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Old Dec 16, 2012, 09:23 PM   #1
Yougotcarved
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External SSD drive? (I will love you forever if you answer quick!)

Hey I'm about to pull the trigger on a 27" iMac with a 1tB fusion.

Now I really wanted an all internal SSD but I'm gonna have to settle cos the dollars are too intense. SO I'm going with the Fusion drive plus an external SSD.

What I wanna know is, is the LaCie 256Gb thunderbolt external drive (priced at 250=$400) a good price for what you get or is it a rip off? I ask because its conveniently on the iMac order page as an add on so I wanted to go with it but suddenly suspected it might be a rip off....any thoughts?

Last edited by Yougotcarved; Dec 16, 2012 at 09:55 PM. Reason: Stupid FX error
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 09:27 PM   #2
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Lacie drives are considered a premium over regular drives. I've had good experiences with them and they are pretty reliable. You might want to check out other offerings if you are bothered by the prices.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 09:27 PM   #3
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$155 (USD) is a very good price for a 256GB SSD. But wouldn't a more correct conversion be something like $400 (USD)? $400 is not a very good price for 256GB SSD.

Also, LaCie drives are really just LaCie enclosures, they use other brands of hard drives (e.g. WD, etc.), so any extra paid for the drive is really just going to the case (I have several LaCie products by the way, I'm not against them, I'm just pointing this out).

A more controversial point: I wouldn't rule out a USB 3 external drive as an option; it may not be quite as fast as Thunderbolt, but it is cheaper and in real world usage, not a bad option for a single drive.

Last edited by Kirkle; Dec 16, 2012 at 09:35 PM.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 09:58 PM   #4
Yougotcarved
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$155 (USD) is a very good price for a 256GB SSD. But wouldn't a more correct conversion be something like $400 (USD)? $400 is not a very good price for 256GB SSD.
HAHAHA wow I was an investment banker for a year and still I made such a horrendous mistake, thanks for correcting me (and in such a polite manner, especially for the internet!!!)

But your point about an enclosure vs drive...what difference does an enclosure make? Is it the whole SATA thingy? I must confess I dont understand that stuff..
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 10:25 PM   #5
inscrewtable
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Originally Posted by Yougotcarved View Post
....any thoughts?

How about the Seagate Go Flex thunderbolt adapter? Works as a standalone SSD dock. Has two thunderbolt ports unlike the d2. link

In fact there's one on UK ebay that you might be able to get cheaper than the 150 others are asking.

And SSD prices are tumbling fast. And it doubles as a large capacity HDD ThunderBolt dock too.

Or if you only want SSD Here's one that only takes SSD for 67 Link

You'll need to buy a TB cable for both of these, but you get to choose your own SSD.
.

Last edited by inscrewtable; Dec 16, 2012 at 11:02 PM.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 10:55 PM   #6
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I have the Seagate STAE128 which is just the portable TB adapter dock and the STAE129 Desktop TB Adapter. The portable will not daisy chain TB ports and is bus powered which means that any SSD that's above 256GB might have intermittent "black outs". The desk version actually has TB daisy chaining and will allow for the larger drives. While I awaited my new iMAC, I tested the desk version on a 2012 Mac Mini i7 / 1TB HD / 16GB RAM. I paired it with the new OCZ Vector 512GB SSD. I also daisy chained the TB to a Asus PA288Q display port monitor.

What I found was while the unit was definitely fast and the thunderbolt worked great both for pass-through and SSD I/O, it did not provide top performance. The OCZ Vector is rated as having a throughput (Black Magic HD Video Test) of 511.9MB/s READ and 503.6MB/s WRITE. I was getting around 361MB/s READ and 320MB/s WRITE. I wasn't sure why the performance drop but, I called Seagate and was given the standard answer that its not their drive paired with it so, they can't account for it. I called OCZ and they thought it might have something to do with the fact the SATA III spec revision that Seagate implemented on their controller might not be allowing full 6Gb/s throughput.

Yes - I did check the link and negotiated speeds and both showed 6Gb/s.

So, I am going to test out another scenario to see if I can improve my speeds without going with an internal SSD option. I am waiting for a Helios unit from OWC and will pair that with Apricorn SOLO-X2 Extreme Performance SSD PCIe card with the OCZ Vector on it, all over TB. I can let you know how that performs at the end of the week as I should have all the components in by Wednesday. The Helios enclosure has tested well in all blade based SSD performance tests (off the charts I should say) and the Apricorn is rated up to 550MB/s for its SATAIII controller. I am hopeful to see a marked improvement. The Helios also provides me the option to add another internal card + SSD drive or SSD blade, I also have TB daisy chaining.

Fingers crossed :-)
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 07:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Yougotcarved View Post
HAHAHA wow I was an investment banker for a year and still I made such a horrendous mistake, thanks for correcting me (and in such a polite manner, especially for the internet!!!)

But your point about an enclosure vs drive...what difference does an enclosure make? Is it the whole SATA thingy? I must confess I dont understand that stuff..
Sorry for taking so long to respond.

Here is what I meant by the LaCie being an enclosure. When you buy a LaCie drive you are getting a complete external hard drive: plug-and-play, no problems. My point is that LaCie does not make the hard drives (or SSDs) inside of the metal housing.

So think about something like a WD Passport: it's a WD drive wrapped up in plastic with a mini-USB cable for power and data transfer. Well, something like the LaCie P'9220 is pretty much the same thing (it may actually have a faster drive, not sure about that though), in a much more attractive, metal housing. If you have the extra money I think LaCie is a great choice because they are more attactive, and unlike the passport, the drives can actually be swapped out (check some place like YouTube to see exactly how to do this).

But to more fully answer you initial question, here are a few things to consider.
  1. Do you need/want this drive to be bus-powered (only having one cable rather than a data cable and a separate power cable)? 3.5" external drives require separate power, 2.5" (whether HDD or SDD) do not. You'll get more storage for your money with the 3.5" but the 2.5" are more attractive/convenient.

  2. What are you using this for, backup or on-hand storage? If you are planning to use this all the time (always stays plugged into your computer and you run files off of it) then you'll probably want to focus on getting a good speed: SSD would be your best choice. However, if you plan to use it for backup, you can get a lot more storage for your money with an HDD. SSD speeds are really needed for your host drive (the one with the OS and apps), not necessarily needed for your music collection -- which doesn't make it a bad choice, just saying you can get more for your money in HDD at this point.

  3. Thunderbolt vs USB 3. I'll tell you right out: I have not yet bought a Thunderbolt drive of any kind. I'm going to in the future when it becomes a more reasonable option, but at this point it doesn't add up for me. I have been running a lot of my stuff on non-Apple PCs which all support USB 3. When I get my new iMac I will continue running everything on USB 3 for at least a year or so (or until Thunderbolt prices drop). Don't be seduced by benchmarks and theoretical limits: real world usage is the key. I love the idea behind Thunderbolt, and at some point I'll get a RAID setup that can really use the bandwidth, but until then, I'm fine with having my file transfers take 10% longer. (Of course, if you are planning on doing something like edit HD video from an external, I would recommend Thunderbolt... or you could just transfer the files over to an internal SSD and edit them from there. )

Sorry if I rambled on, or repeated something that someone else had already posted.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 07:27 AM   #8
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Comparing the LaCie drive with other options out there including the Seagate adapater & the Elgato offering the LaCie is rather good value.

Elgato - 399 - 240GB - 270MB/s Read, 250 MB/s Write
+ TB Cable - 39
Total 438

LaCie -249 - 256GB - 380MB/s Read, 250 MB/s Write (Thunderbolt)
Cables included.

Seagate Adapter - 88
+ TB Cable - 39
+ SSD (Samsung 840 for example) - 170 - 256GB - 380MB/s Read, 360MB/s Write
Total = 297

There is numerous problems reported when using the Seagate adapter with different ranges of drives having compatibity issues, big thread on this forum about this.

I plan on using an external ssd to have a different OS installed (windows) for gaming use and keep the internal drive for OSX & storage only.

I think the ~350MB/s speed from the LaCie will be more than enough to run an OS from.

Ste0803

Last edited by ste0803; Dec 17, 2012 at 08:22 AM.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:14 AM   #9
palmerc2
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I have the Seagate STAE128 which is just the portable TB adapter dock and the STAE129 Desktop TB Adapter.
I have a quick question about the Seagate STAE129 (Desktop) Thunderbolt Adapter Dock, if I were to get this, do I just plug in an internal SSD? Or would I need to get something else to make that work (besides the thunderbolt cable)?

What SSD would you recommend for optimum performance? I'm not a power user, so just day to day operations is what I'm after.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 11:52 AM   #10
Kirkle
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From what I understand the Seagate Desktop Thunderbolt Adapter can take just regular hard drives. I think they are designed to take these things, but you can just slip in a naked 3.5" HDD if you want.

Additionally, it looks like the adapter just has a standard SATA port (I could be wrong about this, but that is what it looks like). If this is the case, then it would also be possible to slip in a 2.5" SSD, such as the Samsung 840 or 830 (both of which seem fairly highly recommended on these forums). These SSDs would obviously make better use of the Thunderbolt connection than a HDD (There are also the Samsung 840 Pro models, but I doubt it is really worth the price increase if you are not a power user).
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 12:30 PM   #11
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Palmerc2,

Kirkle is correct the Desktop Adapter has a standard SATA port connector the SSD drive or HDD will just slide down onto it and stand upright. It won't fill the whole space and area like the encased Seagate drives. The base is pretty sturdy though and the SSD will stand upright connected. Place it behind your mac or away to the side and you won't notice its there. Since the SSD's come with nice outer shells it doesn't look bad at all.

As far as SSD recommendations, I am using the Samsung 840's both the TLC and MLC versions and the new OCZ Vectors. All are performing pretty soundly at the moment for me the MLC versions are the fastest but, I am typing away on an '09 MacBook Pro with the 840 TLC 256GB version which has given it new life. I use the laptop to normal office apps, surfing, video viewing, its also my Lightroom and capture one tethering laptop for my photography. The TLC give you the best bang for performance great READS, ok WRITES (new egg had it on sale this weekend the 256GB for $149). Some folk worry about the TLC life but, TLC is what is used in the iPhones, iTouch and iPods of old and all of mine are still ticking so YMMV.

Last edited by qamaro; Dec 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 01:23 PM   #12
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Palmerc2,

Kirkle is correct the Desktop Adapter has a standard SATA port connector the SSD drive or HDD will just slide down onto it and stand upright. It won't fill the whole space and area like the encased Seagate drives. The base is pretty sturdy though and the SSD will stand upright connected. Place it behind your mac or away to the side and you won't notice its there. Since the SSD's come with nice outer shells it doesn't look bad at all.

As far as SSD recommendations, I am using the Samsung 840's both the TLC and MLC versions and the new OCZ Vectors. All are performing pretty soundly at the moment for me the MLC versions are the fastest but, I am typing away on an '09 MacBook Pro with the 840 TLC 256GB version which has given it new life. I use the laptop to normal office apps, surfing, video viewing, its also my Lightroom and capture one tethering laptop for my photography. The TLC give you the best bang for performance great READS, ok WRITES (new egg had it on sale this weekend the 256GB for $149). Some folk worry about the TLC life but, TLC is what is used in the iPhones, iTouch and iPods of old and all of mine are still ticking so YMMV.
Thanks for the info! So basically it's just plug and play, I don't know anything about the subject so I appreciate it. Are they hot-swappable with the Seagate Dock?

For price, Crucial 512GB SSD for $350USD is what I'd like to use in it. Would you say this is a good choice for speed? I have been eying up the Samsung 830 and 840 though.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004W2JL3Y/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 01:39 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info! So basically it's just plug and play, I don't know anything about the subject so I appreciate it. Are they hot-swappable with the Seagate Dock?

For price, Crucial 512GB SSD for $350USD is what I'd like to use in it. Would you say this is a good choice for speed? I have been eying up the Samsung 830 and 840 though.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004W2...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
Unless you are a serious power user the difference in speed between the Samsung 830 and 840 won't be an issue: go with whichever one is a good deal. 512GB for $350 is a pretty good deal (not amazing, but quite good). Oh, you asked about the difference between the Crucial and the Samsung... hmmm... well, I've never used one, but my brother just bought that exact drive for his system, and he loves it (though I doubt he has ever compared it to any other SSD). In general though, any decent major brand of SSD will probably work for you (and will certainly so an improvement over the standard 7200RPM 1TB WD Black used in the iMac).

I don't know if the drives are hot swappable... well, some of this depends on what you mean: if you want to remove a drive from a computer you generally need to dismount it from within the OS... in that sense, I'm pretty sure that the drive will be hot-swappable (there are some more complicated systems that will actually allow you to switch drives while they are in use, and I would not be possible with the Thunderbolt dock). Another thing that has some barring on the subject of mounting and swapping is the format of the drive. If you really want quick dismounting something like exFAT would give you better mobile performance -- exFAT can be written and read from both Windows and OSX, but I believe you can only format an exFAT drive from a Windows system... but this is all more a power user issue: for people who really tweak their systems for an exact usage.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 03:56 PM   #14
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Unless you are a serious power user the difference in speed between the Samsung 830 and 840 won't be an issue: go with whichever one is a good deal. 512GB for $350 is a pretty good deal (not amazing, but quite good). Oh, you asked about the difference between the Crucial and the Samsung... hmmm... well, I've never used one, but my brother just bought that exact drive for his system, and he loves it (though I doubt he has ever compared it to any other SSD). In general though, any decent major brand of SSD will probably work for you (and will certainly so an improvement over the standard 7200RPM 1TB WD Black used in the iMac).

I don't know if the drives are hot swappable... well, some of this depends on what you mean: if you want to remove a drive from a computer you generally need to dismount it from within the OS... in that sense, I'm pretty sure that the drive will be hot-swappable (there are some more complicated systems that will actually allow you to switch drives while they are in use, and I would not be possible with the Thunderbolt dock). Another thing that has some barring on the subject of mounting and swapping is the format of the drive. If you really want quick dismounting something like exFAT would give you better mobile performance -- exFAT can be written and read from both Windows and OSX, but I believe you can only format an exFAT drive from a Windows system... but this is all more a power user issue: for people who really tweak their systems for an exact usage.
Over 2nd glance I think this drive would be better! This is cheaper per GB than the crucial, and I don't really need that much space because all I'm going to use the SSD for is Applications and Operating system, and everything else (iTunes and the like) on the internal 1TB. Also this drive is faster, even though I'm not a power user - faster is always better

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B007R67FTY/ref=aw_d_var_2nd_pc_txt?qid=1355780417&sr=8-7&vs=1

Edit: also I think this Kingston drive would work best with the Seagate TB adapter are both Sata III whereas the Crucial is just Sata. Again, I don't know squat about this - but seems to me like they would be better compatible.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 04:05 PM   #15
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Is it possible to enable trim on a external thunderbolt ssd?
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 04:56 PM   #16
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http://www.anandtech.com/show/6127/b...-thunderbolt/3

This says you can enable trim on an external thunderbolt drive, time will tell I'll try with my LaCie drive when it arrives.

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Old Dec 17, 2012, 05:23 PM   #17
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Although TB is faster...

Why not do USB3 enclosure (thermaltake silver) less than $40 and comes pretty close to 5Gb/s (with a samsung 840 500G I get 450MB/s read and 320MB/s write!). Wait for Tbolt to come down to earth. Use USB3 for now (or forever) with whatever SSD you like.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 05:50 PM   #18
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Although TB is faster...

Why not do USB3 enclosure (thermaltake silver) less than $40 and comes pretty close to 5Gb/s (with a samsung 840 500G I get 450MB/s read and 320MB/s write!). Wait for Tbolt to come down to earth. Use USB3 for now (or forever) with whatever SSD you like.
You have to take into consideration that some forum members on here don't have USB 3.0 but do have Thunderbolt on their iMacs.

I personally have an iMac that has neither and am going to upgrade soon. I'm debating whether or not to get the new 2012 27" or a refurbished 2011 2011 27". If I opt for a refurbished 2011 model, I wouldn't be able to use USB 3.0 and would have to use Thunderbolt if I want an external SSD at high speeds.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 05:53 PM   #19
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Although TB is faster...

Why not do USB3 enclosure (thermaltake silver) less than $40 and comes pretty close to 5Gb/s (with a samsung 840 500G I get 450MB/s read and 320MB/s write!). Wait for Tbolt to come down to earth. Use USB3 for now (or forever) with whatever SSD you like.
But doesn't usb3 enclosure require an additional power cord where tb enclosure is just 1 wire for both power and data?
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 06:11 PM   #20
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But doesn't usb3 enclosure require an additional power cord where tb enclosure is just 1 wire for both power and data?
Some do, some do not. The type of cable used does not determine whether or not the device has external power or bus-power; some Thunderbolt adapters require additional power and some do not (the same holds of USB 3).
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 06:18 PM   #21
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But doesn't usb3 enclosure require an additional power cord where tb enclosure is just 1 wire for both power and data?
Many USB-3 enclosures are bus powered, since USB-3 can supply 900ma of current vs. the USB-2 rating of only 500ma.

Thunderbolt enclosures may be bus powered, but some users here have reported problems with units like the Seagate GoFlex when using larger 500GB SSD drives in them. The LaCie "Little Big Disk" Thunderbolt dual drive (SSD or Disk) require an external power supply.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 06:18 PM   #22
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Is it possible to enable trim on a external thunderbolt ssd?

YES- I have done this with the TRIM enabler tool on the SSD's attached to the Seagate TB Adapters. As another poster eluded to it works.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 04:47 AM   #23
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