External Thunderbolt/USB3 hard vs. internal hard drive speeds.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by c-t, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. c-t macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2010
    I have an iMac (27-inch, late 2012). This is my plan:

    1. Replace the 1 TB hard drive with a 256 GB solid state drive.
    2. I will not store any user files on the internal solid state drive.
    3. My user files will be on an external hard drive. I'm thinking thunderbolt or USB3.
    My question is simply, will I take a performance hit? Would an external Thunderbolt/USB3 hard drive be slower than my original internal hard drive?
  2. Pieterr macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2015
    The Netherlands
    No. TB/USB3 is not the bottleneck, the speed of the HD itself is.

    You could also do it the other way around: boot from external SSD and keep your data on the internal HD. Then you won't have to open your iMac.

  3. c-t thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2010
    That's a brilliant idea, thanks for that! Yeah this will save a lot of time. Won't have to take the iMac to the store.

    Can you recommend cheap but good external USB3/Thunderbolt SSD drives? There are so many options out there that I don't even know where to begin. I wonder for instance whether "LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series 256GB Solid State Drive (9000352)" for $330 is a good deal.
  4. Pieterr macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2015
    The Netherlands
  5. c-t thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2010
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you just want "plug n play", the Transcend drives mentioned above look to be a good deal.

    If you don't mind using a small screwdriver, you can "build your own" external drive. This is easy enough that anyone can do it -- don't be intimidated by the process in any way.

    You'll need a 2.5" SSD (I have had good experience with Crucial) -- get whatever size you wish.

    Also, get a USB3/SATA enclosure that supports UASP, such as this one:

    Takes about 5 minutes to assemble.

    Then initialize it with Disk Utility and get a copy of the OS onto it.

    You could even use CarbonCopyCloner to "clone over" a system.

    One might ask, "why put together parts when you can buy one already assembled?"
    The reason is -- since you put it together, you pick the components and you know what is involved in the assembly. If you ever have a problem with it, you'll already know how to take it apart...
  7. c-t thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2010
    Thanks, great advice. You actually saved me a little bit of money too!
  8. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Sorry to high jack a little bit but it seems the OP's questions are answered. What would be the fastest external SSD setup that utilizes TB 1?
  9. matreya macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    One of the fastest setups would be a Thunderbay 4 mini loaded with 4 SSDs, all part of a striped RAID set :)
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Stick a Samsung 850 Pro into a TB-SATA3 enclosure (like the OWC On-The-Go-Pro or the LaCie Rugged) and there you go.

    Or if you've tons of cash, buy a Promise Pegasus R6 and stick 6 850 Pros into it, setup as RAID 0 and instal OS X on it. I use this setup myself, but as RAID 10 and it's a space for cinematographic work only.
  11. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    For booting the OS via an externally-connected SSD, I highly recommend sticking with Thunderbolt in order to be able to enable TRIM, not to mention run SSD firmware updates, etc. I use the previous generation of this Delock TB enclosure with a 500GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD and it has served me faithfully for over a full year now.

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