Using the MacBook's USB 2.0 port and a top-of-the-line thumb drive from Imation, I transferred a 1.19GB file with 327 JPG images. It took 1 minute, 4 seconds. I then transferred the same file from the Macbook Pro to the Thunderbolt SSD. The transfer time was cut in half to 33 seconds.
I then copied the same 1.19GB file from the Elgato SSD to the Macbook Pro. That took a very impressive 16 seconds.
Next, I performed a Time Machine backup to the Thunderbolt drive, which entailed copying 11.1GB of data and more than 300,000 files. That process took 15 minutes, 35 seconds.
For comparison purposes, I then performed a Time Machine backup to a Toshiba 7200rpm SATA hard drive, an external version of the one that came inside my machine. I used a USB 2.0 to SATA 2.0 (3Gbps) cable; the USB protocol was the bottleneck in that configuration. The job took 48 minutes, more than three times longer than the job took with the Thunderbolt SSD.
Next, I performed a benchmark test on the SSD using QuickBench 4.0 software. The drive showed an impressive maximum sequential read rate of 250MB/sec and a maximum write rate of 246MB/sec -- about 20MB/sec slower than the specs said the drive would deliver.
Overall, I found that the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD has a lot going for it. For its size, it's the fastest external drive I've ever tested. Because it's solid-state, with no moving parts, it is also very durable. Unlike a spinning disk, this drive isn't going to lose data or become a brick if you drop it from a table top.
The high price will no doubt put off a lot of people, but if you're into having the very latest, greatest piece of hardware for your computer, then this is it. But patience is a virtue. You can look forward to seeing Windows-based systems with Thunderbolt on the market this year; Microsoft has also already demonstrated Windows 8 support for Thunderbolt.
As a result, the price of Thunderbolt drives and cables should come down significantly.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .