External Boot Drive for new iMac - Advice needed

Discussion in 'iMac' started by noob17, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. noob17 macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2006
    Hi All,

    so i recently bought a refurb Late 2012 imac which was the higher base model MD-096 B/A. It came with the standard 1TB hard drive.

    Now that i have a bit more funds, i wanted to buy an SSD and connect it up and use as the primary drive.

    My question is, which is better...

    SSD via USB 3 or SSD via thunderbolt?

    Which will give me better performance?

    Also, i am in the UK, so if anyone has any particular drive/setup i should purchase, could you make it uk specific?
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I think the difference between USB 3 or Thunderbolt is pretty minimal. If like me you use most of your USB ports already, I'd look at a thunderbolt drive. I'm thinking of getting one from Lacie as they are a good brand and I can get a small discount through work. Buffalo are good as well, but I guess it comes down to size and budget (as ever!)
  3. noob17 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2006
    Oh i see, well i dont mind saving up a bit more for thunderbolt if its a significant increase. im just wondering if anyone out there has actually tried both and has seen any major differences.

    Isnt thunderbolt much faster (in terms of spec) compared to USB 3.0?
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    My advice:

    Go with USB3, easy setup, low cost.

    You can get a USB3/SATA dock (or, if you wish, an enclosure) in the $25-30 price range.
    One worth consideration is:
    This supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) over USB3 - very fast.

    If you want the ultimate in speed, it will cost a little more:

    I use a plugable dock, but the firmtek enclosure looks to be really nifty....
  5. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    For a mechanical drive, USB3 and Thunderbolt are virtually indistinguishable.

    For an SSD, you will notice the difference. TB offers less latency, higher throughput and lower CPU utilization, as a bus-level interface should. (People sometimes forget that TB is not just an interface, it's an extension of the PCIe bus.)

    If you will be booting from this drive frequently and depending on it for native-class responsiveness, the TB approach may be worth the extra cost to you.
  6. noob17 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2006
    hmm, yes i intend on using this as the primary drive, i think i will go down the thunderbolt route..

    Does anyone in the UK have any recommendations as to which one to buy?

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