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Best external Thunderbolt drive that I can open and install SSD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by shenan1982, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. macrumors 68040

    Anyone know of the best thunderbolt portable drive to do this with? I have a 512GB SSD drive (Samsung), and I want to get a thunderbolt enclosure and put the drive in and have my OS boot off of it, so when I'm home I boot my iMac off it and have my OS on it at home, and then when I'm on the road I unplug it and plug it into my MacBook Air and have the same OS setup on the road.

    My only concern is there are seemingly no external thunderbolt enclosures on the market, but I've heard several people have taken external TB drives, and opened them up, replaced the hard drive with a SSD then closed em back up and had wicked-fast boot experiences with the drive. Since I already have the 512GB SSD, the biggest cost is out of the way.

    Any advice would be appreciated!
  2. macrumors 6502

    Let me know when you find out, because I would like to do the same... the issue I have read is that the 2.5 external TB cases are meant for the road and are bus powered, making the 512GB to big (it needs more power than a 256GB, which can run off bus power)

    I would like to do the same, find an external TB case, slap a 512GB SSD into it and bam, done...

    Best option I can find so far is the Drobo Mini, the Promise J4 won't take anything beyond 240GB
  3. macrumors 68040

    Why would a bus power 256 GB but not a 512 GB?? It's not a hard drive with an extra spinning platter. Am I missing something? Anyone know why this would be the case?
  4. MotherFinMike, Jan 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Go flex will prolly,will your best option since there is a external power option
  5. macrumors member


    I can't give you the technical specifics because I don't know all the power requirements for thunderbolt adapters that within Intel's specs. It has in fact though been tested many times all over numerous forums and posts. More specifically search for Seagate's Thunderbolt adapters to see issues with power drops on SSD drives larger than 256GB. Here is a Primer on TB to get you started:

    Thunderbolt (Interface)

    Here is an article where the power requirements have been discussed in some length by the author of the article, to give you some indication of the issue.

  6. macrumors 68040

    What's the link to the product(s) on Amazon? Thank You! Sorry, I just want to make sure this time I get the right thing. And this will fit a standard size SSD yeh?
  7. MotherFinMike, Jan 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013

    macrumors regular

    the desktop version uses 3.5" sata drives you'd have to rig something up to keep the hard drive from moving around, you would also have to open the enclosure up



    If you have some patience you could wait for these


    I emailed them last year I don't remember when they said these would be out
  8. macrumors 68040

    Wowsa that desktop is huge for a SSD! There's nothing smaller that's powered?

    If I just use USB 3.0 I don't need ext power right?
  9. macrumors regular

    I don't know about usb 3.0 since I am using a 2011 Imac with a buffalo mini station TB with a samsung 840 pro 256GB as a external boot drive
  10. macrumors 68040

    I just don't really want a full size desktop HD for a little SD
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Actually, you WANT an externally powered enclosure for USB3. Bus-powered have had troubles with drives that are larger than 256GB when you're moving files that are larger than 4GB I think it was. In any case, externally powered enclosures is the safest route to go so I wouldn't risk anything else but that.

  12. macrumors 68040


    Anyone recommend anything better than this one:


    That one is powered externally. Just wish it wasn't so bulky (compared to super slim enclosures)
  13. macrumors member


    I use a Bus powered thunderbolt Buffalo ministation. I bought the 500GB model, removed the standard hard drive and installed a Samsung 256 SSD.

    It works fine either as USB3 or Thunderbolt and has not suffered one disconnect in 3 months of use. Oh and it came with both cables.

    File transfers are rapid and it is not a bad looking solution, the activity light is under the front edge and is a nice cool white, not too bright at all.

    Only one comment to installation, it was a pain in the arse to open up, there are a couple of video's on here and Youtube, I had reasonable success using a hair dryer to heat up the base and didn't break any clips.
  14. macrumors 68040

    Well like people on here have said, the bus powered is fine for 256GB or less, but I'm doing a 512gb, so I need an externally powered model, hence why I am looking for suggestions as to which mini enclosure with an AC adaptor people think would be best.
  15. macrumors regular

    How did you open it? It doesn't look easy to open.
  16. macrumors member


    There is one large sticky pad on the inside flat of the base, and a smaller one at the back.

    I used a combination of fingernails (wrecked them and they hurt for days afterwards), old frequent flyer cards and heat. Do not use anything metallic as a lever as it will dent/scratch the case. You can also push up on the rubber feet on the base once you get started as they are slotted down through the case.

    Once you get started its a case of persisting and bit by bit the adhesive weakens.

    When you separate the drive carrier from the case it's a piece of cake.

    One other reason I opted for the ministation is that the connector board is well mounted, I read a lot about cheaper products especially usb 3 caddies where the connectors broke off after little use or were insecure.

    If you use Thunderbolt I doubt there would be an issue with 512 drives, iirc Thunderbolt provides more power than USB?
  17. macrumors 6502a

    I use the LaCie Rugged USB3/TB with the 128 GB SSD in ass my boot drive (via thunderbolt).

    I bought it with an eye to swapping out the SSD down the line since the case is pretty easy to open and it doesn't seem to have the bus power problems with larger drives affecting the other options.

    Bonus benefits - it's small and the thunderbolt cable is included in the box (as is a USB3 one).
  18. macrumors 6502

    Are any of you using a 500GB SSD?


  19. macrumors 6502a

    Make sure it's using the ASMedia controller chipset, otherwise you'll end up with rather disappointing speeds. The one I linked to is using that chipset. You can also take a look at ThermalTake Silver River 5G.
  20. macrumors 68040

    How do I know what chipset it uses? It doesn't say on Amazon. And the one you linked doesn't seem available :-(


    We're told it won't work with 512gb, max of 256gb
  21. macrumors 6502a

    You'll have to read it in the specifications or email them.
    Check out Thermaltake Silver River 5G 2.5", it uses the right chipset.
  22. macrumors 68040

    Any other brands with the faster chipset and external power? I looked at the above one on amazon and it's not shipped by amazon so it's not eligible for Prime :-(
  23. macrumors 68040

  24. macrumors 6502a

  25. macrumors 68040

    So I wonder if I should use it with my 512gb Samsung ssd as my new iMacs boot/osx install drive or if I should use the 1tb fusion drive. Whatcha think??

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