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Elgato Thunderbolt SSD 120GB review

Speedy and stylish solid-state

Elgato Thunderbolt SSD 120GB
The elegant, metallic enclosure is easy to transport, and no external power supply is needed


  • Affordable for Thunderbolt drive
  • Good performance


  • Expensive per gigabyte
  • Speed comes at a premium

The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD's appeal lies in its pairing of a solid-state drive with a speedy Thunderbolt connection.

Although its price tag is eye-watering in pence-per-gigabyte, it's at the more affordable end of Thunderbolt storage devices. Don't forget to add £39 for a Thunderbolt cable.

The drive has one Thunderbolt port, so it has to be the last thing connected in a chain. If your Mac has only one as well, your other devices will need to provide a second port from which to daisy-chain the drive.

Devices with two ports require an external power supply, as we saw with LaCie's Little Big Disk. This one draws power from the Mac.

Inside is a SanDisk Ultra SSD, a SATA-II drive, which offers maximum speeds far less than Thunderbolt's capability. Elgato says this is due to power and heat constraints required of Thunderbolt.

In a long file-copy operation, the drive became merely lukewarm to touch, and there are no fans - a hum could only be heard when holding the drive close to an ear.

Performance is close to expectations. For files from 1MB to 100MB large, we saw average speeds of 263.1MB/second when reading, and 255MB/second when writing - this is not far short of Elgato's quoted maximum of 270MB/second. Transfer rates trail off with smaller files, but perceptually that won't be noticeable.

It's when browsing a large photo library in Aperture or working with consumer-quality HD video footage that the drive shines through.