FirmTek miniSwap/U3

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Nuke61, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Nuke61 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Well, the FirmTek miniSwap/U3 is shipping. I ordered one and it's supposed to arrive the middle of next week, and I'll be putting a Samsung 840 Pro inside it. After I get it set up I'll post benchmarks, if only to confirm the results that Barefeats already obtained with a (presumably) prototype or pre-production version.
     
  2. thedeske macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    I've been waiting to see some of these out in the hands of users. Looking forward to your thoughts.
    It would be interesting to hear about a 1TB Travelstar or perhaps a Scorpio Black in this case.
    If the SSD speeds are as posted, a 7200rpm HD might look good as well.
     
  3. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #3
    Awesome. Curious as to CPU usage during intensive transfers/benchmarking. It does look really good, that's for sure.
     
  4. Nuke61 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Yesterday I ordered a Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt and another 840 Pro, and what I plan to do is run Blackmagic's test while looking at CPU utilization. I'll do that for the miniSwap USB 3.0 w/840 Pro and MiniStation Thunderbolt w/840 Pro, and report back.
     
  5. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #5
    I have the Ministation Thunderbolt+USB 3.0 enclosure. Never used the USB portion of it, but the Thunderbolt part gives me the same results as the Seagate Backup Plus Thunderbolt 2.5" and 3.5" adapters with my Samsung 830 SSD.

    So yeah, be interested to see how that FirmTek does.
     
  6. Nuke61, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013

    Nuke61 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I set up the FirmTek by sliding in the 840 Pro, but with the MiniStation I took a heat gun to the aluminum underside and heated it to ~115F (very warm to the touch) and then pried it apart. I pulled out the factory HDD and installed an 840 Pro into it. I also have an OWC On-The-Go-Pro with their Mercury Electra 6G SSD installed. The results of the BlackMagic disk test are:

    OWC-------- 165/255/3.0%/3.5%/USB 3.0
    FirmTek --- 425/425/2.5%/3.5%/USB 3.0
    MiniStation 345/385/1.5%/2.5%/Thunderbolt

    The numbers are write/read/cpu average/cpu peak/interface

    The CPU numbers are by eyeball using Activity Monitor while the BlackMagic disk test was running through about a dozen interations. Trim is enabled for the Thunderbolt and internal SSD, via Groth's Trim Enabler for the MiniStation, but not allowed for the USB 3.0 SSD.
     
  7. thedeske macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Thanks Nuke
    Guess it's all about the chip set. Those numbers look like UASP is active in the Firmtek.
     
  8. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #8
    Thanks for the testing. In real-world usage, you're not telling any difference between the FirmTek and MiniStation I'd bet. You may be able to tell between the OWC and the Firmtek/MiniStation because of the write speeds being so low on the OWC, but even then, - probably only occasionally. By the time you notice, your file transfer is probably done anyway. :D
     
  9. Nuke61 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Dead on, but it didn't surprise me since previously I was running a 2010 iMac using the OWC SSD via FireWire and there wasn't much difference between it and my MBP with an internal SSD. What *did* surprise me was how close the CPU usage of Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 were.
     
  10. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #10
    Yes, that is indeed very impressive, though the lower the better. I'd probably still take the MiniStationThunderbolt enclosure (or Seagate Backup Plus which gave me the exact same results as the MiniStation) over the FirmTek USB 3.0. But ask me tomorrow. I might change my mind. :D After all, synthetic benchmarks are still awesome. :D
     
  11. DCJ001 macrumors 6502

    DCJ001

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    #11
    I have had the Firmtek miniSwap/U3 for several days.

    I was using a Seagate GoFlex USB 3.0 adapter to boot my new iMac through an externally mounted Seagate Extreme 240GB SSD. With the Seagate USB 3.0 adapter, my write/read speeds were about 180/190Mbps.

    With the Firmtek miniSwap/U3 my write/read speeds are 393/366Mbps.

    I am curious to know why I am not achieving write/read speeds in excess of 400Mbps. The Seagate Extreme 240GB SSD is rated at write/read speeds in excess of 500Mbps.

    Although I was happy with the performance that I had more than four days ago, I do see a noticeable improvement with the Firmtek miniSwap/U3.

    And, when I get a new Mac, I can just plug my SSD into the new Mac without needing to migrate to the new Mac's drive.
     
  12. WilliamG, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013

    WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #12
    Sort-of true. You need to wait for the next release of OS X for that to work, since e.g. the 2012 iMacs shipped with a driver-specific build that you wouldn't have on your 2011 iMac. So I'd imagine if you were doing what you're doing with a 2011 iMac and then plugged your boot drive into the 2012 iMac, all hell might break loose. After 10.8.3 came out, this was likely no longer an issue since the version is then unified.
     
  13. Nuke61 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    The Extreme is a good performer, but the 840 Pro is still among the very fastest of SSDs available right now, typically fighting it out with OCZ Vector for the top spot

    [​IMG]
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2020...ssds-plus-reviews-of-7-new-drives.html?page=2
     
  14. DCJ001 macrumors 6502

    DCJ001

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    #14
    I am using the SSD externally in a Firmtek miniSwap/U3 connected through USB 3.0 in a late 2012 iMac. If it does not work as expected, when connected to my next Mac, I will erase it, install whatever the OS at that time is, and restore from my latest Time Machine back up.
     
  15. dan5.5 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Care to elaborate? I am looking for a new enclosure and can't decide between usb3 vs thunderbolt.
     
  16. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #16
    Not sure what you need me to elaborate on. :)
     
  17. dan5.5 macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Why would you choose the thunderbolt enclosure over the USB one?
     
  18. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #18
    Well, historically with USB vs Thunderbolt, USB uses more CPU. In the case of USB 3.0 vs Thunderbolt, that difference has been minimized. I guess, arguably, the FirmTek USB 3.0 enclosure peaks at ~50% more CPU usage than Thunderbolt, which is not a good thing.

    Also, up till now USB 3.0 has not given the performance of some of the good Thunderbolt enclosures. The FirmTek apparently solves that issue.

    So what it comes down to is not whether you'd pick one over the other, but making sure you pick the right subset of one over the other. You can't just go buy any old USB 3.0 enclosure and see numbers like in this thread, in the same way you can't do that with Thunderbolt either.

    So it's really a choice between a Seagate Backup Plus/Buffalo MiniStation + Thunderbolt SSD or FirmTek USB 3.0 + SSD. Up to you, really. :) I don't have the FirmTek to test, or I'd be able to give more constructive advice.
     
  19. dan5.5 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Thanks!
     
  20. thedeske, Mar 28, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013

    thedeske macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Perhaps it's the UASP implementation - quoting an article..

    "UASP promises faster transfer speed with SCSI like protocol, eliminating the previous BOT (Bulk-Only Transport) method of USB transfer. Prior, USB was notoriously known for sucking up CPU resources during copies. There is quite a bit overhead with BOT and UASP solves this"

    Not sure to what degree it helps with CPU usage, but it's interesting info. From the manual..

    For faster data performance, the miniSwap/U3 implements USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) which enables command queuing for USB storage devices while eliminating software overhead for SCSI CSI command phases.
     
  21. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #21
    That would make sense. Hopefully we see more UASP in future USB 3.0 enclosures.
     
  22. Nuke61 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    More things to consider are that the MiniStation allows the use of TRIM, since it has Thunderbolt support, but the miniSwap/U3 doesn't. Additionally, if size and appearance are of any concern, the MiniStation looks far more "Apple" like with its rounded corners and it's noticeably smaller than the miniSwap/U3. It is subjectively much better looking. But on the plus side, swapping drives is as simple as opening the door of the miniSwap, swapping drives and closing the door.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  23. thedeske macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    There's a Thermaltake Dock, Caldigit AV Pro (both drive swapping devices) and I think Lacie has one product out. It would surprise me if OWC doesn't have something in the wings soon. Good news.
     
  24. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    #24
    Wow it never occurred to me there's no TRIM support with USB 3.0. That's a major loss, and a reason to go Thunderbolt from the get-go.
     
  25. Tanax macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Apart from the price-tag, lol ^^
     

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