wait to get our hands on one. Well, after a few delays, we were able to get our hands on the 250GB model that will be released in June, and boy was it worth the wait.

The LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub comes packaged in a blue, silver and white box. In the box you will find the enclosure itself, 9" Type A to B USB 2.0 cable, 25" Type A to B USB 2.0 cable, 9" 6-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable, 25" 6-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable, Power Supply Kit, and LaCie Utilities CD-ROM with User's Manual.

The LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub has a brushed aluminum body and white plastic top. It stands 1.77" tall X 6.5" wide X 6.5" deep and perfectly matches the Mac mini's form factor. The coloring of the enclosure also perfectly matches the Mac mini. On the front of the enclosure, there is an embossed LaCie logo and white LED status light.

The top of the enclosure features a unique four-cornered crown design. The four crowns basically lift the Mac mini off the top of the enclosure. This allows for better air circulation and cooling to occur between the two units. The crowns also hold the Mac mini in place and keep the two units aligned.

On the back of the enclosure, you will find the power button, fan exhaust vent, power receptacle, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 2.0 uplink port, one FireWire 400 port, and security slot. The 300GB and 500GB models include a thermo-regulated smart fan for extra cooling. The 250GB model does not include a fan, so its exhaust vent is open.

One of our only gripes about the LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub is the size and location of the power button. The button is small and hard to access, when reaching around from the front of the enclosure. We were also a little disappointed to see that LaCie opted for an extra USB 2.0 port on the back, instead of a FireWire 400 port. We feel like a FireWire port would have made more sense for stacking additional LaCie minis, since they include an open FireWire port on the back for daisy-chaining additional devices.

On the left side of the enclosure, you will find two vertically mounted FireWire 400 ports. On the right side, there are three horizontally mounted USB 2.0 ports. We cannot stress how handy these side ports are for making temporary connections. They allow you to connect devices like your iPod, Digital Camera, and DV Camera without digging around the back of the Mac mini. We are also happy to report that these five ports remain functional when the unit is turned off.

The bottom of the enclosure is also constructed out of metal and includes extra vents for cooling. It also features four non-skid pads to prevent the unit from sliding.

What about performance and operation? We couldn't be happier with the performance of the LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub. In our file transfer tests, the performance of the 3.5" 7200RPM hard drive was consistently fast. We ran an Xbench 1.2 disk test on our 250GB model and compared the scores with the internal drives in the new Intel-based Mac minis and 1.42GHz G4 Mac mini. You can see the results here. We are also happy to report that the hard drive is quiet while running. Next to the LaCie mini, the LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub is probably the quietest external hard drive designed for the Mac mini we have tested.

Overall, we can recommend the LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub and give it a score of 4 out of 4 stars. It's probably one of the best accessories for the Mac mini we have tested. LaCie will be rolling out the LaCie mini Hard Drive & Hub over the next three months. The 500GB model will begin shipping this month. The 300GB and 200GB models will begin shipping in May and June, respectively. Pricing is $199 for the 250GB model, $229 for the 300GB model, and $429 for the 500GB model.

Pros:

  Fit and finish
  Quiet operation
  Excellent hard drive performance
  Side USB 2.0 and FireWire ports offer excellent expandability
  Four-cornered crown designed helps with cooling
  Perfect color match with Mac mini
  White cables and power supply

Cons:

  Small power button

More Pictures:  Click to enlarge

  

  

  

  

  

  



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