Apple Compatible ThunderBolt Peripherals

Since it's introduction, we've seen Apple and Intel's high-bandwidth interface progress as intended towards becoming the one, unifying data port to connect every type of computing device imaginable. Offering a minimal bandwidth of 10Gbps in it's first incarnation, ThunderBolt 2 doubled that to 20Gbps, and then again to 40Gbps with the release of ThunderBolt 3 in 2016.

ThunderBolt Peripherals List

This short list of ThunderBolt peripheral types covers the most in-demand devices to connect new and legacy computer hardware:
  • Single & Multiport Dongles
  • Multi-Port Docks & Hubs
  • Solid-State Storage
  • Hard Drive Storage
  • Drive Cases & Enclosures
  • PCIe Card Chassis
  • Video Capture Hardware
  • Displays & Monitors
  • Certified Cabling

The first ThunderBolt accessory category to leverage the incredible bandwidth of ThunderBolt technology has been external backup drives in mult-drive and dual-drive RAID storage arrays. As an increasing number of ThunderBolt drives have reached the market: Apple now lists a dozen ThunderBolt storage accessories at the Apple Store online - If you're willing to pay full list price. More competitively priced options are avalable at Amazon. A nice variety of ThunderBolt port peripherals to take advantage of Intel and Apple's ThunderBolt interface are now on the the market. Beyond ThunderBolt SSD and hard drive options, many other ThunderBolt accessories and products that are compatible with Mac are available. More and more manufacturers who've announced Apple ThunderBolt accessory and storage devices are shipping 2nd and now 3rd generation ThunderBolt gear in volume.

Apple ThunderBolt Adapters

Apple itself has shipped two branded adapters for ThunderBolt. First to ship was the $29 Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter handy for MacBook Air models needing wired internet connectivity. For other Mac models and specific network applications, it also provided the option of having a secondary Ethernet port.

The Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 Adapter that was announced took longer to ship. That was unfortunate because it was a desperately needed solution to leverage existing FireWire 400/800 storage devices or as a way to use Target Disk Mode to help transferring files quickly from pre-ThunderBolt era Macs. Though Apple has discontinued FireWire ports on it's Macs, many users still have FW400/800 hardware - especially video editing pros with ThunderBolt video decks and RAID storage arrays.

ThunderBolt Accessories Announcements

MacWorld Expo typcially offers some interesting announcements about the emerging USB 3.1 and ThunderBolt 3 peripheral for Mac market. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas which precedes it often offers sneak-peeks of soon to ship Mac ThunderBolt peripheral products on display as well. There'll be ever more choices in the ThunderBolt accessory market in the year ahead as the transition towards ThunderBolt 3 takes hold on both Apple's Macintosh platform and Windows PC's as well.

DisplayPort ThunderBolt Monitor Accessories

Because the ThunderBolt interface includes DisplayPort standard support and capabilites, it's a natural candidate for more widespread adoption on both the PC and Macintosh platform. The first monitor product was Apple's ThunderBolt Cinema display actually incorporates a multi-interface ThunderBolt Hub at the back. It's single ThunderBolt cable also breaks out to FireWire 800, USB 2.0 and an additional Gigabit Ethernet port on the back of the display. Many other computer display companies are now offering DisplayPort interfaces on their monitors as well. Eventually, a Type-C ThunderBolt 3 port will become the preferred, defacto connectivity option for LCD monitors.

PCI Expansion Via Apple ThunderBolt Accessories

Because ThunderBolt provides direct access to the PCI-Express bus, the notion of having to open your computer to install a 'card' has become a thing of the past. In effect, the tiny TBolt mini-port is a virtual expansion card slot. Of particular note are Sonnet Technologies ThunderBolt products poised to ship in the year ahead. An external Express Card slot adapter; the Echo Expresscard/34 ThunderBolt Adapter - which should allow for a variety of existing SuperSpeed USB 3.O, FireWire, and eSATA cards. A PCI-E multi slot card expansion chassis, and some Ethernet and FireWire ThunderBolt adapter accessories are available as well.

Tags: Thunderbolt Peripherals List, Mac Thunderbolt Accessories, Thunderbolt Peripherals for Mac, Thunderbolt Accessories Mac, ThunderBolt Port Peripheral, Apple Thunderbolt Accessory