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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:19 AM   #1
wmy5
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Samsung 840 Pro + LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt enclosure benchmark

Hi guys,

I ordered the 2012 iMac, after some seriously consideration, I've decided to go for external SSD instead of Fusion Drive or self-installed blade SSD. As I posted in another thread, I thought the Thunderbolt interface will throttle the overall performance of the SSD. Now my expectation is confirmed.

I purchased a LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt™ Series for ~$230, which is a 1TB external HDD with a Thunderbolt port and a USB 3 port. Then I ripped it open and swap the 1TB HDD inside for a Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB. 840 Pro is the fastest consumer SSD available in the market, so the real capability of the enclosure can be seen.

Then I plugged it to a 2012 Mac mini with 2.3 quad-core i7 running Windows 7 (BootCamp).

Fig. 1 is the AS SSD Benchmark result.

Out of curiosity, I also test it through its USB 3 port, result is shown as Fig. 2.

As you see, the Thunderbolt enclosure can only unleash ~1/3 of the 840 Pro. 840 Pro can easily score more than 1000 in AS SSD when directly connected to SATA 3. It even cannot beat USB 3 in terms of random r/w (4K 64-Thread is not important for home usage).

So, if you want to put your SSD outside to boost your new iMac, a cheap USB 3 case can handle this task. And if you want to stick with Thunderbolt for some reasons (daisy-chain, old Macs without USB 3, etc.), a entry-level SSD is more than enough, since the limit is the Thunderbolt interface (I am talking about single-drive enclosures only).

Oh, if performance really matters to you, you'd probably better to open your iMac up or simply order 768GB SSD...

Good thing about TB

For OS X only user, the performance margin TB brings doesn't worth the premium. BUT, if you run Windows on your 2012 iMac and you what to enjoy SSD speed, TB enclosure is your only choice other than hefty 768GB SSD option. Fusion doesn't work for Windows (BootCamp) partition.

You can firstly install Windows into your internal HDD then copy your Windows partition to your external Thunderbolt SSD (using Winclone). Then you are set. Yes, that simple! You cannot do the same thing with USB or FireWire enclosures. Windows can only be booted from a internal disk, but TB disks are treated as internal SATA disks. I've successfully done that with my 2011 MBP and my 2012 Mac mini.

Hope that will help.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:23 AM   #2
wmy5
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Here are some pics...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:24 AM   #3
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And more...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:27 AM   #4
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Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (OS X 10.8.2) results are here.

Left - Thunderbolt
Right - USB 3

Please notice that this is not the same machine that ran the AS SSD benchmark above. I used my early 2011 MacBook 15 (MC721) this time.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:29 AM   #5
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System info...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 03:51 AM   #6
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Or get a Fusion drive, and a 1TB external SSD for your Media...
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 04:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by itsamacthing View Post
Or get a Fusion drive, and a 1TB external SSD for your Media...
SSD for Media...Nice!!!!
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 06:31 AM   #8
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The real advantage of Thunderbolt, IMO, is that you can daisy-chain as well as being more CPU-friendly. Other than that it's - currently(!!) - not very appealing. At least not as an external SSD-enclosure interface. It's expensive, not much faster than USB3(in some cases even slower!) and there are not many enclosures to choose from.

Glad you enjoy your new TB-enclosure though. I'm sure you'll be very happy with it! No doubt, LaCie makes some good quality products.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by itsamacthing View Post
Or get a Fusion drive, and a 1TB external SSD for your Media...
But that would defeat the purpose of having an external DIY Fusion.
1. Apple Fusion Drive is much more expensive
2. Apple Fusion Drive only comes with 128GB of SSD
3. Apple Fusion Drive is locked to a specific SSD

1. DIY Fusion Drive is cheaper
2. DIY Fusion Drive comes with whatever sized SSD you want to purchase
3. DIY Fusion Drive is easy to replace the SSD

The only advantage of going the Apple route is that you'll get support for your Fusion Drive and obviously it's easier than having to do Terminal-"hacks" to create a DIY Fusion.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 06:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tanax View Post
The real advantage of Thunderbolt, IMO, is that you can daisy-chain as well as being more CPU-friendly.
The TB enclosure I used (LaCie Rugged) only has one TB port so it can only serve as an end in a chain. AFAIK, it applies to all single-drive, bus-powered TB disks.

For home users like me, I think the real advantage is one can copy the BootCamp partition into a TB drive and boot Windows from TB disk. You cannot do that with a USB or FW disk. I think the reason is that our Macs see TB disks as internal. After all, TB port is essentially a channelled PCI-E interface.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:36 AM   #10
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PC Mark 7 scores!

(on 2.3 quad-core Mac mini, Late 2012 model)

Left - Thunderbolt
Right - USB 3
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmy5 View Post
Hi guys,

I ordered the 2012 iMac, after some seriously consideration, I've decided to go for external SSD instead of Fusion Drive or self-installed blade SSD. As I posted in another thread, I thought the Thunderbolt interface will throttle the overall performance of the SSD. Now my expectation is confirmed.
This is why I bit the bullet and exchanged mine for the wildly overpriced 768 option. Now what to do with the Sammy 840Pro?
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:29 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by xgman View Post
This is why I bit the bullet and exchanged mine for the wildly overpriced 768 option. Now what to do with the Sammy 840Pro?
Keep it in that TB enclosure. I need SSD speed for Windows and I can't afford 768GB flash. Maybe I should have chosen a cheaper SSD, but I will live with it since the price difference isn't that high.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmy5 View Post
Keep it in that TB enclosure. I need SSD speed for Windows and I can't afford 768GB flash. Maybe I should have chosen a cheaper SSD, but I will live with it since the price difference isn't that high.
Do you think that if you used the 840 non pro, the performance will be the same as the pro being the bottleneck is the TB?

I'm looking to install windows, but don't really want to partition the internal, so my plan is to get the 840 with the seagate TB adapter. I wonder if there is any way to install windows directly onto the external? anyone?
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Outrigger View Post
Do you think that if you used the 840 non pro, the performance will be the same as the pro being the bottleneck is the TB?

I'm looking to install windows, but don't really want to partition the internal, so my plan is to get the 840 with the seagate TB adapter. I wonder if there is any way to install windows directly onto the external? anyone?
Yes, the bottleneck is the TB. If you use 840 non pro, you may have slower sequential write speed, which is irrelevant to everyday experience. You should pay more attention to random performance. 840 (non pro) does really well.

Apple does not allow you to install Windows onto a external disk (FW/USB). This limit may or may not apply to TB disks, which I don't have the chance to check. But, even if a direct install is not allowed, it's easy to do the copy thing. Why don't you want to partition your internal disk? You can (actually you have to) delete the Windows partition on your internal disk after you move it to external.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 11:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmy5 View Post
Yes, the bottleneck is the TB. If you use 840 non pro, you may have slower sequential write speed, which is irrelevant to everyday experience. You should pay more attention to random performance. 840 (non pro) does really well.

Apple does not allow you to install Windows onto a external disk (FW/USB). This limit may or may not apply to TB disks, which I don't have the chance to check. But, even if a direct install is not allowed, it's easy to do the copy thing. Why don't you want to partition your internal disk? You can (actually you have to) delete the Windows partition on your internal disk after you move it to external.
Thanks, I'm ONLY installing windows for gaming, so the slower sequential write on the non pro will be a non issue in my case. I don't want to partition the internal because if it can be done directly via TB, I rather not go through the extra step of copying and then deleting, although I'm not sure it can be done.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 12:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outrigger View Post
Do you think that if you used the 840 non pro, the performance will be the same as the pro being the bottleneck is the TB?

I'm looking to install windows, but don't really want to partition the internal, so my plan is to get the 840 with the seagate TB adapter. I wonder if there is any way to install windows directly onto the external? anyone?
There IS a TB botlkeneck period. It's not the end of the world, but it is there. It gets worse or better depending on the external TB controller and worse if the external drive has other i/o like esata and usb3 on it in addition to the TB.

As externals go though, aside from a pci TB card and raid, the Samsung 840 Pro is probably the fastest choice overall.

All that said, the Fusion isn't half bad in the real world as long as you can live with the smaller size SSD part.

I think you might be able to boot to an external super drive and run a TB win clean install from there. I tried to repair an existing Win install from the Win DVD boot to a usb 3 drive and it said version wrong for some reason. haven't tried in the TB container yet.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 12:17 PM   #17
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Would it be more correct to say that this particular TB enclosure is the bottleneck and not TB in general?

There are other TB devices out there getting much better speeds than yours posted. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 12:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outrigger View Post
Do you think that if you used the 840 non pro, the performance will be the same as the pro being the bottleneck is the TB?

I'm looking to install windows, but don't really want to partition the internal, so my plan is to get the 840 with the seagate TB adapter. I wonder if there is any way to install windows directly onto the external? anyone?
Yes, I have installed Windows to an external Thunderbolt Seagate GoFlex 2.5" bus powered adapter with SSD.

Here is a thread telling you how:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1508618


-howard
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 12:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoz View Post
Would it be more correct to say that this particular TB enclosure is the bottleneck and not TB in general?

There are other TB devices out there getting much better speeds than yours posted. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I think its dependent on the TB controller which varies from one to another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hfg View Post
Yes, I have installed Windows to an external Thunderbolt Seagate GoFlex 2.5" bus powered adapter with SSD.

Here is a thread telling you how:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1508618


-howard
Thank you.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 12:48 PM   #20
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For comparison here are the numbers for the LaCie Rugged 256GB SSD edition (it comes with a C400 inside).
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 01:06 PM   #21
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Bootcamp doesn't have AHCI enabled and therefor your 4K r/w results are low. The 4K r/w is the (only) important part of your test. This is where the SSD's are fast compared to HDD and Thunderbolt should be heck of a lot faster than USB on 4K parts.

(it could also just be a problem with the TB bootcam driver, testing TB under Windows is far from optimal)
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:06 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoz View Post
Would it be more correct to say that this particular TB enclosure is the bottleneck and not TB in general?

There are other TB devices out there getting much better speeds than yours posted. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
As long as there is a additional controller (or bridge chip) inside the enclosure, no matter it's a TB, USB 3 or PCI-E, the performance will deteriorate.

The faster TB devices you talked about may be RAID devices. Yes they do have faster throughput than single-drive ones, but they still slower than RAIDs connected directly to the motherboard.

RAID enclosures are even more pricey and they are not bus-powered, so I didn't buy a RAID one.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by petsk View Post
Bootcamp doesn't have AHCI enabled and therefor your 4K r/w results are low. The 4K r/w is the (only) important part of your test. This is where the SSD's are fast compared to HDD and Thunderbolt should be heck of a lot faster than USB on 4K parts.

(it could also just be a problem with the TB bootcam driver, testing TB under Windows is far from optimal)
AHCI is enabled. Please see the top left corner of the AS SSD screen, it says msahci-ok.

----------

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Originally Posted by TigerClaw27 View Post
For comparison here are the numbers for the LaCie Rugged 256GB SSD edition (it comes with a C400 inside).
Thanks. 256GB SSD edition is a better idea than swap SSD by myself. It comes with a warranty and it's not significantly slower than the 840 Pro.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:17 PM   #23
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Yes, I have installed Windows to an external Thunderbolt Seagate GoFlex 2.5" bus powered adapter with SSD.

Here is a thread telling you how:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1508618


-howard
Thanks. But that leaves a small partition contains necessary boot file on the internal drive. You can't delete it after installation. But with the copying&deleting method however, you can keep your both internal and external disks clean and tidy.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 07:51 PM   #24
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Thanks. But that leaves a small partition contains necessary boot file on the internal drive. You can't delete it after installation. But with the copying&deleting method however, you can keep your both internal and external disks clean and tidy.
Can you elaborate on what you mean? Are you saying that you can't delete the bootcamp partition after you copy it over to the external? There is another thread on this page where the OP states that you can delete the internal bootcamp partition after you're copying.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 08:37 PM   #25
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Can you elaborate on what you mean? Are you saying that you can't delete the bootcamp partition after you copy it over to the external? There is another thread on this page where the OP states that you can delete the internal bootcamp partition after you're copying.
Well, you CAN and you MUST delete the Windows partition on internal disk after you copying it to your external disk, because only 1 Windows partition is allowed to be booted. What I mean is that if you install Windows directly to your external disk following that thread, http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1508618, you will have to keep a small NTFS partition on your internal disk, which contains some important booting files while the majority of your Windows OS files were installed onto your external disk. If you delete that small partition, your Windows won't work anymore.

Last edited by wmy5; Jan 23, 2013 at 08:44 PM.
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