High-Speed Mac Compatible SSD Drives With ThunderBolt Ports

Never before has a personal computer interface offered the insanely fast speeds of 10, 20, and 40Gbps ThunderBolt ports. It's literally 20 to 80 times faster than the popular USB 2.0 specification, and 2 to 4 times that of the competing USB 3.0 standard. ThunderBolt outstrips the bandwidth requirements of nearly any personal computer peripheral available today. Conventional spinning platter hard drives can't fill a fraction of ThunderBolt's data pipeline. So Solid-State flash memory ThunderBolt SSD drives are the most logical pairing for peak Read/Write performace. A ThunderBolt SSD external drive can really leverage the potential bandwidth available.


TunderBolt SSD Drives For Mac

Here's some of the latest Apple ThunderBolt SSD consumer drives offering 120GB or 240GGB or more of formatted storage.
       
Akitio ThunderBolt DriveLaCie ThunderBolt Combo DriveOyen Digital ThunderBolt Drive
Akitio Neutrino Drive

120GB ThunderBolt SSD
Rugged SSD Drive

Combo USB 3.0 + TBolt Interfaces
Oyen Mini Pro

256GB Solid-State Portable

Currently, the two best choices in solid-state backup are LaCie 512GB Thunderbolt SSD dual-drive array which also now offers a 1 Terabyte version for demanding, Pro users. These LaCie high-end models combine dual 256GB//512GB SATA III Solid-State drives for mirrored or striped RAID 0 performance that delivers mind-blowing transfer speeds - at a price. Their Little Big Disk SSD drives also have TWO TBolt ports on the back for daisy-chaining with other devices.

For a more affordable consumer backup drive, the single-drive LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt SSD has high-speed combo interfaces for both SuperSpeed USB or ThunderBolt connectivity. The ThunderBolt Rugged series uses a single SSD drive for respectable performance - and the added value of flexibility of the backward compatible USB 3.0 port allows you to use it with older and non-ThunderBolt equipped Macs or PCs.

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Drive has been shipping for quite some time. ElGato also uses a single SSD drive module for more modest but still very snappy performance in either 120GB or 240GB capacities - but it's pricing hasn't dropped to be truly competitive with LaCie or other newcomers in the marketplace.

Newcomers in 2015 include Akitio and Oyen Digital's external, portable SSD backup drive offerings - shown below. These laptop size affordable consumer drives have a single TBolt port for use directly connected to your computer - or at the END of the device chain.

Akitio Neutrino Drive

120GB ThunderBolt SSD


Oyen Digital SSD

256GB For Around $299


Recent entrants into the external SSD drive market inclue Oyen Digital and Akitio. Akitio has long been a maker of USB, eSata, and FireWire drive enclosures for assembling DIY backup drives. Introducing a single-port ThunderBolt portable SSD drive like the 120GB Neutrino shown here (currently using an Intel 330 SSD) is the first step in recouping their investment, a 256Gb is available as well (currently using a SanDisk U100 SSD). Akitio has announced they will soon offer a standalone ThunderBolt drive enclosure for homebuilt storage solutions using the SSD or HDD drive of your choice. Oyen Digital has a few drive offerings with 120GB/240GB portable SSD ThunderBolt portable drives priced around $199/$299 respectively.

DIY ThunderBolt SSD Adapter Sled


Backup Plus ThunderBolt Drive Adapters

For Laptop Size SSD or HDD


These let anyone cobble thier own affordable ThunderBolt SSD solution by simply plugging a bare 2.5" laptop SATA SSD drive directly into the portable adapter's SATA connector. It should be noted the ThunderBolt drive converter only has a SINGLE ThunderBolt port like many of the more affordable ThunderBolt storage products for home consumers. It's not capable of being Daisy-Chained with other TBolt devices. And of course, the cable is separate if you buy just the adapter and not one of Seagates drive + dock + cable bundles.

Best SSD For ThunderBolt?


Several factors determine which SSD is the best match for ThunderBolt drives. A Solid-State drive in general relies on several components that determine a SSD's performance: Whether it's a SATA I/II or or SATA III 6G drive interface chipset, and which controller chip: Marvell, Indilinx, SandForce, etc. are the brains of the operation. Other factors in the solid-state drive market involve how fast the onboard NAND Flash Memory is - and the Clock Speed controlling all of it. It's important to note that LARGER capacity SSD's 240GB and up offer BETTER performance than the smaller models: More banks of chips inside a higher-capacity SSD drive allow more simultaneous reads and writes across each bank for flash. As such you'll often see spec sheets quoting different maximum data transfer rates depending on the size of the drive. With solid-state storage, bigger is better - and faster.

ThunderBolt RAID SSD - Power Pair


Want to fill as much of ThunderBolt's pipe as possible? Think Striped RAID 0 SSD drive setups for peak performance. By striping Reads and Writes across multiple Solid-State drives, the highest level of drive transfer speeds become possible. Some may opt for premium top-performance SSD's, others may wish to leverage more economical drives paired to get the ThunderBolt drive capacity they need and still fit their budget.

DIY ThunderBolt SSD Backup Drives


Once we have a currently shipping selection of choices in a ThunderBolt case, many do-it-yourself geeks will want to build thier own PC and Mac compatible SSD ThunderBolt drive solutions to match thier budget and performance needs.

In an ideal world - Think towards the future. 6Gbps SATA III is what most conventional spinning platter hard drives are now shipping with - and is backward compatible with SATA I and SATA II anyways. The current SSD market is using the SATA III interface in models like the Micron/Crucial M500 Drive. OCZ Technology's next-generation Sandforce-based Vertex 4 SSD offers great performance boasting potential Read AND Write speeds in the 550 MBps range. The new Intel 5XX Series SSD is it's a 4th Generation SATA 3 drive now using a Marvell chipset.

The direct 10Gbps and 20Gbps pipeline that ThunderBolt and ThunderBolt 2 taps into via the PCI-Express system bus offers mindblowing backup and data copy speeds compared to USB 3.0 or FireWire -- provided it's matched with equally fast solid-state SSD storage technologies. A growing range of enterprise, profressional and consumer SSD ThunderBolt backup solutions are now shipping. With zero moving parts, very high reliability, zero latency and near-zero access times, they are a perfect match for the cutting-edge ThunderBolt peripheral interface from Apple and Intel.

If you're cobbling together your own DIY SSD ThunderBolt backup solution - you're going to want some of the latest generation SATA III interface SSD drives to really take advantage of the data transmission speeds ThunderBolt is capable of.