Information Technology Reference
Interface Options Improve
It took a while, but Apple has finally started equipping new Macs with
several different high-speed interfaces:
Thunderbolt strikes. New Mac models introduced in 2011
and later include one or more Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt
is blisteringly fast—it leaves USB 3.0 and eSATA in the dust—and
can be used to connect not only hard drives and RAID devices,
but also external displays and many other peripherals. Although
Thunderbolt-equipped hard drives and RAID assemblies still
aren't nearly as common as USB and FireWire models, more are
appearing all the time. Starting with the new Mac Pro announced
in June 2013, Apple will begin adopting Thunderbolt 2, which is
twice as fast as the original (and backward-compatible).
USB 3.0 finally comes to the Mac. Two years ago, no Macs
had USB 3.0 ports; now, nearly all new models do. This is great
news, because USB 3.0 is dramatically faster than USB 2.0 (even
though it's slower than Thunderbolt), and USB 3.0 drives are easier
to find and less expensive than Thunderbolt drives. In fact, as long
as you have a Mac that supports USB 3.0, it's now my
recommended interface for backup drives.
802.11ac arrives. The latest and fastest flavor of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac,
offers higher speeds and longer range than 802.11n. Apple began
supporting the new standard with the AirPort Extreme, AirPort
Time Capsule, and MacBook Air models introduced in June 2013;
the change is sure to spread quickly across all Mac product lines.
eSATA has taken off, but not so much for Macs. For several
years Macs have used the fast SATA standard internally for hard
drives and optical drives, but an increasing number of eSATA
(external SATA) devices are also available—and they work on
Macs if you can find an appropriate third-party adapter card.
Unfortunately, not all Mac models support such adapters, and for
unknown reasons, Apple has not released any Macs with built-in