The Latest ThunderBolt 3 SSD and HDD Storage Peripherals

ThunderBolt 3 Solid-State Drives, Peripherals, And Accessories

With the latest versions of it's MacBook laptops introduced in late 2016, Apple has shipped millions of ThunderBolt 3 enabled computers. Expect the demand for ultra high speed ThunderBolt 3 backup drives and other computing peripherals using the 40Gbps interface to explode to meet demand in 2017 and beyond.

ThunderBolt 3 "Compatible" USB-C Drives

Because Type-C ThunderBolt3 ports also speak USB protocols, some drive and device manufacturers are marketing Type-C USB 3.1 Gen2 peripherals as 'ThunderBolt 3 Compatible' which they are. For many consumers, the distinction won't matter much. A 10Gbps USB 3.1 is going to be fast enough for their expectations. It's really only far more demanding Pro users and enterprise environments that need and / or can afford full-blown 40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 storage and ultra 4K and 5K displays to take advange of all that bandwidth.

Apple MacBooks With ThunderBolt 3 Ports

2016 13" Apple MacBook Pro

With Dual ThunderBolt 3 Ports

MacBook Pro 13" Laptop with TouchBar & 4 ThunderBolt 3 Ports

MacBook Pro 15" Laptop with TouchBar & 4 ThunderBolt 3 Ports

ThunderBolt 3 SSD Drives

The insanely high bandwidth of a 40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 port will have a huge impact on solid-state storage solutions. With the latest generation of PCIe NVME SSD modules we're seeing external solid-state RAID storage products unprecedented data read and write speeds exceededing 200Mbps leaving previous Serial ATA - SATA SSD drives in the dust.

Important! Apple is using 2nd generation ThunderBolt 3 chipsets in it's new MacBooks. There are some incompatibility issues with early products that already reached the market using the 1st generation TB3 chipset!!! Until Apple releases a possible patch to MacOS Sierra - or perhaps until manufacturers update their hardware to newer chipsets there are PROBLEMS using some storage and dock products on the new MacBooks!!! Fortunately, Amazon is noting 'For Windows ONLY' in some of the products titles to warn of Apple compatibility issues.

ThunderBolt 3 SSD Enclosures And Cases

We're already seeing the first multi-drive ThunderBolt 3 drive enclosures reaching the market. Akitio is delivering a 2 drive enclosure that supports either dual 3.5" HDD or 2.5" SSD SATA drives with dual pass-through Type-C ThunderBolt 3 ports on the rear. Unfortunately, because Apple is using 2nd-generation TBolt3 chipsets and Akitio's uses 1st generation, the enclosure is not Mac compatible - YET. Either revisions to Akitio's hardware, or MacOS system patches will be needed for full Apple ThunderBolt 3 compatibility.

ThunderBolt 3 Hard Disk Drives

HDD drives will have their place in the world of ThunderBolt 3 interfaces. Indeed, when hard disk drives are coupled in a multi-drive RAID storage array insanely high capacity and very high speed data rates are possible even when using mechanical spinning-platter drives. High RPM spindle speeds and large onboard caches help.

ThunderBolt 3 Dongles And Adapters

Apple ThunderBolt 3 Adapter

Type-C To ThunderBolt 2 Dongle

To ease the transition from ThunderBolt and ThunderBolt 2, and from USB 1.1 / 2.0 / 3.0 to 10Gbps USB-C 3.1 -- a large variety of ThunderBolt 3 adapters and dongles are going to be needed. We're certainly seeing that in the USB 3.1 Type-C computer peripheral space. Though they'll look physically similar and use the same reversible Type-C connectors, the ThunderBolt 3 products will need to incorporate more expensive, certified and sophisticated Intel ThunderBolt chipsets to assure reliable performance for peripherals up to 40Gbps.

ThunderBolt 3 Hubs And Docks

Rather than a mumble-jumble of dongles and adapters, many users will likely want to consolidate them into multi-port ThunderBolt docks or adapters that can bridge multiple types of legacy interfaces for video, audio and peripheral data into one tidy unit. OWC has already announced it's ThunderBolt 3 Hub with 13 total ports incorporating nearly every type of computing device both old and new that you'd want to plug into it. Expect CalDigit, Belkin and others to revise their docking stations to support ThunderBolt3 connections as well.

ThunderBolt 3 Cables

40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 Cabling

Type-C Connector Rated 40Gbps Speeds

Very high-quality certified and lab tested ThunderBolt 3 cabling is needed in demanding, high-bandwidth configurations. When shopping for cabling you'll see both 20Gbps and 40Gbps ThunderBolt 3 cables listed. Depending on your computing environment, you'll need to insure the cables are capable of reliably sustaining both the 4K and 5K Ultra-HD video streams AND the other HDD or SSD storage and accessories you may have connected.

High-quality certified TBolt 3 cables have onboard circuitry to assure data integrity and error checking / correction so expect to pay a premium price over lesser 10Gbps Type-C cabling for slower USB-C devices.

Type-C Confusion : Identifying TB3 vs USB-C Connections

To help minimize consumer confusion between apparently identical USBC and TBolt3 type cables and ports, ThunderBolt 3 cables and ports will be marked with a Lightning Bolt symbol and the number '3', while USB devices and cables should have an "SS+" - SuperSpeed+ USB symbol to help proper identification.