If we had to select must-have products in each component category, they would probably include Extreme or Black Edition processors, lots of fast RAM, one of the fastest solid state drives for system installation, and one of the ATI or Nvidia high-end cards. But it seems that there is another product enthusiasts should have: the 4big Quadra by LaCie.
The 175 MB/s maximum throughput isn’t ground-breaking, but it’s much faster than any single hard drive, and it persists in RAID 0 or RAID 5 mode. And it’s definitely fast enough for a storage or backup solution, as copying data over Gigabit Ethernet will introduce a bottleneck at roughly 105 MB/s. Access times aren’t far from what you know from desktop hard drives, and both noise and power consumption are at very acceptable levels at well.
The device also comes with excellent backup software and exemplary flexibility, including seven RAID modes. And it has capacity points of 4 TB or 6 TB, which few other desktop storage solutions can provide. Last but not least, it looks good, is well-designed and comes with all the necessary cables. Knowing that USB 3.0 mainstream solutions are still many months away, the investment will even be somewhat future-proof, as it should be possible to replace the hard drives with larger ones in the future.
Budget and Compatibility Issues
The only real negative here is the price point, which is $1,099 in the United States for the 4 TB version. And, sorry to say, you will probably have to get rid of old hardware and an old operating system such as Windows XP, as only 64-bit solutions and Windows Vista SP1 will allow you to create partitions at capacities greater than 2 TB, due to 32-bit addressing limitations. This isn’t LaCie’s fault, but is still a necessary step that you’ll have to take into consideration.