ThunderBolt 3 Apple Backup Drive Recommendations

ThunderBolt 3 Drives

40 Gbps Apple Backup Devices

Mac Compatible ThunderBolt3 Storage Devices

With the arrival of iMac, Mac mini and MacBook Pro models featuring 2 or 4 ThunderBolt 3 interfaces, a whole new category of Apple compatible Thunderbolt 3 computer backup drive solutions have hit the market in force. For sheer speed, the best Thunderbolt 3 backup drives for Mac embody PCIe SSD modules or a RAID array of high-capacity, high-speed HDD drives.

Samsung TB3 SSD G-Tech TB3 SSD
Thunderbolt 3 SSD

Fastest Mac Backups
Thunderbolt 3 SSD

Blistering Data Speeds

Thunderblade SSD Drive

Insanely Fast PCIe SSD Module
LaCie D2 Thunderbolt3 RAID

USB3 Port + SD/CF Card Slots

Utilizing the same Type-C connector that USB-C uses, a TBolt 3 port 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 now has sufficent demand to warrant jumping in whole-hog with a new generation of Thunderbolt 3 drive cases. Perhaps only a minority of Apple users truly NEED 40Gbps of bandwidth, so the enterprise and professional markets tend to get very high-end ThunderBolt 3 enclosures peripherals first. Budget concious Mac users have had to wait for more affordable solutions that will inevitably follow. ThunderBolt 3 drive cases are now widely available for those who want to choose their own HDD or SSD storage modules and build a custom backup solution.

Akitio Thunder 3 RAID Enclosure

Supports 2.5"/3.5" SSD HDD

ThunderBolt3 'Compatible' Backup Drives

Many vendors are touting some Thunderbolt 3 backup drive 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 ThunderBolt 3 port."

Ultra-Fast USB-C Flash Drive For Mac

Type A & C Connectors. Thunderbolt 3 Compatible

Indeed they do, and for many Mac users simply plugging USB 3.1 gadgets in a TBolt3 port will 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. Thunderbolt 3 compatible SSD's based on SATA III modules will be reasonably fast, but those based on NVMe PCIe SSD blades will be so fast they'll max-out the USB 3.1 bandwidth.

Thunderbolt3 'Compatible'SSD Drive

10Gbps USB 3.1 Type-C Interface

Which Mac's Support ThunderBolt3 Backup Drives?

Currently Apple's complete MacBook Pro lineup (both with and without OLED TouchBar), the iMac and latest Mac mini all feature ThunderBolt 3 device support. With the new 'Cheese Grater' Mac Pro Thunderbolt 3 is standardized across the board.

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 shipping thier docking stations.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

Ports Galore Plus Dual 4K Monitor Support

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 potential 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 multi-Terabyte 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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