External drives are usually not something you can rave about, but Elgato has created something users can truly enjoy while using it. Elgato has added the best of both worlds—Thunderbolt connectivity and solid state storage—to create a companion for the MacBook Air. It felt very natural to use with my Air, and I noticed a big speed improvement over the external hard drive I currently use.
Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD Design
The design of the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD has a very simple design, much like other drives available in the market. It is a solid black rectangle with two ports for the custom USB 3 cable and another for the Thunderbolt cable (signified by the Thunderbolt logo). One thing that truly sets this drive apart is the all-metal design which reminded me a lot of Apple’s black anodized Macbook that it once had available for sale. Somehow, the black metal still accented my all-silver Macbook Air, and overall the setup looked very synchronized. One thing I really enjoyed was that the drive didn’t pick up a whole lot of dust (unlike the top shell of my Macbook) when it rested on my desk for a week.
Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD Usability and Speed
Using the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive was very simple, especially because it came with two different cable options. I opted to use the Thunderbolt port, despite my Macbook offering USB 3 as an option as well. The Thundebolt offered transfer speeds up to 420 MB/s, and after about 7 days of use I found that the Elgato Drive popped up on my desktop much faster than the average hard drive and was much faster via Thunderbolt than the USB 3 port option. On the first day I received the review unit, I transferred my entire music library (a whopping 21GB) and found that it transferred onto the drive in under 1 minute and 40 seconds.
This is truly a record, as my other external hard drive took almost twice as long, if not longer. I did notice during a Time Machine backup that when the Thunderbolt cable was plugged into the port it would heat up just a bit. I assume this is because of the amount of data moving and how fast the thin cable is transferring it, especially because I did not experience this same issue with the USB 3 cable that Elgato also includes with the Thunderbolt Drive+. The drive itself is completely silent and doesn’t have that weird “gravity effect” that most hard drives have, mainly because of the solid state storage on which my data is stored.
Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD Review Conclusion
Overall, the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD had a very easy set up and transferred at much greater speeds than your typical USB 2 or non-Thunderbolt hard drive. Up until last year, I relied on a USB drive that contains about 100GB of storage, and after using the Elgato drive, I’ve seen just how fast Thunderbolt really is. Of course, it is a lot faster than a USB drive or a USB 2 external hard drive, and the combo of SSD and Thunderbolt is truly where the future of storage lies.
Though this external drive is a solid option for users—with a configuration of up to 512GB SSD as well as Thunderbolt and USB 3 as cable transfer options—the price might drive many away from buying this drive. Elgato prices the 256GB SSD at $500, while the 512GB option will cost you about $900. I don’t know how many users will opt for a external drive that costs almost as much as their Macbook, but you will get what you pay for. Ultimately, you’re paying for the ability to be able to carry 256 or 512GB of solid state storage, which does not come cheap in today’s market.
Buy the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD
Provides: External Storage
Minimum Requirements: USB 3 or Thunderbolt port, Mac or PC