USB 3 vs Thunderbolt external hard drive speeds

MacWorld published a great article comparing USB 3 and Thunderbolt real-world speeds for an external hard drive and an external solid state drive.  It turns out that a SOLID STATE DRIVE connected via Thunderbolt runs faster, but with a normal external hard disk drive (spinning at 7200 RPM), USB 3 and Thunderbolt are nearly equal (with USB 3 running slightly faster).  If you are considering a drive with two Thunderbolt ports, then daisy-chaining devices is possible and fast with Thunderbolt and not possible with USB 3.

For most of us, we are getting an external drive to store extra data that won’t fit on our internal drive. And that external will be a single, one-off drive that gets plugged in directly to the computer.  In this usage senario, if you are considering moderately priced alternatives (i.e. hard disk drives and not solid state drives), then paying extra for Thunderbolt connectivity will not give you greater functionality; it’s probably better to consider a simple USB 3 drive.

Here are MacWorld’s conclusions (read the full article here):

[7200RMP Hard Disk Drive:]  Thunderbolt turned in scores nearly identical to the USB 3.0 results, showing that the 7200-rpm drive was acting as a bottleneck to faster transfer speeds.

[Solid State Drive:]  Thunderbolt was much faster on these SSD tests than it was with the hard drive, and it was faster than USB 3.0 in all six tasks, though to varying degrees.

What does it all mean?

While you won’t see a tenfold increase in the transfer speed from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 in real-world use, USB 3.0 is fast—about three times faster than USB 2.0 with a spinning hard drive, and three to five times faster with SSD. And using a hub doesn’t impact speeds, even with other (and slower) peripherals attached. USB 3.0 is also faster than FireWire 800, and it stacks up favorably against Thunderbolt. Also, depending on the task and the drives used, it can be just as fast Intel’s speedy connection. When you remove the drive-speed bottleneck (by using an SSD), however, Thunderbolt can trump USB 3.0 easily.

Stack Social software bundle charity donation

Stack Social is having a software bundle name your own price sale and giving proceeds to charity.  For $10, you can get the whole bunch, some really useful apps at an amazing price! Click here to take you to the bundle.  The versions of the applications you get are full versions with normal developer support.  Here’s the full list of apps:



MacX iPhone DVD Ripper

Path Finder 6

Flux 4


Tunes Cleaner


SyncMate Expert 5


Stack Social: genuine hardware & software on sale

Stack Social has some great deals on certified apple accessories and applications.  Other deal places (Deal Genius, Daily Steals, etc) often also have good deals but these places often sell Chinese knockoff accessories, so just beware.  Stack Social is a good place to start for deals on genuine certified hardware and software.  You can help support MacHelper by clicking on the links in this post when you sign up!

iPhone sale at Best Buy stores through Sun 11 May

— CORRECTION:  the sale goes until Sunday May 11, evidently —

Best Buy is running a promotion on iPhones in their stores, and it looks like, online as well.

These promos look to be only on iPhones activated on Verizon and Sprint networks, with 2 year contracts. They seem to be offering the iPhone 5s for a $100 discount as compared to regular prices, and the iPhone 5c at a $50 discount. Check physical Best Buy stores in case they are offering other options as well.

Do remember that Apple and certified retailers are putting these phones on sale ahead of the launch of the new and improved iPhone 6, which we expect will be released in late Summer 2014. This will be a larger phone with a larger display, thinner, and faster. If you can wait to upgrade, we would suggest you consider waiting!

Promos for iPhone 5s online:

  • iPhone 5s 16GB on Verizon or Sprint is advertised now for $99 (as opposed to full price at $199)
  • iPhone 5s 32GB on Verizon or Sprint is advertised now for $199 (as opposed to full price at $299)
  • iPhone 5s 64GB on Verizon or Sprint is advertised now for $299 (as opposed to full price at $399)



Promos for iPhone 5c:

  • iPhone 5s 16GB on Verizon or Sprint is advertised now for $49 (as opposed to full price at $99)
  • iPhone 5s 32GB on Verizon or Sprint is advertised now for $149 (as opposed to full price at $199)