Seagate Thunderbolt Adapter Speed Comparison with USB 2.0

We told you about Seagate’s new Thunderbolt adapters last week. Yes, we are finally seeing products come to market that take advantage of the speed increases offered by Thunderbolt. But how fast IS Thunderbolt? Sure you can see lab testing but that doesn’t necessarily tell you about using it at home or work. We shot a video of moving 2.5GB of data from a MacBook air to an external drive using both USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt. This is a normal use-scenario for something like this so the speeds you see here are what you might expect if you get one of the adapters.

See for yourself…

Want to know more? This is what Seagate’s release has to say:

GoFlex® Thunderbolt™ Adapter and the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter. Seagate first unveiled working prototypes of these two advanced interface products during the Intel Developers Forum in November of 2011. These two products are the first to use the new Thunderbolt technology for widespread use by consumers for single drive enclosures. The GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter will be available during the first quarter of this year and the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter is expected to be available before the second half of this calendar year.

GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter has an MSRP of $99. You will also need a GoFlex external hard drive and a Thunderbolt cable. You can find out more here on Seagate’s company site.

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10 replies

  1. Cool test, thanks Dan.

    I will say that I have researched some of Seagate’s other adapters, and there have been complaints that the adapters heat up quite a bit.  It’s been described as “uncomfortably” hot to the touch.  I am referring to the FW800 adapter specifically.

    This was not a complaint from everyone who posted user reviews of the device, but it was a common enough theme on a couple of websites that I encountered that I thought I would post the word of caution.  Obviously, this may not necessarily apply to the Thunderbolt adapter.

  2. Thanks a lot for this demo. Is it possible for you to post a comparison between TB and FW800 as well?

    • Trying to figure out how. My MBA lost the FireWire so that’s a no go on this end but stay tuned. :)

      Sent from one iOS or another

      • Thanks for the reply! I did a ‘2.5GB folder test’ on my FW800 connected 5400rpm harddrive, and it took almost exactly 60sec. Midway through your USB2.0 and TB results. But I’m really curious as to the read speeds on the TB disk.

        Also: the connector on the adaptor looks like a standard SATA connector….just like all other goflex adapters. Do you think it might be possible to attach a *cough*bare drive*cough* to the TB adapter? Are there any bits of plastic sticking out, in order to prevent that kind of thing?

        • The disk isn’t special for thunderbolt in any way FYI, just the connection.
          I’ll try connecting it to a bare drive tomorrow and let you know!!

          • Thanks—-and one more question: is there any indication as to whether the SATA connector is 3Gbit or 6Gbit? (I’m not even sure whether that’s a legitimate question, though!)

  3. That was blazing fast. Ludicrous speed! I need to put one of those on my birthday wishlist! :) With a portable drive like that, I could have a small hard drive on a MacBook Air and still have speed and capacity externally. Excellent.

  4. That was not even close to 20x faster. The video showed thunderbolt was only around 3 times faster than usb 2.0.

    That’s about the same speed increase you would get by upgrading from usb 2.0 to usb 3.0.

    • You are correct… it is amazingly fast but not 20 times as fast. As for speeds. USB 3.0 is said to be up to 5 gigabits per second while this can offer up to 10Gb/s. The operational term is “up to”.