External Storage for Mac Mini Quandary - SSD vs. HDD, Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB-C 3.1

iankh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 1, 2013
5
0
I currently use a late 2013 iMac 27", with the 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7, processor, 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB Fusion drive. The internal hard drive with apps, files etc has 400 GB free. Of the 600 GB consumed, about 310 GB is consumed with files (docs, photos, music, etc)

I need to replace a broken machine in the house and want to cascade my iMac to my spouse and buy a new Mac for myself. I'm considering:
  • 2018 Mac Mini with the highest processor
  • 8 GB RAM (I'll upgrade it myself) tp 32 GB
  • 512 Internal Storage
The Quandary

I know I'm going to need external storage and I do not have an unlimited budget, so here are my questions:

  • Do I go with an external SSD or regular HDD?
    • If I go with an SSD should I go with a Thunderbolt 3 drive such as a G-Force Moble Pro or Samsung XS where the cost is higher for Thunderbolt 3, or should I go with a USB-C 3.1?
      • The cost for the Thunderbolt 3 is about $250 for 500GB for the G-Drive as opposed to a G-Drive USB-C 3.1 which is about $220 for 1 TB
    • Or should I just go with a regular old external HDD that uses Thunderbolt 3? This is a more storage for the price choice.
I don't do a lot of video editing, maybe just a few times a year. I do a lot of photo work and use Photoshop. The rest of my work is primarily run of the mill apps.

I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
 
Last edited:

kensic

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2013
353
13
i'm a hobby photographer, and have alot of photos.

i decided with regular HDD over SSD option, because of price. and i have pretty much maximize my work flow, therefore going SSD route for storage is kinda stupid.
-when ever i work on my client's photos, i move the everything into the main SSD drive. then whenever im done with those 100 photos (sometimes takes a few days) or w/e, i move everything back into the HDD storage.

for your situation, that 512 internal storage is big enough for many projects.

so i would recommend HDD because of price, and move files to your internal while working on it for speed. and you get best of both worlds. and save money.

and as a photographer i have tb's of photos that need be backed up just incase, i cant afford ssd/nvme prices for this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: iankh and Sarpanch

Sarpanch

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2013
84
67
SoCal
I currently use a late 2013 iMac 27", with the 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7, processor, 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB Fusion drive. The internal hard drive with apps, files etc has 400 GB free. Of the 600 GB consumed, about 310 GB is consumed with files (docs, photos, music, etc)

I need to replace a broken machine in the house and want to cascade my iMac to my spouse and buy a new Mac for myself. I'm considering:
  • 2018 Mac Mini with the highest processor
  • 8 GB RAM (I'll upgrade it myself)
  • 512 Internal Storage
The Quandary

I know I'm going to need external storage and I do not have an unlimited budget, so here are my questions:

  • Do I go with an external SSD or regular HDD?
    • If I go with an SSD should I go with a Thunderbolt 3 drive such as a G-Force Moble Pro or Samsung XS where the cost is higher for Thunderbolt 3, or should I go with a USB-C 3.1?
      • The cost for the Thunderbolt 3 is about $250 for 500GB for the G-Drive as opposed to a G-Drive USB-C 3.1 which is about $220 for 1 TB
    • Or should I just go with a regular old external HDD that uses Thunderbolt 3? This is a more storage for the price choice.
I don't do a lot of video editing, maybe just a few times a year. I do a lot of photo work and use Photoshop. The rest of my work is primarily run of the mill apps.

I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
I believe my usage is somewhat similar to yours, perhaps lighter (Lightroom + Photoshop for personal use). With my 2012 Mini, I had a 512 GB SSD and 1TB WD Black Hard Drive. I used to edit the latest projects on SSD and would move them to the 1TB HDD for Storage.

With my 2018 Mini, I went with a 256 GB SSD and found myself in a similar situation as yours. I tried researching online if an SSD will help with the RAW and Photoshop files, or if an HDD would suffice. The results were mixed. A few users reported some IO Lag with HDD and majority of them reported no difference at all in their workflow.

I decided to get a 1TB Samsung T5 with an idea to move away from HDDs for daily use (and use them only for Time Machine Backups and Archiving RAW Files). I was ready to pull the trigger on the T5 for ~200$ but saw a really good deal on Crucial MX500 2TB for ~200$. End Result: A 2TB SATA SSD with 5 years warranty from Crucial in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Case. I use a WD Passport 4TB HDD for Time machine Backups

For your usage, I would not recommend an external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD as of now because they are quite new, pricey, and would not offer any significant improvement to your workflow over an External SATA SSD. If you were shooting a lot of video off-site and need quick file transfers, or edit a lot of 4K videos, then the extremely fast speed of an Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD would have benefit a lot. But for photo-editing and exports, you can even do with an external HDD (if cost is a factor)
 
  • Like
Reactions: iankh and F-Train

iankh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 1, 2013
5
0
i'm a hobby photographer, and have alot of photos.

i decided with regular HDD over SSD option, because of price. and i have pretty much maximize my work flow, therefore going SSD route for storage is kinda stupid.
-when ever i work on my client's photos, i move the everything into the main SSD drive. then whenever im done with those 100 photos (sometimes takes a few days) or w/e, i move everything back into the HDD storage.

for your situation, that 512 internal storage is big enough for many projects.

so i would recommend HDD because of price, and move files to your internal while working on it for speed. and you get best of both worlds. and save money.

and as a photographer i have tb's of photos that need be backed up just incase, i cant afford ssd/nvme prices for this.
What do you recommend for an external HD and how much memory do you have on your Mac Mini 2018?
[doublepost=1549323846][/doublepost]
I believe my usage is somewhat similar to yours, perhaps lighter (Lightroom + Photoshop for personal use). With my 2012 Mini, I had a 512 GB SSD and 1TB WD Black Hard Drive. I used to edit the latest projects on SSD and would move them to the 1TB HDD for Storage.

With my 2018 Mini, I went with a 256 GB SSD and found myself in a similar situation as yours. I tried researching online if an SSD will help with the RAW and Photoshop files, or if an HDD would suffice. The results were mixed. A few users reported some IO Lag with HDD and majority of them reported no difference at all in their workflow.

I decided to get a 1TB Samsung T5 with an idea to move away from HDDs for daily use (and use them only for Time Machine Backups and Archiving RAW Files). I was ready to pull the trigger on the T5 for ~200$ but saw a really good deal on Crucial MX500 2TB for ~200$. End Result: A 2TB SATA SSD with 5 years warranty from Crucial in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Case. I use a WD Passport 4TB HDD for Time machine Backups

For your usage, I would not recommend an external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD as of now because they are quite new, pricey, and would not offer any significant improvement to your workflow over an External SATA SSD. If you were shooting a lot of video off-site and need quick file transfers, or edit a lot of 4K videos, then the extremely fast speed of an Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD would have benefit a lot. But for photo-editing and exports, you can even do with an external HDD (if cost is a factor)
How much memory do you have on your Mac Mini 2018?
 

Sarpanch

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2013
84
67
SoCal
What do you recommend for an external HD and how much memory do you have on your Mac Mini 2018?
[doublepost=1549323846][/doublepost]

How much memory do you have on your Mac Mini 2018?
I bought the i5 8GB config and upgraded to 32GB myself. Adobe PS and LR love as much RAM as you can throw at them :D
 

iankh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 1, 2013
5
0
I bought the i5 8GB config and upgraded to 32GB myself. Adobe PS and LR love as much RAM as you can throw at them :D
I’m planning on doing the same, buy with the 8GB and upgrade it myself to 32GB.