128GB 2018 Mac mini and external SSD

CurtisBilly

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 1, 2006
34
22
Conventional wisdom is to configure all the storage you can afford when buying a new Mac.

But unlike with a Macbook, it is not awkward to have an external SSD permanently attached to a Mac mini.

The Samsung T5 SSD with USB 3.1 gen2 speed likely provides the best value for supplementing the base mini’s 128GB:
Samsung T5 500GB: ~$125
Samsung T5 1TB: ~$230

Is anyone considering a similar setup?
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,193
2,523
Conventional wisdom is to configure all the storage you can afford when buying a new Mac.

But unlike with a Macbook, it is not awkward to have an external SSD permanently attached to a Mac mini.

The Samsung T5 SSD with USB 3.1 gen2 speed likely provides the best value for supplementing the base mini’s 128GB:
Samsung T5 500GB: ~$125
Samsung T5 1TB: ~$230

Is anyone considering a similar setup?
The problem with this idea is that the T5 SSD will offer performance that’s about 25% the speed of the internal SSD. Something like the Samsung X5 which uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection will be quite a bit faster, but also quite expensive.
 

CurtisBilly

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 1, 2006
34
22
My storage plan:

Internal 128GB SSD:
-Boot drive
-Applications
-Lightroom Catalog (about a 1GB database file)

External Samsung T5 1TB SSD
-Lightroom Smart Previews of full catalog (about 50GB)
Lightroom 1:1 previews (temporary)
- 4K video files prior to editing
- Other files that would benefit from a moderately fast speed?

External Western Digital 4TB hard drive
- RAW images
- movies

External 8TB hard drive
- Time Machine backup of all of above
[doublepost=1541359977][/doublepost]
The problem with this idea is that the T5 SSD will offer performance that’s about 25% the speed of the internal SSD. Something like the Samsung X5 which uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection will be quite a bit faster, but also quite expensive.
I agree the Samsung X5 gives more comparable speed to the internal SSD, but for my usage I’m not sure it will be a deal breaker to save the money and just get a T5.

The hundreds of dollars saved can go to upgrade to the i7 and third party RAM.
 

jasnw

macrumors 6502a
Nov 15, 2013
752
810
Seattle Area (NOT! Microsoft)
This is along the lines that I've been thinking as well, but MMV always depending on individual needs. I'll probably end up buying two 2018 Mini systems over the next few years, one replacing my 2012 Mini household server and the other replacing my 2011 27" iMac main system. They will have different mixes of external storage since I'll want speed on my main system and lots of storage on the server.
 
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strawbale

macrumors 6502
Mar 25, 2011
335
166
French Pyrenees
Conventional wisdom is to configure all the storage you can afford when buying a new Mac.

But unlike with a Macbook, it is not awkward to have an external SSD permanently attached to a Mac mini.

The Samsung T5 SSD with USB 3.1 gen2 speed likely provides the best value for supplementing the base mini’s 128GB:
Samsung T5 500GB: ~$125
Samsung T5 1TB: ~$230

Is anyone considering a similar setup?
Yes I am (was?): https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mm2018-longevity-for-light-user-with-small-budget.2152287/

I may consider the i5 8/256 to keep the system running longer
 
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F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
1,457
992
NYC & Newfoundland
External Samsung T5 1TB SSD
-Lightroom Smart Previews of full catalog (about 50GB)
Lightroom 1:1 previews (temporary)
- 4K video files prior to editing
- Other files that would benefit from a moderately fast speed?

External Western Digital 4TB hard drive
- RAW images
- movies
.
If this is "prior to editing", where do you intend to edit these 4K videos files and the sound that goes with them?
 

CurtisBilly

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 1, 2006
34
22
If this is "prior to editing", where do you intend to edit these 4K videos files and the sound that goes with them?
4K videos can be taken by both my iPhone and Sony A7R3, but I haven't really tried to edit with my old MacBook Pro 2011 - too slow. The only software I would have to edit would be iMovie. I'm pretty sure I can get iMovie to work from the external without symbolic links from my internal SSD to external SSD.

Regardless, the Samsung T5 should be adequate for 4K video:
https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/15/samsung-t5-ssd-bonkers-speeds/
[doublepost=1541365903][/doublepost]
Yes I am (was?): https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mm2018-longevity-for-light-user-with-small-budget.2152287/

I may consider the i5 8/256 to keep the system running longer
For the same $1100 from Apple, I think the i7/8/128 might be better for me.
 

strawbale

macrumors 6502
Mar 25, 2011
335
166
French Pyrenees
4K videos can be taken by both my iPhone and Sony A7R3, but I haven't really tried to edit with my old MacBook Pro 2011 - too slow. The only software I would have to edit would be iMovie. I'm pretty sure I can get iMovie to work from the external without symbolic links from my internal SSD to external SSD.

Regardless, the Samsung T5 should be adequate for 4K video:
https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/15/samsung-t5-ssd-bonkers-speeds/
[doublepost=1541365903][/doublepost]

For the same $1100 from Apple, I think the i7/8/128 might be better for me.
I'd wait for throttling a/o fan noise experiences in reviews
 

Miat

macrumors 6502a
Jul 13, 2012
685
644
The problem with this idea is that the T5 SSD will offer performance that’s about 25% the speed of the internal SSD. Something like the Samsung X5 which uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection will be quite a bit faster, but also quite expensive.
That is true, but not everybody needs or will see much practical difference with NVMe speeds. Most at the consumer level probably won't. I certainly don't need those speeds. SATA SSD would do me fine. Be nice to have the choice.
 
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vbctv

macrumors 6502
Sep 25, 2013
480
241
Cleveland, OH
Conventional wisdom is to configure all the storage you can afford when buying a new Mac.

But unlike with a Macbook, it is not awkward to have an external SSD permanently attached to a Mac mini.

The Samsung T5 SSD with USB 3.1 gen2 speed likely provides the best value for supplementing the base mini’s 128GB:
Samsung T5 500GB: ~$125
Samsung T5 1TB: ~$230

Is anyone considering a similar setup?

You'll be good, with that set-up. I'm using the same set-up, the base i3 Mac mini with 128GB and I have the 500GB T5 hooked via USB-C. I keep my apps, OS & iCloud Drive on the 128GB. And then my iTunes, Photo Library and all other stuff goes on the T5 500GB. I have 56GB free still on the internal 128GB. And the T5 is very fast and still can access all my files very quickly. And they do have a 1TB option Ive seen for $197 on Amazon.
 

mightyjabba

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2014
1,303
73
Tatooine
More than once I’ve had all of my external drives get ejected simultaneously. Not sure if it was a power issue — I do have a lot plugged into USB and use several hubs. But I am concerned about having the OS and everything on a drive that might be affected by an issue like this.
 

CurtisBilly

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 1, 2006
34
22
That’s why the OS is on the internal SSD and working files are on the external(s).
 

mightyjabba

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2014
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That’s why the OS is on the internal SSD and working files are on the external(s).
Yes, but for me the OS and related files are too big to fit in 128, and certainly not all of the applications. Part of it is probably the cache files for iCloud photo sharing, which have gotten really big
 

vbctv

macrumors 6502
Sep 25, 2013
480
241
Cleveland, OH
Yes, but for me the OS and related files are too big to fit in 128, and certainly not all of the applications. Part of it is probably the cache files for iCloud photo sharing, which have gotten really big
You can put your iCloud Photo Library & iTunes Library on the external SSD. Just hold the option button down when opening the app and choose the library location. They don't have to be on your internal storage...
 

Chiromac81

macrumors regular
Nov 18, 2018
107
14
Ontario Canada
W
You'll be good, with that set-up. I'm using the same set-up, the base i3 Mac mini with 128GB and I have the 500GB T5 hooked via USB-C. I keep my apps, OS & iCloud Drive on the 128GB. And then my iTunes, Photo Library and all other stuff goes on the T5 500GB. I have 56GB free still on the internal 128GB. And the T5 is very fast and still can access all my files very quickly. And they do have a 1TB option Ive seen for $197 on Amazon.
Wouldn’t the iCloud Drive take up a lot of space if it backs up iPhone or iPad or Mac etc?? 128 GB doesn’t seem enough for that...?
 

Originalbitman

macrumors member
Apr 15, 2012
56
25
As for an external SSD don’t overlook the fast Samsung X5. I got one at the current price of $300 for a 500 GB. Perfect for photo storage and indeed fast through Thunderbolt connection.
 

vbctv

macrumors 6502
Sep 25, 2013
480
241
Cleveland, OH
W


Wouldn’t the iCloud Drive take up a lot of space if it backs up iPhone or iPad or Mac etc?? 128 GB doesn’t seem enough for that...?
Go to the About This Mac, Storage, Manage and then click on Optimize for iCloud Drive. It only keeps the files you use the most then and keeps the rest in your cloud without downloading them. And if your drive starts filling up, it will erase iCloud files from your SSD but keep them in the cloud...
 

mightyjabba

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2014
1,303
73
Tatooine
You can put your iCloud Photo Library & iTunes Library on the external SSD. Just hold the option button down when opening the app and choose the library location. They don't have to be on your internal storage...
I already have my photos and iTunes library on external storage but the iCloud photos sharing cache has to be on the startup disk as far as I know. See here:
https://www.macworld.com/article/3132718/photography/how-to-troubleshoot-a-swollen-photos-cache-folder.html

It seems that as long as you have a lot of shared photos (thousands in my case), this is unavoidable.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,190
5,542
mightyjabba wrote:
"More than once I’ve had all of my external drives get ejected simultaneously. Not sure if it was a power issue — I do have a lot plugged into USB and use several hubs. But I am concerned about having the OS and everything on a drive that might be affected by an issue like this."

I've been booting and running my 2012 Mini from an SSD in a USB3/SATA dock since the day I took it out of the box in January 2013. My dock sits "away from" the back of the Mini with a 3' USB3 connecting cable.

Not once have I had the boot drive "ejected spontaneously".
I can't recall that happening, ever.

Not sure how robust USB-c ports will be over time.
Don't have any!
 

pacmania1982

macrumors 6502a
Nov 19, 2006
989
186
Birmingham, UK
Last edited:

MacMiniUpgrader

macrumors member
Jan 6, 2019
32
21
i was going to do a samsung T5, but they just released those diamond cut lacie ssds that are space grey and since its a permanent fixture to the mini i'd LOVE it all to match. damn you apple*opens wallet*