Thunderbolt versus USB 3 external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by afellowlinguist, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. afellowlinguist macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #1
    Hey folks,

    I'm in desperate need of an external hard drive to store my movies/music on, and plan on picking one up today.

    Can someone let me know whether it would be a better idea to purchase a Thunderbolt external hard drive or a USB 3 one? What are the pros and cons of each?

    I have an rMBP, and as such, have 2 TBP and 2 USB3 ports. One of my TBP is usually occupied by a TBP/ethernet adapter.

    Thanks for any thoughts!
     
  2. barredfreak macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    #2
    I would assume that the Thunderbolt external HDD would have faster transfer speeds. I own one, and it's pretty darn quick.
     
  3. waw74 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    #3
    if all you're doing is putting music and movies on it, USB3 will be fine, much cheaper, and easier to find.
    even USB 2 can handle a raw blu-ray rip.
    for speed comparison- numbers are approximate, and from my own experience, don't have thunderbolt numbers.

    blu-ray - 4-5 MB/s
    USB2 - 20-25 MB/s
    USB3 - 100 MB/s

    both USB3 and 7200RPM drives have about the same top speed, so if all you're doing is external storage, unless you get a RAID or SSD, the limit on your speed will be the drive itself and not the interface.
     
  4. afellowlinguist thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #4
    Thanks, guys. USB 3 it is, then. Any recommendations on a quality USB 3 drive? Anything between 500 GB and 1 TB will be good for me.
     
  5. jcpb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2012
    #5
    If you're buying external hard drives, you need multiples of them before you'll run into the USB3 speed limit, so get the highest capacity drive you can afford from a brand that has historically screwed you the least.
     
  6. Rmafive macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    #6
    Seagate makes great USB 3.0 drives for reasonable prices. I have one and it works great.
     
  7. flo-o-rama macrumors newbie

    flo-o-rama

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Austria
    #7
    but has anyone made real world speed comparisons yet? something like a lacie 2big thunderbolt compared to a lacie 2big quadra usb 3.0?

    I'm wondering if a 7200 rpm hard drive can output the 10 Gbps at all or if the hard drive tops out at the 5 Gbps which USB 3.0 gives us.
     
  8. peeaanuut macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #8
    the issue is that USB3 like USB2 wouldnt reach is max potential even if only 1 device.

    For your purposes the USB3 drive will be more than adequate. You can also go with a bare USB3 enclosure and than add a drive so that you dont have to get a locked in unit.
     

Share This Page