Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

wiimixer

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
44
22
The spinning HD of my Fusion drive setup recently failed in my Late 2012 (tapered edge) 21.5" iMac.

I've 'unfused' the drive(s) and now booting happily from the 128Gb SSD, and HDD now defunct. NOTE: I have NO interest in opening up the Mac and replacing the HDD, like for like or with internal SSD!

Everything I need fits on the SSD - other than my Photos Library. I can get by since it's stored in iCloud anyway, but I'd ideally like it stored locally - and hoping to use the Thunderbolt (1, therefore 10Gbs transfer?) with an external SSD.

Looking around, the vast majority of solid state external drives appear to be USB - which may be close to Thunderbolt speeds in later machines, but from what I can tell MUCH slower in late 2012 spec.

Any suggestions on:
1. if the speed/spec is better via Thunderbolt (over USB) for this scenario/iMac
2. suitable Thunderbolt drives on the market

Final requirement: if possible, I'd like the external drive to be powered via the Thunderbolt connection too.

Many thanks for any help offered!
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,534
8,865
You should tell us what OS you are using, because it could change what drives you can use.

1. if the speed/spec is better via Thunderbolt (over USB) for this scenario/iMac


I have the Late 2012 iMac, and it is still my main Mac and going strong. I have used plenty of various options of external drives on my Late 2012, along with many other Macs.

I suggest going with an external boot drive, as most of the external options will be faster than your 8 year old internal blade SSD.

You have plenty of external options with the Late 2012 iMac, all have pros and cons. I will post some of the more common options, but leave some out, such as using the SD card slot and a high speed SD card. While it could be about as fast as your internal SSD, the cost per GB makes it not an ideal option compared to others.

You could also set up your own Fusion Drive using your internal SSD and external HDD or external SSD, but with your internal SSD being so old and probably not as fast as it used to be and pretty slow even when new (relative to newer Macs), this might not be the best option for you. So, I won't really get into this.


Here are some External options with estimated cost per GB on 1TB storage, and speeds are based on using it on a Late 2012 iMac, as the speeds could be faster on a newer Mac. The links given are just examples of what you might want/need to get with a particular option.

USB3 with SATA or PCIe SSD - @ $0.10 per GB, About 400MBps, bus powered, but no TRIM support...
This option is the cheapest and easy to set up. Give you a decent speed. I recommend just getting an internal 2.5" SSD such as the Samsung 860 EVO and using a cheap USB3 SATA enclosure SATA/USB3 adapter. With sales, you can get a 1TB 860 EVO and a cheap enclosure for less than $100 if in the US. You can get a drive already put together, like the Samsung T5 or T7, but they tend to be more expensive. The biggest downside to the USB option is the lack of TRIM if using MacOS.
@$100:
@$8:



TB1 with SATA SSD - @ $0.15+ per GB, About 400MBps, bus powered, TRIM support, but harder to find...
This option could be a cheap option for price, but it will take some looking around and most likely would require buying used. One ebay, I have purchased some used LaCie Rugged TB Drives that had HDDs in them and replaced the HDDs with SATA SSDs. It only took about 1 minute, and they work great. This option would be at least $50 more than the USB3 option. You could use any SATA 2.5" SSD in them, such as the Samsung 860 Evo. Most likely the cheapest external option with TRIM support.
@$100:
@$80:



TB1/2 with AHCI SSD - @ $0.40 per GB, About 700MBps, bus powered, TRIM support, but limited options...
This option is faster, but more expensive than USB3. Harder to find, and only a few options. Limited MacOS options as well (What MacOS version do you use?).
@$370:


TB1/2 with NVMe SSD - @ $0.45 per GB, About 750MBps, bus powered, TRIM support, but limited options...
This option is similar to the PCIe AHCI SSD option. Just a little faster, and a little more expensive. If you ever decide to get a newer Mac, the speed potential of this drive would increase to about 900MBps, but will be limited to about 750MBps over your Late 2012 iMac's TB1 port. Limited MacOS options as well.
@$402:


TB3 with NVMe SSD - @ $0.60+ per GB, About 900MBps, TRIM support, but NOT bus powered....
This option is the fastest external option, and probably the fastest option internal or external for your iMac without getting into striping RAIDs. It is also very expensive as you will need extra equipment and cable adapters. The drive itself cost similar to the last option, but the extra equipment could add an additional $150-$200 or more to the cost. If you decide to get a newer Mac, the speed potential could be as high as 3000MBps, but limited to about 900MBps over TB1. Limited MacOS options as well.
@$400:
@$170:
@$50:
@$30:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chuckeee

wiimixer

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
44
22
Wow - thank you Vertical Smile! I'm using Catalina (10.15.7), and carefully reading through the options you've kindly laid out. I'm sure a) the information I need is in there, and b) I would never have found all that through googling etc.

I wasn't even aware of TRIM til I read your post! Getting up to speed now.

Truly grateful. Thanks again.
 

wiimixer

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
44
22
Quick follow up:

does this drive fit the bill for the second option (TB1 with SATA SSD) you specified?

I note the Lacie drive you linked to has Integrated Thunderbolt cable, whereas this one comes with Thunderbolt AND USB3 cables.

And would it be powered via the Thunderbolt connection. I'd prefer not to have separate power connection.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,534
8,865
I should have put one that I personally recommend. I would recommend the USB3 SATA drive, or a SATA TB1 drive. For both options, I would save some money and buy the SATA SSD separate from the enclosure.



It sounds like you are just trying to get a SSD solution to hold you over until you decide to get your next computer, and the USB3 SATA SSD would be good for this.

The USB3 SATA SSD would be a great balance of speed and price. While TRIM under MacOS isn't support with USB drives, many people use USB boot drives for many years without noticeable issues.



I also like the TB1 SATA drive solution, as it could be had for not much more than a USB3 SATA SSD, and has TRIM support. The trouble is finding one. If you take my LaCie Rugged TB HDD advice, that would leave you a HDD you could use for a back up drive.

The LaCie Rugged TB drives can sometimes be found for pretty cheap. I found one for $50 and it came with a 2TB HDD that I still use as a scratch drive. I put a SATA SSD in it and it took maybe 5 minutes the first time I did it. I have since replaced the SSD a few times, and I can swap the SSD in less than a minute.

The LaCie Rugged TB drive I got for $50 is the one with TB1 and USB3, and it was a great purchase. The one I linked above is the same model I got, but it is going for $80 with the Buy It Now option on eBay.

Just a note about that LaCie Rugged drive, when I put the SSD in it, the USB3 port stopped working. It works fine when I put the HDD back, but for some reason, the USB port on it won't work with a SSD installed. Probably a firmware issue. The TB port worked fine though.


I wasn't even aware of TRIM til I read your post!
Some people use USB3 drives for years without TRIM related issues, at least ones they notice. The lack of TRIM mostly affects write speeds after a while of use, but could also lead to premature failure after a long time of use.

On internal drives, I have have seen multiple times where the lack of TRIM enabled affected read speed as well, but I am unsure of why. People have posted threads asking for help describing a problem where their write speeds are really slow, and their read speeds have also slowed, but not nearly as dramatic as their write speeds.

I and others suggested enabling TRIM if they have not already, and it corrected both write and read issues.

I think you will be fine without TRIM, especially if this is just going to hold you over for a few years until you get a newer Mac.


Quick follow up:

does this drive fit the bill for the second option (TB1 with SATA SSD) you specified?

I note the Lacie drive you linked to has Integrated Thunderbolt cable, whereas this one comes with Thunderbolt AND USB3 cables.

And would it be powered via the Thunderbolt connection. I'd prefer not to have separate power connection.
That looks like the same exact LaCie drive I have. I think the model number of the one I got is LAC9000299, but that is for the 2TB HDD model. I do not have the one with the built-in TB cable.


That is a crazy high price, or maybe that is how much that stuff costs where you live? Maybe the USB3 SSD would be a better option if that is a lot cheaper.
 

wiimixer

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
44
22
I agree it's a high price, and I'll scour eBay for cheaper. Was thinking the high price was due to it including the SSD - rather than HDD whereby I'd also need to buy/install the SSD. The one I posted a link to does allow 'Offers' - so I could go in low.

And thanks for confirming the models with TB & USB3 cables (rather than integrated TB) are suitable - that's what I was hoping for.

Not sure whY I'm partial to the TB port option. Possibly because the port is otherwise redundant, and I *might* want to use all USB ports at some point!
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,534
8,865
Possibly because the port is otherwise redundant, and I *might* want to use all USB ports at some point!
At least on my LaCie Rugged TB drive, the USB3 port won't work with the SSD installed.

I have other LaCie Rugged Drives that the USB port works fine with a SSD installed, but for some reason, it stops working on my TB version.

The TB port works fine, though.


I would continue to look for something cheaper, or maybe buy from a US store if you can.
 
Excellent job, vertical smile! You sure provided so much useful information.

I used to own a Samsung 860 EVO 500 gig SSD (bare SSD), and I mounted inside an Orico Tool Free enclosure:


It worked out very well. I still have 2 Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig SSDs enclosed in such enclosures, and again very satisfied.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,534
8,865
I used to own a Samsung 860 EVO 500 gig SSD (bare SSD), and I mounted inside an Orico Tool Free enclosure
I think when the prices that the OP listed for TB drives, it might be worth it to just go the cheaper and use a USB3 SATA enclosure with a SATA SSD.
 

wiimixer

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
44
22
After a period of reflection, I've arrived back at the starting point - or should I say, in the direction you pointed me: USB3 with SATA or PCIe SSD.

As you point out, it's the least expensive, easiest to source, and will meet my needs.

Thanks for bearing with me til the penny dropped!
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,534
8,865
Like I said before, you have a lot of storage options, all with pros and cons.

There probably isn't such thing as a perfect option, probably just need to find one that meets your needs while not spending too much.

USB3 with SATA or PCIe SSD.
A good benefit of doing something SATA (USB or TB) is that if you ever decide to open your Mac, you could swap the SATA SSD for the internal HDD. This would give you speeds of about 550MBps, and has TRIM enabled.

A good benefit of doing PCIe (USB or TB), is that if you ever decide to get a newer Mac, you could take advantage of the faster speeds that the PCIe is capable of.
 
I think when the prices that the OP listed for TB drives, it might be worth it to just go the cheaper and use a USB3 SATA enclosure with a SATA SSD.
Well, at least directly from Samsung, the 860 EVO 500gig SSD is real inexpensive:


(Same price on Amazon, and on newegg with free shipping). So, one could get that SSD, and the Orico Enclosure above, and spend a total of less than $65 (excluding shipping & sales tax, if any).
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,457
12,573
OP:

Let's keep things simple, ok?

Since your internal 128gb SSD still works
and
Since it holds almost everything you have
then
All you need is an external drive to serve as "a data drive".

I'd suggest a USB3 SSD.
Either buy one "pre-built", or build one yourself (this is literally "a snap" to do).

You could get something like a Samsung t5 or t7
or
Buy a "bare" SATA 2.5" SSD (I like Crucial and Sandisk)
along with
A USB3 enclosure like this one:

This will give you plenty of fast "primary external storage".

SOMETHING YOU MUST REMEMBER:
When you keep a "primary external storage drive" (that is... data that exists only on the external and not on the internal drive), then you must BACK UP the primary external drive, as well.

For this task, NOTHING will work better than CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
Either of these will create an EXACT COPY of the external data drive that is all-but indistinguishable from the original.
Both apps are FREE to download and try for 30 days.
I'll reckon that if you try them, you'll like them.
 
OP:

Let's keep things simple, ok?

Since your internal 128gb SSD still works
and
Since it holds almost everything you have
then
All you need is an external drive to serve as "a data drive".

I'd suggest a USB3 SSD.
Either buy one "pre-built", or build one yourself (this is literally "a snap" to do).

You could get something like a Samsung t5 or t7
or
Buy a "bare" SATA 2.5" SSD (I like Crucial and Sandisk)
along with
A USB3 enclosure like this one:

This will give you plenty of fast "primary external storage".

SOMETHING YOU MUST REMEMBER:
When you keep a "primary external storage drive" (that is... data that exists only on the external and not on the internal drive), then you must BACK UP the primary external drive, as well.

For this task, NOTHING will work better than CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
Either of these will create an EXACT COPY of the external data drive that is all-but indistinguishable from the original.
Both apps are FREE to download and try for 30 days.
I'll reckon that if you try them, you'll like them.
That Sabrent enclosure is just like the Orico one in my post above. I have 3 of those Orico models, and they work real well.

Also, SuperDuper! is actually free forever, although if one wants some more advanced features (like scheduled backups), one would need to pay for it. Also, all SuperDuper! updates are free, whereas a number of them for Carbon Copy Cloner require a payment.
 
Last edited:

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,457
12,573
The reason I suggested CCC is because CCC will also clone the recovery partition onto the SSD.
I don't think SuperDuper can do that.
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68020
Oct 19, 2007
2,024
510
Blue Mountains NSW Australia
SD does clone the Recovery Partition subject to setting the external up correctly under Show All Devices under View. For me the best option has been the Diskmaker X bootable thumb drive of the operating systems.

Use a both USB3 and a TB Kingston SSds externals to always have two backups. Speed to clone each are usually within a few sewconds of ewacvh other speed wise, however booting freom thew TB is much, much quicker than USB3.
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 68030
Jul 5, 2020
2,889
946
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I think OP started this thread because of the labour cost issue.
Where I live, independent repair shops offer to do the SSD replacement job for just 25$ (labour+adhesive+OS back-up), and people are very happy with that service.
For a small premium, on-site service also available.
 

mdgm

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2010
1,665
406
With the 2011 Macs it’s an easier choice to use Thunderbolt as they don’t have USB3. Getting performance faster than an internal SATA III SSD using TB1 is great.

Seeing the performance is bottlenecked by the TB1 port I’m using an enclosure with an easily replaceable NVMe flash module inside.

With your 2012 having USB3 ports you have plenty of options.
 

2fifty6

macrumors newbie
Oct 1, 2022
6
4
… You have plenty of external options with the Late 2012 iMac, all have pros and cons. …
I know this is an old thread, but I just had to reply and say how helpful this was! My 2012 iMac’s spinning drive started giving out a few days ago, and as I deliberated on how to get back up and running, this thread—and particularly this reply—was invaluable. I had planned on eventually revitalizing things with an external SSD, but I had not considered the various options for doing so, and this reply summed them all up very concisely and with exactly the kinds of pros and cons I needed to weigh.

I initially leaned towards the regular external USB option as well as the TB1 enclosure option for a bit, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized my machine (together with the life-extending power of OpenCore Legacy Patcher to let me rocket forward from Mojave to Monterey) has plenty of life left in it...so I “went for broke” and chose the TB/NVMe route. I found a used TB3 dock with an internal SSD slot (Glyph TB3 Dock, for any wondering) for a good price, got a 2TB 970 Evo Plus, the adapter, and the cable, and finally brought it all together today. Haven’t had much chance to play with it yet, but the speed is indeed upwards of 900MBps.

Thanks in part to your help, I predict that the best days of this iMac are yet to come!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mdgm and Juicy Box

Speleoso

macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2023
2
0
Hey just confirming this will work for my dying iMac. 27” late 2013 i7 . May need some assistance with the OCLP once everything gets here.

I think I wanna go the TB/NVMe route like above.
So the glyph TB3 is ok even though a late2013 is just TB 1?
Dock and 2TB drive
Then a cable and adapter.
Anyone mind sharing what one they got?
 

PaulD-UK

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2009
560
265
I’ve got the Glyph TB3 dock, which I’ve connected to a 2012 15 MacBook Pro with an Apple TB2><TB3 adapter and an Apple TB1/2 cable.
I’ve got a WD Black 1TB SSD in the dock.
Everything works perfectly fine and as expected.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Speleoso
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.