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Nine External Thunderbolt Storage Devices, Rounded Up

Seagate GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt 3 TB

ModelsMSRPMarket Price
GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt, 3 TB (old bundle: STBC3000102)$410$370
GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter (STAE122)$190$190
3 TB Backup Plus FireWire 800/USB 2.0(STCB3000100)$210$170
3 TB FreeAgent GoFlex USB 3.0(STAC3000102)$180$140

Seagate recently announced its Backup Plus, a refresh of its external GoFlex storage line-up. As described by Seagate, the company's new Backup Plus drives feature the Seagate Dashboard, a one-click backup interface supporting both Macs and PCs that also enables sharing and saving photos to and from popular social networking sites.

In concert with the Backup Plus introduction, we're also seeing a refresh of Seagate's product bundles, including the 3 TB GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt that includes a Backup Plus hard drive. Aside from new software features, however, very little changes. Seagate is still using its same generation of Barracuda 7200.14 disks. 

Don't feel like you have to wait for one of the new bundles to come out before making a purchase, though. If you look at the prices, it's a little cheaper buy the Thunderbolt adapter after grabbing one of Seagate's older offerings compatible with USB 3.0, for instance. In fact, you don't really even need a GoFlex hard drive to use with the Thunderbolt adapter. Because Seagate employs a standard SATA connection between the two devices, you could even drop a bare disk on the dock and it'd work. To prove our point, we even installed a Blu-ray drive onto the adapter.

Internally, the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter consists of a motherboard hosting ASMedia's ASM1061 SATA controller and a PCI Express x1 slot. Intel's CV82524EF/L Thunderbolt controller is soldered onto an add-in card that drops onto the small board. Unfortunately, you can't yank out the x1 card and plug it into your PC. We tried, failed, and then asked. That's just not how it works.

Because we're measuring the performance of a single hard drive, the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt's sequential read and write performance levels off at ~190 MB/s, regardless of queue depth.

  • saiyan
    No benchmark for 8-drive Thunderbolt deivces such as Areca ARC-8050 ?
    Reply
  • acku
    9535164 said:
    No benchmark for 8-drive Thunderbolt deivces such as Areca ARC-8050 ?

    What the R6 isn't expensive enough? :p Honestly, we couldn't include the ARC-8050 (http://www.areca.com.tw/products/thunderbolt.htm) because it's not readily available for purchase (yet).

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    storage is OK, but an externally powered GPU is the most interesting application of thunderbolt.

    with the external PCI-E device specification coming soon, i believe the days of thunderbolt are limited.
    Reply
  • web2dot0
    mayankleoboy1storage is OK, but an externally powered GPU is the most interesting application of thunderbolt.with the external PCI-E device specification coming soon, i believe the days of thunderbolt are limited.
    Thunderbolt IS ePCI-E. Well, using Intel's implementation. You think the specification will somehow make things cheaper? Nope.
    Reply
  • chovav
    Thank you Andrew for this review, it certainly makes it clear whether you should invest in thunderbolt or not.

    Could you maybe do add a random read/write graph comparing GoFlex Desk with USB3 and Thunderbolt?

    I was also wondering what the CPU usage is during read/write - is there any impact at all? or does the thunderbolt controller bear all the processing grunt-work?

    Thanks again, great article.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    web2dot0Thunderbolt IS ePCI-E. Well, using Intel's implementation. You think the specification will somehow make things cheaper? Nope.thunderbolt is a medium that allows for multiple interconnect protocols to be transmitted over the same wire. It can send PCIe, it can send DP, it was supposed to be able to send USB 1/2/3, as well as Ethernet, all over the same wire... but we have not seen that happen over the copper version that was released.

    The external PCIe will be cheaper and easier because it will be hosted directly by the mobo chipset, or the CPU by tapping into already existing hardware. Chip makers will not have to add a new and expensive tech to the device, the connection will just siphon off lanes that are already there. And because it is already standardized and cheap technology it will be easier and cheaper to implement. Finally it will be an open standard that multiple manufacturers can adopt. Thunderbolt (as much as I love the idea) is made and operated by Intel, and Intel wants to charge a premium for it. Until there are multiple chip makers who can make it, then it will continue to be too expensive... and when multiple chip makers can make it then Intel will be the only one worth buying (much like their network interfaces) because nobody can do quality like intel, but at least the price will come down.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    ^ like the Marvell SATA controllers.

    And thunderbolt is not going optical fibre in the coming years. the cable is too expensive and cant carry much power.

    and the fact that apple is using it gives some clues about its price, compatibility, usability and openness.

    i remember how TB was promoted : one single wire from your PC to a TB brick. and from that brick you added USB, ethernet, firewire, DP, HDMI. basically it was touted as "1 wire for everything". supposed to be magical, and we all know how that turns out.
    Reply
  • acku
    CaedenVthunderbolt is a medium that allows for multiple interconnect protocols to be transmitted over the same wire. It can send PCIe, it can send DP, it was supposed to be able to send USB 1/2/3, as well as Ethernet, all over the same wire... but we have not seen that happen over the copper version that was released.The external PCIe will be cheaper and easier because it will be hosted directly by the mobo chipset, or the CPU by tapping into already existing hardware. Chip makers will not have to add a new and expensive tech to the device, the connection will just siphon off lanes that are already there. And because it is already standardized and cheap technology it will be easier and cheaper to implement. Finally it will be an open standard that multiple manufacturers can adopt. Thunderbolt (as much as I love the idea) is made and operated by Intel, and Intel wants to charge a premium for it. Until there are multiple chip makers who can make it, then it will continue to be too expensive... and when multiple chip makers can make it then Intel will be the only one worth buying (much like their network interfaces) because nobody can do quality like intel, but at least the price will come down.
    Read http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/thunderbolt-performance-z77a-gd80,3205.html Thunderbolt can externalize anything. It just has to have the controller. It is external PCIe. External USB 3.0 and ethernet are possible but unlikely because they are already on the mobo.

    From a practical standpoint, external PCIe may cheaper, but it's pointless from a performance standpoint http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#External_PCIe_cards. Everything is limited to a PCIe 1.0 x1 connection. The new ExpressCard standard (v2.0) ups bandwidth to slightly more than PCIe 1.0 x2, which still isn't that fast compared to TB (PCIe 2.0 x4 uplink). Plus ExpressCard only lets you connect a single device. It's one and done after that. For a mobile user, Thunderbolt is the way to go. Worse, you can't count on EC to be available. I'm already seeing Ultrabooks with TB. It makes sense because it doesn't require a lot of space. EC requires more space, hence it will be a greater rarity now that TB is out.

    It looks expensive now but be patient. TB is something you will want. Many people need to look past the role Apple played. It clearly is a performance oriented technology that opens up a whole new world, especially on the mobile side.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware.com

    Reply
  • web2dot0
    CaedenVthunderbolt is a medium that allows for multiple interconnect protocols to be transmitted over the same wire. It can send PCIe, it can send DP, it was supposed to be able to send USB 1/2/3, as well as Ethernet, all over the same wire... but we have not seen that happen over the copper version that was released.The external PCIe will be cheaper and easier because it will be hosted directly by the mobo chipset, or the CPU by tapping into already existing hardware. Chip makers will not have to add a new and expensive tech to the device, the connection will just siphon off lanes that are already there. And because it is already standardized and cheap technology it will be easier and cheaper to implement. Finally it will be an open standard that multiple manufacturers can adopt. Thunderbolt (as much as I love the idea) is made and operated by Intel, and Intel wants to charge a premium for it. Until there are multiple chip makers who can make it, then it will continue to be too expensive... and when multiple chip makers can make it then Intel will be the only one worth buying (much like their network interfaces) because nobody can do quality like intel, but at least the price will come down.
    Thank you for your Wikipedia quote. Everybody can quote from the spec sheet. The trouble is you make it seem like Intel are bunch of morons building a interconnect that nobody uses. That's is plain wrong. Just like SSDs, they will come down in price and next thing you know, you'll be asking yourself why in the world would I not use Thunderbolt. Imagine running a external GPU on your Retina Display MacbookPro when you dock your laptop. There'll be a lineup of people buying that technology at a premium price.

    Partnering with Apple is no accident. 2 giant corporations backing the initiative is nothing to sneeze at. Give it a few years, and you'll soon find out the true power of Thunderbolt. USB 3.0 complements Thunderbolt.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    edit
    Reply