Type-C ThunderBolt 3 Apple Backup Drive Recommendations

ThunderBolt 3 Drives

40Gbps Apple Backup Devices

Mac Compatible ThunderBolt3 Storage Devices

With the arrival of recent MacBook Pro models featuring 2 or 4 ThunderBolt3 interfaces, a whole new category of Apple backup drive solutions are starting to hit the market.
Plugable Thunderbolt3 SSDLaCie Thunderbolt3 HDD RAID
Portable External ThunderBolt 3 SSD

Integrated TBolt3 Cable - 480GB Capacity
LaCie D2 Thunderbolt3 RAID

USB3 Port + SD/CF Card Slots

Utilizing the same Type-C connector that USB-C uses, TBolt 3 supports BOTH 10Gbps USB 3.1 and 40Gbps ThunderBolt3 protocols in the same USB-C/Type-C interface.

ThunderBolt3 Drive Enclosures

Apple has shipped tens of millions of TBolt3 capable Macs by now. The marketplace though waits for sufficent demand to warrant jumping in whole-hog. Indeed, only a minority of Apple users truly NEED 40Gbps of bandwidth, so the enterprise and professional markets will get their very high-end ThunderBolt3 enclosures peripherals while most of us will wait for more affordable solutions which will inevitably follow. ThunderBolt 3 drive cases are first to arrive for those who want to choose their own HDD or SSD storage modules.

Akitio Thunder 3 RAID Enclosure

Supports 2.5"/3.5" SSD HDD

ThunderBolt3 'Compatible' Backup Drives

Many vendors are touting some TBolt3 storage products as 'ThunderBolt 3 Compatible' which is their way of saying 'It's really just 10Gbps Gen 2 USB 3.1 peripheral' but hey, it's Type-C plug fits - and it works - in a ThunderBolt3 port." Indeed they do, and for many Mac users, USB 3.1 gadgets in a TBolt3 port be plenty fast enough for their modest needs. In this space, lean towards SSD Mac backup drive options with USB-C ports to take advantage of solid-state memory speeds.

Thunderbolt3 'Compatible'SSD Drive

10Gbps USB 3.1 Type-C Interface

Which Mac's Support ThunderBolt3 Backup Drives?

Currently Apple's newest MacBook Pro lineup (both with and without OLED TouchBar) feature ThunderBolt3 device support. Expect revisions to the Apple Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro desktops to adopt TBolt3 as each model is updated over the course of 2017 and beyond.

Late 2016 13" Apple MacBook Pro

With Two ThunderBolt3 Ports

MacBook Pro 13" Laptop with TouchBar and 4 ThunderBolt3 Ports

MacBook Pro 15" Laptop with TouchBar and 4 ThunderBolt3 Ports

ThunderBolt 3 Docks And Hubs

Many Apple users will want to preserve their existing investment in legacy Mac backup drives and other devices. A ThunderBolt3 dock will let them connect a variety of audio, video, network and backup drives using older peripheral connection types while allowing for more modern USB-C and ThunderBolt3 passthrough connectivity. The ThunderBolt3 dock scene is well entrenched with CalDigit, Belkin, OWC, Kensington and others already shipping thier docking stations.

ThunderBolt3 HDD Backup Drive Hardware

ThunderBolt3's 40Gbps bandwith is total overkill for consumer Mac backup drives that house only a single hard disk drive mechanism. For some, a single HDD ThunderBolt3 Apple backup drive will be the most-affordable solution, but the spinning platters will limit it's performance severely.

ThunderBolt3 SSD Backup Drive Hardware

Solid-State flash memory is a much better match for ThunderBolt3's potential. Single-drive SSD ThunderBolt3 Apple backup drives will feature either conventional 6Gbps SATA 3 2.5" drives - or far better - a PCIe SSD module which offer noticably better performance.

ThunderBolt3 HDD Multi-Drive Arrays

Now we're getting somewhere. In striped RAID 0 configurations, hard disk arrays can deliver surprising sustained data transfer speeds - especially if the HDD mechanisms have large onboard cache buffers and high RPM speeds. But it is the combination of very high capacity multi-Terabyte drives at very affordable price points with a dirt cheap cost per Gigabyte that makes them most appealing. For Apple-based Enterprise data storage, Audio Recording Studios and especially Pro HD Video Editing environments, Mac HDD RAID ThunderBolt3 backup drives will appeal most to those with massive data files and a need for speed.

ThunderBolt3 SSD Multi-Drive Array

When raw speed matters more than affordability or capacity, expect Apple compatible ThunderBolt3 SSD backup drives to be big sellers. As solid-state drive flash memory costs rapidly plummet, SSD storage is closing the gap in cost per Gigabyte with hard disk technology. More importantly the transition from old-school, 6Gbps bottle-necked SATA III Serial ATA interfaces has given way to PCIe SSD modules. Able to interface directly with your Mac's PCI bus, it has the ability to leverage as much of the 40Gbps bandwidth potential is possible. When pairs of PCIe solid-state modules are combined in a striped SSD ThunderBolt3 RAID 0 backup drive array, INSANE levels of performance never before seen are a reality.

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