Cheap ThunderBolt Drive For Mac – With USB 3.0 Port – The cheapest ThunderBolt hard drive to date – the Buffalo miniStation portable laptop drive is one of the first to offer both ThunderBolt AND SuperSpeed USB interfaces at a very low price. In addition to the SuperSpeed USB 3 cable, it also includes a ThunderBolt cable in the box – which is otherwise a separate $50 expense with most other ThunderBolt backup drives.

This ThunderBolt portable hard drive is available in both 500GB and 1TB sizes starting around $200 making it the most affordable high-speed backup drive for Mac. However, because of the mechanical laptop drive SATA mechanism inside, it’s true data transfer speed potential is terribly bottle-necked. After a drive take-apart, I’ll be upgrading the spinning platter mechanism to a solid-state flash memory based SanDisk Extreme SSD to truly leverage the available bandwidth of ThunderBolt or USB 3.0 interfaces.

The miniStation is pre-formatted for Mac OSX and Apple TimeMachine use, ready to go out of the box. Note that USB 3.0 drives are backward compatible with USB 2.0 as well – at slower speeds. It can also be reformatted for Windows NTFS if need be. Lastly, Buffalo’s backup drive has a 3-year warranty.


  1. Can anyone tell me how well a thunderbolt hard drive will perform FOR GAMES compared to a regular external hard drive? I'm using a Retina Macbook but want a nice speedy external hard drive for games and main files on the Macbook SSD.

  2. This is a nice idea but it simply doesn't work.
    The devil is in the details.
    It's basically a USB 3.0 enclosure with a thunderbolt adapter built into it.
    So, you won't get the speeds or the ability to daisy chain it to other devices. (waste of money)

    H PP t (double slash) the-gadgeteer (dot) com/2012/08/27/buffalo-ministation-thunderbolt-disk-review/

  3. You're VERY good at this, please get somebody who's good with video, sound and lighting to help you – or at least advise! I love the informed, practical & intelligent information you offer, when so many other vanity driven types try to pass reading specs off the package as an informed opinion: please keep doing this – just get somebody to help out with the AV aspect.

  4. This drive is not 100 megabytes per second, its 100 megabits per second, which translates to 12,5 megabytes per second. One BYTE is equal to 8 BITS. I dont like the fact that all the advertising for hard drives directs your attention to its transfer speed in bits instead of bytes, because it is intentionally misleading. The thing you need to remember is that bits are represented by a lowercase 'b' and bytes are an uppercase 'B'. So there is a big difference between 100 Mb/s and 100MB/s

  5. I was surprised that it's Made in Japan! My iMac doesn't have a Thunderbolt connection I can't find the "symbol" but I have firewire. I was told by Apple I could use a firewire to USB 3.0 cable to transfer. Any idea or information about this? I'm using 2.0 and it's very slow…..thanks for a great posting!

  6. I'm going to be putting a $100 SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD into the miniStation case. Other good options might be a Vertex 3/4, a Crucial M4 or Intel 330. Even the top performing SSD's are now under $1 a Gigabtye!

    FYI: I found out Buffalo is using a pretty lame and slow 5400RPM mechanism in the drive. Seriously a 7200RPM 2.5" mechanism would have been a better choice for smoother Read/Writes.

  7. Yes, please post a following review on performance! Speed and how the housing handles the new SSD. I was thinking about going with the OCZ vertex drive. I did read an article about this switch and the person had some issues once he changed the drive.
    Can't stress enough about the follow up video, you will save me time and money and for that I thank you!

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