Comparison of USB 3.0 and Seagate Go-Flex Speeds with Samsung 840 SSD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by bobtennis, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. bobtennis macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    I did a comparison of speed differences with three USB 3.0 hard disk docking adapters and the Seagate Go-Flex adapter with a Samsung 840 250gb SSD. The Samsung in all cases was the boot drive, selected by start-up OPTION key selection. The base test Mini was a Late 2012 2.3 GHz quad core I7, with 16 gb of GSkill 1666 memory. Mountain Lion 10.8.4 updated was the operating system.

    The USB adapters were the Silverstone Raven 3.0, FirmTek MiniSwap 3.0, and the Plugable USB 3.0 Docking Station (Model USB3-SATA-UASP1) using USB cables supplied with each unit to connect to the Mini. The Thunderbolt Adapter was the Seagate Go-Flex adapter, with an Apple 18" TB cable. All connections were direct to the appropriate socket on the back of the Mini. These adapters were chosen because they were recommended by other Forum members as being fast adapters (Yes, I read the forum messages and take what I think good suggestions from others!)

    The same Samsung 840 250gb disk was used in each instance, and the test run was Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. The intention was to set a standard test criteria, so only a single test was chosen, no matter what variable merit one test has over another for measuring other SSD performances. That would just muddle the results I was seeking. The Blackmagic Speed Test was run at least 5 cycles and the result was noted for Write an Read speeds (note: I did not do screen dumps for the test, not necessary for my intent to compare relative speeds).

    The results:

    1. Seagate Go-Flex Thunderbolt Adapter with Apple 18" TB Cable:
    Write: 238.4
    Read: 377.4

    2. Silverstone Raven USB 3.0
    Write: 238.4
    Read: 294.5

    3. FirmTek Miniswap USB 3.0
    Write: 228.5
    Read: 431.3

    4. Plugable USB 3.0 Docking Station (ModelUSB3-SATA-UASP-1)
    Write: 241.1
    Read: 430.1

    Off test, for a comparison, I used a MacBook Pro Early 2011 2.7 gb dual core I7 with a Samsung 840 500GB SSD mounted inside the case. The SSD is connected at SATA III- 6gb direct via internal SATA cable. This result is just to give a relative comparison of direct SATA speed, because the disk is different (although similar...write speed is faster, but read should be approximately the same, and the processor is different, but it is the best I can do!):
    Write: 323.9
    Read: 511.5

    Observations and Comments:

    The FirmTek 3.0 claims to be faster than other USB 3.0 adapters and Thunderbolt. It is, but was bested by a small amount by the Plugable Docking Station in my test. Actually, call it even!

    The USB 3.0 solutions do not allow Trim to be enabled, the TB adapter does.

    The Plugable, although fast, is large because it allows swap of any HDD or SSD in 3.5" or 2. 5", so it is a bit bulky. The disk is exposed as it is a docking station. It also requires an external power supply. The FirmTek is also larger (long, but not wide) compared to other USB enclosures, however, it is sturdy and made of aluminum.No external power required.

    The FirmTek has it's "quirks" in that it will not accept all USB drives. It seemed to have difficulty with OCZ SATA III drives (Agility 4 120gb and Vertex 3 120gb Max Ops) in the it would not recognize the drive at all, or would blink wildly, as in detecting an error. However, it did detect and read a Windows 7 formatted Vertex II 120gb drive. It was also able to accept an ADATA 900 SATA III 120gb SSD drive and a Crucial M4 256gb SSD drive (I can only describe what I had on hand). The other enclosures were able to mount all of the tested drives without difficulty. (Note: although outside of this test intent, without getting into numbers, just let me say the ADATA was MUCH (very much) slower than the Samsung, and the Crucial fell between the ADATA and Samsung).

    So, which would I choose? Well, I have already bought all of the above, but I would rate the FirmTek and the Plugable evenly, both are faster than TB and both have their strengths. The Plugable is the best value, at about half the price of the FirmTek. Next would be the Seagate Go-Flex, but as noted in the Forum, you are limited to 256gb SSDs or else reliability suffers. The Raven comes in last, but I think it was about $20.

    Here is something to consider though, perceptually, they disk seemed just as fast no matter which connector was used, boot times seemed similar, but I did not run the times, it just seemed that way, and much faster than the 1 GB 5400 rpm HDD in the MINI.

    I hope this helps someone trying to decide on what to do, although not strictly scientific, I tried to keep variables to a minimum to present a fair playing field. It would be interesting to see what others find comparing with the same test principles.

    As for me, I will be adding the Samsung 840 as a second drive inside the MINI, as a fusion drive. I just haven't got around to it yet! The adapters will be used for other purposes.
  2. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    Why isn't Thunderbolt faster? Under what configurations does thunderbolt show its moxie?
  3. bobtennis thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    I think the Thunderbolt results can best be explained by the Seagate Go-Flex Adapter being intended to be used with Seagate Go-Flex HDDs, not SSDs. from what I gather from reading other comments on the forum, this is not the optimum choice for Thunderbolt SSD connections. It does not have the technical "guts" of other (much more expensive!) TB adapters. It is perfectly able to saturate a HDD transfer bandwidth.

    However, the results are not terrible, and it is probably the cheapest way to get TB capability available at this time. It gets you "in the game". If you are adding this to a Mac without USB 3.0, this is the fastest cheaper alternative, at least that I am aware of, of adding an external SSD that comes close to providing decent speed, even if it is not the fastest TB solution (such as in an iMac, or if you don't want to get into your Mini). It does not, however, come up to optimal potential Thunderbolt speed capability.
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    if you want really fast tb buy the pegasus r4 or

    lacie 2 big

    but issues abound the r4 cost big money

    the 2big has a loud fan.

    I use this lacie little big disk with fan pulled see thread. close to 2 years works great
  5. bobtennis thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2013
    @Phillpma1957...First I want to say as a Forum "newbie" I feel honored that you took the time to review my comparisons. Although I am new to posting, I have followed your contributions for a long time and highly respect your opinions. Indeed, much of the general information I used to base my post was based on the findings you and others have made from your testing as posted in the forum. Thank You!

    As I said in the review and follow-up, cost was a consideration when looking for external SSD solutions. These choices I made to evaluate and compare were based on what seemed like the best choices given the intent. I thought others may be in a similar situation and may be considering these same adapters without being able to try them all like I was able to do.To those in this position, I hope this is a simple and helpful comparison.

    I would love to have a Pegasus R4, however, it's just not in the cards! I do have other uses for the adapters I have, however. Well, not in the cards yet, anyway!
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Thanks for testing and confirming something I've been talking about (and getting criticized for) for a while here.

    That being, that USB3 with the proper enclosure is every bit as fast and serviceable as is thunderbolt for running an external SSD drive as an "external booter".

    I expect your test results to stir up a hornet's nest of replies.

    More than six months ago, I predicted that for Apple, thunderbolt was destined to become a "flash in the pan", because for most end-user applications, USB3 would be the better choice. This isn't to say that Tbolt does have its uses, but Tbolt as a technology seems to be goin' nowhere fast. Its market penetration (this long after its introduction) seems to be even less than firewire enjoyed after its own introduction years ago. Barring some kind of "product breakthrough" I'll go on record predicting that we'll continue to see Tbolt adapters on Macs for about 4-5 more product cycles -- and then see it disappear...

    All those users who spent the $$$ for Tbolt drive enclosures "because they're the fastest" aren't going to like this!
  7. matchless1895 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2013
    The test performed appears to be very interesting indeed,
    and I concur in the view that for everyday use USB 3 would
    be more than enough.

    I own a Pegasus 6 which I tested as a boot drive raiding
    together three mechanical hard disks inside: nice speed
    for copying purpose but a lot to be desired with regard
    to latency.

    Besides, a Raid array as a booting device is not

    I am evaluating these possibilities now:

    - replace one of the existing drives with a good SSD
    drive, using it as a boot drive, or

    - go the Seagate Go-Flex Thunderbolt Adapter way,
    keeping separate the SSD booting drive.

    Problem is the Seagate Go-Flex Thunderbolt Adapter
    is not easily found here in Europe, but in could be done.

    Any idea or suggestion?

  8. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    put in an ssd in your pegasus6 . the trays have holes for proper placement for an ssd. I ran 2 samsung 512 gb ssds in my pegasus r6 and 4 hdds. The pegasus r6 is far better then any usb3 device except for price. Of course price does matter as most of us do not have endless money.

    I was very lucky with my pegasus r6. I purchased one with 6 1tb hdds and i purchased 2 spare trays with 1tb hdds. all purchased 1 week before the floods in nov of 2011 on sale 12% off 1500 or 1320 + 300 for the spare trays 1620 total. So I pulled all 8 1tb hdds and sold them at very good prices. about 1200 i then had a blank pegasus6 for a very low price. 420 usd. I put in drives I had laying around and ran it as 2 raid0's and 2 booters.

    when drives dropped in price I put in 3x 3tb and 3x 4 tb hdds so my pegasus has 21tb in storage and my mac mini has a 2tb fusion drive. i have 23tb of storage in a mac mini and a r6. at a very good price.

    maybe 2.5k it would be more like 3.5k
  9. matchless1895 macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2013
    Thank you for sharing your experience (and luck!).

    A drawback thought could be energy consumption
    since the R6 would have to remain on at all times,
    but performance wise by far the best approach.

    Just out of curiosity: do you keep two separate SSD's
    as independent start-up drives?
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I have at times. I have 3 minis running the pegasus6 quad core has the fusion as a booter and a usb3 hdd as a cloned booter. plus the 21tb in the pegasus r6 all data gear. I have a tm using a lacie big2 disk this is a power hungry setup.

    second mini has a 750gb fusion and a 1 tb usb3 for back up. the third mini has 2 booter ssds in the lacie little big disk and the internal hdd is a tm. these 2 setups are much easier on the power meters.

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