Internal or external SSD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Yougotcarved, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Yougotcarved macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2012
    #1
    Hey all, longtime lurker first time poster!

    So I really want the new 2012 27" iMac and I'm trying to decide on what BTO options I get. Recently I tested out some 2011 iMacs, one with an SSD one with an HDD and was absolutely blown away by the speed of the SSD and how much of a difference it made to performance, and I don't intend to go back to HDD!

    Now my question is, obviously the SSD on the new iMac is eye wateringly expensive, but still worth it over an HDD. However reading the forums a lot of people have advised alternative lower cost solutions, such as sticking with a cheaper internal drive and going with an external SSD.

    My question is surely the thunderbolt connection will be a bit of a bottleneck in the external SSDs, to what extent will having it connected externally limit the blistering speed of SSD? Plus is it possible to install everything on an SSD and not even use the internal drive at all?
     
  2. vannibombonato macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    #2
    You're very wrong. The bottleneck is the iMac, not the Thunderbolt.

    Have a look at this lengthy topic, and have a look at the benchmarks of the internal SSD that comes with the iMac and the external ones. Externals are 50% faster.

    And yes, it's possible to go "all external", albeit i'd personally recommend to get a Fusion as it's quite cheap after all, use the internal SSD for MACOS Apps, the HDD patition for Win, and all the rest on external SSDs.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1505604&page=4
     
  3. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    #3
    Nope. Thunderbolt will not be the bottle neck with SSDs (at least until faster SATA connections show up). Thunderbolt is 10Gb/s bidirectional, so really 20Gb/s total. I run an SSD in an external Thunderbolt sled and the speeds are great.

    Look at the LaCie Rugged SSD. Its $349, but includes a Thunderbolt cable (and the SSD). That's the best value outside of piecing one together yourself (I'm using Seagate STAE121 and a Samsung 256GB SSD).
     
  4. Jimmdean macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    #4
    While it is true that Thunderbolt would not be the bottleneck, the controller in the external drive would be. External Thunderbolt devices are not performing on par with those connected directly to SATA at this time. Now, on a Lacie Little Big Disk this is not an issue because it is the combination of 2 separate controllers (RAID) and that combo is able to surpass a single drive on SATA, but on the the rugged drive it is just a single SATA to Thunderbolt/USB3 controller, so the speeds are lower than they would be on direct-SATA, and on the rugged in particular the Thunderbolt connection is barely faster than the USB 3 one.

    Obviously for most people the Little Big Disk is not a good value.

    I'm waiting to see if the controller on the rugged can be improved (via firmware) or if it will always lag slightly behind.
     
  5. xgman, Dec 13, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012

    xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #5
    I'm, using a WD MyBook Thunderbolt Duo with the stock drives removed and a OWC 460GB Xtreme3 Pro SSD as my boot drive. It seems plenty fast although it would be hard at this point for any of us to do a Apples to Apples compare since we can't easily test the same exact SSD in and out of the sealed imac.

    The controller on the TB box will effect the throughout somewhat and I understand that it is faster to just get a TB only box rather than a combo i/o box.

    As far as the internal fusion drive, I have a clone of my boot there as a backup and for maintenance.
     
  6. Yougotcarved thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 13, 2012
    #6
    So is there literally no disadvantage to saving hundreds of pounds on the overpriced internal SSD and just buying an external one other than the annoyance of having a drive plugged in?
     
  7. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Plus, you have the advantage that when the internal drive fails it would be quite a task to pry it out - at least for many of us. There is NO WAY I would send my iMac in with confidential data on it to some unknown party to replace a bad drive and then do what with the data on it.

    So, I use the external approach - currently a usb 3.0 - will probably switch to TB when more attractive options come out (if ever lol).
     
  8. Gascogne macrumors member

    Gascogne

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    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    Sweden
    #8
    That is the option I went with. :D
     
  9. Yougotcarved thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 13, 2012
    #9
    Out of interest, does that mean you're not a fan of the Little Lacy Lingerie...sorry I mean the Little LaCie Big Disk Thunderbolt thingy? For what reason (since I'm considering buying it)?

    I thought of another disadvantage - you wouldn't be able to BootCamp windows with SSD performance
     
  10. Gascogne macrumors member

    Gascogne

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    Sweden
    #10
    It seems it is possible to bootcamp windows from an external harddrive, just some minor hassle to it but it is doable.
    Will try this myself soon as my imac arrives.
     
  11. Apple Corps, Dec 13, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012

    Apple Corps macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    California
    #11
    I am not a fan of Lacie, but my post was geared more to the reason I went with an external drive (whatever brand).
     

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