Best way to quickly dock SSD's on a Mac Pro mid-2010?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mrnabo, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. mrnabo macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2008

    I'm wondering about the best way to quickly use SSD's on a Mac Pro 5,1 via a USB3 PCIe card I installed on it. I'm streaming samples / using virtual instruments for making music from these drives if that's useful to know - would I have issues with either of the two options below?

    Or a couple of these:

    I'm currently trying to hold off from buying a Mac Pro 2013 as it's possible the Mac Pro 7,1 will be out any time now, but want to use these SSD's on my Mac Pro mid 2010 without using brackets and installing them internally as I need to take them with me to sessions often.

    Any advice appreciated.


  2. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    A consideration:

    How many SSDs will you need to access simultaneously? Not just have connected and available, but will you be actively transferring (reading or writing) to/from more than one at a time?

    If so, rather than use one of the devices you linked, you may want to pick up:

    1. 2+ single-bay docks, each with its own USB 3.0/3.1 port
    2. A USB 3.0/3.1 PCIe card with multiple onboard controllers (so that each port can use the maximum speed). Most USB cards have a single controller shared by all ports on the card. Some cards, like the Highpoint 1344A ( have a separate controller for each port.

    If you don't care about losing performance or only need to read/write to one SSD at a time, then I see no reason why either of the choices you linked wouldn't work. Since they're USB, they should be hot pluggable and hot unpluggable (assuming you unmount them via macOS first).
  3. mrnabo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2008
    Thanks for getting back to me. I'll be streaming from at least two maybe three SSD's at a time - I plan on swapping out the system drive of my Mac Pro with an SSD and bracket, so it would just be accessing samples from two of them on playback and running the main project off another one.

    So I guess my USB3 PCIe card wouldn't have multiple onboard controllers then? I assume not considering it's much cheaper than the HighPoint one you linked to!
  4. bookemdano, Oct 5, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018

    bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Correct. Your card has a single controller, so plugging in multiple SSDs to it, even on different ports means that they all share the bandwidth provided by the controller. Two drives means they each get half, four drives each get a quarter, etc.

    Now you may be fully satisfied with the speeds, even if they are less than what they could be if you used a quad-controller card like the Highpoint. So what you may wish to do is buy a couple of the dual dock devices and test them with your current card and see if the performance is satisfactory to you. If it isn't, you could upgrade to the Highpoint and add 1-2 more docks.

    Also, with that in mind you may want to give some thought as to whether or not you want to purchase USB 3.1 docks versus USB 3.0. USB 3.1 provides double the (theoretical) speed of USB 3.0 (10Gbps vs. 5Gbps). The card you purchased is USB 3.0, so if you know you're going to stick with that, you can just get USB 3.0 docks like the ones you listed (which are cheaper and more plentiful). But if you're going to get that Highpoint card or another USB 3.1 card, you may want to buy USB 3.1 docks so you can make use of the higher speeds.

    I have done no real-world testing on speed differences between USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, so you may want to research that a bit (or maybe someone else here has and can post their experiences).

    Edit: If your other two PCIe slots are not otherwise occupied, a perhaps cheaper method would be to buy 1 or 2 more cheapie USB 3.0/3.1 controller cards for them and then connect one dock to each card.

    Edit 2: One thing to be aware of with any of these USB 3 solutions is that if you let your cMP go into sleep mode, all of your SSDs will disconnect because the PCIe slots in the cMP get powered down during sleep mode. It's not a problem for most people as the drives will reconnect when you resume from sleep (and there should not be any data loss) but you will get annoying notifications about forced disconnects each time you resume from sleep. The only ways around that are to disable sleep (easy) or route a SATA power cable to the external power connector on your card (harder than it seems).
  5. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    This is true only when the drives are simultaneously active - if only a single drive is active, then it gets 100% of the bandwidth regardless of the number of connected devices.

    Also note that USB 3.0 is full duplex (USB 2.0 and earlier are half-duplex). If you are copying between two drives on a single controller - both get roughly full bandwidth. The source drive gets the read channel, the target drive gets the write channel.
  6. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Yes that's true. That's why I asked him initially if he would need to access multiple docked SSDs simultaneously, and not just connected. Good call on the full duplex thing though--I failed to mention that.
  7. mrnabo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2008
    Great advice here from both of you, thanks ever so much!
  8. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    If you have open drive bays in your Mac, you can just stick SSDs in without a bracket. SSDs are so light, the SATA Data/Power connector holds them in place nicely. I don't make a habit of doing this, but for temporary installations, it works just fine.
  9. bookemdano macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2011
    Can't hot plug those. I think OP needs to connect and disconnect drives frequently, so USB 3.0 is a better way to go since you can do it without powering down and opening up the case every time.

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