Silicon Power Thunder T11 review: Fast speed stunted by extreme heat

Silicon Power Thunder T11

(Part #: SP120GBTSDT11013)
See all prices
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Silicon Power Thunder T11 is tiny, very light and very fast when first plugged in. The drive is bus-powered and comes included with a short Thunderbolt cable.

The Bad The drive runs extremely hot, and its performance drops as its temperature rises. There's no support for USB 3.0, and its capacity caps at only 120GB.

The Bottom Line Excessive heat and degraded performance make the Silicon Power Thunder T11 appropriate only for casual Mac users.

6.7 Overall
  • Setup and ease of use 9.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 7.0

Tiny, lightweight, bus-powered, and fast, the Silicon Power Thunder T11 appears at first glance to be the ideal portable storage device for Thunderbolt Mac users.

Plug it in, though, and it tells a different tale. In my testing, the drive runs very hot after only 10 to 15 minutes of use, and as its temperature rises, its performance drops dramatically. On top of that, the drive supports only Thunderbolt, and storage is capped at just 120GB.

That makes the new Thunder T11 suitable only for casual users who need to quickly copy data to share between computers, not as a backup drive. Make sure you consider that before spending $230 to buy one. For cooler choices in the portable drive sector, check out this list.

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The Thunder T11 is also known in its user manual as the SSD Palm Drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

Palm size, bus-powered design

The Thunder T11 is easily the most compact Thunderbolt portable drive I've seen. The drive fits easily in my palm and weighs mere 2.2 ounces.

On one side, it comes with a Thunderbolt port and a small LED light that flashes blue when it's saving or reading data. The drive includes a short Thunderbolt cable, which is great since you don't want to use it with a standard Thunderbolt cable that's more than 6 feet long. Considering the size of the drive, however, I wish it came with a built-in Thunderbolt connector instead, similar to the case of USB thumb drives.

Specifications

Drive type Bus-powered Thunderbolt portable drive
Connector options Thunderbolt
Available capacities 120GB
Product dimensions 2.9 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight 2.2 ounces
OSes supported Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later
Warranty Three-year

Out of the box, the drive is preformatted in HFS+ and works right away with a Mac. It doesn't require a separate power adapter as the Thunderbolt cable takes care of both data and power at the same time. Since it has only one Thunderbolt port -- not unusual for a portable drive -- in a daisy-chain setup, you can only use it at the end of the chain. (You can usually connect as many as seven Thunderbolt devices together.) The drive is also compatible with Thunderbolt 2 port with no change in performance.

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