Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drive For Mac

Posted By admin On 16.02.22

Conclusion: Weighing just 1.2 pounds and measuring about 1.3 x 3.8 x 6 inches, the LaCie Rugged RAID 4TB is a must have Thunderbolt external hard drive for Mac users who are always on the go. LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt review. The LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series is an excellent portable drive thanks to its great performance, flexible and rugged design, and friendly pricing. Thunderbolt 3 External Drives. OWC ThunderBay 6 Six-bay Thunderbolt 3 storage solution. Thunderbolt 3 for both Mac and Windows. Only $299.88 NEW! OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID. Full selection of SSD and Hard Drive models available. Up to 4.0TB from $129.99. A brilliant Thunderbolt external hard drive. Capacity: 1TB, 2TB. But if transfer speed is the most important consideration when looking for the best external hard drive for your Mac, then this. Users can use RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD configurations. Amazing data transfer rates up to 233 Mb/s. Product dimensions: 5,6 x 3,5 x 1,7 inches and weight is 1,6 pounds. Shipping weight is 2,4 pounds. This is the best external hard drive for any Thunderbold enabled Mac, like MacBook Air and Pro.

  1. Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drive For Mac
  2. Best Thunderbolt 3 Ssd
  3. Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drive
  4. Lacie Thunderbolt

Many of us find us in a war against storage. As a video editor, gamer, audio producer, or anyone who simply has a lot of large files, hard drives seem to go by fast. Perhaps you’re in the same situation as me, constantly checking the “properties” of your Windows drives; or in Apple-land, inspecting your “About This Mac” to see how much space your stupid System files are taking up.

Fortunately, Thunderbolt 3 offers us an escape into the promise land of high-speed data rates and huge storage spaces. In this article we’ll cover a few types of drives including SSD, HDD, RAID, and units that will allow you to dock whatever drive you please. Each is great for certain users with certain use cases. Read on to discover which may work for your application and budget.

No matter what your needs are, there should be a Thunderbolt 3 hard drive on this list for you. If you want the fastest possible drive, head straight to the bottom of this post.

1. The Speed Demon – Samsung T5 SSD (500GB, USB 3.1)

Samsung

If you’re looking for a fast SSD drive that won’t break the bank, this Samsung T5 is a great way to get started. While 500GB is by no means expansive, it’s big enough for most short film projects or to use as a working, easily portable drive on a smaller projects. At data rates of 540MB/s, it’s going to take some seriously gnarly footage to come anywhere close to hitting its max.

If you’re into audio production, this would be a great drive to throw your Komplete or sample library on; with this kind of data transfer speed, samples will load super fast.

The biggest drawback with this drive is that it’s on the pricey side in terms of price per terabyte. If you need a lot of storage, this drive doesn’t offer the best value out there. That said, if you want a super fast drive and don’t need a huge amount of space, this drive offers convenience, a solid amount of space, and it’s pretty reasonably priced.

Max Read & Write Speed: 540MB/s
Price: $159.88
Price Per Terabyte: $319.76

2. The Slim One – G Technology 1TB G-Drive

G Technology

With transfer speeds up to 540MB/s, this is a large capacity drive that waits for no one. If you want a nice, convenient drive, this is a great way to go. It’s low profile, built to last, and easy to setup and use. Of course, with that convenience, comes a high price. Unfortunately, this drive has the highest cost per terabyte on this list. Still, this isn’t a terrible option; for many, 500GB simply isn’t enough. This is a great way to go if you need the full TB and don’t want to MacGuyver it with number four on our list.

Max Read & Write Speed: 540MB/s
Price:$399.99
Price Per Terabyte: $400

3. The Hard Disk Rugged – Lacie 2TB HDD (7200RPM HDD)

Lacie

There’s a reason this drive is so popular. Lacie’s orange drive is practically iconic in the media world because quite simply, it’s built to last. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office or in the jungle, you’re going to drop your drive at some point, and that’s what the rugged has always aimed to compensate for. That said, this drive has some serious drawbacks that will live you wondering, “Wait, why do I even need Thunderbolt 3?” The problem is that using Thunderbolt 3 with a 7200RPM HDD means that the transfer speed is limited by the hard drive itself, not the connection.

The truth is that the max speed for drives like this can be limiting. Personally, I have run into serious issues on Windows using slower drives; they simply can’t keep up and this means your video projects will stall. For audio production, you’ll be hard-pressed to hit up on the limits of the drive, but it is possible. In both cases, you’ll be dealing with significant latency as this is plainly much slower.

Still, this is a great drive for those who want to stay in hard disk land and simply want a fast and reliable Thunderbolt connection – but you might as well just save some money and get a cheaper external HDD, such as this same model of drive with USB 3.0 for only $119.94. This may lead you to ask, “Well, who exactly is this drive for?” Actually, it’s likely marketed toward Apple users; new Macbooks and Macbook Pros have but one type of port: Thunderbolt 3. For those who don’t want to use a dock, this HDD offers a lot of convenience at a slightly premium price. For the rest of us with normal USB ports, Thunderbolt 3 offers zero advantage. This is really only a recommended buy if using Thunderbolt 3 is more convenient for you.

Max Read & Write Speed: 130MB/s
Price: $179.94
Price Per Terabyte: $89.97

4. The MacGuyver – USB-C to SATA Cable + Affordable Internal SSD (2TB)

Crucial

This solution may not be pretty, but let’s face it: SSDs are essentially giant memory cards. They don’t need to be in fancy cases with rugged exteriors. Sure, you don’t want to throw it at the ground, but the enclosure and things of this nature essentially mask that an SSD is already quite portable. It has no moving parts. The Macguyver solution is really quite simple: attach an internal SSD to an affordable adapter and voila, you have an external SSD. There’s no real disadvantage here except well, it’s a bit ugly. Beyond this, the numbers peak for themselves: this is the cheapest way to get to a terabyte, by far. Plus internal SSDs are slightly cheaper than external ones.

Max Read & Write Speed: 520MB/s (depends on exact internal SSD chosen)
Price: $11.99 (Cable Matters USB 3.1 to SATA III) + $499.99 (2TB Crucial Drive) = $512
Price Per Terabyte: $256

5. The Monster RAID – Lacie 2Big RAID 12TB (7200RPM HDD)

Lacie

Again, if you don’t need an SSD, Thunderbolt 3 offers you basically zero advantage. It’s only slightly faster (on average) than USB 3.0 not because it is slow, but because hard drives max read and write speeds tend to max out near the top of USB 3.0 max throughput. Of course, with a 7200RPM hard disk drive, Thunderbolt 3 is drastically overkill. This is another product aimed at people who own Macbooks or Macbook Pros and don’t want to use a dock.

That said, having extra overhead in your connector won’t hurt you, just don’t expect drastic speed increases. In the end, you’re always tied to the hard disk’s limitations. Still, for those of you who need massive, redundant, and reliable storage, this Lacie RAID solution does the job beautifully.

Max Read & Write Speed: 130MB/s
Price: $748.95
Price Per Terabyte: $62.41

6. The Lambo: Plugable External NVMe – 480GB

Plugable

If you’re willing to spend a bit more, this Plugable External NVMe isn’t really in the same league as any of the other drives on this list. It’s ridiculously fast. Unfortunately, it isn’t the most well known brand out there, but they do include an 18 month warranty by default, and a 36 month warranty with product registration so you can sleep soundly. At Read and Write speeds this fast, your storage simply will not be a bottleneck, no matter how heavy your footage is. Even multiple streams of say, 8K Weapon footage (check out the Red footage calculator to learn more), can stream right off this thing.

Not everyone needs a Lamborghini. Time is money, but the less popular version of this phrase, “money is time,” is also true. Sometimes, it’s better to make proxies and use a normal, cheaper SSD. That said, if you need things to be as fast as possible, this is an unreal drive.

Another great use case for this SSD is for audio production. If you have many samples, having a drive like this would be a great place to store your libraries or to install Komplete (or similar production tools).

Max Read & Write Speed: 2400MB/s read, 1200MB/s write
Price: $399
Price Per Terabyte: $800

Welcome to our guide to buying the best external hard drive or backup hard drive in 2019. When looking to buy the best external hard drive for your needs, there are quite a lot of things you need to consider - and this guide will help you.

Plus, with Amazon Prime Day 2019 rapidly approaching, there's a good chance that we're going to see some major price cuts to the best external hard drives out there. If you do find a killer deal for any of the drives on this best external hard drive list, then you can buy in full confidence that you're getting a brilliant external drive for your money.

When buying the best external hard drive for your needs, you need to make sure you get a device that can safely and securely store your important files. Reliability is of the upmost importance here, as you do not want to buy an external hard drive that fails on you - making you lose all your important backups.

The best external hard drives will also be quick - either because they use SSD (Solid State Drive) technology, or because they use the latest connectivity technology, such as USB-C.

The biggest deciding factors when it comes to data transfer rates is the connection the drive uses, and whether it is a standard hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). Many external hard drives use USB 2.0 connections, but for faster speeds you'll want USB 3.0 or ideally the newer USB Type-C connection. You'll need to ensure your PC or laptop also has a USB Type-C port.

You'll also need to think about how much storage space you need. The best external hard drives offer a range of capacities. We'd recommend 500GB to start with, as that gives you plenty of space to store your files without costing too much money.

However, if you deal in large files, such as high resolution photos and videos, then you may want to consider buying a bigger drive, with external hard drives offering terabytes (TB) of storage space.

Buying the best external hard drive for your needs involves figuring out how much space you need. You don't want to buy an external hard drive that's too small, and end up running out of space, but neither do you really want to pay over the odds for storage space you'll never need.

So, we've listed the best external hard drives money can buy in 2019. Each external drive (or backup hard drive) on this page has been carefully picked to make sure it offers fast data transfer speeds – essential if you move lots of big files regularly – while also offering sturdy build quality so you don't have to worry about them breaking and losing your files.

When buying the best external hard drive for your needs, there are certain things you need to take into account. For example, you'll want to make sure you have a drive that offers fast data transfer speeds.

In this guide we list the best external hard drives with both traditional hard drives and faster (and more expensive) solid state drives.

Still, the best external hard drives are also dependable and rugged, so you can safely store your data without worry. The best external drives will also be light enough to carry in your bag, with large capacities so that you can keep your data safe when travelling.

There's a huge range of external hard drives on offer, so we've put together this list of the best external hard drives to help you find the perfect one for your needs.

1. Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive

Wireless security

Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0

Today's best Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC 2TB deals
NFC security
Not the fastest drive

An external hard drive you can buy without breaking the bank, Buffalo's MiniStation Extreme NFC could be your match made in heaven.

With compatibility for both Mac and Windows machines, the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is very flexible, and comes with a rugged case that's dust and water resistant, along with a built-in USB 3.0 cable.

Not only is your data kept protected from knocks and drops with the rugged shell, but it's also got 256-bit AES security features and NFC (Near Field Communication) features as well.

Essentially it allows you to unlock the drive to get to your files quickly and easily by tapping the supplied NFC card onto the drive's body. Pretty neat!

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro
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2. Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4TB external hard drive

Comes with Encryption and a long warranty

Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0

Large capacity
Suite of applications

The latest generation of the Western Digital My Passport Ultra range of external hard drives has landed, coming in sizes from 1TB to 4TB. It features cloud storage and 256-AES encryption, along with WD's own software suite.

It is a good performer when it comes to data transfer speeds but doesn't come near the top of the leaderboard. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't reach the top speeds of solid state external drives, but for external hard drives based on traditional HDDs, this is the drive to consider.

3. Samsung T5 SSD external hard drive

The best external SSD of 2018

Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB Interface: USB Type-C

Incredibly fast
Expensive

If you'd rather have an external hard drive that took advantage of solid state drive (SSD) speeds, then the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is definitely the best external hard drive for you. Samsung has a brilliant reputation for external SSDs, thanks to products like the T3, and the T5 builds on its predecessor by adding a fast USB Type-C connection that ekes out every last drop of performance from the solid state drive inside. Of course, it's also backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 if your PC doesn't have USB Type-C. It's expensive, but it's well worth the cash.

Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drive For Mac

Read the full review: Samsung Portable SSD T5

4. Adata SD700 External SSD

Capacity: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB Interface: USB 3.0

Great performance
No USB Type-C

The Adata SD700 will suit those looking for a rugged storage device that can provide ample capacity without costing too much. It performs superbly well and remains the only SSD we’ve seen that is IP68 rated.

Thanks to the solid state drive that resides in this external hard drive, it's a lot faster than external drives that use traditional spinning hard drives - so you're getting great transfer speeds as well as rugged protection.

It also comes in capacities up to 1TB, so you don't have to worry about missing out on storage space just because it uses an SSD - this drive really does hit all the right notes.

Best Thunderbolt 3 Ssd

5. WD My Book Duo 4TB external hard drive

Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB 3.0 x 2

Huge amounts of space
Expensive

If you're looking for the absolute largest capacity external hard drive, then the WD My Book Duo 4TB is the one to get, offering a huge 4TB (you can also get versions with up to 20TB) of storage space over two hard drives.

If you don't mind sacrificing some of the ample storage space you can set the drives up in a RAID array, so you have file backups of your files should one of the drives die.

This USB 3.0 drive has many of the features of a fully-fledged NAS device (including a high price), and if you have a router with a USB 3.0 port you could use this as a network attached storage device in its own right.

The device, which comes with two-year warranty, has 256-bit AES hardware encryption, and automatic backup software (WD SmartWare Pro).

Worth noting that the enclosure used is fully serviceable and that WD ships the drive already pre-formatted for Windows users (NTFS).

6. Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt external hard drive

Best Thunderbolt external hard drive

Capacity: 1TB, 2TB Interface: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0

Low price compared to other Thunderbolt drives
Not SSD

If you have a device with a Thunderbolt port, then this is a great option, as it provides twice the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. It's also not especially expensive compared to other Thunderbolt drives. The price is kept down due to its use of a traditional hard drive, rather than an SSD, which limits the potential speeds. It also comes with a USB 3.0 port for people without access to Thunderbolt.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the WD MyBook Duo

7. Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB

Capacity: 5TB Interface: USB 3.0

Today's best Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB deals
Very fast data transfer speeds
You pay more for the Mac-formatted version

If you want to combine speed and capacity, then the Seagate Backup Plus Desktop Drive 5TB is definitely worth considering. It comes in a range of sizes up to 8TB and it beats the competition when it comes to read and write speeds as well.

On top of this storage and speed, you get a decent amount of peace of mind thanks to Seagate's lower than average failure rates, especially in bigger capacity hard drives.

You also get backup software, and the drive is compatible with both Windows and Macs, though it's formatted for Windows out of the box unless you go for a Mac-specific hard drive - though these are more expensive.

8. Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro external hard drive

Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi

Today's best Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro deals
Best
Wireless AC
Good battery life
Expensive due to Wi-Fi features

Even if we had mixed feelings on past versions of the My Passport Wireless, the 2016 “pro” variant of the external HDD restores faith in the Western Digital name. The design, for one, has been overhauled and no longer resembles the My Passport Ultra or My Passport for Mac. Instead, there’s now a more premium feel to the My Passport Wireless Pro. It resembles an external DVD drive, but considering the onboard SD card slot, don’t worry about getting it confused with anything else. For photographers, this will make the Wireless Pro stand out.

For everyone else, there’s a massive 6,400mAh battery built into the device. This lets the drive be used completely free of wires over 2.4GHz or 5GHz channels. When it’s wired up, however, don’t expect cutting edge connection tech, as the My Passport Wireless Pro uses only USB Type-B to Type-A. Completely absent is the latest and greatest USB-C connection.

Where the My Passport Wireless Pro compromises on affordability, it’s able to benefit in just about every other area. Of course, not everyone needs a wireless hard drive or SD card support, but for those who do, it’s almost essential.

Read the full review:Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro

9. LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB

Capacity: 4TB Interface: USB-C

Today's best LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB deals
Fast USB-C connection
Expensive

You may have stumbled upon the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive when perusing the Apple website for USB-C accessories. There’s a reason for that: the Porsche Design ships with both USB Type-C to Type-A and USB Type-C to Type-C connectors, making it a worthy candidate regardless of your setup.

It’s expensive for an external hard drive, don’t get us wrong, especially if you’re in the market for the top-end 4TB option. On the other hand, this is an HDD that could theoretically output speeds of up to 5Gbps, if it weren’t hindered by the limits of SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) technology.

Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drive

Comprising five 800GB platters in a 15mm form factor, the LaCie Porsche Design Mobile is an excellent challenger to the Seagate M3, though it’s notably bigger in both weight and dimensions.

Lacie Thunderbolt

Sure, it packs an extra convenience factor in the form of USB-C, but it should be noted that the Porsche Design Mobile is still limited to USB 3.0 speeds. Plus, even an aluminum finish can’t prevent it from clashing with your Rose Gold MacBook. Nevertheless, LaCie’s offering is the best USB-C external HDD money can buy, at least for the time being.

Read our full review:LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 4TB

10. iStorage diskAshur 2TB external hard drive

Best for security

Capacity: 2TB Interface: USB 3.0

Physical security
Expensive

Typically, iStorage hard disks cater best to governments and multinational organizations around the world, for good reason too – they offer tight security like no other drives around.

If someone tries to tamper with your iStorage drive, you can configure it to self-desturct. What's more, the data is encrypted by the 256-bit AES protocol, with multiple forms of protection in place to ensure the bad guys don't get in no matter how persistent. When you consider all that extra security, the prices won't scare you away either.

Sure, it's still expensive, four times the price of an equivalent 2TB drive, and unlikely to be the most nimble performer. But, you're paying for a product that's virtually uncrackable. Bear in mind, though, you'll get no help from the manufacturer if things go awry and you lose your password.

Read our full review: iStorage diskAshur DT

Gabe Carey and Matt Hanson also contributed to this article