IMac factory installed SSD vs Thunderbolt options

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bhs00, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. bhs00 macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #1
    I am in the market for an iMac. I want to have an SSD for the benefits I have read about. I know I don't want to attempt to do an SSD upgrade myself and chance damaging a new iMac and voiding my warranty. Adding an SSD when ordering adds more time before your computer ships. Is there a good option to add a thunderbolt SSD, or is it better to just go ahead and order the internal SSD when ordering?
     
  2. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #2
    That really depends on whether you can live with your boot drive hanging off the back of your machine via a cable. For an iMac that you're not going to move often it may be just fine for you.

    There's really no performance penalty for using Thunderbolt vs an internal SATA drive and many people are using TB-based SSD boot solutions quite happily.

    The main thing you'll run into is cost - TB enclosures are not cheap, and you will also need to buy a TB cable. The most cost effective solution is the Seagate GoFlex adapter with an SSD mounted to it - you don't need to use it in the way Seagate designed (to mount onto their drive modules) since it will take a drive right away. Just be aware that the drive will then be "naked" and you might have to take precautions to stop it coming free from the SATA connector (rubber bands or tape, or put it in cheap plastic box from Maplin that you've modified to hold the drive).

    There are more official TB solutions of course, with ready fitted drives or as a bare chassis. They are expensive though and mainly aimed at mobile professionals looking for speed on the go.

    Internal mounting is cheaper - all you need is a SATA cable, the drive, some double sided tape (or a bracket), a steady hand, a walkthrough guide and some patience, but you do run the risk of damaging your machine if you are not confident. The process is pretty easy, but it can be daunting if you're not used to taking computers apart.
     
  3. bhs00, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    bhs00 thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #3
    what about speed differences and reliability in an apple installed ssd vs something like LaCie Little Big Disk SSD or Elagato Thunderbolt SSD? And how is the speed comparison between internal SSD vs external USB 3.0 SSD?
     
  4. Flunkyturtle macrumors 6502

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    Dec 20, 2011
    #4
    I'm interested in this, also would like to know boot times!! sick of taking a minute to load my iMac :(
     
  5. philipma1957, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #5
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002LARBZE...vpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&ref=pd_sl_5gt2hfga4m_e


    this will mount on an iMac. I have done lots of testing with many ssds in both lacie little big disk and seagate thunderbolt adapters. Putting in a factory iMac ssd in for 600 dollars is not the best choice 600 dollars gets you a 256gb ssd that is hard to replace. right now the little big disk sells on amazon for 349

    http://www.amazon.com/LaCie-Thunder...-3&keywords=lacie+little+big+disk+thunderbolt


    pull the 2 drives from it. and put in 2 of these

    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-2-5-I...d=1340650536&sr=1-3&keywords=crucial+m4+256gb 380 each total of 760 for 2x 512gb


    shorter cable for t-bolt
    http://www.amazon.com/Elgato-1-6-Fe...dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1


    so

    shelf ---------------------------30

    lacie lbd----------------------349

    crucial 2x 512gb ssd-------- 760


    elgato t-bolt cable------------- 63

    total---------------------------1202.

    this total is double the price of the apple factory install for a 256gb ssd you get a raid0 1024gb drive this way.

    so faster and 4x the size. I have seen people drop a lot of coin in iMacs this will allow you to move the osx from

    computer to computer. you also get 2 spare 500 gb hdds from the little big disk. I use a little big disk as a boot drive for a mac min and I use a pegasus r6 as a boot drive for a mac mini. they work very well.
     
  6. bhs00 thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #6
    And this would outperform or be equal to the performance of a factory installed SSD?
     
  7. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #7
    Just as a note for those choosing to go that route (the comment above) - while SSD drives are pretty reliable now they are not immune to problems.

    If you are running your boot drive from a RAID 0 setup then make absolutely sure you are frequently backing up. If you lose one drive, the Raid is toast and you'll lose everything. Raid 0 is as fast as a badger on fire but it is inherently more data-risky.
     
  8. bhs00 thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #8
    But I would be covered if I backed up with time machine using the internal 1TB drive or some external drive wouldn't I?
     
  9. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #9
    Yes, you would. Time Machine backs up your user data and so on by default (and I think Applications folder? mine is excluded but I'm not sure if that's a default setting), so if the Raid died (and it's n times as likely to do so vs a single drive on its own, where n is the number of drives in the array) then you'd have to rebuild it with a new array (or swap to a single drive setup) and install OS X from scratch, then restore from TM.

    It's no different to what would happen if you had a regular hard drive failure. I just thought it was worth noting that there is a risk in taking on all that speed - and it will be *much* faster than a stock single-drive-SSD solution, such as Apple's internal drive.

    Whether you really see this speed in practice is another matter entirely - Raid 0 setups like that really shine when you do a lot of high speed I/O, like editing video etc. For day to day system use then a single SSD is likely to get you into "zomg so fast" territory - for the sort of data I/O of a typical operating system, a Raid 0 SSD setup will probably be overkill. It will certainly benchmark very well though.
     
  10. bhs00 thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #10
    Lightroom is really the most demanding application that I would use. I think for my use it may make more sense to use this setup without RAID and use as separate discs if possible. I just want to be able to run a setup with equal or improved speed compared to an internal ssd. I dont like the $600 fee and wait time to get it factory installed.
     
  11. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #11
    In that case, any external single-drive Thunderbolt enclosure is going to do the job, so don't get the LaCie - I think the only option with that is to present both drives as a Raid.

    The Seagate GoFlex adapter with a drive of your choice bolted onto it seems like your best choice. Either go official and get a Seagate GoFlex drive "box" to go with it (you can always remove the drive that is in it and replace it with an SSD if you get a 2.5" one) or just have the drive hooked up directly to it.
     
  12. bhs00 thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 17, 2012
    #12
    What about an SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure? How much of a real world difference would that be compared to SSD in Thunderbolt?
     
  13. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 24, 2012
    #13
    USB3 tops out at around 400 MB/s which is lower than the very fastest SATA III SSD drives (which can touch 550 MB/s and up), so you'd be potentially throttling the drive by using a USB3 external case if you have an extreme performance SATA III drive. Even so, 400 MB/s is pretty decent. If you go for this route, you might be better going for a SATA II drive (300 MB/s max) if it's significantly cheaper - the SATA bus inside an external USB3 case might very well be v2 anyway.

    Thunderbolt is 1250 MB/s bi-directionally so unless you have a seriously mighty disk array you won't be saturating that on a consumer budget. It's also very low latency - it's an external representation of the PCI bus, but whether you really see all that much of a benefit compared to USB3 is debatable. It all comes back to your typical use pattern for the drive.
     
  14. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a

    AcesHigh87

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    Location:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    #14
    What you also aren’t considering though (at least you don’t make it clear) is that current iMacs do not support USB 3.0. Assuming the OP is buying a 2011 iMac (admittedly he could wait but who knows when the new ones will be out) he’ll only get USB 2.0 speeds (which is something like 40MB/s) out of a USB 3.0 drive. IMO that’s hardly worth the money it saves as it would make for a horribly slow boot drive.

    However your comment is valid if the OP waits and gets an iMac with USB 3.0. For most people USB 3.0 is plenty. Personally I’d rather spend the extra coin (if I had it) and get a thunderbolt enclosure but we all know that’s not the cheapest option.

    Personally, as others have mentioned, I suggest the Segate route. The Seagate adapter costs $100 + around $230 for a Crucial M4 256GB SSD + $50 Thunderbolt cable = $380 which is much cheaper than getting the SSD internal in the iMac. Plus you get to keep the storage space of your internal drive. If you wanted to have it a bit more enclosed you could add in a GoFlex portable drive to put the SSD into it which could cost around another $110. Still a cheaper option than the internal drive.
     
  15. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #15
    Well I have done extensive testing with lacie little big disk, seagate thunderbolt adapter and pegasus r6. I use 2 lacie little big disks in in a daisy chain. I run 3 256gb ssd in a raid0 and I keep a fourth 256gb ssd in jbod.

    This raid0 is 768 gb in size uses sata II samsungs ssds series 470/810. It runs flawlessly. If raid0 scares you (I have run this for months without a crash) then the lacie lbd will not be fast enough. The lbd uses a controller with sata II speed for each ssd. This means that raid0 is the only way to get to sata III speed.


    A lot depends on your budget. Buying the seagate thunderbolt for 100 a cable for 50 or 60 depends on which one you want. the elgato is shorter and more flexible. it may be more stable then the apple cable. so you are at 160 plus 200 or maybe 190 for a crucial m4 256gb ssd. this is 350 total far far less then the internal ssd and faster and or equal to the internal ssd.

    The seagate has had some issues with large ssds crucial m4 512gb and samsung 512gb both sata III models. a few of us have tested it and it fails with the apple cable running the bigger ssds. some early test with the elgato cable are promising .. I wrote long threads on this site. and many people have given a lot of info on it. just use the fourm search of my name and threads I started on this.
     
  16. lannisters4life macrumors 6502

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    May 14, 2012
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    Sydney
    #16
    Question to those who don't like long boot times: why do you turn your Macs off?
     
  17. N0ddie macrumors 6502

    N0ddie

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    Glasgow
    #17
    To save on the electricity bill?

    Really interesting topic this. I have the Apple internal 256Gb SSD and am looking for a cost effective way of having an external Thunderbolt SSD drive solution.

    This looks to have answered my questions I had.
     
  18. Mister Bumbo macrumors 6502

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    Apr 30, 2012
    #18
    Cheapest option as I see it would be an USB 3-SATA adapter, with a SSD with SATA III speed, it wouldn't benefit from the speed it's capable of to due to the limits of USB 3, but it would be substantially faster than a HDD.
     
  19. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #19
    Are there any external single disk USB 3 enclosures with SATA III? I haven't seen any, but perhaps I haven't looked hard enough.
     
  20. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #20
    Careful! The main benefit of an SSD is not so much the maximal transfer speed, but the lightning fast access latency. USB3 has significantly higher latency than Thunderbolt (which is essentially PCI-E). USB3 will work well for lange files transfer, but it will show performance penalties as a boot drive due to the increased latency.
     
  21. Mister Bumbo macrumors 6502

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    Apr 30, 2012
    #21
    There's a few if you check Amazon for example, but can't find any information if they are SATA III or not, or how much power they support etc. Haven't seen any reviews that state speeds either. Still in it's crib it seems.
     
  22. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #22
    That's exactly the problem. Usually it does not state on amazon whether it's II or III and I have to assume it's II, unless it's specified explicitly. It normally just says it's SATA III, II and I compatible, which tells me nothing since SATA is backwards and upwards compatible.

    I've found one drive which claims to be using a SATA III controller, but it's on amazon.com so it does not help me (I am in the UK).

    http://www.amazon.com/Inch-SATA-Drive-Enclosure-Case/dp/B0070MCQBW
     
  23. dearlaserworks, Jun 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012

    dearlaserworks macrumors regular

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    Eastern Shore, USA
    #23
    Same enclosure & seller are also on eBay if that helps, though I can't speak for the product or the seller.

    bit.ly/LMOtuHCOPY
     
  24. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #24
    I have an odd thing against eBay. I can't explain it since it's not rational, but I've never bought anything on eBay and never will. :)
     
  25. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #25
    amazon dropped prices on some gear today. here is a screen shot for a 1tb raid0 ssd. setup, now my lacie has 256gb samsungs inside


    this seller sold me mine 6 months ago

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsung-256..._Disk_Drives&hash=item4163226489#ht_980wt_907

    2 of these are 350.

    the lacie is 350 on amazon that is 700 the cable is 58 on amazon that is 758 for a 512gb ssd raid0.

    I can't stress any more then i have that my 3x 256gb raid0 in 2 lbd's with one spare 256gb ssd has work for months. (yes I back it up with a clone and with TM)
     

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