Best External SSD for Storage

Azeroth1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 20, 2010
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What is the best current external SSD based storage drive for use with a Mac Mini 2018?

I have seen a few posts on this but many are over 6 months old, so looking for current data.

The sole purpose of this drive will be for storing video (to play on the Mini) and Time Machine backup.

Would like to be at least 1tb in size.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
I have been very happy with my Samsung T5 external SSDs; I have them in several capacities for different purposes and either the 1 TB or the 2 TB size works very nicely for storage and backups. Prices have come down considerably since I first started buying these things, too, which is a real help!
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2018
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Thailand
For time machine, I’d recommend a mechanical drive. The speed is effectively unimportant and the $/GB is much better.

It also means the videos on your ssd can be backed up.
 
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doboy

macrumors 68020
Jul 6, 2007
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I have several bare SATA SSDs that I use with Sabrent USB adapters as well as Samsung T5 and they all work well. However, speed is only ~500 MB/s for read and write so if you want about double the throughput of SATA I would get a NVMe drive with an ext enclosure.

These were on sale few days ago for ~$100: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KJSX8VG/ref=twister_B07QDZNQ5S?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

edit: oops, I re-read your post and for videos and TM I would second the mechanical drive (esp for TM).
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have three Samsung T3's (the predecessor to the T5) and they're great, I get over 400MB/sec on the T3 that I use for a boot drive on my 2012 quad mini. You should do even better than that with a T5 on your 2018 Mini.

I agree with the recommendation to get a separate disk for Time Machine. I use a dedicated disk for that, so I can have more faith in its integrity. I also have layers of backups for my most important data, with a Time Capsule, a time machine disk stored off-site, a SSD bootable clone and constant backups to the cloud with BackBlaze. :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,194
5,543
Best:
Samsung X5 thunderbolt3 (but priced accordingly).
2500mbps+/- read speeds.

Better:
Buy a USB3.1 gen2 "nvme style" enclosure.
Buy an nvme blade to go into it.
Approximately 900+mbps read speeds.

Good:
Samsung T5 or Sandisk Extreme (or other-make ready-to-use) USB3 SSD.
Or... buy a SATA SSD and put it into the enclosure of your choice.
430mbps read speeds.

HOWEVER -- if this is only for time machine, "the good" is all you need.
Actually, you don't even "need" that much.
Just about any platter-based drive will do.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2018
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Thailand
if this is only for time machine, "the good" is all you need.
For backups, if you want to keep point-in-time snapshots (e.g. the concept Time Machine works on, regardless of whether you use Time Machine or not) the more storage you have, the more you can backup and keep for longer.

It will depend a little on market, but here, even the cheapest SATA SSD's are more than 4x the price of SATA mechanical drives, per GB.

An SSD for files you actually access in real time (e.g. a photo or video library, etc) makes absolute sense to put on an SSD - the limit is really just what ports you have, and how much you want to spend.

For backups an SSD is a "bad" choice, because SSD's optimise for speed, not capacity, and for most people the speed of a backup drive is about as relevant as the speed of the moon around the Earth. In theory it might affect your life, but in reality, you won't notice.
 
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Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
I don't use Time Machine, but I agree with other recommendations that for it, using a platter-based HDD would be the most logical solution, as speed doesn't matter there and you can get higher-capacity drives for significantly less money than SSDs.

For speed, yes, the Samsung X5 is the winning choice, but for everyday tasks it is not necessary. I use mine mostly for supplementing my internal drive with my current photo projects, etc. My T5 SSDs do very nicely for my purposes, both as backup drives and what I call "supplementary drives." The T5s also can use either USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to USB-A cables, which is convenient when swapping data from an older computer to a newer one. Another reason I like the T5 external SSDs is for their small physical size and dimensions, as I like to keep one set of back up drives in my safe deposit box at my local bank.
 
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kaibob

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2010
230
60
Prescott, Arizona
I have a Samsung T5, which I use for storage, Superduper backups, and very large temporary files. It's worked great. When I first got the T5 I had a problem with it ejecting during sleep but that problem disappeared about 4 months ago and hasn't even happened once since.

I don't need it for the faster speed but if I had to do it again I would purchase the X5. It would be a waste of money but that's what I'd do.
 

doboy

macrumors 68020
Jul 6, 2007
2,450
915
Thanks for that link.
The Intel 660p looks very interesting. I could get 2TB for $250 with read/write speeds in the 900MB/s range.
1 TB 660p is on sale at Newegg for $88 with coupon code EMCTBUD23
 

mpfuchs

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Sep 19, 2014
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1 TB 660p is on sale at Newegg for $88 with coupon code EMCTBUD23
Thanks for the tip!
I ordered 2TB from B&H yesterday. Since the enclosure comes from amazon, it'll probably be late next week before I can try it.
 

mpfuchs

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2014
484
1,234
VA
Question, If I format my new SSD in APFS, will I be able to read it on my old MacBook with High Sierra?
And I assume it won't show up on a Windows machine, right?
My current external drive is just formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled), will there be a speed difference between the two?
Thanks for any info.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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"Question, If I format my new SSD in APFS, will I be able to read it on my old MacBook with High Sierra?
And I assume it won't show up on a Windows machine, right?"


High Sierra should be able to "see it".
But Windows -- no. (I'm unsure if there's any Windows app/drivers/etc. that can read APFS, at least, not yet)
 

mpfuchs

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2014
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"Question, If I format my new SSD in APFS, will I be able to read it on my old MacBook with High Sierra?
And I assume it won't show up on a Windows machine, right?"


High Sierra should be able to "see it".
But Windows -- no. (I'm unsure if there's any Windows app/drivers/etc. that can read APFS, at least, not yet)
Thanks for the reply. Just trying to figure out what to do before I put all my data on there.
Any idea of speed difference between APFS and Mac OS Extended (Journaled)?
 

mpfuchs

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2014
484
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Update, APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) did not make a difference in speed. I got mid 900MB/s on both.
I did notice however that after I formatted the stick in APFS, now I cannot go back to anything else.
Kinda wish I would have known that before hand.
 

Squuiid

macrumors 65816
Oct 31, 2006
1,476
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These are the best external drives for the Mac mini 2018 bar none in my opinion.
Buy the 240GB model and swap out the M.2 SSD with whichever one you want.
Read and write speeds are the best you’ll get without RAID.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B07RR1DRS2

Probably overkill for your use case however.
 
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