Plugable Thunderbolt 3 drive offers 480GB of NVMe SSD external storage with fast data tran...

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Dock and accessory producer Plugable introduced the Thunderbolt 3 480GB NVMe Solid State Drive at CES, an external storage device that takes advantage of the high bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3 connections to offer fast transfers in a highly portable form factor.




Plugable's Thunderbolt 3 drive uses NVMe to allow for a direct interface with PCI3 controllers without an intermediary chipset, instead of relying on usual connectivity methods that are limited by a SATA III interface. With this change, it is claimed that the drive is capable of being five times faster than a SATA III equivalent connected over USB 3.1 Gen 2.

The drive is capable of sequential speeds of more than 2,400 megabytes per second for reading, and over 1,200 megabytes per second for writing. Actual transfer speeds will ultimately depend on the host system it is connected to, as well as the workload, and however much of the 40 gigabit per second bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3 itself is used by other devices when daisy chained.

This high transfer speed is said by the manufacturer to be ideal for those requiring a "no-compromise performance solution" that demands "maximum disk performance." Example use cases include fast backups, as well as accessing and storing the large files used in video editing projects.

Produced in an aluminum casing with a single integrated Thunderbolt 3 cable, the drive does not require an additional power source, using the same Thunderbolt 3 connection for both power and data transfers. The drive itself is compatible with Mac systems with a Thunderbolt 3 connection running macOS Sierra or later, as well as similarly-equipped PCs running Windows 7 or later.

The Plugable 480GB Thunderbolt 3 Drive is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2018, though pricing has yet to be revealed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,496member
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,007administrator
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
    150MB/sec for the Costco drive is a bit slower than 1200MB/sec from this, though.

    Different use cases. This obviously isn't intended as a media storage drive.
    edited January 2018 racerhomie3macxpresscgWerksfastasleepchiaSolivannygee
  • Reply 3 of 22
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,897member

    This high transfer speed is said by the manufacturer to be ideal for those requiring a "no-compromise performance solution" that demands "maximum disk performance." Example use cases include fast backups, as well as accessing and storing the large files used in video editing projects. 

    Heck I would use it as a boot drive.  However the biggest problem I have with thunderbolt external drives is they can’t be bought as a case only (I did buy a Chinese No name case once, it was rubbish). You have to buy one with the smallest drive at the cheapest price, open it up and put a bigger or higher performing drive in it, voiding warranty.

    Hence this one has the problems of too small a drive and a higher price than necessary.
    edited January 2018 macseekerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,752member
    I'm not a fan of the cable being integrated into the case.  Eventually that cable will get shredded if used often.

    Either way, the day of portable storage as fast as internal storage has finally arrived and that is an incredible thing.  It's about time.  Got to love TB3.  I'm looking forward to future revisions of Thunderbolt like TB4 and TB5?  It will be insane.
    watto_cobraracerhomie3chia1983
  • Reply 5 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,316member
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
    150MB/sec for the Costco drive is a bit slower than 1200MB/sec from this, though.

    Different use cases. This obviously isn't intended as a media storage drive.
    Yep, and for those $99 SATA-based drives, a USB 3.1 gen 1 or 2 port is more than adequate — there's no need to blow the extra cash on a TB3 enclosure.
    baconstang
  • Reply 6 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,314member
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
    True... but if you're dealing with a 128 or 256GB internal drive, this would open that up a lot at ~internal speeds.
    And, as others have said, if you just need bulk storage, there are TONS of other options... likely for a fraction of the cost.

    The main issues I've had with external storage, though, are that HD-based solutions 'sleep' which creates a problem for Spotlight or open/save menus in many apps, etc. You get a several second pause each time you try to search or do a file operation. (I wonder if that's finally fixed in High Sierra?)

    The other issue is that cloud storage like Dropbox want to live on the internal drive (or would be a problem unless you always had the external plugged in), so that super-tiny internal SSD causes issues.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,527member
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
    Bullshit. Drives like these make a great bootable system drive with some space for storage of most frequently used data. The internal drive can be used as a backup boot drive and storage or wiped and used for storage alone.

    And most of these 2/4T cheap external drives are just that— cheap, and not inexpensive. Often there's no internal SATA interface so if the connector goes the drive can't be salvaged and is useless. But at $99, it's a cheap disposable peripheral, I suppose.
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 8 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,314member
    macgui said:
    Drives like these make a great bootable system drive with some space for storage of most frequently used data. The internal drive can be used as a backup boot drive and storage or wiped and used for storage alone.
    Maybe for an iMac or something like that, but I don't think I'd want a laptop to need an external as it's boot drive. As much as I've enjoyed the performance of SSD, the tiny internal/boot capacity has caused all sorts of other issues for me.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member
    Is this drive backwards compatible with USB-C without TB included?
  • Reply 10 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.
    Besides the aforementioned transfer speeds, this is pocketable and powered by the USB port. Can you say that about a 4TB HDD from Costco? Why assume that everyone only needs more capacity and not speed of convenience? Do you have the same anti-product sentiment when it comes to Flash drives?
    chia
  • Reply 11 of 22
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,752member
    jd_in_sb said:
    480 GB was a useful amount of storage 10 years ago. Way too small today, especially with Costco selling 4 TB external disk-based drives for $99.

    do you even use any Thunderbolt devices?  I do.  Drives like these would make great boot drives, ultra-fast storage, etc... If you're comparing a $99 SATA drive vs. a solid state NVM drive then you missing the point entirely.  

    I'll be a buyer of one of these.  If I want storage, my Promise Thunderbolt-2 RAID six-drive array running at 2.3GB/s will more than suffice.

    Does anyone know if these portable Thunderbolt-3 drives will fall back to USBc if connected to a non-Thunderbolt USBc port?

    chiamacgui
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Sonnet is already selling their 1tb Fusion thunderbolt 3 drive. I have one and it set me back $1000 so my guess is this will cost about half that, $500. 

    After 3 generations of thunderbolt we still don’t have any choices on buying a bare drive enclosure. 
  • Reply 13 of 22
    This will not fall back as it is pcie and there is no usb controller on the drive. 
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Soli said:
    Is this drive backwards compatible with USB-C without TB included?
    No. It’s a pcie over thunderbolt drive. 
  • Reply 15 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,007administrator
    Soli said:
    Is this drive backwards compatible with USB-C without TB included?
    No.

    For future reference, if something we write says USB-C it will work with USB 3.1 type C or Thunderbolt 3. If something we write says Thunderbolt 3, then it will only work with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.
    SolicgWerks
  • Reply 16 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,388member
    Soli said:
    Is this drive backwards compatible with USB-C without TB included?
    No.

    For future reference, if something we write says USB-C it will work with USB 3.1 type C or Thunderbolt 3. If something we write says Thunderbolt 3, then it will only work with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.
    Thanks. Is it even possible to build a device that with a USB-C connector that will work with TB3 when it's available, or default down to USB 3.1 when it's not? 
  • Reply 17 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,007administrator
    Soli said:
    Soli said:
    Is this drive backwards compatible with USB-C without TB included?
    No.

    For future reference, if something we write says USB-C it will work with USB 3.1 type C or Thunderbolt 3. If something we write says Thunderbolt 3, then it will only work with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports.
    Thanks. Is it even possible to build a device that with a USB-C connector that will work with TB3 when it's available, or default down to USB 3.1 when it's not? 
    I don't think so, but we'll see what happens with the next generation of controller chips.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,314member
    glindon said:
    After 3 generations of thunderbolt we still don’t have any choices on buying a bare drive enclosure. 
    I wonder if the change in how Intel is licensing it will impact this? Or, maybe it's too small of a market segment?
  • Reply 19 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    cgWerks said:
    glindon said:
    After 3 generations of thunderbolt we still don’t have any choices on buying a bare drive enclosure. 
    I wonder if the change in how Intel is licensing it will impact this? Or, maybe it's too small of a market segment?
    A bare Thunderbolt drive would have to use a drive connector faster than SATA or use RAID to be worthwhile (USB3/USB-C is faster than SATA) e.g the following Akitio, Sonnet drives:

    https://www.akitio.com/portable-storage/thunder2-storage-av
    https://www.akitio.com/desktop-storage/thunder3-duo-pro
    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/fusiontb3pcieflashdrive.html

    While there are lots of cheap retail SATA SSDs, the PCIe ones are a bit more expensive. This limits the potential market. It's better to just sell the old one and buy one with more capacity. For most uses, USB3/USB-C speeds (~500MB/s) will suffice and it's easier to get affordable USB3 enclosures and SATA drives:

    https://www.amazon.com/Nekteck-Enclosure-Interface-Optimized-Tool-Free/dp/B01C3OP6KY
    https://www.amazon.com/MiniPro-USB-C-External-Aluminum-Enclosure/dp/B01N52Z26D
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OJ3UJ2S/

    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX500-Internal-Frustration-Free-Packaging/dp/B077SF8KMG/
    https://www.amazon.com/Blue-NAND-1TB-SSD-WDS100T2B0A/dp/B073SBQMCX
    https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-Inch-Internal-MZ-75E1T0B-AM/dp/B00OBRFFAS
    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX300-Internal-Solid-State/dp/B01IAGSDUE

    The cheapest out of those would make a 1TB SSD for $272. But if you went with a more expensive sealed unit e.g $370:

    https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-T5-Portable-SSD-MU-PA1T0B/dp/B073H552FJ

    you just sell it on when a 2TB model is $370 for e.g $150. If you sell that on again for $150, TCO is $440. Do the same for the enclosure but you'd get $100 for the bare drive so TCO is ~$330. You save money with the enclosure but $100 over ~3-4 years isn't worth the hassle.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Well, a drive that is not available and has no pricing is that same as if it just doesn't exist. Apple first Thunderbolt 3 computers came out in 2016 and today, in 2018, you can't still plug an external disk that benefit from Thunderbolt 3. All what we need from Apple, is a TB3 to M2 nvme cable to plug our SSDs.... Let's hope we will be able to benefit from Thunderbolt 3 before Thunderbolt 4 is out.
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