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Ultimate Thunderbolt Storage and PCIe Solutions Overview

It’s December and as Apple promised, the new Mac Pro is to go on sale soon. This new desktop computer from Apple sports a sleek minimalistic design with lots of Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports on the back.

These ports are a very important element on this new Mac as there’s hardly any expansion options inside the Mac itself. For instance, you can’t put in extra hard drives as there are no hard drive bays inside the new Mac Pro. Instead, Apple chose to go for the blazingly fast PCIe Flash based storage. So as it seems, the only upgradable elements will be RAM and maybe we will be able to swap out the PCIe Flash based storage for a bigger one. But that’s a big maybe. Third party manufacturers would have to produce a custom PCIe card for it to fit in the single unusual small PCIe slot that the Mac Pro has. This also introduces another problem if you rely on PCIe cards like those from UAD or when you have a Pro Tools HDX system. The Mac Pro has no half or full size PCIe slots.

So you won’t be able to put your TeraBytes of storage nor your PCIe cards into the new Mac Pro. For storage you will either have to buy external USB 3 cases or go for the faster, albeit more expensive, Thunderbolt options. The problem is that there weren’t that many available when the Mac Pro was announced, but as the release of the Mac Pro approaches more manufacturers reveal Thunderbolt storage options.

Here’s an extensive overview of the external Thunderbolt options currently available:

Lacie Little Big Disk – dual 2,5″ drive storage solution
Lacie Little Big Disk 2 – dual 2,5″ drive Thunderbolt 2 storage solution
Lacie 2big – storage solution with 2 drives in one case
Lacie 5big – storage solution with 5 drives in one case
Lacie Rugged – bus powered portable hard drive
Black Magic MultiDock – 19 inch rackmount box with 4 swappable SSD bays
Netstor Turbo Box – storage and PCIe solutions in one box
Netstor PCIe – PCIe expansion chassis without storage
Netstor 8 bay Desktop – 8 bay high desktop storage solution
Netstor 16 Bay – 3U 19 inch 16 bay storage incl. PCIe expansion
Netstor 24 Bay – 4U high 24 bay storage incl. PCIe expansion
Elgato Thunderbolt SSD – external case with one 240 GB SSD drive
Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ – external case with one 512 GB SSD Drive
G-Raid Thunderbolt – 2 drives RAID solution
Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt – swappable case with adapter for 1 drive
Promise Pegasus – multiple external RAID Thunderbolt II cases
Promise Pegasus J4 – 2.5″ HDD/SSD Thunderboltâ„¢ Enabled Storage
Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo – external case with 2 drives
Magma Roben 3 – external Storage and PCIe 19 inch rack case (now also available with TB 2)
Magma 1T, 3T & 3T with storage – cases for 1 or 3 PCIe cards incl. storage (now with TB2)
Sonnet Fusion – Desktop 8 drive storage solution
Echo Express SE II Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis – 2-slot Desktop TB2 PCIe Expansion
Echo Express III-D Desktop Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis – 3-slot Desktop TB2 PCIe expansion
Echo Express III-R Rackmount Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis – 3-slot Rackmount TB2 PCIe expansion
OWC Mercury Helios – single slot PCIe expansion chassis
OWC Mercury Elite Pro – 2 drive case with Lacie Thunderbolt eSata adapter
OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro – external Thunderbolt drive ( copy/paste link in new page )
Drobo mini – Thunderbolt case with swappable 2.5 inch SSD or hard disks
Drobo 5D – 5 bay RAID case with swappable 3.5 inch drives
Buffalo MiniStation – portable bus-powered thunderbolt drive
Areca Arc-8050 – 8 bay RAID Thunderbolt box
Rocketstor 5212 – external Thunderbolt box with 2.5″/3.5″ SATA slots

Okay, that’s it for now. As you can see third party developers have jumped the bandwagon and are producing plenty of external PCI and storage solutions for Thunderbolt. As more solutions become available, we will add them to the list. Do you know any solution that we forgot to mention? Let us know!