I have had a Thunderbolt enabled Macbook Air for almost a year now and it was killing me that no affordable Thunderbolt accessories existed yet. I did one last desperate search on the internet and low and behold I found something that is actually cheap and makes the Thunderbolt port super useful. I hadn’t run across it before because Seagate markets this item as only working with their “GoFlex” 2.5″ SATA spinning drives.
It is called the “GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter” and sells for $90 – $99. After a little research on the Macrumors forums I found that not only did it work with almost any spinning 2.5″ drive it also works with some SATA SSD drives. I immediately ordered the adapter along with a Mushkin Chronos 240gb SSD drive and sure enough it works flawlessly. The Thunderbolt port even powers the SSD so no external power is required. I suddenly went from the slow as molasses 30 MB/s USB 2.0 to a blazing 370 MB/s over Thunderbolt! $99 for a 12 x speed jump sounds like a good deal to me!
It then occurred to me, hmm, RED mags are SSD drives, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could somehow get these two to work together? The RED Station SSD reader has eSATA out so it seemed plausible. I just needed to go from the male SATA data port on the GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter to the male eSATA port on the RED Station. Fortunately Amazon carries just such a cable, so I payed an ungodly amount and had it overnighted.
I had to make a couple modifications to the cable up with a needle nose pliers in order to get the SATA end to fit, but otherwise everything looked good to go. I plugged the other end into the eSATA port on the red station then held my breath as I plugged the thunderbolt cable into my MacBook Air. Boom! The RED mag instantly mounted. I loaded up the Blackmagic Disk Speed test and got a blazing 200 MB/s read speed!
This is a huge deal. Up until now unless you had a SATA port on your computer you were limited to 30 Mb/s for USB and about 75 MB/s for FireWire 800 for RED mag offloads. Instead of an offload taking 2 hours over Firewire 800 it will now only take 45 minutes!
Ideally the first part in this chain would be a Thunderbolt raid with the Thunderbolt adapter and RED Station daisy chained at the end. I have definitely got some more testing to do!
2 x eSATA ports + 2 x Thunderbolt ports
Needs it’s own power, big, 2 x the price
The LaCie Thunderbolt eSATA Hub is currently the only other existing option for connecting eSATA through a Thunderbolt port. If you need to attach more than one eSATA drive and an extra Thunderbolt port this is probably a better option. It does always need it’s own power, though.