With the Mini Neo, a SATA III based M.2 SSD module is used for reasonably speedy transfers, but expect other products incorporating PCIe NVMe flash modules to deliver even higher data transfer speeds approaching 1000MBps to reach the market soon.
Tags: USB-C storage hub, USB-C-SSD dock, USB-C hub with SSD
The Thunderbolt 3 port friendly USB3.1 Gen2 10Gbps external case for Mac accepts 2230 2242 2260 2280 millimeter length NVMe PCIe SSD of your choosing. It supports capacities up to 2TB solid-state flash memory modules.
We still haven't seen a true Thunderbolt 3 flash memory drive enclosure like this one with a native TB3 chipset. In the meantime, USB-C will be fast enough. Using USB-C protocol on an Apple Mac, this drive is capable of Read/Writes up into the 1000MBps range, fully maxing out the 10Gbps bandwidth of its USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection.
Based on NVMe solid-state flash memory modules, the drive is capable of speeds up to 2800MBps connected via Thunderbolt 3, or up to 950MBps on a Gen 2 USB 3.1 USB-C port leveraging the full potential of either type of connection. For modern Mac users, the drive's single port will connect at Thunderbolt 3 speeds when directly connected to a newer MacBook, iMac, Mac mini or Mac Pro. But it will also work at various USB speeds if connected to, say, a slower USB-C hub. With proper cable or adapter on older Macs, it can even connect to rectangular USB 2.0/3.0 Type-A ports and still work.
Unike 'combo' drives with multiple interfaces on the back, a SINGLE port on the SSD Pro detects the optimal protocol when plugged into a Type-C computer port. As such the SSD Pro from LaCie is the most versatile external SSD drive currently available thanks to it's advanced Titan Ridge Thunderbolt controller circuitry.
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.
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.
Offering Read speeds up to 1600Mbps and 1000Mbps Writes, the EVLVR from Patriot Memory isn't quite as fast as some competitor's PCIe SSD blade products that cost significantly more. So there's the tradeoff: A cheap Thunderbolt 3 SSD that's more than 'fast enough', or far more expensive ones that deliver proportionately higher speeds at higher prices.
Licensing Intel's Thunderbolt 3 chipset inflates the cost of computer peripherals significantly more than a dirt-cheap USB 3.0 / 3.1 chipset does. But Thunderbolt 3 is taking hold far beyond the Mac into the Windows PC world with unprecedented adoption and deployment. The economies of scale with make cheap Thunderbolt 3 storage and devices a reality sooner than you think.
This highly compact Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure for NVMe SSD's is small and lightweight. It measures around 4.0” x 1.5” x 0.5” (102mm x 38mm x 11mm) and weighs around 2.5 ounces. It's one of the world’s fastest portable SSD cases to rapidly transfer all of your video, music, photography and other large files at lightning fast speeds up to 2800 MB/s. Your particular transfer rates will depend on the model of NVME M.2 SSD blade, your TB3 enabled computer, and other factors.
The portable SSD enclosure with Thunderbolt 3 interface supports PCIe Rev. 3.0, has an LED activity indicator, and is completely Thunderbolt 3 bus powered, Passive cooling of the flash memory is assured by the all-metal housing with integrated cooling fins. System Requirements include Windows 7/8/10 as well as MacOS 10.13 and higher. Supports PCs or laptops with an available Thunderbolt 3 port. Most well-known brands of NVMe PCIe modules are supported. It includes the Thunderbolt 3 M-Key PCIe SSD enclosure, a 50cm Thunderbolt 3 Cable; 2x screwdrivers and a 1 Year warranty.
It's still early in this space so there's not many TB3 blade enclosures to choose from at this point. The demand for Thunderbolt 3 SSD backup drives for Mac AND PC users is exploding as USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 devices adopt the unifying Type-C connection. Sadly, the cost of the Thunderbolt 3 chipset is making 40Gbps enclosures a far costlier proposition than admittedly slower but far more affordable USB-C USB 3.1 SSD blade enclosures for literally a fifth or tenth the price.
That hasn't always been the case as typical flash drives haven't been particularly speedy. One of the performance leaders in the laptop and M.2 SSD storage space - SandDisk delivers a super-fast flash performance. It's Extreme Pro Flash Drive can deliver up to 420 MB/s read speeds on a USB 3.0/3.1 port.
Other worthy contenders of note are Patriot's SuperSonic RAGE 2 flash drive claiming speeds up to 400 MB/s, or the PNY Pro Elite flash drive claiming similar performance. Note that LARGER flash drives (like SSD's) in the 256GB / 512GB capacity range deliver faster speeds than smaller capacity drives do. So if you can afford it - buy UP in size for the best transfer speeds possible.
- Chipset with support FULL Gen2 10Gbps speeds (Not just 5Gbps Gen1 which would bottleneck performance.)
- Accept a variety of M.2 SSD blade lengths up to 80 millimeters to give you the most flexibility in your solid state drive choices.
- A SSD blade enclosure made of aluminum to help dissipate the heat that these modules crank out during heavy Read/Write bursts.
- Support UASP protocol to ensure maximum data transfer rates that older BOT protocols can't match.
- Come with BOTH new USB-C Type-C and conventional USB 3.0 Type-A cables for connection to Macs or PC's old or new.
- Be easy to assemble: Either a SSD enclosure that's tool-free or has a minimum number of screws.
For peak performance, we recommend the bleeding edge Samsumg Evo 970 SSD blade, however more affordable M.2 modules like the Crucial P1 or Western Digital's WD Black series are fine choices as well.
The Mac friendly X5 Thunderbolt 3 portable drive uses Samsung's NVMe PCIe based blades using the same 64-layer V-NAND flash as their highly regarded 860 EVO series laptop SSDs. The solid-state drive is supported on recent MacBooks and Macintosh desktop computers with the modern Thunderbolt 3 ports running MacOS Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave.
Although the 1TB and 2TB models may be a bit pricey for the average Macintosh owner, the 500GB version of the X5 solid-state drive is VERY price competitive with all the other smaller capacity Mac compatible Thunderbolt3 solid-state drives competing in this space.
The collapsing cost of solid-state flash memory helps. Conventional off-the-shelf 2.5" SATA SSD's have become ridiculously cheap - and the trend towards high-density PCIe SSD modules / blades are even faster using far less raw materials and space. So Thunderbolt 3 SSD blade drives are appearing (or have been announced) leveraging the prowess of both technologies. We've seen LaCie introduce a $1999 Bolt 3 SSD months ahead of everyone else at a price few mortals could justifiably afford. We've also seen OWC ship their ThunderBlade(tm) 3 portable drive with prices ranging from $1199-$4999 MSRP. Ouch!
Fortunately some low-cost portable SSD ThunderBolt 3 drive alternatives came to market early. Both CableMatters and Plugable's TB3 external SSD's appear to be pretty much identical OEM devices, both 480GB in a portable form-factor with a short 6 inch ThunderBolt 3 cable integrated into the drive's case. These are shipping from both Plugable and Cable Matters with Plugable's offering currently about 30 bucks cheaper than the other. Priced just under $300 USD,they were temporarily the cheapest ThunderBolt3 SSD of 2018 and will deliver the most bang for the buck. The tradeoffs include incompatibility with USB 3.1, lack of Thunderbolt 3 pass-through ports for other devices and a non-removable cable.
OWC now sells their 'low priced' Envoy Pro EX ThunderBolt 3 SSD for Mac in either very affordable 240GB or 500GB versions. They're now on the shelves or available at online retailers.
As more competition arrives in force, downward price pressures will help somewhat. The insanely competitive USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 USB-C Mac backup drive market for HDD and SSD storage for Apple computers has become ridiculously cheap, TBolt will and always has carried a price premium for more demanding enterprise and professional market applications.