Generally, the term "hard-core" and external hard drives don't go together. This is because external, portable hard drives are probably the most popular and casual type of consumer storage.
But some of them can get really serious, too.
These are external storage devices that are not just fast or rugged, but also are likely to make you think before purchasing due to their cost. In other words, they are not for everyone, but only those who have the need for them and can appreciate their value.
If you are one of these people, the following five drives are totally worth the investment.
WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo
The My Book VelociRaptor Duo is the second Thunderbolt drive from Western Digital, the first being the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo. Unlike the Thunderbolt Duo, which uses energy-efficient WD Green hard drives, the new My Book uses two of the latest 1TB VelociRaptor hard drives in RAID 0 as its storage. In case you don't know, WD VelociRaptor internal hard drives are arguably the fastest and most reliable on the market. The result: the My Book VelociRaptor Duo is by far the fastest dual-bay Thunderbolt drive I've tested. This, plus the fact that a Thunderbolt cable is included, makes the My Book VelociRaptor totally worth its $900 suggested price tag in my opinion.
And since the drive can only offer top performance when its two internal drives are set up in RAID 0, you should get two of them, daisy-chained together, for backup purposes. Read the full review of the WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo.
Promise Pegasus R4
The Promise Pegasus R4 is the next step from the WD VelociRaptor Duo in terms of storage space. The drive can host up to four internal hard drives to offer either 4TB or 8TB of storage space for $1,000 or $1,500, respectively. Read the full review of the Promise Pegasus R4.
LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD
The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD is the first Thunderbolt external drive that's based on a solid-state drive (SSD) and is currently probably the most expensive external storage device in terms of cost per gigabyte. The drive costs about $800 for just 240GB of storage space. To make up for that, it's rugged and portable, and it's very fast, too. Read the full review of the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD.
IoSafe Solo G3
Speaking of rugged, no other drive can beat the IoSafe Solo G3 there. Supporting USB 3.0 and costing about $390 for 3TB, the drive was fast enough in my testing, and is relatively normal in terms of pricing. However, it's made this list thanks to its ability to withstand disasters. It's the only USB 3.0 external hard drive I've seen that can handle heat up to thousands of degrees, being submerged in water tens of feet in depth, and being crushed by tens of thousands of pounds, and still keep the data on the inside safe.
For the drive to have those crazy protective attributes, it comes with a very large chassis that weighs about 15 pounds. If you're really serious about keeping your important data safe, the IoSafe Solo G3 is for you. Read the full review of the IoSafe Solo G3.
Promise Pegasus R6
The Promise Pegasus R6 is the first Thunderbolt drive and has remained the thoroughbred of the Thunderbolt standard, in terms of storage. Up to now, it's still the fastest of its type and offers the most storage space, up to 12TB. This workhorse storage product houses six hot-swappable hard drives that can be set up in many different RAID configurations. The downsides of the drive include its enormous cost (about $2,000 for 12TB) and the noise and vibration it generates during operation. If you edit lots of movies using Final Cut Pro, this is the ideal drive for you. Read the full review of the Promise Pegasus R6.
Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these drives head-to-head.