Product Review: WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo

July 24, 2012

By Dan Havlik

The My Book Thunderbolt Duo offers a ton of storage but doesn’t take up much space on your desk.

I’ve been writing about a lot of high-resolution cameras lately, such as the 36.3-megapixel Nikon D800 reviewed in the July issue. And every time I write about these pixel-popping monsters, I note that the massive image files and huge HD videos they capture are going to force photographers to seriously reevaluate their storage options. Now, finally, I’d like to recommend a fast and relatively inexpensive storage solution for all of you Nikon D800, Pentax 645D, and assorted Leaf, Phase One, and Hasselblad users out there.

It’s called the My Book Thunderbolt Duo from WD (aka Western Digital) and this RAID system is what many photographers in recent Mac-based work environments have been waiting for. (I say recent Mac computers because, at the time of this writing, that’s all that use the speedy Thunderbolt connectivity.)

In transferring images to the Thunderbolt Duo in the system’s default RAID “0” setting, which has both drives working together as one for maximum capacity, my 10-gb video files flew over in about ten to 15 seconds. Though that’s not quite the Thunderbolt Duo’s advertised maximum 10 gb/s transfer rate, it’s pretty quick. Meanwhile, my imposing 50-mb RAW image files from the D800 zipped over in a split second. Cool.

The plastic build-quality of WD’s dual-drive storage system doesn’t feel as sturdy as, for instance, an all-metal Thunderbolt RAID from LaCie, but WD’s product is about $100 cheaper. Inside the silver plastic casing of the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo in the 6-tb model I tried out, are two 3-tb WD disk drives. Though that’s a significant amount of storage, the Thunderbolt Duo, at 6.5 (h) x 3.9 (w) x 6.2 (d) inches, took up very little space on my desk, sitting right behind my iMac, practically unnoticed.

One confounding thing about this system is that WD does not give any RPM speeds for the two drives, though, according to online estimates, they are rated about 5900 RPM. That’s a tad slow, especially if you’re doing heavy video editing, which really requires 7200 RPM drives to prevent getting bogged down. In the Thunderbolt Duo’s default RAID “0” setting, I didn’t notice much of a problem but in the safer RAID “1” configuration, where one disk stores the files and the second one acts as mirrored back-up, things slowed noticeably.

The benefit of the Thunderbolt Duo’s slower drives is that they’re whisper-quiet, use less energy and don’t heat up as much as 7200 RPM models, which is part of the reason metal exteriors are not necessary.

Along with providing a significant amount of space to archive your work on its own, Thunderbolt Duo has two Thunderbolt ports so you can daisy chain multiple storage devices, HD displays and other peripherals.


So you just bought a 36.3-megapixel Nikon D800 and have no idea where you’re going to put all those huge RAW image and HD video files. Here’s an idea: Get the WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo and quickly and painlessly back up and store your work.

Pros: A very speedy storage solution for backing up big image and video files

Cons: Drive speed a tad slow for heavy video editing