Akitio’s Thunderbolt-based external storage provides speedy transfers, but its market is limited because of the lack of Thunderbolt’s reach.

akitio thunderbolt 2 1024x576 Akitio’s Thunder2 Quad review

For those in the professional media production business, there’s no choice but Thunderbolt. When working with raw video or audio, Thunderbolt is the only connectivity interface up to the task because of the bandwidth it provides.

But in the consumer world, Thunderbolt does not have the same love. Compared to USB 3.0, Thunderbolt is expensive and is not as widely available. Aside from the consumer Macintosh world, where it’s something of a standard as Apple has included it for a few years now, Thunderbolt is locked into the high-end of the PC consumer market.

Thunderbolt supporting devices have began to trickle out onto the market as Thunderbolt has been available on the PC for just over two years now, and the connectivity interface’s specification is in its second iteration.

Which leads us to the Akitio Thunder2 Quad. Using the Thunderbolt 2 specification, as the name implies, the external storage device is able to achieve a read speed of 1370 MB/s and a write speed of 1300 MB/s.

The device can support up to four 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives and is compatible with drives that use the SATA III interface for a maximum of 24 TB of storage.

Taking a hands-on look at Akitio’s Thunder2 Quad

One of Thunderbolt’s features that’s the most interesting and promising for future innovation is the ability to daisy chain devices, which is something that’s included in Akitio’s Thunder2 Quad drive. Users are able to daisy chain up to six devices together, so a user could hypothetically make a 100 TB data farm just by daisy chaining together these drives.

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The drive supports RAID 0 or 1 via the included management apps for Windows and Mac.

For testing, we used four SSDs in addition to four Seagate Enterprise Capacity HDDs with 6 TB of storage that we tested in RAID 0 mode.

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Below you can see the read/write speeds for both drives.  With the SSDs the drive was able to hit write speeds of 1211.8 MB/s and read speeds of 1310.9 MB/s. When HDDs were used the read/write speeds were understandably slower coming in at 775.8 MB/s for write and read at 821.2 MB/s.

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Conclusion

Akitio has built a solid device, albeit for a niche market. The drive offers speedy transfers thanks to Thunderbolt, and the daisy chain feature opens up a world of possibilities. But this drive simply won’t be as mainstream as those that use USB 3.0 because of the relative rarity of Thunderbolt in the PC space.

While the device’s design in aesthetically pleasing, the steps required to install a drive were rather unwieldy and difficult.  Compared to other similar devices reviewed, such as Synology’s NAS boxes, it was just plain difficult to install the drives. This is something Akitio should look at improving for a future version of the device.

But aside from this the Akitio Thunder2 Quad is a solid external storage device that earns eight points out of 10.

Benchmarking was completed by the Chinese VR-Zone team.

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