Fast ThunderBolt Disk DrivesLast Updated: March 6th, 2017
Shopping for a ThunderBolt hard drive? A growing range of ultra-fast ThunderBolt external drive options has led to both faster and slightly more affordable storage devices. For sheer speed, multi-drive RAID arrays are delivering mind-blowing Read-Write performance.
The most affordable drives per Gigabyte: Seagate's Backup-Plus drives and ThunderBolt adapter docks are shipping in volume. There's also ThunderBolt storage solutions using either mmechanical HDD or solid-state SSD technology from companies like Promise Technology, LaCie, Western Digital, Akitio, and Oyen Digital, as well as ElGato's entry into the drive market with it's ThunderBolt SSD. There's now a wide range of ThunderBolt interface drives to choose from whether you're a professional in enterprise, audio, and video editing markets -- or a home computer user looking for a speedy and reasonably affordable ThunderBolt backup drive solution.
|G-Tech 1TB TBolt Drive||Cheap TBolt+USB3 Drive||LaCie 2TB TBolt Drive|
|G-Technology Combo Drive
ThunderBolt + USB 3.0
|Combo ThunderBolt Laptop Drive
USB 3.0 + ThunderBolt Interface
|LaCie ThunderBolt HDD
Dual 1 Terabyte Drives
Portable ThunderBolt DrivesYou can piece together your own laptop size TBolt backup drive solution with Seagate's Go-Flex / Backup Plus ThunderBolt drive adapter. You can either pair it with a GoFlex or Backup+ portable drive module - or simply plug in a bare 2.5" SATA HDD or SSD drive module of your choice. It uses as standard laptop drive size SATA interface connection. Note the Seagate TBolt adapter only has a SINGLE ThunderBolt port on the back and must be at the end of the daisy-chain, or the only device plugged directly into a Mac's ThunderBolt port.
|TBolt Drive Case||Combo Portable Drive||Combo Interface RAID|
|2.5" ThunderBolt Adapter
Also Works With Bare Drives
|G-Drive Mobile Combo
|Rugged Portable Drive
At full retail list prices - a good selection of ThunderBolt external disk drives are also now listed in the Storage category of the Apple Store online.
Competitive with the Apple Store's but with decidedly lower prices: Amazon is listing the same Pegasus, Western Digital, Seagate, Buffalo, G-Drive and LaCie ThunderBolt external drives. Watch product specs closely, you may need to buy an Apple Thunderbolt Cable cable separately. However, more and more TBolt storage products ARE shipping with the requisite cable these days. Make sure to verify if a TBolt cable is included or not to avoid frustration on arrival.
Pro and Consumer ThunderBolt DrivesSeagate had an early lead with it's ThunderBolt GoFlex drives and adapters. Western Digital recently jumped on the ThunderBolt bandwagon with it's dual-drive WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo 4TB Drive. Western Digital in particular has been rather agressive making backward compatible USB 3.0 SuperSpeed hard drives standard across it's line of portable and desktop drives. Anticipate they'll probably bring a broader range of ThunderBolt port drives to market rather quickly -- and branch into the solid-state disk market as well. There's just too much money to be made - and too many benefits to the consumer - to drag their heels on ThunderBolt for very long. Otherwise, LaCie will eat their lunch...
ThunderBolt interfaces directly to a computer's internal PCI-Express bus. So it can be an 'On-Ramp' for other legacy peripheral bus technologies. We'll soon see a wide range of ThunderBolt adapters, converters and bridge devices to USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, USB2, FireWire, eSata and other types of external drives and devices. This will provide compatibility with a wide range of existing high-speed disks, peripherals AND computer displays.
ThunderBolt Backup Drives - Now.. And Later
One of the most important computer accessories to own is a backup disk. Ideally, one with multiple interfaces and a fast drive mechanism for quick backups and data transfers. External ThunderBolt hard drives bring unprecedented back-up speeds to large video libraries, music files, drive copying and cloning - as well as super-quick incremental and full backups. External Thunderbolt backup drives using either spinning platter HDD or SSD flash memory drives are finally here. After initially targeting PRO markets first, truly affordable consumer drives with ThunderBolt ports are now available with prices under $200.
Shipping Computers With Built-In ThunderBolt Ports
The first shipping computers with Thunderbolt ports were the flagship models of Apple's MacBook Pro series. These were followed by single and dual ThunderBolt port iMac models 2 months later. Then the Mac mini and MacBook Air got ThunderBolt port updates. With the completely redesigned Macintosh Pro cylinder model, ALL Apple computers now include ThunderBolt or ThunderBolt II interfaces.
ThunderBolt Bottleneck Without SSD Drives?
The 10GBps ThunderBolt spec far exceeds the data transfer capabilities of any wired computer peripheral interface spec to date. It supports Dual Multi-Channel Bi-Directional communications driectly off the PCI Express bus. It is a huge leap forward for technology. Traditional spinning platter drives - even the fastest made can barely utilize a fraction of the available bandwidth. ThunderBolt SSD drives - Solid-State flash memory storage drives - will be a much better match for T-Bolt's bandwidth. The latest SATA III 6Gbps SSD drives such as the Samsung 8XX Series, Crucial M550, OCZ Vertex models are some of the best matches for leveraging ThunderBolt's thruput prowess.
Think about it: You're really going to want a Mac or PC with BOTH an internal SSD and a ThunderBolt backup drive to even begin to leverage the full potiential ThunderBolt promises.
ThunderBolt RAID drive arrays get more interesting, since the multiple disks or SSD's can have striped Reads and Writes across multiple drives at once. So RAID interface Thunderbolt drives such as LaCie's LittleBig disk RAID lineup, Sonnet Technologies Fusion series, all the way up to the high-end Promise Technologies Pegasus DAS drive array deliver peak performance - while still leaving available bandwidth for other high and low-demand ThunderBolt accessories on the bus. But many of these have proven not to be an affordable solution for the average Mac consumer's backup drive needs or wallet. Lower-cost single-drive ThunderBolt storage solutions are arriving in increasing numbers as ThunderBolt matures and strives to reach a broader market beyond Pro users, corporate enviroments and enterprise needs.
One Interface To Rule Them All
Because the ThunderBolt is connected directly to the PCI bus - It can act like an 'On-Ramp' for literally ANY other computer peripheral bus technology. Expect a wide range of ThunderBolt adapters and bridge devices to USB 3, USB2, FireWire, eSata and other interfaces. This will provide compatibility with a wide range of high-speed and SuperSpeed peripherals AND computer displays - thanks to DisplayPort functions for monitors that are part of the ThunderBolt spec as well.
Next Generation ThunderBolt 2 SpecificationAs initially planned, Apple and Intel's 2nd-generation ThunderBolt 2 specification is here, effectively doubling ThunderBolt's bandwidth to 20Gbps. The original spec provided TWO 10Gbps channels and the v2 ThunderBolt progression effectively 'bonds' these two channels together to double the possible throughput. The benefit of this is a simple and cost-effective way to improve to 20G ThunderBolt speeds and leverage it's benefits without requiring any major hardware changes to the connectors or cabling -- while preserving backward compatibility with legacy ThunderBolt 1 hardware and computers.
We're starting to see a handful of 2nd-generation 20G TBolt drives arrive to the market suprisingly quickly. For many manufacturers who've already done the drive case fabrication, upgrading to ThunderBolt2 is just a revision to the chipset on the printed circuit board. All other hardware aspects of the drive stay the same.