Connecting an SSD to iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MarkieMark92, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. MarkieMark92 macrumors regular

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    #1
    I have a Macbook Air with an SSD drive in it and an iMac with a hard drive in it. The iMac I use for games sometimes but find that when booting my iMac up it takes about 3 times as long to boot. I know as its a 2012 iMac I can't take it apart to install an SSD internally but if i brought a external SSD like the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD edition would I be able to move the operating system to that and boot from that and would it be faster?
     
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #2
    Yes it will.

    I have a HD-PATU3 (spinner HDD), and I took apart the unit and put a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB in it. I may not get native SATA3 performance (it clocks in at around 400MB/s), but it's good enough.

    I did this for fun though, all my Macs are SSD-equipped.
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    #3
    If your iMac has a thunderbolt port on it, the best and easiest way to get the benefits of an SSD, without opening the case (which can be a struggle for some folks), would be to add an SSD in an external thunderbolt enclosure.

    It will boot and run as quickly as if it were installed internally.
     
  4. PatriotInvasion macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #4
    This, but it won't come cheap and will obviously need to be connected at all times if you want to boot from it. Not the most elegant solution for an all-in-one desktop, but if speed matters that much, it's a good solution.
     
  5. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #5
    Another option is a USB to SATA adapter. It's not nearly as fast as Thunderbolt but it is a LOT faster than a spinning hard disk. This is the method I normally use when upgrading a Mac HDD. I clone (or migrate) the internal disk to the external disk. I then boot from the external disk for "a while" until I "get around to" opening the case and swapping them.
     
  6. Liffey macrumors regular

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    #6
    Does this mean it's better to buy an iMac with an HDD and buy your own presumably cheaper external SSD to boot from?
     
  7. cynics macrumors G4

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    #7

    Aside from appearance are there any downside?

    My Mac has a HDD and I've been curious that maybe I could just add an external SSD one day if speed ever becomes an issue.

    Sorry noob question but figured I'd use this opportunity to ask.
     
  8. PatriotInvasion macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #8
    The only downside is that you won't get the same speeds as the internal PCIe-based flash storage in the latest Macs (600-700MB/s reads and writes). You'll likely max out around 400-450MB/s with an SSD connected via Thunderbolt, but that should still be a significant jump from an HDD.
     
  9. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

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    #9
    I'm planning to use this solution for Bootcamp on my iMac. I'm planning to get a LaCie 256 Gigabyte Thunderbolt external for this so I can boot quickly to Windows when I want to play certain games. This will more than double the space I have for bootcamp now, make it much faster to boot and game on and free space on the internal Mac startup disk.

    My next iMac I want to go with a Fusion drive and use this external once again for Winders so hopefully it'll be a good investment over time. I'm thinking it should serve me well for the life of two systems, the one I have now and the next one I buy.
     
  10. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #10
    I have had great luck with booting Windows on the LaCie "Rugged" Thunderbolt SSD on my iMac and MacMini. It is one of the few Thunderbolt enclosures I have found which will easily boot external Windows on a Mac.
     
  11. PatriotInvasion macrumors 65816

    PatriotInvasion

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    #11
    Just the thought of seeing the clunky Windows Start Menu on my Mac gives me the creeps. :eek::(:p
     
  12. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #12
    Yeah ... But I need To run Quicken ... So require Windows for that and games.
     
  13. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

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    #13
    I'm glad to hear it works well. That's the model I have wish listed on Amazon presently.
     
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    #14
    [[ Does this mean it's better to buy an iMac with an HDD and buy your own presumably cheaper external SSD to boot from? ]]

    No, that's not what it means.

    The OP asked about the easiest way to achieve the benefits of "SSD speeds" on an iMac (with internal HDD) that has a thunderbolt port (but DOES NOT have a USB3 port).

    In that case, the easiest, fastest, less-troublesome method is to add an external thunderbolt drive.

    Yes, you DO have to have it connected all the time. So what?
     
  15. SaSaSushi, Mar 27, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014

    SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #15
    My iMac has a 1TB Fusion drive but I bought a Delock 2.5" Thunderbolt enclosure for about $100 and put in a 500GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD. I have it split half and half between OS X and BootCamp and it boots to both perfectly.

    In terms of benchmarks, it gets around 400MB/s read and write which is less than the PCIe SSD component of the Fusion drive but in terms of actual usage, I notice zero difference between boot speeds and the responsiveness of apps, etc.

    It is a really unobtrusive, light little aluminum enclosure and I have no problems with it sitting behind the iMac, connected 24/7. No one ever sees back there besides my cat anyway. To me it's a bonus to be able to replace/upgrade the drive when and if necessary in about 3 minutes with nothing but a screwdriver.
     
  16. MorpheusXX macrumors newbie

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    Mar 27, 2014
    #16
    I recently used maxupgrades to add an SSD to my iMac 27'' and create a home made fusion drive. It comes with the tools to open and reseal your iMac. I will never buy a pure HDD iMac again, its just too slow.

    My boot times decreased dramatically after the upgrade, needless to say my apps open and run faster. My Parallels virtual machines takes seconds to load up.

    As noted by others, there are two drawbacks to external drive using thunderbolt. One, not quite as fast as an internal SSD. Two, your drive must remain attached if its the boot drive. Detaching it by mistake would obviously crash the OS. But then again, you just plug it in again and boot up. Not something you want to do too often I imagine.
     
  17. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #17
    Nor, as I mentioned above, is it noticeably slower, and I'm comparing it to the 700MB/s read speeds of my iMac's PCIe SSD.

    It would, and that would not be good, but fortunately I rarely go behind nor move the iMac at all so this is a non-concern. For MBPs and MBAs where the machine is going to be moved around, this is absolutely something to consider though.
     
  18. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    #18
    SaSaShusi wrote above:
    [[ It is a really unobtrusive, light little aluminum enclosure and I have no problems with it sitting behind the iMac, connected 24/7. No one ever sees back there besides my cat anyway. To me it's a bonus to be able to replace/upgrade the drive when and if necessary in about 3 minutes with nothing but a screwdriver. ]]

    It's amazing how many Mac people can't comprehend this. The response you'll get from them is "why should I have something on the outside connected to the iMac?"
    They just can't understand....
     
  19. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #19
    It is so easy to attach a small SSD drive to the iMac foot/stand with a couple of velcro dots or adhesive velcro strips. You don't notice it even being there, and it becomes part of the machine. If you put it on the inside face of the stand, nobody will even notice it there. The velcro is easy to remove when you sell the iMac if desired.
     
  20. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #20
    Yeah, I've got a bunch of velcro adhesive strips from the 100 yen shop (Japanese dollar store), and I've considered doing that. The Delock would fit perfectly on the stand just below the hole. I guess I just saw no need since the machine is never moved.
     
  21. richorlin macrumors regular

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    Sep 19, 2007
    #21
    SSD to iMac

    If you are retrofitting an existing iMac, yes, the external Thunderbolt SSD is the way to go. A 256gb SSD and TB adapter will cost about $300. However, if you are buying a new iMac, you would be better off buying a Fusion drive for about the same cost.
     
  22. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #22
    You can't enable TRIM if you use a USB-SATA adapter.

    However, you can enable TRIM over Thunderbolt.
     
  23. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #23
    My LaCie Rugged just sits on the foot of my iMac. The cable supplied with it is just about the perfect length for this and I get all the benefits of SSD booting without it taking up any real estate on the desk.
     
  24. Blue Sun macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Which Lacie rugged drive do you have? I was thinking of purchasing the 256GB rugged SSD and using it as a Thunderbolt boot drive for my iMac.
     
  25. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I have the basic 120GB one and it suits me just fine. I don't run it as a fusion drive, it's a separate partition that has my OS X install and apps on it. For my current needs it is more than adequate since I keep my iTunes library on a high speed SD card that lives permanently in the rear SD card slot of the iMac (that location is simply not suited to regular card access and I already have an external usb reader for my camera's cards).

    My install plus apps and the bulk of my day to day work lives on that SSD and it happily sits with more than 40 GB free. I am looking to upgrade at some point in the future to a larger drive, especially since I'm thinking of migrating the windows partition to it (that runs off the internal HD). All other large files that are rarely accessed, or where access time doesn't matter just live on that internal HD and the whole thing is backed up via time machine to an external USB3 drive.

    I can highly recommend the LaCie rugged SSD - it's small, it's orange (but that is easy to remove without damaging it if you don't like that) and bus-powered, and the included thunderbolt cable is the ideal length.

    I have TRIM support working just fine with it (as you'd expect on the TB bus), and the access speeds are near-native for a SATA3 SSD, which is what is inside the case.
     

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