Best Thunderbolt 3 External Mac SSD Drives In 2022

External Thunderbolt Disk Drive
This year's Best Thunderbolt 3 SSD drives for Mac nominations was an easy task. As powerful as Thunderbolt technology is, the vast majority of Apple computer users are simply opting for incredibly fast but far cheaper 10GBps USB 3.2 USB-C SSD backup drives. Most don't have the need for, nor are willing to pay for the extra speed and ooomph! a 40GBps Thunderbolt 3 solid-state drive can provide.

I've tracked the Mac compatible Thunderbolt 3 solid-state drive market, it struggles and fails to take dominance. I've seen major brands enter with a product, then discontinue their Thunderbolt 3 drive a year later. It seems that next-generation USB 4 is going to eventually crush Thunderbolt slowly, much like what happened with Apple's FireWire a decade ago. Below are the only 8 TBolt 3 external SSD's I could find listed on Amazon after hours of searching and scouring their listings.

What that leaves us is only the most known and entrenched players like LaCie, OWC and GTech are holding turf while lesser brands slug it out. What's surprising is Sabrent delivering the cheapest 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SDD drive and does it using the latest chipset. It supports both 40 GBps Thunderbolt 3 or 10GBps USB 3.2 Type-C connectivity for assured cross-platform compatibility now, and into the Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 future.

The Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 1TB SSD with Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.2 chipset $219 USD. Speeds up to 2700 MB/s in Thunderbolt 3 Mode or up to 900 MB/s in USB 3.2 Mode,

Sabrent Rocket 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Best Bang For The Buck

Major Brand, Highest Price: LaCie's Rugged Pro Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C drive that supports either TBolt3 or USB 3.2 protocols. Wins the least bang for the buck award at $349.

Lacie 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Thank gawd it isn't wrapped in that ugly ORANGE silicone shock protector

OWC Envoy Pro FX 1TB Thunderbolt 3 USB and 3.2 SSD $299

OWC 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Super-Cooling Heatsink Fin Enclosure For Reliability

Fantom Extreme 1TB Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Support $299

Fantom Extreme 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

5-Year Warranty.

TEKQ Lowest-price matching Sabrent, but chipset is Thunderbolt 3-Only $219

TEKQ 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Cheap but has TBolt 3-only chipset

G-Drive (Sandisk Pro) is holding out with their stylish but Thunderbolt 3-Only chipset. $319

G-Drive 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Needs newer chipset, but the case design is the most stylish

Archgon 1TB Thunderbolt 3-Only SSD $299

Archgon 1 Terabyte TBolt 3 SSD

Good heat dissipating aluminum enclosure

Plugable 1TB Thunderbolt-3 Only SSD $349

Plugable 1TB TBolt 3 SSD

Not price competitive at ll as a Thunderbolt 3-Only drive

Tags: cheap mac external ssd, thunderbolt 3 ssd for mac, apple compatible thunderbolt 3 drive, mac thunderbolt 3 ssd, cheapest ssd, cheap thunderbolt 3 drive

Any Cheap Mac SSD Thunderbolt 3 Drive Enclosures?

Apple users looking for a cheap Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive enclosure will find it challenging. Unlike the USB 3.1 product scene where choices abound and costs are low, current external Thunderbolt 3 drive case options are limited and costlier.

Thunderbolt3 PCIe NVMe SSD Enclosure

Single M.2 PCIe SSD Solid-State Drive Case

There's a handful of widely available NVMe PCIe SSD Thunderbolt 3 enclosures available. With portable 40Gbps Thunderbolt enclosure prices hovering in the $110-$130 range, a DIY Thunderbolt 3 enclosure w/SSD costs more than complete off-the-shelf half-terabyte external TB3 backup drives like the 512GB Patriot Evlvr or the 512GB VisionTek do!

By the time you add a DIY M.2 PCIe SSD module - even one of the cheapest NVMe SSD's out there -- to an enclosure, your total cost inches closer to the $200 range. Just doesn't make much economic sense to cobble your own solid-state Mac backup drive until Thunderbolt 3 enclosure prices drop further.

Low-Cost Thunderbolt 3 SSD Compatible With Macs

A cheap, Mac friendly external Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive is a reality thanks to the collapsing cost of SSD storage modules and broader adoption of the Type-C Thunderbolt3 interface on now millions upon millions of Apple computers.

One example of a new wave of very-affordable SSD Thunderbolt 3 drives for your Mac desktop or MacBook laptop is this VisionTek solid state drive with reasonably snappy performance at an insanely great price point.

512GB External Thunderbolt3 SSD

Integrated Type-C Thunderbolt3 Cable

Depending on whether you intend to use this drive for cross-platform use or not, you may want to reformat the external SSD for MacOS upon arrival. Note that many new Intel PC's running Windows 10 now include Thunderbolt 3 ports as well, so expect broad market compatibility to help drive the price of Thunderbolt3 peripherals down to commodity price points.