In this survey, we will review some of Thunderbolt 3 ‘s strongest external hard drives. A little understanding of why they are relevant before that.

If you want to use laptops with these hard drives, check out our full list of Thunderbolt 3 ‘s cheapest laptops.

High-speed data transfer is often a normal user ignored process, but it is a very important problem to take a closer look at what certain users or professionals transfer.

And what is high-speed data transfer and how do you do it in the long term?

Let’s say you work with many documents or files every day and you need to stack more of them, move them quickly to another place. You will easily find out, how fast your MAC or internal PC storage is running out of capacity.

So, as a young man learned, you search the internet and learn about external storage devices, but there are many settings here and there – “They have plenty of room and are connected via a USB-cable, but they do have a very low read/write rate. Look, the other product has a quicker communication method than Thunderbolt 3. What’s that, I wonder?

So you easily read lots of blogs, product details and come to the basics of “I don’t know what I did.”

If you are at that point, you should first find out exactly what you are using the external drive. For example, if you want the MAC or another Apple device to be connected to a PC, you would just have to look in the Thunderbolt categories if you need them.

Including requirements, user comments, costs, and some honest to God, we shall count all from real opinions. Yeah, and the list will not be best at worst, but in numerical order. We get to the specifics of each hard drive first as a list and then down.

At a Glance – Our Top Picks

SAMSUNG X5 Portable SSD 2TB - Up to 2800MB/s -Thunderbolt 3 NVMe...
  • THUNDERBOLT 3 AND NVMe POWER: First ever NVMe-based portable SSD from Samsung featuring...
  • LIGHTNING FAST READ WRITE SPEEDS: Sequential read and write performance levels of up to...
  • DURABLE DESIGN: Full metal body with glossy top and non-slip bottom mat withstands drops of up...
Sale
Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock 4TB External Hard Drive HDD –...
  • Firecuda gaming dock is an external laptop hard drive and Hub Offering 4TB of spacious capacity...
  • The expandable NVMe slot is perfect for inserting an ultra-fast upgrade, like the Firecuda NVMe...
  • Hub includes a Thunderbolt 3 port, DisplayPort, USB 3. 0, RJ45 Ethernet network port, 3. 5mm...
LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 2TB Solid State Drive — USB-C Thunderbolt 3,...
  • Harness top Thunderbolt 3 speeds with the 2TB Seagate FireCuda NV Me SSD for playback/recording...
  • Tackle any terrain with extreme IP67-rated water resistance, three-meter drop tolerance,...
  • Includes a Thunderbolt 3 cable for easy connectivity with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports on both...
Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive (Up to...
  • THUNDERBOLT 3 SPEED - Reach your creative potential with the Plugable external Thunderbolt 3...
  • PERFORMANCE - Great for professional content creators needing to transfer and edit high...
  • DURABLE AND PORTABLE - Full metal enclosure designed to dissipate heat and protect your...
G-Technology 16TB G-Raid with Thunderbolt 3, USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2),...
  • Solid, durable and stackable all-aluminum enclosure
  • Dual removable, Enterprise-class 7200RPM hard drives
  • High-speed data transfers
MyDigitalSSD Pocket Vault Express (PVX) Portable PCIe Gen 3 40Gbps...
  • sequential speeds of 1.6GB/s (1600MB/s) read and 1GB/s (1000MB/s) write
  • Full storage capacity / Sleek and pocketable design
  • Shock and crush-resistant aluminum exterior
Patriot EVLVR Intel Thunderbolt 3 External SSD 1TB, Compatible with...
  • 1TB external Thunderbolt 3 SSD with up to 1600MB/s read and 1000MB/s write data transfer speeds
  • Plug and Play interface Thunderbolt 3 with Type-C connector
  • Thunderbolt 3 technology can reach speeds up to 40Gb/s – up to 8 times faster than USB 3.0.
WD 4TB My Passport Pro Portable External Hard Drive - Thunderbolt -...
  • Dual drive RAID storage; Up to 233 MB/s data transfer rates
  • Integrated Thunderbolt cable. No AC adapter required
  • Durable aluminum enclosure
Patriot EVLVR Intel Thunderbolt 3 External SSD 512GB, Compatible with...
  • 512GB external Thunderbolt 3 SSD with up to 1600MB/s read and 1000MB/s write data transfer...
  • Plug and Play interface: Thunderbolt 3 with Type-C connector - Disclaimer: must be used with a...
  • Thunderbolt 3 technology can reach speeds up to 40Gb/s – up to 8 times faster than USB 3.0.

1. Samsung Portable SSD X5

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The best Thunderbolt three solid-state drive for MacBook Pro is Samsung Portable X5 SSD. It combines NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 to quickly manage and render massive data in seconds, read/write speeds.

The X5 SSD has a lightweight and smooth build with a bright finish on top. The matt and wired floor help you to grip in addition to avoid unintentional slips. The Mac environment or PCs are complemented with Thunderbolt 3 ports by a sleek, compact adapter.

The X5 uses a unique thermal and heat sink technology to prevent heavy read/write operations from being overheated. No thinking about a write-down, you can pass raw 4 K video files.

This NVMe drive provides reading / write speeds of up to 2800/2 300 MBps in terms of speed. Samsung X5 is an excellent choice for professionals working with large files such as 4 K and 8 K video editing. That’s insanely fast speeds, especially when upgrading from an FDD or SATA SSD.

Choices can differ, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB are available. To secure your data with advanced AES 256-bit encryption, download Samsung Portable SSD software.

SAMSUNG X5 Portable SSD 2TB - Up to 2800MB/s -Thunderbolt 3 NVMe...
  • THUNDERBOLT 3 AND NVMe POWER: First ever NVMe-based portable SSD from Samsung featuring...
  • LIGHTNING FAST READ WRITE SPEEDS: Sequential read and write performance levels of up to...
  • DURABLE DESIGN: Full metal body with glossy top and non-slip bottom mat withstands drops of up...

2. Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock External Hard Drive

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Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock is a versatile and multi-functional storage solution targeted to gaming rigs. Unlike other Thunderbolt 3 drives, the Firecuda Gaming Dock doubles up as a docking station.

The drive brings good aesthetics to your battle station with customizable ambiance lighting, which appeals to most gamers. You can customize the RGB colors and patterns via the included software to match your gaming rig.

The Firecuda Gaming Dock is the most versatile external hard drive with Thunderbolt 3. It comes with plenty of ports, including dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, five USB 3.1 Gen2, Ethernet, and two audio slots for input/output. Transform your MacBook or PC with eight connectivity ports and more storage space with just a single cable.

Onboard is 4TB of HDD storage space to save all of your games and files. It’s not the fastest storage solution available, but thanks to Thunderbolt 3, the 5400 RPM HDD runs at full speeds. While this external HDD is mostly targeted to gamers, it can be a perfect solution for professional creatives who want more storage space.

Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock has an M.2 NVMe slot for SSD upgrades if you’re looking for fast read/write speeds and quick load times for games and maps.

Sale
Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock 4TB External Hard Drive HDD –...
  • Firecuda gaming dock is an external laptop hard drive and Hub Offering 4TB of spacious capacity...
  • The expandable NVMe slot is perfect for inserting an ultra-fast upgrade, like the Firecuda NVMe...
  • Hub includes a Thunderbolt 3 port, DisplayPort, USB 3. 0, RJ45 Ethernet network port, 3. 5mm...

3. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro

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LaCie Rugged SSD Pro brings the fast speeds of NVMe technology in a portable and rugged Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. While not all might consider paying a premium for an SSD, creators and adventurous photographers who spend their time in the wild can appreciate the value of this SSD.

LaCie Rugged SSD Pro comes with a palm-sized design, ideal for traveling, with grippy, black silicon cover. It’s rated IP67 water resistance, which means it can survive under three feet of water for 30 minutes. It’s dust resistant, can survive three meters drop, and even be run over by a two-ton car and still survive.

Well, for photographers who take on the rain and rocky terrains to get the perfect shot, here is a fast and reliable storage solution for you. It has a portable and compact form factor perfect for traveling and working on-the-go.

Equipped with a 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 port, LaCie Rugged SSD Pro supports Mac and PCs with a Thunderbolt 3 port. It is also compatible with the 10Gbps USB-C port. However, make sure only to use a Type-C port cable.

Inside the Rugged Pro is a Seagate FireCuda NVMe SSD providing speeds up to 2800MBps. Transfer uncompressed footage or edit 8K videos directly without any lag or delays. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities.

Take this drive anywhere you go thanks to its 5-year warranty backed by a five-year data recovery service

LaCie Rugged SSD Pro 2TB Solid State Drive — USB-C Thunderbolt 3,...
  • Harness top Thunderbolt 3 speeds with the 2TB Seagate FireCuda NV Me SSD for playback/recording...
  • Tackle any terrain with extreme IP67-rated water resistance, three-meter drop tolerance,...
  • Includes a Thunderbolt 3 cable for easy connectivity with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports on both...

4. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 External NVMe SSD

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Plugable Thunderbolt 3 External NVMe SSD is one of the best budget Thunderbolt 3 drives in the market. It may not have the durability of LaCie Rugged SSD Pro, but it is up there with the best in terms of performance.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 drive comes with an aluminum build design, which offers excellent heat dissipation and keeps the weight to a minimum. It’s bus-powered through a single Thunderbolt 3 port, and compatible with both Mac and PC.

This high-performance NVMe drive provides sequential read/write speeds of 2400/1800 MBps. It’s an ideal external drive for high-resolution image and photo editing, gaming, and professionals looking for the best performance levels possible. And with the Thunderbolt 3 port, there is no bottleneck or delays when transferring files.

Plugable 2TB Thunderbolt 3 External SSD NVMe Drive (Up to...
  • THUNDERBOLT 3 SPEED - Reach your creative potential with the Plugable external Thunderbolt 3...
  • PERFORMANCE - Great for professional content creators needing to transfer and edit high...
  • DURABLE AND PORTABLE - Full metal enclosure designed to dissipate heat and protect your...

5. G-Technology G-Raid with Thunderbolt 3

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Moving from a sleek design but mediocre abilities to a bulky drive with exceptional results.

What this means is that the G-Technology G-Raid is an exceptional storage unit if you need everything done fast and you want to be able to keep it all in one place.

Unlike our previous entry, the G-Raid has an HDMI interface to boot, besides USB and Thunderbolt 3. And from the looks of it, it seems like it was made specifically for people working in the editing industry.

If you want to, you can search this bad boy out and buy it with the following capacities: 8TB, 12TB, 16TB, and 20TB. From what it looks like, you could fit an entire library worth of movies, songs, and other files and you still would have space for some other things.

In regards to other specifications, the G-Raid is actually comprised of a dual Enterprise-class 7200 RPM hard drive, which explains both space and design. Additionally, it has a small incorporated as not to overheat the unit or any other accidents.

It’s a small one, 40mm, but unfortunately, that also brings up some problems with it. Noise. You can’t exactly do anything about, as the fan doesn’t have some control options so it is a bit louder than you want a drive to be.

Read and Write and transfer speeds are also quite reliable, as you would expect by now from a Thunderbolt interface. USB 3, just like before is slower but it still does it’s work perfectly and it works more than fine. Both also come in with a cable, for Thunderbolt 3 being a 20 Gbps, and a shorter and slower USB 3 cable.

G-Technology 16TB G-Raid with Thunderbolt 3, USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2),...
  • Solid, durable and stackable all-aluminum enclosure
  • Dual removable, Enterprise-class 7200RPM hard drives
  • High-speed data transfers

6. MyDigitalSSD Pocket Vault Express PVX Thunderbolt 3 Capsule

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That title really is a mouthful, we know. The great people at MyDigitalsSSD bring us a wallet-friendly (both financially and physically) SSD that combines the Thunderbolt 3 tech with PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe SSD.

For such a small device, it actually has great Read and Write speeds, the data transfer ranging up to 40Gbps and it’s bus-powered. So, again, it powers on only when you connect to a computer, for example, as it doesn’t have its own power source.

This is both a blessing and a curse, as we pointed out in a previous device on this list. While the maximum speed mentioned there is hypothetical, it has been tested out and the surest type of readings and writings are of 1.6 GB for the first and 1 GB for the latter. Which is quite impressive, it sets quite an example worthy to be followed.

Now, on the market, you can find in three types of capacities, that obviously vary in price, depending on their storage capacity.

Aspect wise, the Pocket Vault Express is encased in an aluminum case, it isn’t that big with a length of 10.2 cm and at 88 grams you could even say that it’s as light a feather. It has a sleek design, which even the makers themselves have said that “fits in the palm of your hand”. Basically, easy to carry and to use.

MyDigitalSSD Pocket Vault Express (PVX) Portable PCIe Gen 3 40Gbps...
  • sequential speeds of 1.6GB/s (1600MB/s) read and 1GB/s (1000MB/s) write
  • Full storage capacity / Sleek and pocketable design
  • Shock and crush-resistant aluminum exterior

7. LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C Portable Hard Drive

From a long line of Rugged drives, here we have another one, the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C Portable Hard Drive.

While it doesn’t fit exactly in your palm, it’s quite manageable, easy to pick, easy to use, and even easier to admire the goal they had when chose orange for their casing. I don’t know why, but it kind of reminds of sponge. The most important fact though is does it absorbs your data just as quickly as a sponge.

My previous comments about the case don’t provide the entire context of its design.

While the color is an interesting choice, the enclosure is made in a way that it can withstand all kinds of accidents and misfortunes that may come down on the owner.

It’s drop resistant, water-resistant apparently crush-proof, which is perfect if you work in an oil refinery at sea. It’s just the most magical place that you can choose to take a LaCie Rugged with you.

Outside appearances are great and all, but about what’s one the inside? How does that work? Does it even work?

While it has both a USB and Thunderbolt interface, it doesn’t take advantage of that and feels a bit underwhelming.

Unlike our previous speed demons, this drive can transfer your data with speeds around 130MB/s. Not that bad, but not that good either.

A nifty trick that the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt has over the competition is that fact both ports have their own cables included with the product, and the Thunderbolt one is integrated directly in the case. So for anyone that has problems remembering where they put their cables, at least it’s got you covered on that end. That, unfortunately, means that in case it has a problem, it’s not as easy to replace it.

As for how much you can carry with it, the LaCie Rugged has 3 versions, two of which are somewhat bigger and heavier than the first one – physically and in terms of memory. The 3 storage capacities are 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB. The prices for all of these models are quite appealing, especially one that offers so much space.

8. Patriot EVLVR Thunderbolt 3 External SSD

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The Patriot EVLVR is another in a long line of very promising portable SSD’s.

Now, if it delivers or not, well that’s what we are going to find out. To get a bit technical, but the interface is built on for peak PCIe Gen 3 performance, so it actually might be up to the standards we are hoping for.

First off, just like the rest of the bunch, Patriot decided to split EVLVR into three main groups, based on storage – 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, with quite a bit of price difference between them. If I had to choose though, I would probably get with the 1 TB, just because it might a bit useful than the rest.

Now, in terms of speeds that data transfer, it’s all done through the Thunderbolt 3 cable and interface, of which unfortunately it has only one. Still, that’s not uncommon in portable SSD and it was to be expected. This also means that it is bus-powered, so take into consideration as well. As for the speeds, since the Patriot EVLVR uses both Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe technology, it can reach transfer speeds up to 1.6 GB for reading and 1 GB for write, which up until now seems like a standard for this kind of products.

So here is something new, it looks like the Patriot EVLVR decided to up the game and do an endurance test, which is kind of new. It seems like it was done only for the 512 GB version, but that is ok. As for the result, the EVLVR 512 can sustain up to 600 TB (terabytes) of write data, which means that over the years of usage it won’t break after it arrives at a certain write limit.

Design-wise, it’s a cool, sleek, and it has two rubber feet at the bottom so you won’t have to worry about it rolling around or anything.

Patriot EVLVR Intel Thunderbolt 3 External SSD 512GB, Compatible with...
  • 512GB external Thunderbolt 3 SSD with up to 1600MB/s read and 1000MB/s write data transfer...
  • Plug and Play interface: Thunderbolt 3 with Type-C connector - Disclaimer: must be used with a...
  • Thunderbolt 3 technology can reach speeds up to 40Gb/s – up to 8 times faster than USB 3.0.

9. LaCie Bolt 3 Thunderbolt 3

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Oh boy, someone had a blast when they came with that title. Seems like the people at LaCie have a different sense of humor, but I kind of like them for that, especially when they decided to name this pricey drive. Oh, just to be sure that the joke went so far that people could use it as a space transportation device, they decided it launch it at the same time as the newest MacBook in 2018. And it costs somewhere around the same price range. Isn’t that just fun.

Middle-class issues aside though, the Bolt 3 kind of deserves that price (kind of) as it’s probably one of the fastest drives on the market with astonishing write and read speeds up to 2.6 GB per second, so yikes, that is quite a lot. One of the claims made by the producer that you could transfer 1 TB of 4k movies in about 5 minutes, but I still haven’t found out if that’s true or not. So take that with a grain of salt if you can.

The LaCie Bolt 3 actually has two 1 TB SSD and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is cool but that means that it’s quite limited without the USB port as well. You can only plug it to one type of computer so that’s a bit of a bummer. On the flip side though, this means that it has quite the capabilities in data transfer speed, right?

It looks like it reaches up to 2.5 GB, but the manufacturer stated that it goes even higher than that, 2.8 to be more precise. I don’t know if the drive can actually get there, but that is impressive, I just don’t feel that it excuses the price for it.

Design, design, just like the rest it has an aluminum enclosure and a weird magnetic metal base that helps it stand vertically, like a glorified statue or something. And power-wise, outlets my friend, outlets will be your best friend as this beast requires a lot more power than you could get in a bus-powered one. So that also means that it isn’t the most portable SSD out there.

10. WD My Passport Pro – Portable RAID

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On our list, we went through several types of drives and most of them were either bulky with high storage, high speeds but weren’t portable or the vice-versa. Well, what if I tell you that there is a model on the market that has most of those qualities? I present to you the My Passport Pro-Portable RAID, a two-faced Thunderbolt drive. Excited yet?

This magic box comes in two versions, 2TB and 4TB, both at quite reasonable prices. I like where this is going, but for most products that sound too good to be true, there is always a catch, right? Well, it’s mostly a case of the manufacturer trying something new to see if it might catch one. With this one, I think they managed to hit it, somewhere near the border of the park.

The My Passport Pro- Portable Raid has only one method of connection, through a Thunderbolt 3 integrated cable, from which we can also realize that it’s bus-powered. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we escaped from the noise such a device can make. It also has an incorporated fan that produces some annoying sounds from time to time, but it’s not exactly something that outrages.

In terms of speeds, nothing too special or out of the ordinary. Both the 2TB and 4TB managed to achieve data transfer speeds of around 230 MB per second.

Oh, and unlike other drives, this is one doesn’t need to install or configure your computer for it, it’s a quick Plug and Play, so that is kinda neat of them.

Design-wise, it features aluminum enclosure but there is a difference in the bulkiness between the two versions. If I had to choose the more portable one, the 2 TB would win over the 4 TB, which reminds me a bit of a break, if I am honest. Both also have the added bonus of being shock resistant, with rubber bumpers that help cushion an impending impact.

WD 4TB My Passport Pro Portable External Hard Drive - Thunderbolt -...
  • Dual drive RAID storage; Up to 233 MB/s data transfer rates
  • Integrated Thunderbolt cable. No AC adapter required
  • Durable aluminum enclosure

Thunderbolt 3 External Hard Drives and SSDs FAQ

Can multiple computers be connected to a Thunderbolt 3 External drive at the same time?

No. You cannot access the same external drive from two computers by Thunderbolt 3 or USB. However, you can mount the drive to one machine and share it over a network. That allows you to access the drive from more than one computer at the same time.

Can you run games off an external SSD?

Yes, you can install and play most games from an external SSD. And thanks to Thunderbolt 3 higher bandwidth, it can match the read/writes of solid-state drives giving you faster loading times for your games.

But, you should know that heavy read/write operations on an external drive may cause overheating. Sometimes, you will be required to point to the location of games (drive letter), especially when using Steam.

Can I daisy chain a Thunderbolt 3 drive to a Thunderbolt 3 monitor?

Like most TB3 devices, you can daisy-chain an external Thunderbolt 3 drive to a Thunderbolt 3 monitor. That’s helpful when having only one or limited Tb3 ports on your computer.

However, your monitor must have at least two Tb3 ports. You can find Thunderbolt 3 monitors that support daisy-chaining in this roundup: Best Thunderbolt 3.

Why are Thunderbolt 3 drives priced so high?

Thunderbolt 3 is the most advanced tech, and it’s geared towards professionals ready to pay a premium to get that extra speed and performance. Also, keep in mind the cost of implementing the technology and the rigorous certification process, which adds to the product price.