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

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The Macbook is a popular computer 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.

Consider a Thunderbolt-enabled drive if you’re looking for a fast and portable external hard drive for Mac. In this post, we’ll look at some of Mac’s best Thunderbolt external hard drives.

What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt vs USB-C
Thunderbolt vs USB-C 

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

Most of the 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 and USB-C

Thunderbolt External Hard Drives

Thunderbolt and USB-C use the same physical connector, and at a casual glance, they 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 is much easier to connect. USB-C connectors can be found on laptops, 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 offer theoretical speeds of up to 40 Gbps, USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 offers up to 10 Gbps, and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 gives 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 provides 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 and compatibility with all USB-C devices.

LaCie Mobile Drive 2TB External Hard Drive HDD for Mac

LaCie Mobile Drive, 2TB, External Hard Drive Portable

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

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 purchasing the device, you don’t need to reformat it to use it with a Mac or Windows computer. It is compatible with most USB-C-enabled laptops, desktops, and iPads and 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.

Samsung X5 Portable SSD 2TB

SAMSUNG X5 Portable SSD – 2TB – Thunderbolt 3 External SSD

Brand: SAMSUNG – Operating System: Windows, MacOS Color: Gray/Red – Storage Capacity: 2 TB – Connectivity Technology: Thunderbolt, SATA

The Samsung X5 Portable SSD has speeds of up to 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s, respectively, and this external SSD is perfect for creators and professionals who need to transfer large files quickly.

Additionally, the X5’s Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) technology helps keep your data safe by automatically regulating the device’s temperature. And if security is a concern, you can rest assured that the X5 features optional password protection through AES-256-bit encryption.

The Type C-to-C cable makes it easy to connect to Macs and Windows PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports. You’ll easily store your important files with a 2 TB digital storage capacity. 

The LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive

LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 1TB Solid State Drive

Brand: LaCie – Interface: Thunderbolt 3 –Compatible Devices: Mac, Windows – Storage Capacity: Up to 2 TB – Included Cable: Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)

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 up to 40 Gbps, which means 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 has a five-year data rescue plan, so you can be confident that your data is safe. And the Thunderbolt 3 cable is included, which is always a nice touch. 

Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive

Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive

Brand: Plugable – Compatible Devices: Laptop, Macbook – Storage Capacity: 2TB – Hard Disk Interface: Thunderbolt 3.0 – Connectivity: USB Type-C – Warranty: 3 Year Limited Warranty

The design of this Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD is sleek and compact. Its weight is only 6.2oz and measures 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. It is perfect for content creators or IT professionals needing quick data access and transfer speeds.

The drive is bus-powered, so no external power is required, and it is preformatted in exFAT for compatibility with Windows, Linux, and Mac. The 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 backed by a three-year warranty, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable, high-performance storage solution.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 16TB External Aluminum SSD

SABRENT Rocket XTRM-Q USB 3.2 / Thunderbolt 3 External SSD

Brand: SABRENT – Storage Capacity: Up to 16TB – Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3.0 – OS: Windows /macOS – Included: Thunderbolt cable

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 several 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 solid aluminum construction, making it durable and aesthetically pleasing. The device has a power adapter, allowing users to connect it to their computer easily. 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. 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 reduces total storage capacity to 8TB.

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

Fantom Drives Extreme 2TB External SSD

Fantom Drives Extreme 2TB External SSD – 2800MB/s, Thunderbolt 3 and 4

Brand: Fantom Drives – Storage Capacity: 2 TB  – Interface: Thunderbolt 3 – In the Box: Thunderbolt 3 Cable – Warranty: 5 Year

The design of the Fantom Drives Extreme 2TB External SSD is sleek and modern. Made from high-quality aluminum, it measures 0.5″ x 2.5″ x 4.25″. It is very lightweight, weighing only 9oz. This SSD comes with a Thunderbolt 3 cable with a read speed of over 2800MB/s and a write speed of over 2300MB/s. 

The device is 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.

It’s preformatted using HFS+ format for convenience when using a Mac computer. However, this format is not compatible with Windows computers. If you plan to use this SSD with a Windows computer, you must reformat it first. 

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. 

G-Technology 12TB G-DRIVE 

G-Technology 12TB G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Desktop External Hard Drive

Brand: G-Technology – Storage Capacity: 12000 GB – Hard Disk Interface: USB 3.1 – Connectivity: USB, Thunderbolt 

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

This G-Technology 12TB SSD 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 an enterprise-class 7200 RPM hard drive and is ready for Mac computers. You can even reformat it for Windows with the included software.

G-Technology’s external hard drives use Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, allowing speeds up to 40 Gbps. This makes them some of the fastest on the market and 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 12TB storage capacity, you’ll have plenty of space for all your files.

Choosing A File System Format For Mac And Windows

When deciding on a file system format for your Mac and Windows partition, there are two key considerations: compatibility and features. Four popular file system formats 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 operating system versions 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 replaces HFS+ and offers several improvements, such as optimization 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 incompatible 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 incompatible with MacOS. You can only read files from an NTFS drive and not write to or modify them on a Mac.

It would be best to use a third-party driver such as Paragon NTFS for Mac or Tuxera NTFS for Mac to write to an NTFS drive on a Mac.

If you need to access your files from both Mac and Windows, 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 Mac and Windows. exFAT is also an excellent option for transferring files between Mac and Windows.

FAQs

1. What is Thunderbolt?

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

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Solomen
Solomen

Solomen is the founder of MrHow.io, and he is happiest when working with technology and able to help others. In his free time, he often listens to Baroque music, swims or runs. Feel free to contact him on social media!

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