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Numbers imply that Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3.0. But, is there any external hard drive that can really reach this speed?

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In this ssd benchmark the fastest SSD (2016) has a write performance of 512MB/s (read performance is a little bit higher, but not significantly)

Wikipedia shows 5GB/s as maximum throughput of an USB 3.0 port.

As you can see, this is a multiple of the maximum of what a current hard disk can support.

To answer your question: There is no external hard disk (at the moment) that would use the higher speed of thunderbolt.

An article from 2 years ago did explicit tests and found out: no difference in speed for thunderbolt vs. USB 3 regarding hard discs.

  • The only reason I would pay for the premium of a Thunderbolt device, is if I had several, allowing more devices to reach their maximum transfer rate compared to USB 3.. – Ramhound Aug 22 '16 at 12:36
  • PCIe based SSD read with other 2 Gigabyte/s – magicandre1981 Aug 22 '16 at 17:02
2

Yes, PCIe based SSD like the Samsung 950 Pro or the Intel SSD 750 can have read speeds larger 2 GB/s (Gigabyte, not Gigabit).

Here using the SSD in in enclosure connected via Thunderbold 3

enter image description here

gives you a dramatic perf improvement over using a SATA SSD in an USB 3.0 enclosure.

enter image description here

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