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Top-Selling External ThunderBolt SSD Drives For Mac-PC

External SSD ThunderBolt Backup Drives

Never before has a personal computer interface offered the insanely fast data transfer speeds of the original 10Gbps ThunderBolt, 2nd-generation 20Gbps ThunderBolt2, and 3rd-generation 40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 I/O ports. It's minimally TWENTY times faster than the popular USB 2.0 spec, minimally double that of the competing 5Gbps USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard.

ThunderBolt outstrips the bandwidth requirements of nearly any personal computer peripheral available today. Even conventional spinning platter hard drives can't fill a fraction of ThunderBolt's data pipeline. So, solid-state flash memory disk drives are the most logical pairing of the two technologies. A ThunderBolt SSD external backup drive can really leverage the potential bandwidth available for the fastest data backups and file transfers you'll ever experience.

Shopping For TunderBolt External SSD Drives

As of 2018, we now have 3 generations of ThunderBolt: The original 10 Gbps TBolt and 2nd generation 20 Gbps ThunderBolt 2 using the mini DisplayPort interface, and the new 40 Gbps ThunderBolt 3 which has adopted the smaller and more widely used Type-C USB 3.1 interface. In fact, ThunderBolt 3 incorporates SuperSpeed Plus 10 Gbps protocols so that either ThunderBolt or USB-C peripherals can be used on a computer's ThunderBolt 3 port.

Who Manufactures ThunderBolt Backup Peripherals

Emerging brands include Akitio, SiliconPower, Monster Digital, and LaCie external portable SSD backup drive offerings shown above. These laptop-size affordable consumer drives have a single ThunderBolt port for use directly connected to your computer - or at the END of the device chain. To get dual, pass-through ports, you generally have to move up to the multi-drive RAID array type of TBolt data storage products.

One of the notably rising entrants into the external SSD drive market is Akitio. They've long been a maker of USB, eSata, and FireWire drive enclosures for assembling DIY backup drives. Introducing a single-port ThunderBolt portable SSD drive like the 120GB Neutrino shown here (currently using an Intel OEM SSD) is the first step in recouping their investment, a 256Gb is available as well (currently using a SanDisk OEM SSD). Akitio has announced several standalone ThunderBolt and ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosures for homebuilt storage solutions using the SSD or HDD drives of your choice.

DIY ThunderBolt SSD Storage

Alot of folks want to cobble their own ThunderBolt data backup drive together with the HDD or SSD drive of their choice. Unfortunately, at least for single drives, there aren't many choices of standlalone ThunderBolt drive enclosures available. For multi-drive RAID arrays using 2 or more drives the selection is better. Seagate's ThunderBolt dock/sled let anyone cobble thier own affordable ThunderBolt SSD solution by simply plugging a bare 2.5" laptop SATA SSD drive directly into the portable adapter's SATA connector. It should be noted the ThunderBolt drive converter only has a SINGLE ThunderBolt port like many of the more affordable ThunderBolt storage products for home consumers. It's not capable of being Daisy-Chained with other ThunderBolt devices. And of course, the cable is separate if you buy just the adapter.

Best SSD For ThunderBolt?

Several factors determine which SSD is the best match for ThunderBolt drives. A Solid-State drive in general relies on several components that determine a SSD's performance: Whether it's a SATA I/II or or SATA III 6G drive interface chipset, and which controller chip: Marvell, Indilinx, SandForce, etc. are the brains of the operation. Other factors in the solid-state drive market involve how fast the onboard NAND Flash Memory is - and the Clock Speed controlling all of it. Look to Samsung, OCZ, Crucial and Sandisk for the fastest off-the shelf SSD's shipping this year. It's important to note that LARGER capacity SSD's 480GB and up offer BETTER performance than the smaller models: More banks of chips inside a higher-capacity SSD drive allow more simultaneous reads and writes across each bank of flash memory. As such you'll often see spec sheets quoting different maximum data transfer rates depending on the size of the drive. With solid-state storage, bigger is better - and faster.

ThunderBolt RAID SSD - Power Pair

Want to fill as much of ThunderBolt's pipe as possible? Think Striped RAID 0 SSD drive setups for peak performance. By striping Reads and Writes across multiple Solid-State drives, the highest level of drive transfer speeds become possible. Some may opt for premium top-performance SSD's, others may wish to leverage more economical drives paired to get the ThunderBolt drive capacity they need and still fit their budget.

The direct 10Gbps pipeline that ThunderBolt taps into via the PCI-Express system bus offers mind blowing backup and data copy speeds compared to USB 3.0 or FireWire -- provided it's matched with equally fast solid-state SSD storage technologies. A growing range of enterprise, profressional and consumer SSD ThunderBolt backup solutions are now shipping.

A ThunderBolt SSD Solid-State drive is the best technological match for the insanely high bandwidth that a ThunderBolt inferface provides. With no moving parts, high reliability, zero latency and near-zero access times -- They're a perfect match for this cutting-edge peripheral interface from Apple and Intel.

Currently, a few of the best choices in solid-state backup are LaCie 512GB Thunderbolt SSD dual-drive array which also now offers a 1 Terabyte version for demanding, Pro users. These LaCie high-end models combine dual 256GB/512GB SATA III Solid-State drives for mirrored or striped RAID 0 performance that delivers mind-blowing transfer speeds - at a price. Their Little Big Disk SSD drives also have TWO TBolt ports on the back for daisy-chaining with other devices.

For more affordable consumer options, the single-drive LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt SSD has high-speed combo interfaces for both USB 3.0/2.0 or ThunderBolt connectivity. The ThunderBolt Rugged series uses a single SSD drive for respectable performance - and the added value of flexibility to use it with older and non-TBolt equipped USB port Macs or PCs. The latest revision of the solid-state Rugged portable drive now includes a short, integrated ThunderBolt cable for quick connectivity, and still allows optional connection to a USB port if needed.

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Drive has been shipping for quite some time. ElGato also uses a single SSD drive module for more modest but still very snappy performance in either 120GB or 240GB capacities - but it's pricing hasn't dropped to be truly competitive with LaCie or other new arrivals in the marketplace. A new 512GB and 1TB SSD drive with combo ThunderBolt + USB 3.0 interface recently shipped, but the price is high.


ThunderBolt Drive Enclosures For Mac Or PC

ThunderBolt Drive Enclosures

DIY External ThunderBolt And ThunderBolt 2 Drive Cases

Below we have some of the ThunderBolt disk drive enclosures finally reaching the market. It had been a really slow process for any ThunderBolt drive case products to reach the market, and even then, the average consumer has been discouraged by the price premium of TBolt devices. It's made it hard to cobble together a Do-It-Yourself ThunderBolt storage solution at a price that's competitive with off-the-shelf retail drives. G-Tech ThunderBolt EnclosureTwo 3.5" Drive Bays

DeLock ThunderBolt Drive CaseUp To 15mm 2.5" High-Capacity Laptop Drive

ThunderBolt 2 RAID EnclosureAkitio ThunderQuad TBolt2 Case

ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosures recently began shipping too. CalDigit, OWC and Akitio seem to be agressively pursuing the 20Gbps ThunderBolt 2 enclosure market.

Multi-Drive ThunderBolt Enclosures

Several mult-bay ThunderBolt and ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosure with ThunderBolt port products recently came to market, offering either two or four drive capabilities. Most support laptop size drives, a few support full size desktop drives, some can handle both 2.5" and/or 3.5" drives. Oddly, we've yet to see many SINGLE-drive portable ThunderBolt enclosures ship. Multi-drive ThunderBolt enclosures tend to have DUAL ThunderBolt ports on the back to easily faciliate daisy-chaining, but that extra port also adds to the cost and price premium of the enclosure.

We finally have the first true ThunderBolt compatible disk drive enclosures shipping. Initially these are dual or quad drive cases for 2.5 and 3.5 ThunderBolt multi-drive array's in various software or hardware RAID or JBOD configuration depending on the drive case manufacturers support. Both Akitio and StarTech's 2x2.5" ThunderBolt enclosure products seems to have idential OEM hardware on the back panel, with Akitio having a more refined case design. Still, all three of the above enclosures have a street price of around $250, a very stiff premium for a 2-bay case when comparable USB 3.0 RAID interface enclosures typically cost $100 USD or less. Ouch!

ThunderBolt Drive Dock

Seagate's first TBolt drive dock was released for laptop-sized "GoFlex" and later renamed, "Backup Plus" drives. A full-size drive ThunderBolt docking station for 3.5" Backup Plus Desk mechanisms shipped later. While you can piece your own working solution together, Seagate now offers a *BUNDLE* with the adapter, drive AND cable in either portable or full size drive configurations. (See the Sidebar on this page.)

The first true multi-drive ThunderBolt dock recently shipped from HighPoint with it's RocketStor 5212 ThunderBolt SATA docking module. It has dual bays for both a 2.5" laptop or full-size 3.5" hard disk or SSD drive modules. It has a single ThunderBolt port at the back.

By all accounts, the rollout of ThunderBolt was nothing but a slow struggle, even well into 2015. With Intel solely controlling the ThunderBolt chipset and licensing of Intellectual Property, it's slowed the ability to ship announced ThunderBolt accessories or drives. Now however, even more orginal ThunderBolt and some of the next-generation ThunderBolt 2 peripherals announced at CES have started to ship in volume.

Because of Thunder-Bolt's daisy-chain topology, the ideal ThunderBolt drive case will ideally have DUAL TBolt ports on the enclosure for greatest flexibility in placement along the chain. Unfortunately, Intel is the SOLE SUPPLIER of ThunderBolt chipsets at this time - and only those who've signed licensing agreements with Intel have access to do samples for ThunderBolt product development and testing. ThunderBolt Enclosures are likely to command quite a price premuim. As we're seeing with Seagate's Backup Plus dock at $99, that's 5-10x more than a $10-20 SATA USB laptop drive enclosure costs these days. From what we're seeing with the retail pricing of ThunderBolt drive offerings, there's definitely a $50-$75 price premium for the privelege of using the ThunderBolt chipset versus more conventional I/O interfaces. Ouch!

We'd suspect Amazon, Tiger Direct and NewEgg will be a good source for ThunderBolt drive cases once enclosures start shipping in volume. Lord knows they currently carry a huge line of 2.5" and 3.5" hard disk enclosures for in a multitude of other eSata, FireWire 400/800 and USB 2 and SuperSpeed 3.0 USB drive configurations. T

ThunderBolt RAID Enclosures - An Ideal Drive Case

The insane amount of bi-directional bandwidth available on a ThunderBolt port begs for storage technologies able to fill it's pipeline. Striped multi-drive ThunderBolt drive arrays like Promise Technologies Pegasus R4 and R6 ThunderBolt RAID enclosure leverages high RPM 3.5" conventional spinning-platter drives in a striped RAID 0 configuration.

Which Drives Are Best For ThunderBolt Enclosures?

ThunderBolt's potential speeds far exceed any storage technology available today. The fastest ThunderBolt drive you can build will ideally be based on multiple solid-state disk modules. But unless you've got a fat wallet and rather modest storage requirements - achieving more than 512GB of high-speed SSD backup space is going to be pretty expensive. For higher capacity with a few speed tradeoff's - Dual Drive ThunderBolt hardware RAID enclosures will fit the bill.

In the conventional spinning platter hard drive market: Two top performing hard drives for ThunderBolt are the barn-burning Western Digital Velociraptor Drive - In this case, a 3.5 inch form-factor 10,000 RPM, SATA III 6Gbps mechanism with 32MB of onboard cache in the $200 ballpark.

The other alternative which may be a good ThunderBolt enclosure + drive choice may be to build a HYBRID THUNDERBOLT DRIVE using a Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive - Here you get a 1TB 2.5 inch drive that blends a 7200RPM SATA II 32MB Cache mechanism with 4GB of single-layer (fast and durable) SLC SSD flash memory for the best of both worlds on a budget, currently Hybrid drives are only about $100. We're moving beyond just mechanical drives with big on-board cache - the instegration of a relatively small amount of SSD flash is likely to become the norm. Hybrid SSD's promise to become the low-cost performance and capacity choice for general purpose computing.


Mac Compatible ThunderBolt Drives and Accessories

Apple Compatible ThunderBolt Computer Accessories

Welcome to our website where we feature some of the many Mac-friendly computer gadgets that take advantage of Apple and Intel's ultra high speed ThunderBolt data inferface. We feature a broad range of ThunderBolt computer accessory hardware that's both affordable to the average consumer or optimal for high-end professional and enterprise computing environments.

TunderBolt Storage Devices

Data storage is the primary forte of ThunderBolt's potential. The ThunderBolt backup drives that initially reached the market were all high-end multi or dual-drive RAID storage arrays geared towards professionals. Now we have a much broader selection of more affordable ThunderBolt external hard drive and SSD options for Mac users. The products featured here from Amazon are often available at significant discounts over the Apple Store's full list prices.

ThunderBolt Drive Adapters

For those who already own one of Seagate's Backup Plus / GoFlex universal interface drives, converters for ThunderBolt use are an affordable way to preserve your investment. The very affordable Seagate Thunderbolt Laptop Drive Converter. It instantly converts an existing bare 2.5" laptop SSD or hard drive mechanism or Backup+ portable laptop drive to ThunderBolt for around $80, or can be purchased as part of a drive, adapter and cable bundle for the most affordable ThunderBolt drive solution to date.

Laptop ThunderBolt DriveDrive + Dock + Cable Bundle

For desktop storage in full-size drives in higher capacities, there's also a larger version. The Seagate GoFlex Desk TBolt Adapter is for their full-size 3.5" desktop drive line. The GoFlex interface also offers tremendous flexibilty with USB 3.0, FireWire and eSATA docking adapters as an option as well.

Apple and Intel ThunderBolt Interface HDD Storage

At under $400, the average Mac user might be able to afford the LaCie Thunderbolt 1TB Little Big Disk Hard Drive. The 1 Terabyte Lacie ThunderBolt Little Big Disk uses dual 500GB 7200 RPM conventional hard drives paired in a RAID 0 config for maximum thruput from spinning platter technology. Dual ThunderBolt ports on the rear allow daisy-chaining additional TBolt devices. A 2TB drive is also available. An Apple ThunderBolt cable is usually NOT included with the drive. You'll need to order one separately either from the Apple Store or the Apple Thunderbolt Cable listed at Amazon.

External ThunderBolt Hard Drives

It may seem silly to pair a Mac's 10, 20 or 40GBps ThunderBolt port to a conventional hard drive with spinning platters. But with careful selection of a high-RPM drive mechanism and a large onboard data cache, in striped RAID configuration they'll provide very high storage capacity and speedy TimeMachine backups and data transfers for OSX users. The availability of ThunderBolt docks and adapters to legacy peripheral interfaces like USB 3.0 and 2.0, FireWire 400 and 800, eSata will help Apple owners transition and leverage thier existing investment in conventional Mac backup drives until more affordable ThunderBolt backup drive options become available.

Multi-Drive ThunderBolt Interface RAID Arrays

To leverage the port's full bandidth potential with conventional spinning platter drive mechanisms, multi-drive RAID ThunderBolt storage arrays are needed. When paired with exceptionally fast disk modules at high-RPM and with large on-board cache, tremendous read-write speeds are possible. There's the added benefit on very high storage capactiy using very affordable 1 to 3 TeraByte drives to build the array. Western Digital's TBolt G-RAID and My Book Thunderbolt Duo series offer exceptional drive performance AND high-capacity in the $400-700 range.

Solid-State ThunderBolt SSD Drives

The true capabilities of Intel and Apple ThunderBolt technology is most apparant when this interface is used with Solid-State flash memory storage. With zero moving parts or mechanical latency issues to deal with - Mac ThunderBolt SSD drive solutions will blow the roof off of any previous generation consumer computer storage solution. For example, the LaCie 240GB Thunderbolt SSD. This dual drive Little Big Disk Series SSD was first to market and uses dual 120GB SSD disks.

A more affordable SINGLE solid-state drive TBolt solution, the Elgato Thunderbolt 120GB Solid State Drive. It and the 240GB version offers the lowest cost per gigabyte in a TBolt SSD drive to date.

Apple ThunderBolt high-speed computer interface ports are now shipping across all current models of Apple computers. Starting with the TBolt enabled MacBook Pro it's now shipping on the MacBook Air, latest generation Mac mini, Macintosh Pro, and Dual and Quad-Core iMac desktop Macintosh line.

The only thing slow about ThunderBolt was the arrival of alot of drive storage products, accessories and peripherals to take advantage of it's insane bandwidth. Current manufacturers shipping ThunderBolt external drives include Promise and Sonnet Technologies, Western Digital, Seagate and ElGato. But it's more than just a hard disk drive interface. As a direct extension of a Mac's internal PCI bus - it replaces our notion of PCI expansion cards and the need for PCI slots with a simple, and very tiny port.

ThunderBolt also supercedes and incorporates DisplayPort monitor technology. Existing DisplayPort monitors made by Apple and other 3rd-Party manufacturers still work on TBolt ports. And new generation of ThunderBolt port monitors are on their way to provide both external display and device expansion capabilities with additional TBolt ports acting as a hub incorporated into the LCD monitor.

Apple, Mac, Macintosh, the Apple logo, iPod, the iPod logo, are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries. ThunderBolt is a trademark of Intel Corporation.


Amazon.com: Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE121): Car Electronics

Upgrade your GoFlex Ultra-Portable drive to increase performance with the GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter. Thunderbolt technology is a revolutionary interface supporting high-resolution display and high-performance data devices through a single port. At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt technology is up to 20x faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12x faster than FireWire 800. Transferring high-definition movies and other large files now can take seconds versus minutes when compared with older interface technologies. As part of the GoFlex ecosystem, the GoFlex Thunderbolt portable adapter turns any GoFlex portable drive into a blazing-fast Thunderbolt device for your computer. This portable solution allows you to take it with you everywhere you go, as it is completely bus powered, meaning you do not need an external power supply. Connect it to the end of a daisy chain of Thunderbolt devices, or directly to the Thunderbolt port on your computer. With the help of Thunderbolt technology and compatible peripherals, users can turn their everyday computer into a powerful workstation.

Up to 20x the speed of USB 2.0 and 12x the speed of FireWire 800

Thunderbolt solutions from Seagate for working at home, or on the go

Satisfy your need for speed. Designed to meet the demands of professional media creators, Thunderbolt technology allows users to unleash their creativity using high-bandwidth audio- and video-capturing devices, while transferring data at up to 10 gigs-per-second--up to 20x the speed of USB 2.0 and 12x the speed of FireWire 800.

Just connect the Thunderbolt adapter to any Seagate GoFlex drive for high speed data transfer

Featuring Time Machine software compatibility for easy backups

Now this technology is available to you to address your growing storage needs with Seagate's new, flexible Thunderbolt adapters. Simply connect your GoFlex drive and Thunderbolt adapter to your computer using your Thunderbolt cable to instantly begin transferring high-speed data and high-definition (HD) video on a single interface.

Speed with Precision

Built for accuracy, capacity and speed, Thunderbolt technology precisely moves vast amounts of data at up to 20x the speed of USB 2.0 and 12x the speed of FireWire 800.


Connect the Desk Thunderbolt adapter directly to your computer, or to displays and other Thunderbolt devices. With dual ports, you can daisy chain up to six devices. Works with any GoFlex desktop drive.

Or take the Thunderbolt Portable adapter on the go--you can connect it directly to your computer’s Thunderbolt port. When you get home, attach it to the end of your Thunderbolt daisy chain. Works with any GoFlex portable drive.

Data and Display Daisy Chains for When You're At Home

Thunderbolt technology supports two separate channels--one for high-speed data transfer and one for high-definition (HD) display on a single interface. Take advantage of this cutting-edge technology by connecting high-end displays to a Seagate Thunderbolt adapter and realize the benefits of maximum performance with minimal desktop clutter.

From Work Station to Train Station--No Outlet Required

The Seagate Thunderbolt Portable adapter is entirely bus powered, meaning you don’t have to be tethered to a power outlet. That means that you have high-speed access to your data no matter where you are.

The Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Family
GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter Bundles GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapters
GoFlex Desk for Mac GoFlex Ultra-Portable for Mac GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter
  • Dual ports enable daisy-chaining up to 6 devices
  • Compatible with displays and other Thunderbolt devices
  • 3TB capacity
  • Includes 1-m Thunderbolt cable
  • Compatible with Time Machine software
  • Completely portable, no external power supply needed
  • Attaches directly to your computer or to the end of your Thunderbolt daisy chain
  • 1TB capacity
  • Includes 0.5-m Thunderbolt cable
  • Compatible with Time Machine software
  • Dual ports enable daisy-chaining up to 6 devices
  • Compatible with displays and other Thunderbolt devices
  • Designed to work with Backup Plus or GoFlex desktop drives only
  • Completely portable, no external power supply needed
  • Attaches directly to your computer to the end of your Thunderbolt daisy chain
  • Designed to work with Backup Plus or GoFlex portable drives only


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