Elgato Thunderbolt SSD
Ultra fast; very portable; pleasing design
Price; cable not included
$549 (120GB); $899 (240GB)
There’s only one thing better than a speedy solid-state drive, and that’s an SSD with a Thunderbolt connection to make it even speedier.
Elgato, a company known for making class-leading USB TV tuners, has recently branched out into other fields and has hit the ground running with the Thunderbolt SSD.
The German company specifies read and write speeds of about 270MBps, which is 3.4 times faster than FireWire 800 (80MBps) and a huge 7.7 times faster than USB 2.0 (35MBps), and our tests generally equalled this figure.
The SanDisk Ultra SSD Flash drive and Elgato board are housed in a robust metal enclosure measuring 8.3cm x 2cm x 13cm and weighing 270g. The unit is bus-powered, which means it takes its power through the Thunderbolt cable from your Mac itself – no need to find a powerpoint.
All of this makes it an excellent choice for taking on the road. Imagine being a pro photographer who needs instant backups in the field – the drive takes up just about no space in your
bag, can take the odd knock and bump and transfers your huge RAW images in next to no time.
Being bus-powered means the drive only has one port and needs to be the last device in a Thunderbolt daisy- chain, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most users.
The drive is fully supported by Mac OS X, so there are no drivers to install; in fact, there’s no fiddling around at all. We love the instruction booklet that comes with the drive. “Welcome,” it says. “To begin using the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD simply connect it to your computer using a Thunderbolt cable.” That’s it.
There’s no cable included in the box, so we trialled the drive using Elgato’s new $69.95 Thunderbolt Cable – itself no slouch when it comes to performance.
The cable – which is just 50cm long for portability – has microprocessors at both ends and its own firmware, which makes it, in essence, a tiny computer of its own dedicated to making sure the best possible throughput speeds are obtained.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice.
Elgato has a real winner with the Thunderbolt Drive. It’s super-portable, extremely fast and looks great. However, the price of Thunderbolt SSD drives is high (LaCie’s Little Big Disk 240GB SSD is also $899), so you need to weigh this against your needs.