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How Thunderbolt 3 Storage Performance Can Vary Across Windows PC’s

Product Review
Reviewed Products

Reviewed Products

LaCie 12big

by Seagate
by Seagate

Buy Now on Amazon

2016 Newest HP Spectre 13.3

by Hewlett-Packard
by Hewlett-Packard

Buy Now on Amazon

Intel NUC6i7KYK NUC Kit

by Intel Technologies
by Intel Technologies

Buy Now on Amazon

MSI VR Ready GS43VR Phantom Pro-006

by Micro-Star International
by Micro-Star International

Buy Now on Amazon

Historically, Thunderbolt has established itself as the fastest interface easily accessible to consumers and historically been associated with Apple Mac's.  With Thunderbolt 3, this technology can now be found on a wide range of different Windows PC's.  Unlike Mac's, there is a lot more variation in Thunderbolt 3 performance due to PC system design decisions made for each model.

To make illustrate some of the differences, we use the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3, the fastest high capacity (120 TB) Thunderbolt drive available from Seagate through their LaCie brand.  We also used Iometer as the benchmarking tool with the twelve 10 TB drives in the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 setup in RAID 5 mode.

First we tried the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 with the MSI 14-inch GS43VR Phantom Pro Notebook with a 2.6Ghz i7-6700HQ | GTX 1060 | 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM | 128GB SATA Gen 3 SSD + 1TB HDD configuration.  Note the MSI 14-inch GS43VR Phantom Pro Notebook uses four PCI Express Gen 3 lanes to support its Thunderbolt 3 port.

First we see below that the read performance is 2358 MB/s.

Next we check the write performance to be 1127 MB/s as seen below.

Overall we see that the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 achieves a high level of performance with the MSI 14-inch GS43VR Phantom Pro Notebook achieving similar results that we could see on the Apple 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Late 2016) in this review (note a different benchmarking tool on the Mac).

Next we try the Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) NUC Mini PC with a 2.6Ghz | i7-6770HQ | Iris Pro Graphics 580 | 32GB 2133MHz DDR4 RAM | 256GB PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSD configuration.  Note the Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) NUC Mini PC uses four PCI Express Gen 3 lanes to support its Thunderbolt 3 port.

First we see below that the read performance is 2046 MB/s.

Next we see the write performance to be 1131 MB/s as seen below.

Overall we see slightly higher performance on the MSI 14-inch GS43VR Phantom Pro Notebook over the Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) NUC Mini PC perhaps due to the faster DDR RAM used.

We also tried another Thunderbolt 3 PC, the HP Spectre Laptop (13.3") with weaker specs compared to the MSI 14-inch GS43VR Phantom Pro Notebook and Intel NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon) NUC Mini PC.  The HP Spectre Laptop (13.3") supports four PCI Express Lanes for its Thunderbolt 3 ports and uses a 2.6Ghz i7-6500U | Intel HD Graphics 520 | 8GB 1866MHz DDR3 RAM | 256GB PCIe Gen 3 NVMe SSD configuration.

From below can see the read performance drops down to just 1533 MB/s.

The write performance also drops down to 785 MB/s.

As the HP Spectre Laptop (13.3") illustrates, it's important to choose a laptop with high enough internal specs to be able to make the full use of the fast read/write performance that the LaCie 12big can achieve over Thunderbolt 3.  It's also important to make sure the PC uses four PCI Express Gen 3 lanes to support its Thunderbolt 3 port.

Reviewed Products

Reviewed Products

LaCie 12big

by Seagate
by Seagate

Buy Now on Amazon

2016 Newest HP Spectre 13.3

by Hewlett-Packard
by Hewlett-Packard

Buy Now on Amazon

Intel NUC6i7KYK NUC Kit

by Intel Technologies
by Intel Technologies

Buy Now on Amazon

MSI VR Ready GS43VR Phantom Pro-006

by Micro-Star International
by Micro-Star International

Buy Now on Amazon

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