External SSD vs HDD

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Slinkington, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. Slinkington macrumors member

    Slinkington

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    #1
    I'm after an external storage option which I can use primarily for saving Photoshop and Illustrator files to, rather than saving them to my iMac hard drive so I can transport them easily.

    I've found a 120GB SSD for about £140 which I'm considering as it can be used via Thunderbolt which I imagine will provide speedy reading and writing. Though I've heard SSD is better for storing things like software applications, rather than files that you'll be constantly updating, in terms of SSD lifespan. (120GB is more than sufficient for my files)

    There are far cheaper external HDDs out there which connect via USB 3.0, but then there is the concern of them getting bumped around a bit when transporting, and the write speed is probably going to be noticeably slower?

    Any advice would be much appreciated. :)
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    If you're just using it to store applications, then the HDD makes more sense.

    a SSD's advantage is its fast read/write speeds. If you're not storing your data to take advantage of that speed, instead storing apps, then I'd say the hard drive may be a better option.
     
  3. SnowLucas macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2015
    #3
    Do you have USB 3.0 on your Mac or is Thunderbolt a requirement?

    A 120gb SSD can be found for £40 in the U.K plus a USB UASP enclosure is about £10. So unless you need the Thunderbolt connection £140 is not a good price.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007ZW2LY4
     
  4. Slinkington thread starter macrumors member

    Slinkington

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    #4
    Thanks for the replies! I didn't realise you could get enclosures for external drives... Seems somewhat scary to me for some reason, but wow it's way way cheaper than any external alternative I've found... Thanks for letting me know. :)
     
  5. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    NH
    #5
    The main advantage of SSD for portable use, it that they are low power and rugged, very hard to destroy. Some companies make rugged rotational drives for more money. If rugged is important to you, you should think about an enclosure thats just as durable. Most are not.

    I think, for less than 300 GB portable applications, SSD is a no brainer. Rotational drives for 1TB or higher capacity makes more sense. Its a gray area in between.

    USB3 is going to limit data rate, but it doesn't look like thats a concern for you.
     
  6. SnowLucas macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2015
    #6
    As far as I can gather an SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure will run just as fast as in a Thunderbolt enclosure.

    There are obviously cases where thunderbolt is an advantage but in a single drive arrangement like the OP is looking for USB 3.0 is the better choice because it's affordable.
     
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Dunno where you are getting that data. In the real world on my rMBP 15, according to BlackMagic, a SSD in a very good high end USB3 $$ enclosure gets 230MBps and the same SSD in a low end TB1 enclosure gets 375MBps, thats 63% better. A couple fast 7200 rpm drives in RAID0 in a TB enclosure shows 325 MBps. Benchmarks aside, the SSD in a TB enclosure just feels noticeably quicker. USB has a lot of built in latency.

    Now whether its worth it or affordable or not is subjective. USB3 sure has a lot of quirks where TB seems to be solid. USB3 seems to work fine for portable disk applications.
     
  8. SnowLucas macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2015
    #8
    USB 3.0 can go a lot faster than what your getting and even faster than the Thunderbolt speeds you are getting. I suspect your USB enclosure is not UASP as the difference should be less than you are experiencing.

    When you are talking about raid it isn't hard to saturate the USB connection but in a single drive this isn't an issue from what I have read. This could easily change if the drives move beyond sata III speeds because thunderbolt has the room to deal with this whereas USB 3.0 does not.

    http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/review/lacie-rugged-usb3-thunderbolt-review-benchmarks

    This drive has both connections and shows the Potential speeds possible with USB 3.0. The write speeds on both connections are not impressive but this might be down to the ssd bundled. The read speeds are more telling. USB3.0 can go much faster than you have found.

    It's worth stating I do not own an ssd or a USB 3.0 enclosure to show what is possible. From the information I have found I personally would buy a USB 3.0 UASP enclosure (about £15) over a thunderbolt enclosure (over £100 as far as I can find) to pair with a single modern SSD.

    Thunderbolt is clearly better than USB but it's expensive. The advantages need to be worth the extra cost and for single drives (that don't need to be bootable) I personally wouldn't spend the extra ££.
     
  9. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #9
    No all my USB3 enclosures are USAP with the latest and greatest firmware. In addition to USAP, there is a broad range of differenced with chip performance (and mac compatibility). I see 120 to 280 MBps black magic benchmarks depending on the USAP enclosure I plug the SSD in and the phase of the moon :).

    My experience is consistent with others in the real world (not controlled laboratory conditions). USB3 on paper can be faster but in practice on a Mac, not so much. And then there are all those annoying Mac USB3 compatibility quirks that pop up at the most inopportune time.

    Just saying that TB will consistently work much better than USB3 for storage in the real world. Its hard for USB3 fanboys to accept, but thats the facts.

    TB may not be worth the extra cost to an individual, especially in a portable application, but that's a different topic. Worth is subjective and personal. I know I'm much happier now as I transition away from the storage over USB3 crap. I have a couple decent Mac compatible USB3 enclosures that I continue to use for portable storage as they are cheap and work well enough.
     
  10. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #10
    I must say that I've never had any connection or otherwise problems with OWC's USB3 enclosures, and I tested a 750GB Samsung 840 EVO inside an OWC enclosure and got speeds of about 360MB/sec.

    This is the enclosure I tested with: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/ES2.5BU3S/

    Of course, I would NOT recommend Samsung EVO SSDs given Samsung's issues with TLC NAND in the 840 EVOs, an issue that hasn't been resolved, and may carry over to the 850 EVO (we should know in a couple of months' time, as users report issues with it).
     
  11. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #11
    The point is you have to be choosy about USB3 enclosure, where TB it is not a factor.

    I've had good luck with OWC USB3 enclosures, but they are not cheap either.
     
  12. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #12
    Cheap is a relative thing... I consider $27 to be fairly cheap. Of course, freight on that single item would blow it's price out a fair bit... But I tend to buy gear from OWC in larger amounts. I've got 2 Thunderbay IVs and 2 Thunderbay 4 minis.

    I do agree with you that Thunderbolt enclosures are superior to USB3.
     

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