8 Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drives For Mac (M1/M2)

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The Macbook is a popular computer that is known for its sleek design and powerful performance. When it comes to storage, the Macbook can be a little limited. This is where an external hard drive comes in handy. There are a number of external hard drives on the market that are compatible with the Macbook. When choosing an external hard drive, you’ll want to consider factors such as capacity, speed, and portability.

If you’re looking for a fast and portable external hard drive, then you may want to consider a Thunderbolt-enabled drive. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best Thunderbolt external hard drives for Mac.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt External Hard Drives

Thunderbolt is a high-speed connection technology that offers lightning-fast data transfer speeds. It was developed by Intel and Apple back in 2011 and is found on select Mac computers. Thunderbolt 4 is the latest version of the technology and offers speeds up to 40 Gbps.

Most of Macs around 2017 have Thunderbolt 3 ports. The newer models come with Thunderbolt 4 ports, such as the M2 Macbook, Mac Studio, and the M1 MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt vs USB-C
Thunderbolt vs USB-C
Thunderbolt vs USB-C
Thunderbolt and USB-C are using the same physical connector, and at a casual glance, they may seem very similar. But there are some differences between the two that are worth noting.

USB-C is the latest and most advanced version of the USB standard. It has a more oval shape than older USB connectors, and it’s much easier to connect. You can find USB-C connectors on laptop computers, smartphones, and other smaller devices.

Thunderbolt was first introduced in 2011 as a collaboration between Intel and Apple. It was initially compatible with Apple’s MacBook Pro. Thunderbolt 3 is now compatible with USB-C (not all).

Thunderbolt offers several advantages over USB-C, including higher data transfer speeds, the ability to daisy chain multiple devices, and support for dual 4K displays. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 offers theoretical speeds of up to 40 Gbps, while USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 offers speeds up to 10 Gbps and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 offers speeds up to 20 Gbps.
Thunderbolt 3 vs Thunderbolt 4
Thunderbolt 3 was announced in 2015 and offers speeds up to 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt 4 was released in 2020 and offers the same data transfer speeds as Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt 4 offers a few improvements over Thunderbolt 3, including support for up to two 4K displays or one 8K display, as well as compatibility with all USB-C devices.

Best Thunderbolt External Hard Drives For Mac

Here are some of the best Thunderbolt external hard drives for Mac.

LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD, USB-C for Mac

The LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD has a sleek diamond-cut aluminum design that is lightweight and pairs well with MacBooks. It also has a USB 3.1 Gen2 or Thunderbolt 3 port, which makes it compatible with most computers. The hard drive can store up to 500,000 high-resolution photos or 165 hours of videos. When you purchase the LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD, you don’t need to reformat it to use it with a Mac or Windows computer.

The LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD is compatible with most USB-C enabled laptops, desktops, and iPads. It can be used with the Mac Pro, iMac Pro, and Mac laptops as well as PCs. It also comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable. If you want to back up your files, you can do so with a single click. You can also schedule automatic backups. The LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD comes with the LaCie Toolkit, which includes backup and mirroring software.

Specifications:

  • Brand: LaCie
  • Storage Capacity: 2TB
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen2 or Thunderbolt 3
  • Compatibility: Mac and Windows
  • Included: USB-C cable

Samsung X5 Portable SSD 2TB

If you are looking for a Thunderbolt 3 external SSD that can provide you with amazing read and write performance, the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is an excellent option to consider. With speeds of up to 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively, this external SSD is perfect for creators and professionals who need to quickly transfer large files.

Additionally, the X5’s Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) technology helps to keep your data safe by automatically regulating the temperature of the device. And if security is a concern, you can rest assured knowing that the X5 features optional password protection through AES-256 bit encryption. Plus, the included Type C-to-C cable makes it easy to connect to both Macs and Windows PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports.

And with a spacious 2TB digital storage capacity, you’ll be able to store all of your important files with ease. Whether you’re a professional creator or just someone who needs reliable and fast external storage, the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is a great option to consider.

Specifications:

  • Brand: SAMSUNG
  • Operating System: Windows, MacOS
  • Color: Gray/Red
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 2 TB
  • Connectivity Technology: Thunderbolt, SATA
  • Compatible Devices: Laptop, Desktop, Television

The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive

The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive is the perfect external storage device for Mac users who need a reliable and fast way to store their data. Thunderbolt 3 offers speeds that are up to 40 Gbps, which means that you can transfer data very quickly. It takes less than a minute to transfer 150 GB of video. The drive is IP67-rated water resistant, which means it can withstand being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Plus, it has a three-meter drop tolerance, so you don’t have to worry about it being damaged if it’s dropped.

The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive comes with a five-year data rescue plan, so you can be confident that your data is safe. And the a Thunderbolt 3 cable is included which is always a nice touch. Overall, with Thunderbolt 3 speeds, water resistance, and a five-year data rescue plan, the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive is the perfect choice for anyone who needs an external storage device that they can rely on.

Specifications:

  • Brand: LaCie
  • Interface: Thunderbolt 3
  • Compatible Devices: Mac, Windows
  • Storage Capacity: Up to 2 TB
  • Maximum Speed: 2800MB/s
  • Included Cable: Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
  • Dimensions: 3.85 x 2.56 x 0.67 inches
  • Weight: 3.53 ounces

Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive

If you are looking for a fast and durable external storage solution, the Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive is a great option. The design of this external SSD is sleek and compact, its weight is only 6.2oz, measuring 108mm x 65mm x 14.5mm. This external SSD offers Thunderbolt 3 speed with up to 2400MB/s+ read and up to 1800MB/s+ write speeds, making it perfect for professional content creators or IT professionals who need quick data access and transfer speeds.

The drive is bus powered, so no external power is required, and it is pre-formatted in exFAT for compatibility with Windows, Linux, and Mac. And the full metal body is durable and portable, making it the perfect companion for on-the-go use. The Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive is also backed by a 3 year warranty, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable and high-performance storage solution.

However, this drive doesn’t support non-Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and drivers are not required for installation. So if you need an external storage solution that is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, this is a great option. But if you don’t have a Thunderbolt 3 port on your device, you’ll need to look for another storage solution.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Plugable
  • Compatible Devices: Laptop, Macbook
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 2TB
  • Hard Disk Interface: Thunderbolt 3.0
  • Connectivity Technology: USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 108mm x 65mm x 14.5mm
  • Weight: 6.2oz
  • Warranty: 3 Year Limited Warranty

The Rocket XTRM-Q 16TB External Aluminum SSD

Sabrent is a company that provides external storage solutions for both Windows and Mac devices. The Rocket XTRM-Q 16TB External Aluminum SSD is one such product, boasting a number of features that make it an attractive option for users looking to add more storage to their computer.

The Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 16TB is designed with a solid aluminum construction, making it both durable and aesthetically pleasing. The device comes with a power adapter, allowing users to easily connect it to their computer. Additionally, the ability to configure the drive in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 mode gives users the flexibility to choose the level of protection that best suits their needs.

  • Raid 0 is a configuration that allows users to combine two separate hard drives into one volume. This results in a total storage capacity of 16TB, with each drive contributing 8TB. The downside to using RAID 0 is that if one of the drives fails, all of the data on the array will be lost.
  • Raid 1 is a configuration where data is mirrored between two separate hard drives. This means that if one of the drives fails, the other will still have a copy of all the data. While this offers more protection against data loss, it also results in a reduction in total storage capacity to 8TB.

Lastly, the device is fully certified by Intel to use Thunderbolt 3 technology, providing users with fast and efficient data transfer speeds. And the device also comes with a Thunderbolt cable, making it easy to connect to a computer.

Specifications:

  • Brand: SABRENT
  • Storage Capacity: 16TB
  • Connectivity Technology: Thunderbolt 3.0
  • Dimensions: ‎4.5 x 2.56 x 0.68 inches
  • Weight: ‎2.03 pounds
  • System Requirements: Windows /macOS
  • Included: Thunderbolt cable

Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock 4TB 

Minimalist industrial design is the hallmark of the Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock 4TB External Hard Drive HDD. It’s a utilitarian device that doesn’t draw attention to itself, with a simple matte-black finish and a few subtle Seagate logos. The dimensions are 10.6×5.3×2 inches, and it weighs 5.89 lbs. And with 4TB of storage capacity, you’ll have plenty of room to store your games, videos, and music. The Firecuda Gaming Dock features a Thunderbolt 3 port for ultra-fast data transfers. So whether you’re moving files between devices or backing up your entire system, the Firecuda Gaming Dock can handle the job quickly and easily.

The hub includes a Thunderbolt 3 port, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, RJ45 Ethernet network port, 3.5mm audio-in/mic port, and a 3.5mm audio-out port. This gives you plenty of options for connecting your devices. You can use the Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to your laptop or desktop computer; use the DisplayPort to connect to an external monitor; use the USB 3.0 port to connect your mouse, keyboard, or other USB devices; use the Ethernet network port to connect to a wired network; use the audio-in/mic port to connect a microphone or headset; and use the audio-out port to connect headphones or speakers.

And with expandable NVMe slot, you can add even more storage capacity to the Firecuda Gaming Dock. Plus, the customizable LEDs allow you to personalize the look of your Firecuda Gaming Dock. You can choose from a variety of colors and patterns to create the perfect gaming environment. The cable included is a Thunderbolt 3 cable. So all you need is a Thunderbolt 3-enabled device and you’re ready to go.So if you’re looking for an external hard drive that offers plenty of storage capacity, fast data transfer speeds, and a variety of connection options, then the Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock 4TB External Hard Drive HDD is the perfect choice for you.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Seagate
  • Storage Capacity: 4 TB
  • Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3
  • Dimensions: 10.6×5.3×2 inches
  • Weight: 5.89 lbs
  • Cable Included: Thunderbolt 3 cable

Fantom Drives Extreme 2TB External SSD

The design of the Fantom Drives Extreme 2TB External SSD is sleek and modern. It is made from high-quality aluminum, and measures at 0.5″ x 2.5″ x 4.25″ . It is very lightweight, weighing only 9oz. This SSD comes with a Thunderbolt 3 cable and has a read speed of over 2800MB/s and write speed of over 2300MB/s. It’s also backward compatible with USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, so you can use it with any computer or device. Plus, it doesn’t require a power supply, making it easy to take on the go.

And with its Thermal Dissipation Technology, you can be sure that your data is safe and protected from overheating. Fantom Drives is a licensed and certified brand by Intel, so you know you’re getting a high-quality product. This SSD comes with a 5 year warranty from Fantom Drives. And it’s preformatted using HFS+ format for your convenience when using with a Mac computer.

However, this format is not compatible with Windows computers. If you plan on using this SSD with a Windows computer, you will need to reformat it first. You can read more about that in the end of this post.

Fantom Drives has been in business for over 20 years and is a trusted name when it comes to external storage solutions. They offer a wide range of products, from SSDs to HDDs, and have a reputation for being reliable and durable. So if you’re looking for an external storage solution that is both high-quality and affordable, then Fantom Drives is the way to go.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Fantom Drives
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 2 TB
  • Interface: Thunderbolt 3
  • Dimensions: 0.5″ x 2.5″ x 4.25″
  • Weight: 9oz
  • In the Box: Thunderbolt 3 Cable
  • Warranty: 5 Year Limited Warranty

G-Technology 16TB G-DRIVE 

G-Technology is a manufacturer of storage devices, specializing in external hard drives and RAID arrays. Their products are designed for professional users in the creative field, with an emphasis on speed, reliability, and ease of use. Its design is sleek and all-aluminum, with a clean look that will complement any computer.

G-Technology 16TB G-DRIVE has dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a single USB-C port with USB 3.1 Gen 1, so you can connect up to 5 additional devices. It also comes with enterprise-class 7200 RPM hard drive and is ready to go for Mac computers. You can even reformat it for Windows with the included software.

G-Technology’s external hard drives use Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, which allows for speeds up to 40 Gbps. This makes them some of the fastest on the market, as well as one of the most versatile, as Thunderbolt 3 is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers. The size and weight of the drive make it easy to take with you on the go; and with its 10TB storage capacity, you’ll have plenty of space for all your files.

Specifications:

  • Brand: G-Technology
  • Digital Storage Capacity: 10000 GB
  • Hard Disk Interface: USB 3.1
  • Connectivity Technology: USB, Thunderbolt
  • Dimensions LxWxH (in inches): 8.27 x 5.12 x 1.79
  • Weight (in pounds): 2.73

Choosings A File System Format For Mac And Windows

Thunderbolt External Hard Drives

When deciding on a file system format for your Mac and Windows partition, there are two key considerations: compatibility and features. There are four popular file system formats that are compatible with Mac or Windows, including APFS, HFS+, NTFS, and exFAT.

HFS+

HFS+ is a file system format created by Apple Inc. for use in MacOS computers. It was first released in 1998 and has been included in all versions of the operating system since then. By default, macOS Sierra (version 10.12) and earlier use HFS+.

APFS

APFS is Apple’s latest file system, released in 2017 alongside the release of macOS High Sierra. It is a replacement for HFS+ and offers several improvements, such as optimized for solid state drives, encryption, and Time Machine backups. macOS High Sierra (version 10.13) and later use APFS by default.

MacOS uses the HFS+/APFS file system by default, which is not compatible with Windows. If you don’t need to access your files from a Windows computer, then using HFS+/APFS is a good option.

NTFS

NTFS is a file system format created by Microsoft for use in Windows computers. It was first released in 1993 and has been included in all versions of the Windows operating system since then.

Windows uses the NTFS file system by default, which is not compatible with MacOS. You can only read files from an NTFS drive, you cannot write to or modify them on a Mac. You will need to use a third-party driver such as Paragon NTFS for Mac or Tuxera NTFS for Mac in order to write to an NTFS drive on a Mac.

If you need to access your files from both Mac and Windows computers, then using the exFAT format is the best option.

exFAT

exFAT is a file system format created by Microsoft for use on flash drives and other storage devices. It was first released in 2006 and is supported by all modern versions of Windows and MacOS.

Using exFAT, you can store files larger than 4GB on your USB or external hard drive and access them from both Mac and Windows computers. exFAT is also a good option if you need to transfer files between Mac and Windows computers.

FAQs

Thunderbolt External Hard Drives

1. What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface that allows you to connect external hard drives and other devices to your Mac. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 is faster than USB 3.0 and can offer speeds of up to 40 Gbps.

2. What are the benefits of using a Thunderbolt external hard drive?

Thunderbolt external hard drives offer several benefits, including higher data transfer speeds, longer cable lengths, and the ability to daisy chain multiple devices.

3. How much do Thunderbolt external hard drives cost?

Thunderbolt external hard drives vary in price, but tend to be more expensive than traditional USB 3.0 hard drives. However, the extra speed and performance offered by Thunderbolt makes them well worth the investment for serious Mac users.

4. What are the drawbacks of using a Thunderbolt external hard drive?

The main downside of using a Thunderbolt external hard drive is that not all devices are compatible with it. In particular, older Macs and laptops may not have the necessary ports to support Thunderbolt. Price is also a factor, as Thunderbolt external hard drives tend to be more expensive than their USB 3.0 counterparts.

5. Why the hard drive icon is not appearing on my Mac?

There could be several reasons why the hard drive icon is not appearing on your Mac. First, make sure that the hard drive is properly connected to your computer. If it is, then restart your computer and see if the icon appears. If the problem persists, try resetting the PRAM or SMC on your Mac.

6. How to safety eject a Thunderbolt external hard drive?

On a Mac, to safely eject a Thunderbolt external hard drive, open the Finder and click on the Eject icon next to the drive in the sidebar. You can also right-click on the drive and select Eject from the menu.

On Windows, open File Explorer and right-click on the drive. Select Eject from the menu. Alternatively, click on an icon in the notification area and select Eject.

Comparison Table

Last update on 2022-09-20 | Details

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