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. One of the world’s fastest portable SSD case 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.
These screamingly fast full 40Gbps Thunderbolt3 SSD drives from CableMatters and Plugable use PCIe NVMe SSD blade modules to achieve their impressive Read / Write speeds never before seen in consumer storage with a price tag near or just under $300 USD. For well under $1/Gigabyte they can deliver up to 2400MBps Reads and 1200MBps writes.
Cheap ThunderBolt 3 SSD
480GB - TBolt3 ONLY
Cheapest ThunderBolt3 SSD
480GB - TBolt3 ONLY
These currently shipping drives from Cable Matters and Plugable both offer 480GB solid-state modules tied to a ThunderBolt 3 ONLY interface. Note that a new Mac's ThunderBolt 3 ports transmit BOTH native 40GbpsTBolt3 AND 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocols. However the two drives featured above do not operate on Type-C ports in USB 3.1 mode. So they are ThunderBolt 3 ONLY.
Also note that on some PC and Mac computer models (notably the first 2016 MacBook Pro series), some ThunderBolt 3 ports might operate at a maximum of 20Gbps -- Not the maximum 40Gbps. In these cases, the cheapest ThunderBolt 3 drives shown above will perform at somewhat lower speeds due to the reduced available bandwidth. Confusing, huh?
About a fourth the size of currently typical 22mm x 80mm M.2 PCIe SDS modules, two of the emerging BGA SSD sizes are 12mm x 14mm or 16mm x 20mm. This space savings matter. With motherboards shrinking in size drastically, much of the available space in a notebook or tablet are now devoted to batteries, and that's just that much more space that using a BGA SSD will leave for higher capacity batteries.
Some of the more immediate benefits of BGA solid-state drives will be better heat dissipation directly through the motherboard's surface. Able to operate a lower voltages down to 1.8v, the amount of heat generated will be significantly reduced as well - while still delivering the astonishing Read/Write speeds that PCIe flash memory is capable of.
Samsung's already begun high-capacity production of 3, 16mm x 20mm Ball Grid Array modules in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities using 48-layer MLC V-NAND that can deliver up to 1500MB/s Read speeds. And you can bet Apple's already testing them in lab prototypes of MacBook and iPads. When such products reach market isn't far off.
For those with older MacBook's or Mac mini's that used conventional 2.5 inch SATA notebook drives, a very affordable 2.5" SATA to mSATA adapter can be used to retrofit a mSATA card to a standard laptop drive form.
There are also Apple users who might want to explore mSATA based SSD backup drives for their OSX setup. Ready made storage solutions often referred to as 'Pocket Drives' can be bought in a variety of standard 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB capacities. They can be used formatted as-is for cross-platform PC/Mac use - or reformatted in Apple's disk utility for optimal use strictly on Macintosh systems.
You might want to cobble together your own mSATA Mac backup drive using any number of USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Type-C interface mSATA module drive enclosures available for only $10-$20. Note, make sure 'UASP' protocol is supported in the enclosure to insure your solid-state Apple mSATA based backup drive performs optimally and gets the best data transfer rates possible.
1. The size of a matchbox, the world's smallest eternal ThunderBolt SSD might be ideal paired with an Apple MacBook Air for ultimate mobility. 120GB and 240GB capacities from SiliconPower.
2. The fastest portable SSD ThunderBolt solution ever uses 2 mSATA solid-state modules in a RAID 0 Striped Array for over 700+ MBps performance ideal for MacBook using Videographers and heavy Photographer needs. It also supports a RAID 1 Mirrored configuration from Akitio.
3. Slim and affordable, this solid-state mobile ThunderBolt drive with attached cable delivers great bang for the buck - from Monster.
4. The very price-competitive portable ThunderBolt solid-state drive is pre-formatted for Mac OSX right out of the box. From Transcend.
5. One of the first to market, this very orange ThunderBolt SSD also features a SuperSpeed USB3 port for use with a wide variety of Apple computers. From LaCie.
All told, there's a reasonable selection of compact and highly mobile ThunderBolt storage devices available that leverage the high Read/Write speeds of flash memory based solid-state technology. If you can afford the slight price-premium over USB 3, they're a great way to take advantage of the often under-used ThunderBolt port(s) on your Apple computer.
LaCie was first to announce an Apple-friendly backup drive with a native USB 3.1 Type-C interface. However, Samsung has been very, very aggressive in both coming to market and extremely low price points for 250GB to 2TB of solid-state drive capacity. And don't forget, Samsung's SSD's benchmark at the top of the charts with excellent performance few competitor's can match.
The Samsung T5 drive featured above comes with BOTH a USB Type-C to USB 3.0 Type A cable and a Type-A to Type-A cable as well for use on a wider variety of new and older computers. It features Read speeds up to 540/MBps pretty much maxing-out and fully leveraging the SATA III SSD module's bandwidth.