Hands On Review of the LaCie FastKey USB 3.0 SSD

Back in November we announced the LaCie FastKey USB 3.0 SSD, and I said then I wanted one – and now I managed to get my hands on one so it’s time for the UWHS hands-on review.

Tiny Size, Serious Technology

The LaCie FastKey isn’t just another USB key—it’s a real mobile SSD. It’s one of the speediest, most robust choices on the market for portable data storage. Featuring a solid-state drive and DRAM cache, it also offers up to 120GB of capacity.

USB 3.0: Up to 10x Faster than USB 2.0

With the FastKey’s USB 3.0 interface, you can store and transfer your files faster than ever before, no matter how large they are. USB 3.0 represents an enormous speed increase from USB 2.0, and best of all, since it’s backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, there’s never any worry about connectivity.

Speed, Strength, and Security

AES 256-bit encryption is included in the FastKey, along with LaCie’s Private-Public software, which allows you to create a private partition on your key. This way, it’s simple to keep private data and public data separate—letting you use your FastKey any time, anywhere.

  • Lightning-fast speed up to 260MB/s
  • The best technology in a tiny size: USB 3.0 SSD with DRAM cache
  • Ultra-secure AES 256-bit encryption
  • Stylish and sturdy metal casing

They come in 30GB ($149.99), 60GB ($249.99) or 120GB ($474.99), but as you can see, they are not cheap!

For this review i was lucky enough to get hold of the 120GB version!


What’s In The Box?

The packaging contains the FastKey and a key chain – nothing more. But then what more would you need?

Here are some close up shots of the FastKey that I took.

And to give you an idea of the size, here is the FastKey next to my iPhone 4.

Using the FastKey

Once I plugged the FastKey into Windows, I could see a small partition called LaCie.

Upon opening the drive there was a single application, Start.exe there, so I double-clicked it.

This started up the LaCie Setup Assistant. The LaCie Setup Assistant software must be launched. It will:

Easily format your storage device according to your needs.
Copy the User Manual and software utilities onto the storage device.

Once LaCie Setup Assistant has finished formatting your storage device, you

The first time you need to make a decision when you are asked to optimize the drive – do you want to use just Windows, or share it with Mac and Linux? You can also move the slider to change the amount of space used by each partition.

Then it’s just a case of waiting for the process to complete – it doesn’t take long!

You will then see the contents of the drive now contains:

At this point you can just start using the drive. LaCie also provide disk encryption which you can use it if you want to protect your data. Now given the drive is 120GB in size, there is a good chance you might use it to carry personal data around with you, in which case you definitely want to encrypt a portion of the drive.

Encrypting the FastKey

To encrypt a portion of the drive, you use the included LaCie Private-Public application. LaCie Private-Public allows you to create a password-protected volume on your LaCie disk called LA-PRIVATE. Once created, LA-PRIVATE will use AES 256 encryption to keep your most important files safe.

So the first thing you need to do here is decide how big you want the encrypted partition to be, then you must enter a password.

Next step is the formatting of the encrypted partition.

According to the manual, the estimated time to create the LA-PRIVATE volume is one minute per Gigabyte (GB). For example, 1 GB = 1 minute, 50 GB = 50 minutes, and 500 GB = 8 hours.

And that’s it. Then when you want to access that partition you just enter your password.

And to close it you just click on the task tray.

And that’s it – you now have an encrypted partition.

Testing the FastKey

As usual we are using HD Tune Pro for our testing. And because the FastKey works with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 we have tested both.

Testing in a USB 2.0 Port

As you can see from the testing results below, the average read speed is 33.2 MB/s and write speed is 29.4 MB/s.

Testing in a USB 3.0 Port

So now to run the same tests in a USB 3.0 port – now for this test I am using a USB 3.0 card as the motherboard on my testing machine doesn’t have any USB 3.0 ports.

As you can see, the read speed is 129.4 MB/s (against 33.2 MB/s on USB 2.0) and write speed is 90.7 MB/s (against 29.4 MB/s on USB 2.0). So quite a difference if you can use USB 3.0!

Final Thoughts

What can I say, I love this drive. It’s small, fast, looks cool, and oh yeah, its 120GB! Obviously to get the most speed from the drive you will need to use it via USB 3.0, but until everything you use has a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 will do.

The inclusion of disk encryption software was a very welcome addition, and the software is very easy to use. I highly recommend if you are going to use this drive for storing anything personal you use the encrypted partition.

One thing I did notice was the FastKey felt quite warm after using it for a little while, so just watch out for that.

It comes with a little key chain, but given the cost of the FastKey there is no way I am putting it on my keys!

You can learn more about the FastKey from the LaCie website.

There is even a short video LaCie have made you can watch: