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Review: Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ 512GB

New Thunderbolt Drive+ offers blistering transfer speeds and highly adaptable storage

Key features

  • Thunderbolt
  • USB 3.0
  • Available in 256GB and 512GB SSD

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New technology is incredible. The Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ is a solid-state drive (SSD) packaged inside solid metal housing that can transfer files at around 420 MB/s. In simple terms, that means you can drop a 3GB HD movie onto its icon and within five seconds the transfer will be finished. Now think about what that means for sharing large collections of files, photos and more; you could back up an entire MacBook Air’s 128GB drive in less time than it takes to boil an egg.

The Drive+ is the latest in Elgato’s Thunderbolt SSD line, and this time it includes a USB 3.0 port. One of the downsides to this model’s 2012 predecessor was that its only interface was a single Thunderbolt port, ruling out connections for anyone using older hardware, or anyone using a PC.

This year, things are different. The two ports both offer impressive performance, and while the drive is formatted for Mac by default, it can be reformatted for PC if required. More importantly, though, the drive can now be used if you have more than one Mac that needs files moving. The USB 3.0 port is also compatible with USB 2.0 (albeit at considerably slower speeds) so you can easily hook it up to older Macs whenever you need it.

We did two separate tests over both connections. First, we used a speed-testing app to see the maximum speeds possible with the Drive+. We got the best results through USB 3.0 – a blistering 419 MB/s read and 337 MB/s write. Thunderbolt actually produced slower results, but only by around 10 MB/s. We then did a real-world test, dropping a large group of files onto the drive from a brand-new MacBook Air. In this test, USB 3.0 just came out on top again, managing an average of 261 MB/s read and 293 MB/s write. In this test, we were actually limited by the MacBook Air’s internal storage, which lowered the read speed slightly, but it still meant 10GB was transferred in under 40 seconds. That’s seriously fast.

The biggest problem, though, is the price tag. This is clearly aimed at creative professionals, because with a price tag of £760 for half a terabyte of storage, you’re paying £1.48 per GB. If you’re in the market for fast, adaptable and portable storage, the Drive+ is the best choice, but this kind of performance doesn’t come cheap.

 Buy now?

Pros Incredibly fast, solidly built and highly adaptable storage

Cons The price is very high if you want this kind of performance

Orange 5 Stars