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When Apple showed off Thunderbolt, we all got giddy with nerdy excitement. 10Gbps dual throughput? Yes, I would like that. Then nothing was released. Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air sat empty and unused as we waited for the peripherals to arrive. So far we’ve gotten high-end RAIDs that are a bit out of the reach of the average Mac user. Finally Thunderbolt gets some consumer love--some pricey, pricey consumer love.
The Seagate GoFlex series of portable hard drives has been around for a few years. One drive can attach to numerous interface adapters so you can use it with USB and FireWire. So for Seagate it was a no-brainer to add a Thunderbolt adapter too. If you’re already part of the GoFlex ecosystem, you’re ready to step up to the fastest interface around. Unfortunately, the adapter has only one port, so you can’t daisy-chain to all the other devices that are slowly (ever so slowly) trickling to the market.
The adapter snaps to the bottom of a Seagate GoFlex series hard drive, but you have to supply the Thunderbolt cable.
Using a Seagate GoFlex over Thunderbolt certainly is fast. We copied the same 1.13GB folder to a 7200-rpm FreeAgent GoFlex drive using the Thunderbolt adapter on a MacBook Air, and then again using USB 2.0. The USB transfer took 45 seconds while the Thunderbolt adapter finished the same task in 17 seconds. The only thing slowing Thunderbolt down is the drive itself. But that speed comes at a price.
Thunderbolt is expensive. The cable--which isn’t included--will set you back $49. The GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter is $99. That’s a $150 investment and you haven’t even bought the drive yet. For around the same price you can get a compatible 1TB USB 2.0 FreeAgent GoFlex for Mac Ultra-portable drive--cable included.
The bottom line. It’s fast enough that you’ll be upset when you move files to drives connected via USB 2.0 and FireWire. But that speed comes at a steep price.
GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter
Thunderbolt port, Seagate GoFlex external drive