This Thunderbolt drive enclosure has space for two 2.5-inch disks of your choosing; install a couple of SSDs and you can build a very fast external drive. The disks can be used as independent volumes, or you can combine them into a striped RAID array.
Remove thumbscrews from the back panel and it flips down to reveal the disk bays and a fan — the only tool you need is a screwdriver to secure a disk in its tray. We fitted two 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSDs. No software is provided to adjust the fan’s speed or allow SSDs to be cooled entirely passively through the aluminum body and vents. From the moment the drive is powered on, the fan makes a persistent though acceptable whirr.
The array achieved mean sequential read and write speeds of 615.6 and 576.2MB/sec, and reached peak speeds of 783.3 and 731.2MB/sec respectively. In the tougher test of randomly reading and writing small files, peak read and write speeds reached 597.1 and 586MB/sec respectively, and mean read and write speeds maintained a very pleasing 281.9 and 315.8MB/sec respectively.
A Thunderbolt interface isn’t required to reach these transfer rates, though. The same SSDs fitted into StarTech USB 3.0 enclosures (model S2510BPU33, $28 each), and again configured as a striped array, gave faster transfer rates overall — but this configuration was slower for very small transfers, making it less appealing as a startup disk. This setup needs two ports, whereas the Thunderbolt enclosure needs only one, and its second Thunderbolt port allows for further expansion, although mains power is essential.
The bottom line. A costly but customizable way to improve a hard-disk-based Mac’s responsiveness.
Includes: 1m (3.28ft) Thunderbolt cable Ports: Dual Thunderbolt (10Gbps) Cooling: Active using fan; passive through aluminum body