Fast/affordable external SSD (Type-C?)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Huginnmuninn, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Huginnmuninn macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    Oct 8, 2011
    #1
    I'm planning to buy a new iMac with a small internal SSD and want to put my files on an external 1Tb SSD.

    I could buy a drive already in a USB 3.1 case for $380 plus a full-speed Type-C to Type-C cable for $20. (At least that's according to reports/recommendations on amazon, where speeds are limited with some cables.)

    Is Type-C my best option at this time? Are there any affordable Thunderbolt 3 enclosures? (And if there are is there a noticeable speed difference between the two?)
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #2

    Thunderbolt is definitely faster, but unless you get extremely brillant SSDs, Type-C will give you the performance your SSD can offer
     
  3. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #3
    Thanks. In that case the most prevalent external is a $380 model from Samsung. Any reason not to choose that?
     
  4. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #4
    What one? Samsung are generally quite good. Can never really go wrong with SanDisk either.
     
  5. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #5
    Samsung 3T is $370 on Amazon. It is not a full-on SuperSpeed+ 10Gbps Type-C implementation, but the USB 3.1 Gen 1 SuperSpeed 5Gbps. Yet the reviews are good.

    The alternative is finding a 10Gbps Type-C enclosure (StarTech has one for $36 at B&H) and putting a $350 1Tb Samsung Evo drive in it, then getting that $20 cable
     
  6. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #6
    Follow-up: The external Samsung drive says "Transfer Speed: Up to 450MB/sec" using USB 3.0 transfer (despite the Type-C cabling), and internally it uses the EVO drive I wanted. But interestingly, the specs for the bare drive itself are "Up to 540 MB/s Sequential Read Speed, Up to 520 MB/s Sequential Write Speed"

    So... cobbling together my own bare drive plus case might not give noticeable speed improvements at all.... ?
     
  7. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #7

    Well, there's always latency to consider. Bandwidth is one thing, but for small random transfers, latency is way more important.
    I have an external USB 3.0 SanDisk drive with relatively similar top speeds to the Samsung EVO drive you mention. Bandwidth is brillant, but if you run small random reads and writes though it, it doesn't feel quite as good. Still beats an HDD, but you know
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    #8
    You won't need thunderbolt -- USB-c will be fine.
    It might be worth "holding out" for a little while.

    I'm thinking that we'll soon see USB-c3.1 Gen2 drives coming into the market.
    They'll probably use some form factor -other than- 2.5" (m2 size?) and offer higher speeds than USB3.1 Gen1.

    The touted speed for Gen2 is 10gbps, but I believe that the real-world speeds from such drives will be around 750-850mbps reads, with writes perhaps 100mbps slower.

    Even if you "need the storage right away", just about any 2.5" SSD in an enclosure that supports UASP will work well enough. One can always "re-purpose" a drive later on...
     
  9. imaginex20 macrumors 65816

    imaginex20

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    #9
    I have the 500 GB version of the Samsung T3 and I love it. I use it on the 2017 rMBP and it is fast enough for me as I run a VM on it. I love how light and small the SSD is compared to other brands.
     
  10. ZapNZs, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #10
    In my experience, the only way I have pretty much maxed out a single-disk SATA 6 SSD has been via eSATA 6.0. I get faster speeds using eSATA than I do with the USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt products I have used, although the biggest difference seems to be when moving large quantities of smaller files. (Obviously one would get faster speeds using two SSDs in a RAID 0 with USB 3.1 gen 2, and IIRC SanDisk makes a product that is exactly this in their EXTREME lineup.)

    I'm very happy with the Oyen Digital enclosures I have, including USB-C, USB-A/microB, and eSATA & USB-A/microB models. Their eSATA 6.0 enclosures will essentially saturate the SSD's full capability, and via USB the read/write speeds are still very good (presumably they use solid chipsets.) The construction quality of their enclosures are IMO at the higher quality level that will satisfy owners accustomed to the high construction quality of Apple products.

    edit - here is the SanDisk 900
     
  11. RickG macrumors regular

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    #11
    any update on which one is best- I really like the small Samsung ?
     
  12. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #12
    What features do you want most? Speed, reliability, longevity, warranty, form factor, specific portage, value, etc.?

    For example, the Samsung T3 uses 3D TLC NAND like the Samsung 850 EVO. It's good stuff, delivering a good product in a compact form factor for a reasonable price. However, the 3D MLC NAND in the Samsung 850 PRO has twice the warranty, slightly (marginally) faster speeds, and considerably longer endurance - it is also quite a bit pricier. I am a big fan of the 850 PRO. If your most important factor is pure speed, then the SanDisk 900 is probably a superior choice (like the Samsung 850 EVO and T3, it also uses TLC NAND.)
     
  13. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #13
    Follow up:

    From what I've researched (and had confirmed in this forum if the USB-C M.2 enclosure is USB 3.1 Gen1, it will top out at 450MB/s. If it is USB 3.1 Gen2, it will top out at 900MB/s. (By comparison the expensive internal flash installed by Apple at the factory clocks at 3000MB/s connected to the internal bus.)

    So I think I'm going to buy a 1Tb M.2 SSD (around $360) and put it in a USB 3.1 Gen2 case (around $35). That will be faster than the $370 Samsung T3, for just a little bit more $$.
     
  14. thedeske macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Or you could wait just a little bit longer for the Samsung T5 ;)
     
  15. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #15
    Unfortunately, no word on whether the connection speed will be updated to USB 3.1 Gen2. If it is I'll wait for the pricing...
     
  16. ZapNZs, Jun 21, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #16
    If it is a m.2 SATA SSD/enclosure, it is still limited by the 6 Gbps SATA III standard, even though USB 3.1 Gen 2 can (theoretically) support up to 10 Gbps. Consequently, your speeds are still going to be around 450 MB/s, unless you are using two physical SSDs in a RAID 0.

    If you want to go beyond the 450 MB/s area, you would need either two or more SATA SSDs configured to a soft or hard RAID0 using USB 3.1 Gen 2, two independent eSATA ports, Thunderbolt, TB2, or TB3, or a Thunderbolt 3 PCI expansion enclosure + something like a Samsung 950 PRO or EVO (this should reach the 2,500 MB/s mark.)

    As for the option of two SATA SSDs using a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection, this enclosure seems to be one of the few offerings on the market at this time. Theoretically, with two faster SATA SSDs in hard RAID0 config, this should exceed 450 MB/s by a reasonable margin. I've not used this product, but have many other products from this Maker and think highly of them. However, the real-world performance gains here may not justify the cost, and the ability to use JBOD or hard RAID 1 are two configurations that, while slower than RAID 0, I dare say are frequently of more use from a utilitarian perspective, for what it's worth. As SSDs fail just like HDDs do, often without warning, implementing hard RAID 1 with this enclosure IMO is absolutely critical if you plan to store files on this SSD that are not being stored on the computer's local disk.
     
  17. Huginnmuninn thread starter macrumors regular

    Huginnmuninn

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    #17
    Whoa! :eek: Great info.

    Now I'm rethinking my decision. I was originally leaning towards upgrading to 512Gb fast (3000MB/s) internal SSD for $200 then getting an external 1Tb SSD + case for $400 (after tax), assuming I could get up to 900Gbps with Gen2 external with a single drive.

    But now I'm considering simply spending the $600 on the 1Tb internal SSD option. I have a few 1Tb external drives already and an 8Tb external for backups, so with judicious planning it would be doable. Thanks again.
     
  18. ZapNZs, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #18
    If 1TB will satisfy your storage requirements, the internal upgrade may be worth it IMO. Beyond having the 2-3 GB/s capability, the internal flash storage Apple uses has historically been the pricier & superior MLC NAND (I assume the 2017 models carry this tradition) - where as most consumer SATA SSDs now are TLC/3D TLC (and MLC SATA SSDs carry a considerable price premium - and the affordable MLC-based SATA SSDs have mostly been phased out by Makers in favor of [very good] TLC alternatives [I just prefer MLC].)

    Between the faster speeds, better longevity/endurance, and the fact that getting above 400-500 MB/s on an external is more logistically complicated and pricier than getting in that 450 MB/s ballpark, if you need those higher speeds then the factory upgrade might actually be equally economical as an external setup (to get the 2-3 GB/s transfer speeds from flash of equal quality to the Apple OEM, you could spend as much as $700-1,000 on the PCIe enclosure + a 1TB PCIe NVME SSD.)

    FWIW, I use several SanDisk Extreme PRO SATA SSDs to run VMs from - I bought them when SanDisk discontinued the model line so I got a good buy on them. While the speeds I am getting are maxing at about 550 MB/s, I'm overall happy with their speed for running the operating systems I use less frequently. (With that said, if working with and moving massive files all day long, I can certainly understand why someone needs more speed.)

    Unfortunately, while our Macs have the capability for more speed, were are limited IMO because: 1) the SATA protocol hasn't been updated since the SATA 6 Gbps revision but most affordable consumer drives are SATA-based & this caps maximum transfer rates with a single disk; 2) two or more SATA drives in a RAID0 are more expensive, more logistically complex, inherently less reliable, and do not necessarily deliver enough performance to justify the costs/downsides; 3) the consumer market hasn't ever adopted SAS; and, 4) PCIe SSDs remain prohibitively high in pricing and usually come with the implication of enclosures that are expensive, large, and require an external power source.
     
  19. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

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    #19
    One thing that nobody has mentioned is that TRIM is not supported over USB. You'll need Thunderbolt if you want TRIM support.

    TRIM != Garbage collection or other sorts of on disk cleanup.

    AKA, you might notice slowdown over time of your USB SSD.
     
  20. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #20

    Unless you do a sweep of null every time you've gone through one full or nearly full data cycle. I use my external SSD for Final Cut projects - as a scratch disk, and because speed is very important, I usually do a full disk sweep with 0's after each project. It reduces the overall lifetime of the drive a little (since it's a full disk write every time) and consumes a bit of time, but ensures maximum performance, which is vital when doing large video edits :). My backup drive is a spinner on a NAS, where performance isn't so crucial.
     
  21. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #21
    I have found that this affects certain SSDs more so than others (presumably due to the different controllers?) For whatever reason, my SSDs with Marvell controllers seem to have no issue at all with maintaining high write speeds even when TRIM is not enabled, but my 850 PROs and a few SSDs with Silicon Motion controllers did indeed slow in their write speeds over time (although as I stopped using USB with secondary storage, all my external SSDs now have TRIM enabled.)
     
  22. canadaeh? macrumors newbie

    canadaeh?

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    Oct 21, 2014
    #22
    I'd say maybe, maybe not. Take a look at UASP:
    https://blog.startech.com/post/all-you-need-to-know-about-uasp/

    I installed my SSD in this:
    https://www.startech.com/HDD/Enclosures/usb-3-1-drive-enclosure~S251BPU31C3#tchspcs

    I'm not shilling for startech but the enclosure was cheap and it works with my Mid 2017 iMac so if this helps anyone else looking for a "Fast/affordable external SSD (Type-C?)" then check it out.
     
  23. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

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    #23
    UASP is not a TRIM substitute or replacement.
     
  24. canadaeh? macrumors newbie

    canadaeh?

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    #24
    UASP was in response to an earlier performance comment.

    Did you click the second link?

    TRIM support = Yes
     
  25. btrach144 macrumors 65816

    btrach144

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    #25
    Am I blind? I see nothing about TRIM support in either link

    Edit: only shows up on desktop site.
     

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