Thunderbolt 1 cable to SATA?

My late-2012 iMac was getting slow so I hooked up a SSD via USB 3.0. It works pretty good and speeds things up, but I think I could get faster speeds using a Thunderbolt 1 (yes, 1, since my Mac is pretty old) to SATA. Do these kinds of cables exist? I have done a lot of searching but can’t seem to find one.

Not a Mac user, and never used Thunderbolt, so may be talking out my butt… but my understanding is Thunderbolt is normally an external port and not an internal connection. Accordingly, you don’t need a cable, you need a device. Probably and external case. My Google-fu turned up this site:

Thanks. To be clearer… there is a port on the back of my iMac that is Thunderbolt 1. I have an SSD drive that has a SATA connection. I do have that in an enclosure not but connected to USB 3.0.

If there is such an enclosure that supports Thunderbolt 1, great! From the link above, I found this…

Is FireWire 800 the same as Thunderbolt 1?

No. FireWire is an older technology, mostly out of use these days. IEEE 1394 - Wikipedia

Ah, yes, I remember using a Firewire 800 external drive and needed a cable to convert it. I guess if I used this…

I should be in good shape to use that enclosure?

Possibly, yes, but your original complaint was speed… I don’t think converting to something older is going to get you more speed.

Oh, right. Firewire 800 is slower than USB 3.0. Dang!

What I don’t know, because of my lack of experience with Thunderbolt, is if it is like USB and backward compatible. I see that 3 uses a USB-C style connector, whereas 2 and 1 use a Mini-DisplayPort style connector, so obviously the connectors are not backward compatible. But I wonder if you could buy an enclosure for Thunderbolt 2 that would help you go forward in the future while still working with your current hardware.

I was just quickly checking

I saw this and wondered if it would be useful, for example:

From the Wikipedia article “At the physical level, the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 are identical, and Thunderbolt 1 cabling is thus compatible with Thunderbolt 2 interfaces. At the logical level, Thunderbolt 2 enables channel aggregation, whereby the two previously separate 10 Gbit/s channels can be combined into a single logical 20 Gbit/s channel.” So to me, that reads as if you could connect a Thunderbolt 2 device to your Thunderbolt 1 port… but I will note again I have no actual experience, unfortunately.

Hmmm. Okay. I guess I could give it a try and if it doesn’t work, I could send it back.

I found this on Macworld…

Thunderbolt 2 uses the same connectors as the original Thunderbolt, so Thunderbolt 2 devices will be backwards compatible with Thunderbolt peripherals and vice versa. But a Thunderbolt device connected to a Thunderbolt 2 port will perform at the Thunderbolt speed of 10 Gbps.

please post some benchmark outcomes.

i dont think you see any real benefits, because the disk is 600MB/s anyways.

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Good point. I withdrew that post since that device is sold out.

[I was previously temporarily blocked from posting additional posts because I am too “new” so I replied to @tokyotony in private.]

As I said in private, you’re unfortunately running into availability issues because Thunderbolt 1 and 2 are probably falling out of favour for Thunderbolt 3 with the “simplified” USB-3 connector. And, unfortunately, USB in general is much more popular than Thunderbolt because of Thunderbolt really only taking hold with Apple in the beginning. The plan with USB-4 is to be compatible with Thunderbolt 3 I believe, so that could make an improvement with more people supporting Thunderbolt 3 in the future, but that will only make Thunderbolt 1 and 2 that much more niche, unfortunately.

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For a MacBook Pro I’ve had to research this same thing and here are some conclusions:

  1. Only 100+$ drives work almost to the full 6Gbps speed of SATA III and so USB3 speeds of 5Gbps are enough.

  2. Therefore to take advantage of Thunderbolt’s 10Gbps bandwidth you’d need a dock with 2 slots and put them into a RAID0.

  3. But if you have two that good disks it could again make more sense to just swap them to the internal ones because then you’d have SATA III x 2 = 12 Gbps of bandwidth.

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Very helpful. Thanks. The challenge with swapping internally is that I have an iMac and it is VERY tricky, from what I have seen and read, to swap the drive.

I didn’t think about USB 3.0 having speeds of 5Gbps. I think I was confusing it with the 640 MBps that I continued to read about. So, being that we are getting almost the max that an external SATA would get, I am guessing buying a Thunderbold 1 cable or enclosure over $100 is not really worth it.