AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition 512GB SSD Portable Drive Review

If you have a lot of data that needs regular backup, then once you’ve experienced Thunderbolt, nothing else will ever seem fast enough again, not even USB 3.0. I’ve been using the AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD) Portable Drive for the past few weeks, and it’s a good thing it’s a keeper, because I’ve become spoiled. 

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The drive measures approximately 5″ long x 3″ wide x 1″ thick, and it weighs 9.2 ounces. Clad in silver aluminum for better heat dissipation, the Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition looks like an old school car stereo amplifier — the type you would install in the trunk of a car to punch up your bass. Rather than sound, what gets assisted here are your data transfer speeds; while USB 3.0 can achieve transfer rates up to 5Gbps, Thunderbolt can manage speeds up to double that.

AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition Features
  • Thunderbolt for lighting fast transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps
  • High performance SATA controller for increased performance
  • Large
  • Durable, compact and portable
  • Stackable
  • Fanless

The box includes the portable drive, a 20″ Thunderbolt cable, a setup guide, and a sheet of AKiTiO logo stickers.

Obviously a Thunderbolt port is required for the drive to work — both for power and data transfer — so if your desktop or laptop has one, you should be good to go. My 2013 15″ MacBook Pro with retina has two Thunderbolt ports, and this is the only peripheral I’ve got that can use either of them. I have to admit that it is nice to be able to use one of those Thunderbolt ports if for no other reason than to free up one of my two USB ports!

If you have a PC, these are your system requirements:

  • Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Computer with Thunderbolt™ connector
  • For Windows PCs, a Thunderbolt certified device driver must be installed for the device to function properly

If you have a Mac, these are your system requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.7 or later
  • Computer with Thunderbolt™ connector

The drive does get a little bit warm when in use; I’ve had mine set up as an alternating Time Machine backup drive (with our 2TB Apple AirPort Time Capsule) since it arrived, and that’s one thing I’ve noticed … other than the fact that it is perfectly silent; there is no hard drive whirling around inside, and I love that.

The front of the drive is mirrored with the AKiTiO logo embossed in white.

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There’s a Thunderbolt logo next to the port on the back, just so you don’t try to jam some other cable into the slot.

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Silicone feet on the bottom (covering the screws that open the SSD’s aluminum shell) keep the drives from slipping on tabletops (or on each other when stacked), and the ribbed design on the underside reveals the cooling heatsink.

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When the AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition is plugged in, the LED will glow.

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So how fast is a Thunderbolt SSD drive in real world tests? What exactly sets Thunderbolt aside from USB 3.0 or even USB 2.0? Why would you even want to bother with a whole new set of peripherals? Well, to start …

I transferred my entire 77.63 GB iTunes folder from my MacBook Pro to the AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition 512GB SSD Portable Drive; it took 8 minutes 51.6 seconds.

Next, I transferred the same folder to a Western Digital My Passport hard drive, which uses USB 3.0. It took 15 minutes and 37.8 seconds to transfer, and I should mention that while doing so, there was quite a bit of spinning and noisy whirring. This is all quite typical for some hard drives; it’s nothing new or newsworthy, and it was only obvious because it came after the absolute silence of the previous transfer via SSD.

Since not everyone has upgraded to a USB 3.0 or faster drive, I also tested the same iTunes folder’s transfer with a slightly older (yet still perfectly capable!) Seagate GoFlex Satellite Drive (USB 2.0); it took 32 minutes and 53.3 seconds. Worth noting is that the Seagate is much quieter than the Western Digital, although like the AKiTiO it did get a bit warm.

So here’s the thing, can you move your data for less money? Obviously. If you are willing to wait twice as long, and you don’t mind a bit of noise, then you can get a USB 3.0 hard disk drive with significant capacity that will cost less and work very well.

But there are lots of reasons why choosing an SSD instead of a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) makes sense. SSDs boot and run faster than HHDs, they run cooler, they use less power, they are quieter, magnets don’t erase their data, they weigh less, and … shall I go on? Perhaps most importantly, they are less likely to fail. SSDs cost a bit more up front, though, that’s the downside. You can read more about SSD vs HDD here and here.

You’re the only one who can decide if SSD is a worthwhile investment for your household or business. But I can tell you that if you have a phobia about hard disk drives failing (hey, I’ve had it happen to me!), and if you regularly move large amounts of data, once you’ve used SSD you won’t ever want to go back to HDD. And once you’ve tried the incredible speeds you can get with Thunderbolt, anything else will be downright painful. If SSD coupled with Thunderbolt speeds intrigue you, then you won’t be disappointed by the AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition.

The AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition is available for $569 directly from the manufacturer or you can get it for 489.99 from our AmazonAKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition 512GB SSD Portable Drive Review Affiliate Store.

Source: Manufacturer provided review sample

What I Like: Portable, quiet, and extremely fast; Aluminum clad drive acts as a heatsink and looks great; Finally a use for one of the two Thunderbolt ports on my MacBook Pro! 😉

What Needs Improvement: The AKiTiO Neutrino Thunderbolt Edition is expensive, there’s no way around it

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.