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Seagate Starts Selling GoFlex Portable Thunderbolt Adapter

The slow trickle of new Thunderbolt products continues. Seagate has begun selling a $99 Thunderbolt SATA adapter for portable (2.5") external hard drives:


The GoFlex series is a set of external hard drives with interchangeable interface adapters that allow their hard drives to switch between different interfaces. Existing adapters include USB 3.0, Firewire, and eSATA. This new adapter offers Thunderbolt support for existing portable GoFlex customers. One reader notes that the interface is simply an SATA interface, so this adapter could be used with any bare 2.5" SATA hard drive.

Seagate first announced the Thunderbolt adapters at CES and is also planning on offering a desktop version of the adapter for $199 in February.

Macworld had a hands on with the portable unit and found it did indeed perform faster than Firewire 800 (and of course USB)
Using the new Thunderbolt adapter, we saw write speeds of 78.8MBps, or 40 percent faster than FireWire 800. Read speeds were about 79.3MBps, about 13 percent faster than FireWire 800.
The performance gains were only so big since they were testing against a single non-SSD drive. Previous Thunderbolt benchmarks have shown much larger boosts but only when using SSD and RAID configurations, eliminating some of the drive bottlenecks.

As it's aimed at the portable market, there are some other limitations with the device. The device only has a single Thunderbolt port, so it must be at the end of the chain. However, it is also bus-powered so no external power supply is required. (The upcoming $199 desktop model reportedly will have an external power supply and additional Thunderbolt port.) Also, the $99 price doesn't include a Thunderbolt cable which still runs $50 at the Apple online store.

So, the entire setup will add a $150 premium to your hard drive purchase, but is one of the few single-drive external Thunderbolt drive options available today.

Update: Note, that Seagate's GoFlex adapter is simply a standard SATA connector, so it could be used as a bare 2.5" SATA Hard Drive -> Thunderbolt adapter.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago
Eh...adapters should not cost more than then drives they connect to...fail...
Rating: 33 Votes
35 months ago
Makes me want USB3 so badly... Low cost implementation, dirt-cheap cables, dirt-cheap drives, plenty of speed...
Rating: 24 Votes
35 months ago

Personally I believe that thunderbolt will be the standard in the next 2-3 years. It's gonna be the new USB.. Cant wait for thunderbolt 500 Giga memory sticks!!!!


Haha. I remember when they said that about Firewire.
Rating: 19 Votes
35 months ago
I just ordered one of these and the Apple Thunderbolt cable.

I've been using GoFlex drives for a couple years now. What's great about the adapters is that it's just a typical SATA+power connector which allows you to plug in ANY 2.5" SATA drive using any of the adapters (USB2, USB3, Firewire, etc). Because the Thunderbolt adapter is compatible with any GoFlex portable drive, you essentially have a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA cable.

For example, here's an image of a GoFlex USB3 adapter connected to a non-GoFlex drive (http://f.josh.sc/goflex_usb3.jpg).

I just wanted to point that out because it's not really known to people not using GoFlex products.
Rating: 9 Votes
35 months ago
Yes thunderbolt is faster then USB3 and I understand the point to future proofing so Apple can continue to use the same port for many years to come but this is just silly.

First Apple gets rid of FW800 in the cheaper computers it sells. Then it comes out with a port that forces people to use something where devices cost a lot more.

Apple really should have supported USB3. It is almost a no brainer since it is backwards compatible and it costs much less.

The truth about these portable drives is that they can physically only go so fast. Even 3.5" desktop drives are limited to what they can physically pump out. As soon as you put any data on a single drive they start to slow down. By the time a drive gets to 50% full it isn't running as fast as it did when it was empty. Even a 2 drive raid-0 can only go so fast with magnetic drives and will be limited in speed to less then what USB3 can already do. You would need at least a 4 drive raid-0 or a 2 drive raid-0 with good SSD's to get anywhere near thunderbolt speeds.

Thunderbolt is nice and I plan on using it for other devices but for storage it is a couple of years ahead of its time. Some may consider that awesome but it just isn't practical yet unless like somebody said you are one of the poor suckers on a MBA. The MBA could have easily had USB3 however for a much lower cost and easier to find products. I love Apple products but I wish more users would stand up and speak out about these types of decisions.

The one advantage to this adapter is that it can move from drive to drive. This means if companies do start selling portable drives with TB they could cost $100.00 more then non TB versions of the same drive. With this adapter you can get by with only paying for TB once which can be huge if you really have to use TB over FW800.

The desktop version for $199.00 is nuts. The TB stuff costs them the same and the only difference is the form factor of the dock and a power connector. Why this should cost an extra $100.00 makes no sense at all.
Rating: 6 Votes
35 months ago

Cant wait for thunderbolt 500 Giga memory sticks!!!!

Yeah, because everyone wants to pay 10x more for the interface than the actual storage medium.

Thunerbolt is terrible as a widespread interconnect because of the controller chip cost, limited chaining capability, and system resource costs.
Rating: 5 Votes
35 months ago
I noticed this on Seagate's site the other day. This is quite nice, albeit pricey. But this is really what I've been looking for: a single drive solution.

But as it is, Seagate doesn't yet sell any external SSD drives, so we're stuck with mechanical for now.
Rating: 4 Votes
35 months ago
That is quite a hefty looking adapter! I see ventilation—does it have a fan too??

My portable 1TB GoFlex drive runs about 61MB/s write and 70MB/s read using FireWire 800. Those speeds are about twice as much as the USB 3.0 adapter (2.0 limited on MBP) speeds. I bought it about two months ago right before the drive prices spiked ($89), so it's a newer model. So that increase is only about 30% faster on the write and the same 13% on the read for me, unless my speedier drive somehow translates higher on Thunderbolt—which I'm not sure if that makes any technical sense in this scenario.

So $150. And my portable drive is bulkier. And I can't connect my external monitor unless I have the latest Apple Cinema Display so it can be at the end of the chain? And the speed improvements aren't all that fantastic because they don't even offer an SSD model of the GoFlex as of this writing?

This seems like a gimmick at this point. Most people have these cheap portable externals to either backup documents on or to store extra media on and keep in their laptop bag. They're not using them as a scratch disk while rendering 4k video. These would never be fast enough for that or even lighter work of that nature. These are for storing documents and grabbing files while on the go. I have an SSD in my MBP for working on the actual file once I offload it from the GoFlex. For most people FireWire 800 will work fine—unless they have a Macbook Air. This might be slightly useful for photographers who keep a lot of RAW files on their externals that they frequently access.

Until it gets down to $20 like the FireWire adapter this is a no buy for me—especially with a $50 cable. It will be great when you can get a TB cable for $10 and an adapter for less than $30. Here's to hoping two things happen: the higher cost of disk drives causes SSD drives to come down in price, and the adoption of TB by lower-end and mainstream PC makers will cause the TB accessories and cables to drop in price as well. I eventually want everything daisy-chained so when I come home and plug in my MBP I only need to hookup one high-speed data cable and I'm good to go.
Rating: 4 Votes
35 months ago
I have used the FireWire 800 dock to use multiple bare SATA drives for a few years. It has the ability to connect both 3.5 and 2.5 drives easily and securely. They should do the same with ThunderBolt version. I am sure someone will come out with a dual size mounting TB dock any day.

To those bitching about the cost of a dock, mine has paid for itself many times over due to the low cost of only buying bare 1 and 2 TB drives. The base also has to have a dual TB connector for daisy chaining and while you are at it FW 800 also for connecting to Macs with and without TB.
Rating: 3 Votes
35 months ago
Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 converter please.
Rating: 3 Votes

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