With portability being a big focus, Ultrabooks and almost the entire laptop market except for gaming laptops have traded features like DVD/BluRay drives, Ethernet ports, and expandable storage in the name of keeping laptops thin. This has even pushed some to focus on the newer Type-C connection and with it Thunderbolt for nearly everything including charging. For some this hasn’t been a big deal, but others have leaned on dongles and other adapters to add things back. Even I have been using portable SSDs for supplemental storage on my own laptop, especially now with a lot of laptops even soldering on the SSD. Well, TerraMaster has their TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus which is at its core an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for two hard drives, but once I started to dig in I noticed it is much more. Let's take a look.

Product Name: Terra Master TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus

Review Sample Provided by: TerraMaster

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Disk Slot Number

2

Compatible Disk Types

3.5" SATA HDD

2.5" SATA HDD

2.5" SATA SSD

File System

FAT 32, FAT 16, NTFS, and EXT4

Maximum Internal Raw Capacity

32TB (16 TB drive x 2) (Capacity will vary along with the RAID type)

RAIDs Supported

SINGLE DISK,JBOD,RAID 0,RAID 1 

Hardware RAID

Yes

External Ports

Thunderbolt

40Gb Thunderbolt 3 x 2

DP Interface

DP 1.4 x 1

Network Interface

1

USB HOST Interface

2

Power Socket

DC IN 12V

Reading/writing Speed (max.)

Reading Speed (max.)

Read: 810MB /sec , (Use SSD under RAID 0 mode)

Writing Speed (max.)

Write: 806MB /sec, (Use SSD under RAID 0 mode)

Appearance

Size (H*W*D)

227 x 119 x 173 mm

Packaging Size (H*W*D)

258*220*200 mm

Weight

Net Weight: 1.4Kg  Gross Weight: 2.2Kg

Others

System fan

80 mm x 80 mm x25mm (x 1)

Fan mode

Smart

Noise Level

18.6dB(A) 

Power Supply

Power Supply 

90W

AC Input Voltage

100V - 240V AC

Current Frequency

50/60 Hz, single frequency

Power Consumption

65.6W 

Environment Temperature

Working Temperature

5°C  ~ 40°C (40°F ~ 104°F)

Storage Temperature

-20°C ~ 60°C (-5°F ~ 140°F)

Relative Humidity

5% ~ 95% RH

Supported OS

Windows OSMac OS

Warranty

2 years

Certificate

CE, FCC, CCC, KC

Environment

RoHS compliance

Package Contents:

Host unit (x1)

Power cord (x1)

Thunderbolt 3 cable (40Gbps) * 1

Quick Installation Guide (x1)

Power adapter (x1)

Screws (several)

Limited Warranty Note x 1

 


Packaging

The TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus comes in a blue box with a nice carrying handle up top. The box itself doesn’t have any of the model information on it, it is a universal box and they use a large sticker on the side to fill in the model information. This includes the serial number as well as the full description. Sadly this means there isn’t a picture of what is inside on the box or any other information about what it does. This is fine for online ordering of course, but for retail, it could use more information. So the only other thing on the box is the Terra Master logo which it is hard to ignore that both the name and the logo are suspiciously like the Cooler Master branding. I’m not sure the story behind that one.

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Inside the enclosure has its carrying handle sticking up which can make it easy to pull out along with the foam padding used on both ends. There is also a box with a hole in the top with all of the documentation and accessories. The hole helps make it easier to pull it out as well.

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For documentation, you get information on the warranty as well as a startup guide that has a link listed to the starting help page on their website which is repeated on multiple pages in every language you can imagine. They also include a small sticker sheet which is for hard drive labeling. You can use these to give each drive a number, put its capacity, and label what you have stored on it.

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Also in the brown box are all of the cables, screws, and tools needed to get things going with the TD2. You get a big external power supply with the power supply in the middle of the cable. Then there is a Thunderbolt 3 cable which looks to be about a meter long or 3.2 feet. For screws, you get two full sets, one for SSDs and the other are for hard drives which the SSD screws are black and the hard drive screws are unfinished. They also include everything you need to use the TD2 for tools. This includes a full-sized Phillips screwdriver for mounting the drives, a tiny flathead screwdriver that is used to switch the raid settings, and a push pin tool used for the reset button.

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Photos and Features

Well at first glance the TD2 looks like a small two-drive bay NAS and Terra Master does make them. In fact between you and I, that’s what I thought it was at first. But the handle on top tells us otherwise. It’s an external drive encloser and a Thunderbolt 3 dock. The silver finish blends in with the center of the TD2 which is aluminum, as is the carrying handle up on top with plastic on the front and back. It has the Terra Master logo on the sides in black. Without drives inside it weighs just a hair over 3 pounds and its dimensions are 227 x 119 x 173 mm which is 8.9 inches long, 6.8 inches tall, and 4.6 inches wide.

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The front has two removable drive trays which are silver on the latch handles. Then on the left, there is a brushed aluminum panel which has the power button and a line of pinhole status LEDs. The top two are indicators for the two drive bays. Down on the bottom is a power indicator. Then the three that are labeled 20v, 15v, and 9v are all power indicators letting you know that the enclosure/hub is feeding power to your device and what voltage it is running at. The only voltage missing is 5V which is what you would see on phones.

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The other side of the TD2 also has the same Terra Master logo. This side also has a bright yellow sticker that talks about your setup. They talk about setting your raid using the tiny screwdriver and then using the pinhole tool to reset to have the raid take effect. This also comes with a warning that changing the raid also means losing data for anyone who doesn’t know.

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Now the back of the enclosure is where we finally get a better idea of what it is all about. There are two things going on back here basically. You have the rear I/O and a large fan enclosure that sticks out. The fan section feels like an afterthought, the whole enclosure could have been a little longer and it wouldn’t stick out like this but with the two hard drives, it is good to see that there is active cooling. For the rear I/O, this is all of the “dock” functionality. There are two Thunderbolt 3 connections, one has a picture of a laptop next to it to let you know which to plug your laptop into. Having two means you don’t lose any functionality or you can even daisy chain multiple TD2’s together. Just above that is a Mini DisplayPort connection. I really which this was just full-sized, not many people have DisplayPort cables in general but especially not the Mini-sized connection. Then down at the bottom is the DC plug for the included power supply. It is DC 12V input and the power supply is rated at 90 watts which is more than my laptop charger supports which is good, it can pass through all the power my laptop will need and still have the power to run the two hard drives and the dock functionality. There is a 1GbE network port which is huge when it comes to ultrabook style laptops that never have a wired connection. I know I keep a portable one in my laptop bag for that exact reason. Then up top for plugs, there are two USB 3.0 plugs. The RAID switch that I mentioned before is here as well, you can turn it four directions to set the RAID functionality of the hard drives. RAID 1 and RAID 0 give you the option between having striped data across the two drives for faster performance or redundant storage in case one of the drives die. Then for Single this just runs your drives independently, when you hook up you will see two drives. JBOD is similar, there aren’t any speed or redundancy benefits but it combines the drives when it comes to your computer, two drives will show up as one. Then the tiny pinhole reset button is just below the RAID knob.

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Up under the TD2, they do have ventilation covering the entire bottom for airflow. Then there are four feet that are an inch long to keep the enclosure from sliding around. There is also a sticker here with the model information and a model number. Terra Master’s contact information is here as well as some of the normally required certification logos. The serial number is also here on a second sticker.

image 13

The two drive trays are made of grey plastic and have a silver latch that you pull up on to free them up to pull them out of the TD2. The end of the tray has some small vent holes to help some air pull through and across the hard drives. Then for drive mounting, all of the mounting holes are on the bottom, no edge mounting here. There are holes for both 2.5 inch and 3.5-inch drives and SSDs and on the bottom, they have lines that show where the 2.5-inch drives should mount to make sure they line up with the SATA backplane.

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Speaking of the SATA backplane here is a look inside through the drive tray slows. You can see the PCB at the end with the SATA data and power connections as well as the fan at the back. They even cut a hole in the PCB to help with the airflow there as well.

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So I pulled the TD2 apart to see what was going on inside. To do this you have to remove the four screws at the back of the enclosure that are above and below the rear fan. From there you can pull the back cover off and unplug the fan and then the entire inside frame will side out of the front.

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The motherboard has a foam section on its back to keep from grounding out and it is held in place with four screws. On the top, we can see the single PCIe x4 slot which is used to hook into the SATA backplane. Then there is a ribbon cable for the front status LEDs and power button. Power circuitry takes up the bottom section of the board. The rear I/O is mostly soldered in but the two Thunderbolt connections hook up using an M.2 type connection and an add-on board which has a metal shield over it.

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Here is a look at the two drive trays with our test SSDs in them. You can see that the 2.5-inch mounting holes only line up with three holes which is the same as what I’ve seen in other NAS.

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Performance

For performance testing, I could hook the TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus up to our testbench but that doesn’t fit what it is used for. So I pulled out my Razer Blade Stealth which is 3 years old now for testing. This is exactly the situation you would want something like the TD2, Thunderbolt passthrough for charging, dock functionality with DisplayPort and two USB 3.0 ports for a mouse and keyboard, and an ethernet jack to get everything hard-wired.

I then set out to test out how well it all works by installing two Crucial MX100 SSDs for the drives to get the highest possible speeds through the SATA interface to push the limits. For this I used CrystalDiskMark and I tested the TD2 with the two SSDs in all four of its drive modes. I knew that a few like Single and JBOD would perform similarly. But I wanted to be able to compare them all. Both had around 536 MB/s on the read speed and 463 for the writes. Then we have RAID 1 which clones the drive, it was similar on the read speed but was a little slower with 446 MB/s on the write speed which is due to it being written across both drives. Not a bad sacrifice for the protection it provides. Then the last test was with RAID0 wasn’t any faster on the 32 queue depth sequential test but was faster on the 32 queue depth write and the standard one queue depth sequential test which is saw 769 MB/s on the read. The slowdown here could be a limitation of the TD2, it's possible they didn’t plan for SSDs in raid. But it is still a big jump over the other tests!

test single

Single

test jbod

JBOD

test raid0

RAID0

test raid1

RAID1

Just to confirm things, I did also hook up the Sabrent XTRM Q which is a portable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD, and test it. The read speeds weren’t an issue at all here, in fact, it performed close to what it did in my original review. The write performance was completely scuffed and I experienced this with this laptop when I tested it previously, it isn’t related to the Terra Master TD2. Just to confirm though and to see what the performance loss was when running the fast drive passing through the TD2 I tested again with it hooked up to my laptop. You can see there was a performance increase, but relatively small compared to the speeds.

test tb3throughlaptop

Sabrent XTRM Q – Hooked up to TD2

test tb3throughlaptop

Sabrent XTRM Q – Hooked up to Laptop

Besides drive performance testing I did take a look at a few other things. I was especially curious about the wired 1GbE network jack so I did our normal network testing which uses Passmark Performance Test to test from the TD2/Laptop to my PC across the network. The NIC tested at 841.8 Mbps which is a little slower than an onboard NIC for a motherboard but significantly faster than you can expect over wireless. I was curious though if accessing files over the hard drives would slow things down so I tested that as well by running CrystalDiskMark at the same time as the test. It did slow things down, but only by 67 Mbps which is hardly anything.

Network test

Full Speed

With Crystal Disk Mark running

Terra Master TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus

841.8 Mbps

774.6 Mbps

 

I also confirmed that the passthrough charging works well. I think it charges faster than the power supply included with my Razer Blade Stealth which is possible with the TD2 having a 90 watt PSU and the Blade Stealth having a 65 watt PSU. I hooked it up to my Type-C meter as well during a bootup (with a full battery sadly) and did see 19.5v which matches up with the 20v needed and 2.4 amps which calculates out to 47 watts at the time.

test power

The fan at the back of the TD2 does put out a consistent noise which I tested to be 33.3 decibels. This was a lot quieter than the fan on my laptop, but if you are noise aware like I am it is something to keep in mind as well. That said it is a standard 80mm x 25mm thick fan and has a normal fan header so replacement with a quieter model is always possible in the future as well and with just four screws to gain access it isn’t hard to do.


Overall and Final Verdict

When looking around, there aren’t that many devices that set out to have the same functionality as the Terra Master TD2 Thunderbolt 3 Plus. The TD2 is at its core a Thunderbolt 3 dock which gets you a DisplayPort connection, two USB 3.0 plugs, and a wired 1GbE ethernet jack. There are a lot of options that provide that. But the TD2 also gives you a pass-through Thunderbolt 3 jack which can let you daisy chain or plug in another Thunderbolt device if you have one and that jack performed well in my testing with just a small amount of performance drop (2.7%). But along with all of that they have also paired it with a dual bay hard drive enclosure that can be run in RAID 1 or 0 if you like as well as JBOD and as single drives.

It’s the RAID 1 functionality that catches my eye because I know most people don’t think about data redundancy or protection so the idea of not having to even think about it here with your dock is perfect. You can backup to your dock when you get home and have two copies of your data there as well as the one on your laptop. The dock also passes through its charging to your laptop as well, which is important if you have an older laptop like I do which uses its one Thunderbolt port for charging and for data. The TD2 is designed with a handle on top which does mean you can take it with you when needed, but it isn’t really what I would consider to be portable as well given its size.

It isn’t perfect, I did run into some performance issues when running RAID0 in the 32 queue depth testing, though it was faster than a single drive in the other tests. That could have been an issue with me testing using SSDs to push the limits of the enclosure, it is possible that with two hard drives this wouldn’t be an issue. The fan isn’t as quiet as I would like it as well, not to mention that the design looks like they just added the fan as an afterthought. I also think that using a full-sized DisplayPort would be better, the Mini DisplayPort connection isn’t something that comes standard with monitors when they include cables, and because it is rarely used you may have to order it online. I also wouldn’t be against a few more USB ports, but I don’t have that down as a con because two is still enough. Especially when you most likely still have a few on your laptop as well.

Overall it is a solid device and certainly serves a very specific purpose. When looking around I did find a comparable device from OWC, the Mercury Elite Pro Dock. That dock will run you $279 which makes the 249.99 MSRP of the TD2 Thunderbolt3 Plus not too bad. You will still need to invest in hard drives, but it will save you a little over the competition.

fv5recommended

Live Pricing: HERE

 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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