Review: Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ SSD

Elgato adds USB3.0 to Thunderbolt SSD (January 17th, 2014)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Elgato

Price: $900 as tested

The Good

  • Broad compatibility

    - Fast transfer speeds

    - Robust housing

The Bad

  • Could be faster

    - Expensive

Elgato recently introduced its Thunderbolt Drive+ portable SSD, building upon the company's existing Thunderbolt SSD that we tried out last year. The new offering ads USB 3.0 connectivity for cross-platform convenience, while transfer speeds are claimed to get a boost up to 420MBps. Check out our full review to see how the Drive+ performs against its predecessor.

The new Drive+ offers little visual differentiation from its predecessor, aside from the extra USB 3.0 port. Both drives feature a seemingly robust aluminum housing, similar in size to a typical 2.5-inch external disk drive. The case is claimed to be dust-proof and "water protected," though we did not submerge it to test this claim. SSDs are naturally more rugged than disk drives, omitting moving parts, and we suspect the Drive+ can stand up to rough handling.

We liked the Thunderbolt port on the Elgato's previous offering, but it limited compatibility to newer Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and a few PCs. Even in our Mac-dominated household, we couldn't use the drive with one of our four-year-old MacBooks. Using the drive to share files with a PC was also out of the question.

Considering the hefty price tags on Elgato's external SSDs, we were surprised that the original Thunderbolt drive did not include a USB 2.0 port for wider compatibility. This limitation has been addressed with the Drive+, jumping right up to USB 3.0 for comparable transfer speeds via either interface and backwards compatibility with older hardware.

When connected using Thunderbolt, we were able to achieve sequential read speeds of up to 352 MB/s and sequential write speeds around 333 MB/s. We expected the performance to be a bit higher, as both Thunderbolt and the SSD itself are capable of faster speeds, though it clearly is a leap beyond traditional disk drives.

USB 2.0 transfer speeds were dirt slow in comparison, as expected. Unfortunately we did not have a USB 3.0 system to test speeds on this interface, though other users have noted slightly better performance than our Thunderbolt results.

Elgato's Thunderbolt Drive+ sells for $500 with a 256GB SSD, or $900 for the 512GB model that we tested. The prices mark a significant premium over competing products, such as LaCie's USB 3.0/Thunderbolt Rugged drives that fetch $350 or $500 for the same capacities.

by Justin King


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