Is running an SSD from Thunderbolt as boot drive identical to having an internal drive?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Lumonaut, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

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    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #26
    Did this with a mid 2011 iMac and a Silicon Power TB SSD and it worked very well.

    If I wanted to do this now on a TB3 machine I would simply go with this from OWC. Not bad for a 1TB Blade PCI-e drive in a TB3 caddy.


    https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB3ENVPRC10/
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #27
    iceman wrote:
    "Any other thoughts on this as to whether or not upgrading the HD in my late 2014 5k iMac (changing internal to SSD or adding SSD external) is worth it?"

    Try "the external approach" first.
    That is:
    - Buy a "bare" SATA SSD and a USB3 enclosure or perhaps a USB3/SATA dongle/adapter like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-...478&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=sabremt+usb3+to+ssd
    - Set it up to be "an external booter" first and see how you like it.
    - If all goes well, you might pry it open and install it internally.

    BUT CONSIDER:
    You may be quite impressed with how the drive runs "externally".
    You also might BREAK SOMETHING inside by prying the iMac open.
    You'll only gain about 15-20% more speed by doing so (for all the trouble).
    Would the risk prove worth it?
     
  3. mpainesyd macrumors 6502a

    mpainesyd

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    #28
  4. Blackshapes1980 macrumors newbie

    Blackshapes1980

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    #29
    My 2012 27" iMac has had a Samsung T3 hanging out of a USB port for about a year now, and it's my main photo editing machine, runs photoshop and Lightroom fine, shoot nikon RAWs. The trick is not to load the machine up with much else, and to not do too much at once with it. I could hear the fusion drive so I decided to stick the SSD in and suck it up. The performance hit was noticeable but nothing like you're describing. I booted it into recovery mode last night and reformatted the internal SSD (that formerly belonged to the fusion drive) installed OSX and it's flying again. YMMV
     
  5. Guy Clark Suspended

    Guy Clark

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    London United Kingdom.
    #30
    I ran macOS from an external Thunderbolt 2 SSD on a mid 2011 iMac for some time and found performance to be exceptional.
     
  6. spheris macrumors member

    spheris

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    #31
    The short answer. Yes.

    Using a single Akitio Node Lite and Samsung 960EVO NVME. I get almost identical throughput over TB3. If I raid it with another, that number doubles the internal raid SSD on the iMac Pro at around Ramdisk speeds, 6000+ because the iMac pro has dual TB3 Controllers. Cloning the OS from the internal SSD Raid on the iMac Pro, they are functionally identical, just a matter of selecting which to boot and I use it as my daily driver because I can replace the 960EVO whenever I want. Not possible with the internal SSD on the iMac Pro. I would say even a standard iMac with TB3 would get roughly equivalent performance minus the raid options since I think the standard iMac has only one tb3 controller
     
  7. bplein macrumors 6502a

    bplein

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    Austin, TX USA
    #32
    @spheris I'd love a similar setup: My ideal external drive for my iMac Pro would be TB3 via the USB-C, a small enclosure that accepts a M.2 NVMe drive.

    In other words, give me a Samsung T5 using NVMe end-to-end instead of USB 3.1.

    I have a 8-core iMac Pro with 1TB standard internal storage. I've added a Samsung T5 2TB for a data drive (and spinning rust for backups)
     
  8. danielwsmithee macrumors 65816

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    Mar 12, 2005
    #33
    You can get that already fairly cheap to with this:
    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/exp...67.550871764.1534456932-1624153617.1533579809

    It takes up to 4 standard M.2 NVME SSDs in the enclosure, so it isn't super small like the T5, but still pretty tiny and fast.
     
  9. Ifti macrumors 68020

    Ifti

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    #34
    This the closest I have managed to achieve to matching internal speeds with an external drive.
    I use it as my editing drive with Final Cut.
    Its FAR from cheap though!!!!

     
  10. bplein macrumors 6502a

    bplein

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    #35
    Thanks and yes, I'm aware of this product. And "fairly cheap" is relative. At $349 it's not cheap, but that would be OK if I were stuffing it with 4 @ 2TB drives at over $500 each.
     
  11. spheris, Aug 16, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018

    spheris macrumors member

    spheris

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    #36

    There is a catch and why I went with this config

    in order to get what you paid for out of an nvme drive it has to go onto a controller that does pcie 4x
    most of the things I've found have a limit of PCIE 1x or use a multiplier to try to trick out the channels
    the akitio tb3 raid station uses a scheme like this meaning you get 550 out of an ss as a single drive
    but stops at 800 if using two in raid mode.

    If you track with that. Then you see where it gets a lot more important what controller is inside the box than the connection. you can end up with an name drive that advertises TB3 but actually doesn't use that and uses usb3.1 gen2 speeds instead which is roughly TB1

    So be careful shopping it out and make sure to check out the node lite, there are some equivalents that are portable but you do get into issues if you're doing real workloads without adequate power
     
  12. bplein macrumors 6502a

    bplein

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    #37
    Thanks. I was a systems engineer for Fusion-io for 4 years so I’m aware of PCIe lanes and their effect on performance. That’s part of why regular consumers have a hard time figuring this stuff out. Chipset quality and specs play a big role and you can have a TB3 connection but a SATA translation and you lose all that goodness.

    If anyone were in the position to make an affordable external true TB3 SSD it would be Samsung, say “T5Pro”
     
  13. spheris macrumors member

    spheris

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    #38

    I would love for Samsung to do it too but they haven’t yet. They have to know this demand segment is coming though. I went with this because it offered all the perf perks. Swap perks and aesthetic perks I could find in relatively a simple setup that just plugged and rolled.
     
  14. Chocomonsters macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    #39
    You have multiple options.

    Samsung X5
    https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/product/portable/x5/

    G-technology G-Drive mobile Pro SSD
    https://www.g-technology.com/products/portable/g-drive-mobile-pro-ssd#0G10311

    OWC Envoy Pro EX (VE)
    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/owc-envoy-pro-ex-ve/thunderbolt-3

    All with NVMe SSD and bus powered.

    I too considered Akitio Node Lite with Samsung or WD NVMe, but this set up requires external power brick, not portable, and fan noise.

    G-Drive comes with 5 year warranty but other two come with 3 year warranty. All with NVMe up to 2800 MB/s speed. Only down side of these portable units are some thermal throttling with HUGH transfer. G-Drive dropped the price from $999 for 1 TB to $699 to match Samsung X5's $699 price.
     
  15. scstraus macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #40
    Considering what you are getting?

    What you are getting is ripped off. Apple is charging 4 times the market prices for SSD's that are inferior to others on the market.

    Current Macbook air upgrade from 128GB to 512GB SSD costs $400.

    Specs of this SSD: Apple SSD SM0128G Sequential Read: 1390 MB/s Sequential Write: 730.8 MB/s

    Upgrade from a Samsung Polaris 128gb m.2 (at $65) to a drive far better than what Apple is offering like the Samsung 960 EVO M.2 drive such as used in laptops like the Dell XPS 15 which can achieve speeds around 2.7Gbit/sec and costs only $169:

    Means the upgrade is $104 vs Apple's $400 for a drive that's more than twice as fast.
     
  16. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    #41
    My post was from almost a year ago.
     
  17. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    The Sillie Con Valley
    #42
    Boy howdy is that bad advice, especially in your case.

    And it's too bad, really. You have a 2015 model—the one series of iMacs that would seriously benefit from an SSD upgrade. Although you have a blisteringly fast PCIe 3 x4 buss in your 2015, Apple installed an NVMe PCIe 2 SSD that runs at half speed. Oh yes, they did.

    Samsung 970 EVO runs $89 (250G) to $579 (2TB) plus an inexpensive adapter. Pop one into your iMac to increase speed and capacity (or not, depending on the size). And, if you're afraid to do it yourself, any experienced Mac technician can do it for you. It takes less than an hour and you're off to the races.
     
  18. jeddouglas macrumors regular

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    Dec 13, 2012
    Location:
    Inverness, UK
    #43
    What SSD did you use as I am considering doing this on my iMac mid 2011?
    --- Post Merged, Nov 2, 2018 ---
    Can you still get a Goflex adapter for thunderbolt 2 as I am looking to do something similar for my mid 2011 iMac
     
  19. redfirebird08 macrumors 6502

    redfirebird08

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    Feb 15, 2007
    #44
    Wow, the 500 gig version is $280. Not bad at all for 1,800 megabytes per second.

    I paid $250 for a 500 gig USB3 SSD a few years ago. It runs around 400 megabytes per second, which is still amazing when I look at my home Internet which is 250 megabits per second (31 megabytes per second). So even my current external SSD is running almost 13 times faster than my Internet connection. Pretty damn good.

    One of these days we will see a 500 gig Thunderbolt drive for well under $200 that can go around 2,000 megabytes per second. That will be pretty awesome.
     
  20. mikehalloran, Nov 2, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018

    mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    #45
    As fast as all of those options are, none are as fast the NVMe PCIe 3x4 SSD inside a 2017 iMac — original or a Samsung 970 EVO with an inexpensive pin-out adapter.

    A 2015 has the same buss but Apple installed a slower PCIe 2 SSD. The various solutions can get hit the same speed with RAID but it's not as fast as replacing the original blade with a 2T 970 EVO.

    It takes an experienced tech an hour to do the install.

    The answer to the OP is still the same as it was in January: No.

    The 970 EVO list prices: 250G $87.99, 500G $147.99, 1T $277.99, 2T 579.99

    I've seen the 2T on eBay for $499.99 with free shipping.
     
  21. jeddouglas macrumors regular

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    Dec 13, 2012
    Location:
    Inverness, UK
    #46
    Would the following work as an external SSD solution for my iMac 2011

    Crucial 240GB SSD
    SATA III to usb c enclosure for SSD
    Thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter

    I can get all of the above for about £80 and would save me opening up the iMac.
     
  22. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #47
    jed asks:
    "Would the following work as an external SSD solution for my iMac 2011
    Crucial 240GB SSD
    SATA III to usb c enclosure for SSD
    Thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter"


    No, I don't believe it will work.
    A tbolt3-to-tbolt2 adapter outputs a THUNDERBOLT signal, which IS NOT THE SAME as USB3 from a USB-c enclosure.

    For a 2011 iMac you would need a thunderbolt/SATA enclosure (tbolt1 or tbolt2, I think should work) -- something completely different from ANY "USB" enclosure.

    The problem here is that it's difficult to find "empty" tbolt1/2 enclosures.
    Here's one (no financial interest in this auction):
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Thunderbol...273532536566?_trksid=p2385738.m4383.l4275.c10

    Considering what these empty enclosures cost, an alternative might be to buy a "pre-assembled" tbolt drive that's "ready-to-go".

    There used to be a "thunderbolt-to-USB3" adapter sold by a company named Kanex, but these were also expensive and I'm not certain that one could BOOT from one of them (I'm guessing, "no").

    There may also be "thunderbolt-to-eSATA" adapters, I recall reading once that they are bootable (from an eSATA enclosure), can't be sure about that, never tried it. Further research would be warranted.

    Really, with the 2011 iMac (with USB2), your options are limited.

    You could also open it up, but that is not particularly easy to do and I'd be hesitant to try it. Others are bolder than I.

    If you're financial situation isn't too bad, before I spent much money "upgrading" a 7-year-old (and soon to be 8-year-old) iMac, I'd begin looking for a replacement. Either a 2017 iMac or perhaps one of the 2018 Minis, or.... hold on about 5-6 months longer for one of the 2019 iMacs.
     
  23. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #48
    Samsung X5 - a bit pricey though

    5AE75D71-B003-4C99-A99F-DCC3CA0EB70A.jpeg
     
  24. mikehalloran, Nov 4, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018

    mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    #49
    A 2011 is very easy. A 27” takes me 1/2 hour. If I had two working arms, it would take less time. If you’re afraid of opening it up and/or don’t want to spend a few $ for the specialty tools, then, by all means, find a technician in your area to do the work. $50–$75 here in the Silicon Valley.

    With SSD prices these days, there’s no less expensive way I know. OWC charges $140 for an external TB dock to use with an SSD. The costs to throw it in include a $39 temp sensor, the bracket $11 (optional but recommended) and an NV RAM battery ($3.50 – $8) —again, optional but recommended.

    You need to get the OS onto the SSD when done. Internet Recovery is free if you don’t have a boot USB or other external drive. Once done, you can restore from Time Machine or other backup.

    A 2011 will boot much faster, run a lot quieter and last longer because you removed a major heat source from the inside.
     
  25. jeddouglas macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2012
    Location:
    Inverness, UK
    #50
    The enclosure output is stated as usb c thunderbolt 3. With the Thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter I would have thought this would have worked if plugged into my iMacs Thunderbolt port even if I only get Thunderbolt 2 speeds. Am I missing something?
     

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