External thunderbolt drive options.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by StephenCampbell, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. StephenCampbell macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    I'm interesting in what the best options for external thunderbolt drives are, both in terms of enclosures for 3.5" SATA drives that I already have, as well as external thunderbolt drives with the drive included.

    I have two 3TB SATA drives in my Mac Pro that I'm going to have to convert to external solutions when I get a Haswell iMac. Would you keep the same drives and get enclosures? Or purchase external 3TB thunderbolt drives? And what would be the best option for each of those?
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I'd consider both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 options. Unless you're doing a high-performance array you won't see a difference in speed, and the USB options are cheaper and more plentiful.
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    To date, there are no Thunderbolt external chassis or cases that sold without drives. Of the several vendors offering product, all come preconfigured with drives.

    What you may want to consider is watching for refurbished drives. Others here have pointed out that LaCie refurbs of their 2big and their Little Big Disk are frequently available from www.macmall.com. The 2big is interesting, since it will take 2x 3.5" drives and the bracket is easy to change.

    LaCie also has a 5big that has 5 drives. Perhaps MacMall might have some 5big refurbs at a lower than list price.

    One thing to consider is that not all 3.5" drives may behave correctly in a Thunderbolt casing - some may not wake from sleep properly or have other issues, so you'll want to consider that when substituting various different drives.

    And of course, if you do run into issues, the warranty won't cover any foreign drives.

    As for USB 3.0, there are many, many empty cases available for single drives, all with differing performance and specs. You'll want to find a casing that specifically mentions support for UAS or UASP. This is a higher performance IO spec that Apple supports for USB.

    There are also many multi-drive USB chassis offered, but if the reviews at Amazon or Newegg are any indication, most have nothing but problems with Macs.

    Remember, when you are rolling your own, you are also taking support into your own hands.
  4. StephenCampbell, Jun 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013

    StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    True. My tendency would be to buy normal external drive products without putting together anything myself.

    If USB 3.0 would provide similar performance to my current internal SATA drives I may just go with that.

    So are we not yet at the point of just having normal, affordable external 3TB Thunderbolt hard drives?

    Edit: What about this enclosure? I'd probably be buying the Mercury Elite Pro drives if I was going USB 3.0. It couldn't be much different buying this enclosure and putting my drives in, right?

  5. c1phr macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2011
    Are you sure about that?

  6. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  7. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
  8. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    For SATA HDs, USB 3.0 is more than fast enough to handle the disks. I suggest you either get a pair of enclosures or get a dual drive enclosure.

    The limitation is the speed of the disk and not USB or Thunderbolt. Current SSDs are fine on USB 3.0 as well.
  9. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    So why do they sell Thunderbolt external drives that are not SSD? What is the point of doing that as opposed to having it be just USB 3.0?
  10. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Because thunderbolt is "new fangled, SHINY and fast". And they get more profit from it.

    A larger disk enclosure makes sense to put on Thunderbolt considering you can have 6 Thunderbolt devices in a chain. And a large RAID subsystem could push past what USB 3.0 could support.
  11. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    There is a whole generation of Macbook Airs, iMacs, and Macbook Pros that have Thunderbolt, but only USB 2.0 speeds.

    There are also those who might shuttle info between different Macs, only some of which may have Thunderbolt.

    As to the OP who mentioned the Areca 8-bay driveless Thunderbolt chassis, thanks for the tip. Only need to find $1499 :D Thats a lot of upfront money for an empty box to casually throw in a few spare drives. Certainly quite useful for the target market, though.
  12. TwoBytes macrumors 68030


    Jun 2, 2008
  13. boatcapt macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2011
    Would one be able to buy the refurb Lacie d2 Quadra's and run them say with Firewire and then at a later date buy a Lacie esata hub and run the drives through it and achieve thunderbolt speeds? I have the generation with usb 2.o and thunderbolt, no usb 3.0.
  14. TyPod macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2006
    And Yourself?
    Here is an enclosure you could use for all three of your hard drives. Pretty cheap and seems to have decent reviews, USB 3.0.

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