I need to buy a new HDD (>2To so no SSD solution, unless you know a very attractive offer) and I was wondering about performance knowing this :

  • MBP 2011 (2 usb 2.0 - 1 Thunderbolt);
  • 7k2 HDD.

What would be the fastest solution : USB 3.0 on an USB 2.0 port or Thunderbolt (HDD speed is around 100MB/s) ?


A USB3 connected to a USB2 port will work as fast as a normal USB2.
With USB2 you'll get ~40Mo/s, with Thunderbolt you'll top the write speed of your HardDrive. So if you want speed, go Thunderbolt !


My Late 2011 MacBook Pro has Firewire as well, which if you are price conscious may be the way to go, as you can find a Firewire 800 disk enclosure for far cheaper than Thunderbolt. Firewire 800 also performs better than USB 2. In my experience an external Firewire drive has better performance than my internal hard disk.

Finally, if you are using a single external hard disk, then you won't see much benefit of using Thunderbolt over Firewire.

  • Firewire drive has better performance than my internal hard disk no way :) but thanks you for the feedback, I think I'll consider Firewire Jan 2 '14 at 15:36
  • Yep a Firewire 800 enclosure could also be a cheaper solution and will most likely top your HD speed. Jan 2 '14 at 17:08

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