Good time for Thunderbolt 3 SSD?

Natesac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 29, 2008
807
38
Dallas,Tx
I have a 2017 5K iMac base model with the dumb fusion drive. For the past year or so I have been using a Sandisk Extreme 900 over USB 3.1 Gen 2 as my boot drive and used the internal fusion drive for extra bulk storage/plex server. I have been happy with the performance, but would like to move to a larger/faster external SSD. I have enough slow external storage and a TM backup drive to get everything moved around, and the Sandisk extreme will get handed down to my iPad Pro for external storage (thanks iPadOS 13)

As I understand it SSDs and thunderbolt 3 stuff has come down in price slightly, is now a good time to upgrade my SSD situation?


I'd like some recommendations. I would be happy with a 1TB SSD over Thunderbolt 3. I think I would like to try doing an SSD+Thunderbolt 3 enclosure, as this will allow for future possible upgrades down the line.

Whats going to be my best bang for the buck? I think I am looking for MVNe m.2 drive and some sort of reliable enclosure. Any tips, deals, or recommendations would be appreciated
 

d.steve

macrumors 6502
Jan 6, 2012
252
71
No responses :( You pull the trigger on anything?

Anyway, M.2 NVMe is definitely the way to go.

I read around a bit last week and noticed NVMe/TB3 options are better than last time I checked. But does cost a bit more than USB 3.1 Gen2 options.

There are turnkey solutions like the OWC Envoy Pro EX with pretty decent price points. Didn't like that the cable is built-in.

Found a few TB3 enclosures and opted to go with the TEKQ Cube. Couldn't find it bare, so bought the smallest size (120 GB) I could find. Still cheaper than most bare enclosures I found!

I figured an SSD based on the Phison E12-based NVMe M.2 2280 design was a decent price/performance balance and picked up 2TB Sabrent Rocket.

Two TB for about $400 before tax - almost $100 cheaper than the OWC I just mentioned.

You can go even cheaper with an Intel 660 QLC-based drive, but I liked the Phison better from a cursory comparison based on this 660p review:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/13078/the-intel-ssd-660p-ssd-review-qlc-nand-arrives
 
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benobi

macrumors member
Dec 4, 2016
30
13
The Verge fairly recently wrote a nice article on choosing the right external SSD. I ended up building mine with the parts they linked to in the article and am extremely happy. It's not exactly Thunderbolt 3 speeds but I am definitely hitting 1GB/sec in transfer speeds. Recently I saw OWC release a thunderbolt 3 NVMe drive (and they sell the enclosure separately (0Gb) for about $90.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure: https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/ENVPROC2N00/?utm_source=affiliate&utm_campaign=cj&cjevent=84116ba39c6d11e9811a00420a1c0e11

Here is the Verge Article: https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/13/18518127/portable-ssd-external-thunderbolt-3-usb-c-samsung-x5-t5-specs-test-how-to
 

Natesac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 29, 2008
807
38
Dallas,Tx
No responses :( You pull the trigger on anything?
Not yet, funny enough I have had that same TEKQ cube enclosure and this NVME Drive in my cart for over a week lol. I am just trying to decide if I really NEED it. $275 for a 1TB drive and upgradeability down the line.

I’d really like to hear how you get along with that TEKQ cube. My only concern is how it performs under a load. Does it get too hot and throttle?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1J3C23/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A2UXO5LPTDY3LN&psc=1
 

d.steve

macrumors 6502
Jan 6, 2012
252
71
Got it set up today, so don’t have a lot to say, yet.

I cloned my old ssd over to it. Went 500 MB/s (read limited, old SATA ssd) for 75 seconds (~36.5 GB) and then perf fell off a cliff. Ended up doing the 850 GB in 1.2 hours, right around 200 MB/s.

I don’t think it got too hot. I think it blew through the write cache and perf dropped.
 

wardie

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2008
320
94
Got it set up today, so don’t have a lot to say, yet.

I cloned my old ssd over to it. Went 500 MB/s (read limited, old SATA ssd) for 75 seconds (~36.5 GB) and then perf fell off a cliff. Ended up doing the 850 GB in 1.2 hours, right around 200 MB/s.

I don’t think it got too hot. I think it blew through the write cache and perf dropped.
I’ve not noticed any throttling with the TEKQ (did 500 GB write then read yesterday) but then it is metal and also I have it sitting on the mac stand as a further heat sink :)