The LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 shows you what enormous performance is possible by using Thunderbolt 3 to connect your Mac with 12 storage drives. If you don't need all that performance and storage capacity, Seagate also offers the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 to professionals and enthusiasts under a tighter budget.
With 6 drive bays, the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 allows you to work with 4K videos at Thunderbolt 3 speeds using RAID controllers and Seagate enterprise-class drives. Here we connect to a Touch Bar Version of the Apple 13" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) which supports Thunderbolt 3 technology over its USB Type-C ports.
We will test using the AJA System Test performance tool simulating a 5K UltraHD resolution video file and a 16 GB test file size (note changing the file type and size can have a big impact on the results), with the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 set in RAID 5 mode. We also are using a 48TB configuration (six 8 GB drives) for this testing.
First, we connect to the left-side Thunderbolt 3 based USB Type-C port using a Thunderbolt 3 active cable.
Using the AJA System Test performance tool, we can see that the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 transfers content at an average of 935 MB/sec (read) and 1055 MB/sec (write) data rates on one of the left-side Thunderbolt ports. This compares with average transfer speed of 2249 MB/sec (read) and 1123 MB/sec (write) when using the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 with the biggest impact in performance being on the read side.
Comparatively, when connected to one of the Apple 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Late 2016)'s right-side Thunderbolt ports which has lower PCI Express bandwidth available (Read more on the differences in USB Type-C connectors between MacBook Pro models here), the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 delivers a lower transfer speed of 891 MB/sec (read) and 1051 MB/sec (write). The difference in using the left vs right Thunderbolt ports was not as dramatic with the LaCie 6big Thunderbolt 3 compared to the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3.
To confirm that both the left and right-side ports are working properly, we check for proper enumeration of Thunderbolt and PCI Express links as well as the drive showing up using disk utility.
Left-side Thunderbolt port enumeration:
Right-side Thunderbolt port enumeration: