Does anyone use a thunderbolt hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by WinterWolf90, Nov 5, 2016.

  1. WinterWolf90 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2014
    Is there really any benefit to getting one of these VS USB C? I currently have a 2TB hard drive, but was looking to getting a bigger one, a desktop class one, but the thunderbolt ones are pretty expensive. was wondering if anyone had a personal opinion on these.
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    If you are talking about just a single standard desktop desktop hard drive, there is no reason to spend all that extra money on a TB drive. A single hard drive cannot even saturate the bandwidth available over USB3, so there would be zero benefit using TB.
  3. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    Don't confuse Thunderbolt (a data transfer protocol) with USB-C (a multi-purpose type of connector). The comparison is between Thunderbolt and USB protocols. A Thunderbolt hard drive may very likely come with a USB-C connector.

    Thunderbolt transfers data many times faster--10Gbps, 20Gbos, or 40Gbos versus USB 3.1 transfer speeds of 5 or 10 Gbps. For a single hard drive, USB is probably sufficient to saturate the drive, so Thunderbolt's advantage can't be put to use.
  4. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    The current speed of Thunderbolt (especially 3) External the speed to take advantage of the speed is a SSD! USB3.1 (C) is coming close to Thunderbolt 1 speeds!
  5. WinterWolf90 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2014
  6. el-John-o macrumors 65816

    Nov 29, 2010
    Keep in mind there's three speeds at play here;

    USB 3.0 - 5Gbps
    USB 3.1 Gen. 1 - 5Gbps (Essentially, USB 3.0 with a Type C connector)
    USB 3.1 Gen. 2 - 10Gbps

    Because of USB's overhead, it never approaches the theoretical max in a real world scenario. Back in the day, for example, 400Mbps FireWire 400 drives were MUCH faster than 480Mbps USB 2.0 drives.

    For a single, standard hard drive, USB 3.0. For multiple hard drives in a striped configuration (such as RAID 0), then USB 3.1 Gen. 2 is a great option.

    For around $150 you can get a two bay, USB 3.1 gen 2 drive, and then you can drop in a pair of standard hard drives in RAID 0, and get lots of storage at near SSD speeds for a fraction of the price. Note that this configuration would be for a 'working drive' configuration, and all data should be backed up continually. If one drive fails in a RAID0 configuration, then you lose ALL of the data from both drives.

    With USB 3.1 gen 2, the only need to jump to Thunderbolt is really for multiple SSD's.

    Also worth asking what it is you want to do. If you're just moving small files, occasionally; or using it as a backup/Time Capsule drive, then USB 3.0 is plenty sufficient.
  7. matreya macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Personally, my experience with Thunderbolt drives has been excellent. Whereas there have been a LOT of people experiencing random ejections of USB3 drives, usually, but not exclusive to, Macs that are put to sleep.

    Never experience any such ejections on my thunderbolt drives, of which I have 5 enclosures (Thunderbay 4 and 4 mini)
  8. T Coma macrumors 6502

    T Coma

    Dec 3, 2015
    People's Republic of Chicago
    I'm using a single desktop drive (ssd) in TB format since it can work as external boot drive. Worth every penny. For external storage though, I just use usb3.
  9. steve23094, Nov 10, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016

    steve23094 macrumors 68020


    Apr 23, 2013

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