External SSD via firewire?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DoNoHarm, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2008
    Hey Guys,

    So I've decided to get an iMac 27" model and I'm still trying to figure out what is best for me. I'm debating between getting a 2010 model and installing a perpetually upgradable SSD as the main boot drive vs getting a newer one and using velcro to affix an external SSD via firewire to the back of a newer iMac and upgrading that as a way to avoid the apple tax on the external storage. Has anyone tried this? Are there ever situations where you notice the speed drop? If I threw all my photos and music on the external drive, would I notice any issues? Could I have my iPhoto library and iTunes music library on that external drive and not have issues?
  2. Malus120 macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2002
    Regarding an external SSD via Firewire on a 2010 era iMac. Just. Dont.
    I don't know what your budget is, but if you really want to connect externally to avoid the "Apple tax," either

    A. get an iMac with USB 3.0 (2012 or newer),
    B. get an iMac with Thunderbolt (2011 or newer)

    Firewire, is, by todays standards, an old, slow, dead, and EXPENSIVE option. Not only will the difference in speed be noticeable, but you honestly won't save that much of anything by going Firewire vs Thunderbolt, and you'll pay waaaaaaaaaay more than you would for USB 3.0. Both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 can give you (near in the case of USB) native SATA III speeds with the right enclosure.

    The only case were I would recommend choosing a firewire based external SSD is someone who has already has an older mac and is for one reason or another determined not to upgrade. Even then you're going to have to shell out for Firewire 800 if you really want even borderline acceptable performance.
  3. DoNoHarm thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2008
    Thanks for your reply. I was reading in other threads about power limitations causing a 256gb ceiling on the size of external ssd. Is that true for both thunderbolt and usb3.0? I wish I knew this sooner, I had been avoiding getting a computer with easily swappable hard disk space all this time because I thought I would be stuck without the ability to store stuff once I reached the current max drive size!

  4. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    There isn't any concern when using a larger drive over its power usage. Even a 1TB SSD can operate from on an external bus power interface. Older SSDs may have had higher power requirements, but modern ones use very little power.
  5. Richdmoore macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    I use a crucial 1tb ssd with a delock thunderbolt enclosure. The enclosure is wall powered, so it should not have any power limitations vs an enclosure that uses only bus power. (I also agree with the poster above, new ssd models probably use less power than the older drives, but I wasn't able to find any good numbers to confirm power useage.)
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Malus above is right.

    I would strongly suggest that you DO NOT buy any iMac earlier than the 2012 models.
    You WANT USB3 at the very least. It's a world ahead of USB2 -and- firewire.

    You can achieve excellent boot/run performance by plugging in a USB3 SSD such as this:

    240gb version is very cost effective for adding to an older machine.

    You will very much like the performance you get from an external booter such as this.

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