DIY Fusion w/new iMac and 500GB Samsung 840 SSD in Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jediDev, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. jediDev macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    I was planning on swapping the new iMac's HD with a 500GB Samsung 840 SSD (note: not the 840 Pro), but until some brave soul figures out how to get the display back on the case, I've decided against cracking open the iMac.

    So I decided to slip the SSD inside a Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt enclosure and set up as a DIY Fusion. I'm not sure if I'll keep this configuration, but at this point I'm leaning towards it, although I'm not sure if the larger SSD size really is much of a benefit compared to 128GB.

    Anyway, I've barely started using the machine in this configuration, but I figured I'd post the BlackMagic throughput numbers for the DIY Fusion Drive.

    If there's any other free disk test utilities anyone wants to see results for, I can try to check them tomorrow—just point me to them. I'll also post some photos of opening the drive—basically it's just like what AnandTech had.

    Attached Files:

  2. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    Here's the enclosure disassembled, along with the drives.

    Attached Files:

  3. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    And now back together again:

    Attached Files:

  4. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    And here it is behind the iMac on a backpack shelf i got at the apple store. By the way, it was very easy opening the enclosure—I just put it under a hairdryer for a minute or so, thanks to the recommendation of the anandtech crew to use a heat gun. It was a little trickier getting the drive out of the plastic sled, but it took less than 10 minutes. Putting it back together was fairly easy as well. And as you can see, it looks like new when it's put back together. (I messed up one thing with the LED indicator, but I don't care enough about that to reopen things.)

    Attached Files:

  5. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Probably easier than people think, and to get it back you would need something like this.

    Foam Tape



    Is that the next OS next to the iMac:)

    Next OS X version, 10.9 HouseCat.
  6. MacFoodPoisoner macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2012
    Nicely played man, and that's a cool cat taking a nap behind the imac, cool pic. :cool:
  7. KiwiPhoto macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2012
    Nice job Jedi. I will definitely do something similar.

    P.s.what breed is the cat :)
  8. WilliamG, Dec 1, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012

    WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
  9. Yeroon macrumors member


    Jun 12, 2012
    Is that a SATA600 or 300 device? Good speeds, but they could be even a bit higher I think. A lot of externals still use a SATA300 controller (which is slower for the fastest SSD's out there).

    I'm thinking about a similar setup too, but my primary storage (home folder) is also external at the moment (6 TB LaCie Thunderbolt), so I hesitate a bit by booting up external too (if something goes wrong, everything goes wrong).
  10. highlightshadow macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2012
    I'm just happy that DIY Fusion works via external drive... have a spare 128Gb SATA3 drive laying around here and didn't want to pay the large sum for an Apple SSD
  11. iLondoner macrumors 6502


    Interesting thread. Out of interest I ran the BlackMagic speed tests on my mid-2011 MacBook Air (1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD) and the highest speeds achieved after several runs were 243 MB/s write, 262 MB/s read.

    What's the clamp for on the base of the iMac?
  12. saha-med macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2012
    Are thunderbolt enclosures fast as installing an internal SSD?

    Im considering this cheaper option as opposed to getting a fusion drive
  13. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    You had to tease me by putting your cat in the picture :mad:

    Attached Files:

  14. VilleK macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2012
    What's the clamp for on the base of the iMac?[/QUOTE]

    Not sure, could be the iPad stand by TwelveSouth... Called HoverBar if i'm not mistaken. :)
  15. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    Not sure, could be the iPad stand by TwelveSouth... Called HoverBar if i'm not mistaken. :)[/QUOTE]

    Yup—it's the HoverBar. I'm beginning to think it's one of those "looks great, but useless (for me)" kinds of things. Biggest problem for me is that gorilla arm is real for me—I am not a fan of touch screen where you have to lift your arm up. I guess I'm lazy that way. But it sure looks pretty. I suspect I'll be selling it on Amazon shortly.
  16. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    Thanks! Re: The cat—You know, I'm not really sure. I'd say domestic shorthair or tortie but I don't think that's exactly right.
  17. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    I can't answer the performance question because (a) I haven't installed this drive inside the iMac yet [eventually i probably will] so I don't have benchmarks and (b) it's installed now as a part of a Fusion drive, which may impact performance relative to if it were simply a boot drive.

    Anandtech said the performance difference was negligible between the ministation and using the drive internally, but didn't include any benchmarks quantifying that.

    As for cost, I don't think it's cheaper. If all you want is the fusion drive, I think Apple's price is actually pretty good. I mean, $250 is ridiculous for a 128GB SSD. But the value is that it's not actually replacing the HD -- it's an SSD blade that needs to go inside the case. And the only blade that is the right size that's on the market that I'm aware of is the 480GB OWC blade for MBPr, and that's $580. Plus, it's not installed.

    In my case the Samsung SSD cost ~$380 and the enclosure cost ~#180. I probably would get the fusion if I had to do it all over again.

    At the same time, I love tinkering with stuff, so this is fun for me. And when I get to the point where I'm using the spinning part of the Fusion drive (which will be very soon), if performance starts to take a big hit, then I have a big enough SSD that I can just do everything on the SSD and use the internal drive for backups or something like that.


    I suspect it might be related to the enclosure. Also, the 830 should get better performance in most scenarios than the 840. (Samsung has confusing naming. 840 Pro is the next generation of the 830. But the 840 is really more of a budget model. I believe the MBPr blade is basically an 840 Pro, at least if you get a Samsung one. I get 384 MB/s writes and 450 MB/s reads on blackmagic with that one.
  18. Kroner macrumors regular


    Jul 13, 2011
    Haha, I am feeling the same. If I at least could move it easier, especially closer to me and keep it there, I would have liked it more.

    Either way I have reallocated the hoverbar to my couch. Now for once I actually love the hoverbar. Easy to pull or push it away when needed. :)
  19. saha-med macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2012
    Thanks for your input. Wish adding a second SSD was kept as easy as it is in the mac mini 2012
  20. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    The specs would say so and I have seen some benchmarks that also lean in this direction. Variables will effect this though. Be careful when buying enclosures with only one TB port. They are dead end or last in chain only.
  21. Ayers macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2012
    Hi jediDev,

    Thanks for your feedback - I just pulled the trigger on the new imac and have been looking at low cost TB SSD solutions and have been very interested in the Buffalo Ministation TB/USB3 as an enclosure.

    Some people have had mixed reviews with SSDs over 256Gb and I was wondering if you could comment on the stability of your setup.

    I was wondering if you also had the opportunity to test the drive using the USB3 and USB2 connections (as other SSD users have mentioned some compatibility issues).

    Thanks so much for the walkthrough and sharing your experience using a 256Gb+ SSD bus powered setup.


    ps - If anyone has any experience with the Buffalo Ministation TB w/ Samsung 840 Pro (with the lower power requirements) that would be great!
  22. jediDev thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2012
    It's been rock solid.

    I haven't tried USB 3 with it though I have had awful experience using usb3 for external spinning drives.

  23. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Nicely done. I love posts like this when others complain you can't do any tinkering/custom config with Apple products. :D
  24. gagaliya macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2010
    well done OP, some questions

    1) Is there a separate power cable for the Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt enclosure? Or is the single thunderbolt cable into the imac provide enough power for the hdd.

    2) Have you tried to run bootcamp off this external ssd, any issues if so?

    3) Have you tested stability, is the ssd always found on bootup, does it go into sleep mode when not suppose to or wakes up correctly (ie during a time capsule backup even though imac is in sleep mode)

    4) any issues in general? i plan to do something very similar mainly for bootcamp.

  25. pfrocha, Mar 31, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013

    pfrocha macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2013
    LaCie rugged Thunderbolt

    Hi jediDev

    Will a LaCie SSD (external) Rugged Thunderbolt work just as well? Could you please explain in greater detail the steps to have it working as an EXTERNAL FusionDrive (any Terminal typing / OS installation)?

    I always understood that Fusion is designed to work on internal drives only -- see this post from OWC (, but you apparently proved it wrong.


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