Thunderbolt why?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by InquisitiveAmI, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. InquisitiveAmI macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    So I've just bought a new MacBook Pro retina but I realised there were two thunderbolt ports I'll never use. Now I need a external drive and was thinking of getting the Lacie rugged usb 3 /thunderbolt 1tb drive. First if I'm right on a hard drive thunderbolt will make hardly any difference to usb 3 in terms of speed. So I looked onto the new dual drive by WD with thunderbolt but yet again it's a hard drive so I might aswell buy a cheap usb 3 1tb drive instead . So I sort of have 2 questions:
    What other uses if any are there for thunderbolt aside from displays and storage?
    Are there any good cheap thunderbolt hard drives out there which make a difference when compared to usb 3?
  2. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
  3. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    USB 3 is already about 2x faster than the fastest 7200 rpm external hard drive..and a lot cheaper than thunderbolt. Getting a thunderbolt drive with a single HDD is literally a waste of money. Thunderbolt is great for external monitors and external enclosures that have a few SSDs in RAID configuration. For instance, I can plug 3 monitors into my rmbp, which is not possible with any other laptop that I am aware of.
  4. caribiner23 macrumors regular


    Feb 15, 2005
    I have several external firewire drives, all of which are accessible via the Thunderbolt port using this adapter.

    I also used the adapter with my circa-2004 DV video camera to transfer videos to my rMBP.

    Additionally, I have the rMBP connected to an external monitor via a Thunderbolt-to-DVI cable.

    Hardly "useless."
  5. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    If you have a external monitor (not a TV), for best video performance you plug the mini display port cable to one of the TB ports.

    As far as external drive, TB is only going to be a benefit over USB3 if one uses a RAID for performance, uses a bunch of drives, uses a bunch of displays, uses an external SSD, or need native SATA commands or NCQ for disk maintenance or performance.

    For what many think is a typical everyday consumer, one that web surfs, has an iTunes library, does some school work, has a couple cameras, and perhaps uses an external drive for backup, the TB feature is not that useful at this time. Doesn't hurt but is a few more $$$ to use over USB.

    TB can be convenient for a one cable docking solution, where all your peripherals are connected to a TB dock, and there is one cable connected to the rMBP. When you want to go mobile, disconnect one cable and go.
  6. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    Exactly -- that is what I'm planning on doing with my '13 rMBP when the next Thunderbolt(2) display is finally released.

    So, it's not a useless port option. And I expect that unless it goes the way of Firewire, it will become more relevant as time goes on (e.g., 4K video bandwidth supported by TB2, other bandwidth hogs).
  7. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Yeah the TB Dock sounds interesting.
    I don't need an ssd probs but I'm doing a fair amount of xcode and photoshop so I want
    to store my stuff on something.
    Is the new WD dual drive a good idea in terms of thunderbolt?
  8. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    In summary, it is your connection to future expansion you might need.

    USB 3.0 is also possible for expansion, but has fewer capabilities.

    USB 3.0 may be all you require, though.

    Others may need the extra performance Thunderbolt 1 or 2 offer.

    Over on the PC side a few vendors have figured out how to make Thunderbolt an easy to add option to certain systems.

    For most of the computers I've purchased in the past, there was always something that went unused. I never worried about it as long as what was important, worked well.
  9. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks but I think now my burning question is are there any decent Thunderbolt hard drives out there which aren't over 2-300 ? Such as maybe the new dual drive by WD?
  10. ha1o2surfer macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2013
    A g46VW can support 3 external monitors
  11. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    For new:
    1TB HDD with both USB and Thunderbolt interfaces: LaCie Rugged and G-Tech at the Apple Store and other places for $199

    128GB SSD Rugged w/Thunderbolt and USB for $199; 256GB for $349

    A bunch of LaCie refurbs for less than $300 here:

    G-Tech, Akitio, and others also have various channels for products, sometimes at discounted prices.

    The Google can help as well as the various Mac shopping sites and the Apple store.

    Just have to search a bit online, and you won't find that many Thunderbolt products on store shelves except for G-Tech, LaCie, WD, and Seagate.
  12. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    For 2011 Macs, which have thunderbolt, but no usb 3, buying thunderbolt can be worth it. However, for external drives on a machine that has usb 3, it's pretty expensive and pointless.

    For me it's kind of hard because my iMac is 2011 but my mbp has usb 3. So I have been having a tough time decide whether it's worth to get a thunderbolt drive. My iMac doesn't move, so it's not like time machine needs to backup in a hurry.
  13. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks for the clarification. It was sort of narrowed down to the 2 LaCie drives but what I'm not sure is on the USB 3/thunderbolt drive 1tb does the thunderbolt make a big difference or should I fork out for the 120gb ssd for speed if it makes no difference ?
  14. juantoothree4 macrumors member

    Mar 27, 2014
    Lol I hate this too. I'd love to trade at least 1 port for another USB 3. This port is useless for me, and I think for most people. There is not really a need to spend too much to use these ports. If I'm going to use another display monitor, I'd use an HDMI and a vga/dvi splitter. Which I already have a dvi.
  15. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    I don't really see the problem. The TB port can be any port you want it to be with the right adapter.
  16. caribiner23 macrumors regular


    Feb 15, 2005
    Exactly. I've found the port to be very versatile.

    In my opinion, I'd wait until the prices of Thunderbolt drives drop, which they invariably will. No sense dropping big bucks now.
  17. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Sry just back to my other post:
    It was sort of narrowed down to the 2 LaCie drives but what I'm not sure is on the USB 3/thunderbolt drive 1tb does the thunderbolt make a big difference or should I fork out for the 120gb ssd for speed if it makes no difference ?
  18. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    The choice between SSD and HDD is pretty clear, you should ask yourself what you want to use this for first. Also if what you need is a portable, bus-powered HDD with decent capacity, it is going to be a 2.5" HDD in an enclosure, using TB may be a waste of the port's bandwidth but it is unlikely you will ever use the TB ports anyway, unlike your USB ports, which you may want to plug in your mouse or iPhone or whatever. The new WD drive you mentioned is dual drive, RAID 0/1 capable, in stripped mode it has speed that makes some sense for using TB port. BTW for a year or two the entire lineup of macs had no USB3 but already shipped with a TB port, for these machines the TB drives is the only way to get modern speed with.
  19. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    The SSD is easily 3x faster than the HDD. Many other threads here at MacRumors that have beat this to death.

    Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0 speed comparison - pretty similar as long as the drive you pick is UASP compatible, which the LaCie is. I have several of the Rugged drives with both SSD and HDD, and I move from computer to computer to shuttle files on various machines. Not all the machines have Thunderbolt, while other machines have Thunderbolt but lack USB 3.0. So for me, it is a no brainer.

    For me time and convenience trump cost.

    If you are pinching pennies, then there are other considerations. Just a matter of what you are willing to settle for.

    I have plenty of USB 3.0 only drives that I use for drive image backups; a drive dedicated for each computer/laptop I have. Make testing different configurations very easy, and then restoring the drives to their original state.

    Your mileage may vary.
  20. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks for the help.I think the Lacie rugged seems the best shout.Would it also be suitable for storing documents Xcode projects photoshop projects and recalling when needed?
  21. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2010
    Berlin formerly London

    Don't bother with anything other than an SSD version for TB use/speed.

    I have a Lacie "Rugged 1Tb Thunderbolt/USB3.0" drive.
    It's HDD is running @ 5400rpm !! ... useless.... my mistake !

    The Rugged 500Gb 7200rpm USB3.0 version is almost 3 X faster...AND half the price!!
    ( specifically has "7200" printed on the packaging )

    Bottleneck ( for drives ) is the transfer to the platters / rpm.

    Buy a decent empty SATA III USB3.0 case, fit either an SSD, I recommend Samsung Pro
    or EVO models.... OR a WD Velociraptor 10,000rpm drive.

    You will gain speed, save money or even better go Raid 0 and double the speed but
    half the storage count ?

    I'm getting good backup speed from an Icybox USB3.0 Raid enclosure with 2 x 3tb Seagate
    barracuda's inside @ 7200rpm/64meg cache.

  22. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 601

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    It is a really useless port, especially with thick, non-optical cables. I hope we will see cheaper, thin and stable Thunderbolt cables in the future.

    Regarding the HDD/SSD enclosures:
    The cheaper option is a USB 3.0 enclosure which supports the UASP. OS X >= 10.8 supports the UASP. OS X >= 10.8.2 provides additional performance improvements.

    Those enclosures have usually newer ASMedia controllers/bridge chips, which support UASP (for USB 3.0) and SATA III (6 GBit/s for the SSD/HDD). Here is a list of ASMedia controllers/bridge chips:

    I doubt that.
  23. InquisitiveAmI thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
  24. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2010
    Berlin formerly London
    That 7200 G-Drive looks like a winner.

    Raid - well it can use 2 x drives to double their speed BUT halves the storage!
    Costs more that way but you would have super speed.
    I think that a 7200rpm USB3.0 connection will keep you happy, works well for me :)

  25. tmoerel macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2008
    Well...there are many uses. For example if you want gigabit ethernet you can get a thunderbolt-GIGethernet adapter.

    Ah yes.....and keeping in mind that a macbook pro is meant for professionals, Especially video/photo/graphical professionals, there are two thunderbolt ports. These pros might use:

    - High speed raid arrays
    - External PCI enclosures with extra PCI cards
    - External HDMI/SDI video inputs and outputs connected via thunderbolt
    - External docking stations connected via thunderbolt
    - etc...

    For you these devices might not be useful but then you are not really the target market for a professional machine.....sorry! The pros need these!

    I can tell you that as someone who works with broadcast video on location, I would prefer having even four or more of these ports!!!

    Also Thunderbolt seems to have a lower CPU load when transferring data compared to USB3. Lower CPU load means more speed left over for other programs to do there work. In the pro world speed means things get done quicker and thus more money can be made.

    So if you think these ports are useless for you, well, that is how it is.

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