Fast external drive for iMac mid-2011

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
I'm using an ancient iMac 27" from mid-2011 and want to upgrade it by getting a fast external boot drive.

What I'd like is:
- Thunderbolt connection
- at least 3TB of space, preferably 4TB
- whole disk encrypted with Filevault
- as fast as possible

The options I'm considering are:
1) Akitio Neutrino Thunder D3 enclosure + Samsung EVO 850 4TB (total ~$1600 USD)
2) Akitio Thunder2 Duo Pro RAID enclosure + 2 x Crucial MX300 2TB (total ~$1400 USD)

Questions:
a) These are both bootable and allow for Filevault, right? (Option 2 is hardware RAID, so Filevault should not be a problem.)

b) Option 2 would be faster than option 1 if used in RAID 0, but that will not allow TRIM. Is that an essential problem?

c) Are there other options that I'm missing? (Changing the internal drive is not an option, for various reasons unfortunately.)

Thanks for any help!
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,170
5,528
"The options I'm considering are:
1) Akitio Neutrino Thunder D3 enclosure + Samsung EVO 850 4TB (total ~$1600 USD)
2) Akitio Thunder2 Duo Pro RAID enclosure + 2 x Crucial MX300 2TB (total ~$1400 USD)"


Frankly, this is tossing your money away on a machine that's now 6 years old.

If you have that much to spend, get a 2015 iMac 5k 27" with a 2tb fusion drive (at least).

If all you need is a "fast, external boot drive", you would do well enough with a single SSD in a thunderbolt enclosure. $200-300 should do it.

I would not recommend anything larger than 480gb because of price considerations.
Again, with a 6-year-old iMac, it won't be worth it.
But a modestly-sized tbolt SSD -is- worth it to squeeze a few more years out of an older iMac.

"Are there other options that I'm missing?"

See above.
If you're going to spend $1,600 -on only a drive-, spend a little more for a brand new computer with a fast drive already built-in.
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
Thanks for the response!


Frankly, this is tossing your money away on a machine that's now 6 years old.

If you have that much to spend, get a 2015 iMac 5k 27" with a 2tb fusion drive (at least).
I don't think the fusion drive is worth it at this point. With the small size of the iMac SSD (max 1TB), I would still need an external drive to hold my data. So this external drive would could still be used. An if a new iMac is launched this spring, I'd be very surprised if the internal SSD options were bigger than 2TB, in which case I would still need an external drive and could continue using the one I'm thinking of getting now.


If all you need is a "fast, external boot drive", you would do well enough with a single SSD in a thunderbolt enclosure. $200-300 should do it.

I would not recommend anything larger than 480gb because of price considerations.
I need minimum 2TB and so, with a 480SSD, I would still need another a fast external drive.


If you're going to spend $1,600 -on only a drive-, spend a little more for a brand new computer with a fast drive already built-in.
Yes, I have thought of that. But to get a sufficient current iMac is quite costly (27" + 4GHz i7 + 32GB RAM + 1TB SSD + AppleCare ~ $4000) and I'd still need a fast external drive since the internal one is small.
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
Thanks! I thought of that too, but didn't see a reason to prefer it over the Akitio enclosures.
 

jdelgado

macrumors regular
Oct 25, 2009
149
6
Chile
I'm using an ancient iMac 27" from mid-2011 and want to upgrade it by getting a fast external boot drive.

What I'd like is:
- Thunderbolt connection
- at least 3TB of space, preferably 4TB
- whole disk encrypted with Filevault
- as fast as possible

The options I'm considering are:
1) Akitio Neutrino Thunder D3 enclosure + Samsung EVO 850 4TB (total ~$1600 USD)
2) Akitio Thunder2 Duo Pro RAID enclosure + 2 x Crucial MX300 2TB (total ~$1400 USD)

Questions:
a) These are both bootable and allow for Filevault, right? (Option 2 is hardware RAID, so Filevault should not be a problem.)

b) Option 2 would be faster than option 1 if used in RAID 0, but that will not allow TRIM. Is that an essential problem?

c) Are there other options that I'm missing? (Changing the internal drive is not an option, for various reasons unfortunately.)

Thanks for any help!
I am somewhat in a similar situation, although my requirements are not the same. Besides speed, I want it silent. Main issue though is stability. Looks like, because of the chipsets used, some units have trouble waking and other issues.

What other options did you evaluate?

I have been looking into LaCie, Oyen digital, OWC and G-Technology. I also considered Promise, but was too expensive. I am leaning toward Akitio Thunder2 Duo Pro, but have not decided yet.
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
Other than Oyen, I've looked at all those same alternatives. (I don't think Oyen makes Thunderbolt drives or enclosures, though. All I saw on their website was USB 3.0/3.1.)

Regarding noise, I'd like it quiet too. The Neutrino D3 has an annoyingly loud fan, according to comments, but it apparently works fine with SSDs with the fan disabled.

The Neutrino D3 is a lot smaller than the Thunder2 Duo Pro as it fits only 2.5" disks only rather than 3.5". The Neutrino D3 is limited to 1st gen Thunderbolt, which is what my mid-2011 iMac has. The Thunder2 Duo Pro has 2nd gen Thunderbolt, which should give better performance if used later with a more recent computer.
 

jdelgado

macrumors regular
Oct 25, 2009
149
6
Chile
Other than Oyen, I've looked at all those same alternatives. (I don't think Oyen makes Thunderbolt drives or enclosures, though. All I saw on their website was USB 3.0/3.1.)

Regarding noise, I'd like it quiet too. The Neutrino D3 has an annoyingly loud fan, according to comments, but it apparently works fine with SSDs with the fan disabled.

The Neutrino D3 is a lot smaller than the Thunder2 Duo Pro as it fits only 2.5" disks only rather than 3.5". The Neutrino D3 is limited to 1st gen Thunderbolt, which is what my mid-2011 iMac has. The Thunder2 Duo Pro has 2nd gen Thunderbolt, which should give better performance if used later with a more recent computer.
Looks like the Akitio Thunder2 may be fitting the bill then.

Oyen makes a 5-bay enclosure (Mobius 5-Bay Thunderbolt 2), but may be too noisy and one has to use software RAID if needed.
There are reviews of this unit in B&H and Newegg
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
Interesting, but it's USB 3.1 Gen 2 (via USB-C), not Thunderbolt, and hence won't work with my iMac 2011.
 

LS417

macrumors regular
Oct 30, 2009
132
18
Interesting, but it's USB 3.1 Gen 2 (via USB-C), not Thunderbolt, and hence won't work with my iMac 2011.
Will work over USB 3.0 with the included cable, but you'll be limited to 400mb/s read and write
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
But the 2011 iMac doesn't have USB 3, only USB 2, FW800, and Thunderbolt (1st gen). There are various Thunderbolt docks that add a USB 3 connection, but to my knowledge the 2011 iMac cannot boot from those USB 3 ports. In any case, USB 3 is half the speed of 1st generation Thunderbolt.
 

LS417

macrumors regular
Oct 30, 2009
132
18
But the 2011 iMac doesn't have USB 3, only USB 2, FW800, and Thunderbolt (1st gen). There are various Thunderbolt docks that add a USB 3 connection, but to my knowledge the 2011 iMac cannot boot from those USB 3 ports. In any case, USB 3 is half the speed of 1st generation Thunderbolt.
Valid points, completely forgot the 2011 didn't have USB 3.0
 

Plato65

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 3, 2017
84
80
Yes, it's interesting how some technologies have progressed and some haven't. I think the processors in the current iMac models are ~50% faster than what I have, but 2 x SSD in RAID 0 in a Thunderbolt enclosure should give me 600-800MB/s disk speeds, which are 5-10 times the current internal HDD, and the connections (USB 3 + 3.1, Thunderbolt gen 3) are also much faster.
 

Fozziebear40

macrumors regular
Apr 14, 2008
248
101
Newton-le-Willows, England
I'm using an ancient iMac 27" from mid-2011 and want to upgrade it by getting a fast external boot drive.
I am in the same boat, I currently use a Lacie Thunderbolt Rugged SSD. I've been booting from it for over a year.

I'd like more storage but reluctant to spend so much on a Thunderbolt 1 box. I've seen good reviews of the Akitio Thunder 3 which will be good on new Macs when I upgrade. In the meantime I am wondering if it will work with an adapter from Thunderbolt USB-C to an original Thunderbolt 1 port on 2011 iMac?
[doublepost=1492377180][/doublepost]Answered my own question, get a Thunder2 Duo Pro :)
 

ZapNZs

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
2,310
1,150
I know this is an older thread, but have you considered this:

$99 - AKiTiO Thunderbolt to 2-port eSATA 6.0 adapter (supports TRIM, is bootable, and works file with FileVault 2 - I believe it also supports two SSDs running SATA 6.0 for a RAID 0)
$60 - Oyen Digital eSATA enclosure
$500 - 2 TB SSD (I have a smaller SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD in the Oyen enclosure using eSATA and I am getting around 550 MB/s read and 475 MB/s write.)
$40 - 3.5-inch eSATA enclosure supporting 6.0 Gbps standard
$230 - 4TB HGST UltraStar 7k6000 (you will get 200-250 MB/s with this HDD - it's faster than some SATA II SSDs!)

While you would only get 2 TB of full SATA III SSD speeds, you would have better reliability than having to do a RAID 0, some of your real-world working speeds with eSATA + a single drive could be superior to a Thunderbolt + 2 SSDs in RAID 0, and you'd end up with 6 TB of storage space, at around half the price of the option you are considering, leaving the more reliable HDD with the ability to back up the SSD with space to spare.