DIY Apple ThunderBolt And Mac UASP Drive Enclosures

Best DIY Drive Enclosures For Mac

Mac Drive Cases

Disk Enclosures For Mac DIY Backup Drives

Below we feature several recommended 3.5”, 2.5” and M.2 SSD drive cases for those wanting a fast and affordable build-it-yourself Apple compatible backup drive solution. They can be paired with the HDD hard disk or SSD solid-state drives and modules of your choosing.

Apple Compatible USB 3.x USAP Enclosures

For those wanting peak performance, particularly for USB SSD DIY drives, you want a UASP transfer protocol supported chipset in the disk drive case. UASP - USB Attached SCSI Protocol transfers data far more efficiently than previous generation, Block Only Transport 'BOT' protocol USB 3.0/2.0 drive chipsets. USAP is becoming the defacto standard in nearly all USB 3.1 enclosures.

UASP Supported USB 3.0 Drive Case

Tool-Free 2.5" SATA HDD/SSD Enclosure

USB 3.x enclosures which support UASP protocol can result in solid-state drive data transfer rate increases of 30% and more. UASP doesn't help hard disk drives much since the rotational delay and access lag times of the mechanics are the limiting factor, not the efficiency of the data transfer protocol.

Apple Compatible USB 3.0 Enclosures

If you're not building a SSD-based Mac backup solution, an ordinary USB 3.0 enclosure may be all you need for your hard disk mechanism. Of course it will still be backward compatible with USB 2.0 and even USB 1.1 computers and ports if needed on older computers and hubs. That said: With price differentials of UASP compatible enclosures and non-UASP almost negligible, you should think to the future and simply buy a UASP enabled drive enclosure for your Mac backup needs.

USB 3.1 Type-C USBC Enclosures

Forward-looking buyers ought to factor in where the future of Apple computer peripheral device connectivity is heading. That means Type-C Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 connections. Again, look for enclosures with UASP support for best SSD performance on your new Mac with TB3 ports.
Akitio USB-C Drive Case
USB-C SATA Drive Enclosure
2.5" SATA 3 Type-C UASP Enclosure

With the introduction of the new Gen 2 10Gbps SuperSpeed+ specification and USB-C ports on recent Mac computer models, we've seen a wave of Mac compatible USB-C drive enclosure products saturating the market. USB-C disk cases are already shipping that support select m.2 PCIe SSD modules for 1200Gbps+ data speeds, or small mSATA SSD modules for Speeds rivaling SATA III 6Gbps solid-state drives in a much smaller form-factor.

PCIe NVMe SSD Module Enclosures

Those with modern Thunderbolt 3 enabled MacBooks, iMacs or a Mac mini may want to fully leverage the port with a low-cost USB 3.1 SSD blade enclosure. Typically, these new USB 3.1 Type-C enclosures all support UASP protocol for optimal Read/Write performance.

MyDigitalSSD PCIe SSD Case

Inlcudes Both Type-C and A Cables

Remember, a Thunderbolt3 port 'speaks' both Thunderbolt and USB protocols over the same Type-C port. To fully leverage 10Gbps Gen 2 USB 3.1 speeds, you need to move beyond the SATA III spec to PCIe. NVMe PCIe modules can fully saturate the 10Gbps bus and really take advantage of the Gen 2 spec with an affordable enclosure.

Apple ThunderBolt Drive Enclosures

If you've tried shopping for one, you know the ThunderBolt disk enclosure market for single drives was never very robust. Most 10Gbps 1st and 2nd-generation ThunderBolt drive cases are high-end multi-drive arrays. Only a few low-cost, single-drive ThunderBolt DIY enclosures were ever made available. Single drive ThunderBolt enclosures or adapters range in price from $90 upwards - Literally 4-8 times the cost of a UASP supported USB 3.0 or USB-C enclosure. A Thunderbolt drive dock may be your best option and can support two 2.5" or 3.5" SATA HDD or SSD drives.

Thunderbolt Dual Drive Dock

10Gbps Thunderbolt Interface

Apple ThunderBolt 2 Drive Enclosures

The transition to 2nd-generation 20Gbps ThunderBolt 2 chipsets and ports on most Macintosh desktop and MacBook laptop models is complete across Apple's product line. Many drive manufacturers have updated the chipsets in their offerings to PC and Mac ThunderBolt 2 drive enclosures - most of which are multi-drive RAID storage arrays to properly take advantage of the massive and increased bandwidth available.

ThunderBolt 2 and UASP USB 3.X Drive Dock
Dual Drive ThunderBol2 and USB 3 Dock
Combo Interface + 2-Drive Support

Other DIY ThunderBolt 2 enclosures that are available are all typically 2/4/6+ multi-drive cases. Beyond hard disks, many are using 2.5 inch SATA III SSD's and PCIe SSD modules. They are rather pricey (as are all ThunderBolt peripherals in general.) Enterprise and Professional Graphics, Audio and Video editing studios are a much smaller marketplace for bandwith intensive data storage needs, but generally aren't deterred by the higher pricing.

Apple Combo Drive Enclosures

Combo interface disk enclosure options are still available embracing older, legacy interfaces like USB 2.0, FireWire 400 / 800, and eSATA. Expect FireWire enclosures and drives to phase out as legacy demands shrivel - although many DV Digital Video editing rooms have a remaining investment in drives, cameras and tape editing decks with FireWire 800/400 ports.