Seagate has quietly introduced a Thunderbolt adapter for its GoFlex portable drives, updating its Accessories page with the new add-on without much fanfare. The adapter is currently on back order, but will cost a mere $99.99 USD (without the cable) when Seagate replenishes its supply, and offer speeds up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. Kapow.
Seagate reports that the GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter and its external HDD leech are completely portable, powered through a single Thunderbolt cable connection. The gadget promises transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps on Macs and later on PCs when Thunderbolt-enabled desktops, notebooks and motherboards hit the scene this summer.
Macworld's hands-on report states that the adapter sports only one Thunderbolt port, so it will need to be at the end of the Thunderbolt chain. Given that an external power source isn't required, it's assumed that the adapter doesn't allow additional Thunderbolt connections so that consumers aren't forced to drag around an additional power adapter. However the desktop version -- slated for a 2Q12 release -- will have two Thunderbolt ports for chaining, costing $199 USD.
Using a Seagate 500 GB FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable drive, Macworld tested the speeds of a USB 2.0 connection against the Thunderbolt adapter's connection to a MacBook Pro using the AJA System Test. The USB 2.0 connection produced write speeds of about 26.0 MBps and read speeds of 33.7 MBps. The Thunderbolt connection saw write speeds of 78.8 MBps and read speeds of about 79.3 MBps.
"Looking at all of the results, it’s clear that the performance jump between using the GoFlex USB 2.0 adapter and its FireWire 800 adapter is much more dramatic than the performance differences between FireWire 800 and using the GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter," Macworld writes. "This is primarily due to the speed of the external drive, which being a 5400-rpm, 2.5-inch hard drive is not as fast as 7200-rpm 3.5-inch hard drive or a SSD."
To see the full results, head here.