I understand the desire to have super fast transfer speeds, especially with external drives. Let me lay out some details for you.
- USB 3.0 (5 Gbps or 625 MB/s)
- Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gbps or 2.5GB/s)
So, clearly Thunderbolt 2 is faster; 4x faster.
However, there’s two problems:
- I can’t find any hard drive enclosures that use Thunderbolt 2 as their interface. This is most likely because of the recent arrival of Thunderbolt 3.0/USB-C
- Using an adapter would serve no real purpose to you. There’s only two possibilities with USB and Thunderbolt
- SSD Enclosure —Thunderbolt2 Cable (20 Gbps)—>Thunderbolt 2 to USB 3.0 Adapter (5 Gbps) —> USB 3.0 Port (5 Gbps)
- SSD Enclosure —USB 3.0 Cable (5 Gbps)—>USB 3.0 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter (5 Gbps) —> Thunderbolt 2 Port (Decreased to 5 Gbps)
- As we say in the computer world, your transfer speed is only as fast as your slowest link. In both cases, there’s a point where your max speed is degraded/maxed at 5 Gbps, which is still a fast speed.
So, I would suggest sticking with a USB 3.0 drive enclosure, especially because your Mac has USB 3.0 ports.
BUT, if you’re really obsessed with maxing out the transfer speeds, what you might be able to do, is:
- Get a SSD drive enclosure with a Thunderbolt 3 interface, like this one
- Get a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
- Connect the adapter to your Mac and boom, you’re in business with a 20 Gbps speed.
The drawbacks, is that this is pretty expensive, and you’d have to buy M.2 SSDs, which are not cheap either. Only SOME of those USB-C enclosures are equipped with Thunderbolt 3 speeds. So really, all the other ones would be equivalent to getting a USB 3.0 enclosure. I know this is probably confusing, I actually had to look it up too. Here’s something to explain it better:
“Because USB-C is confusing as !&&*. Think of USB-C as the physical port, and Thunderbolt 3 as the protocol.
USB-C can host USB2/3/3.1, Thunderbolt 3, Audio, Display port, HDMI, and Ethernet. Plus a couple more I'm probably forgetting. It can also provide power up to 100W.
''But, and this is a big one, that all depends on what the device manufacturer has enabled. Also can depend on the cable connecting the devices together. Phones typically will have USB 2/3, charging, and maybe HDMI and/or audio. Computers can have any and all of them.”''
If this helps you, please let me know! I do my best to help as many people as possible!