Questions on Windows Performance via External Drive

BigMcGuire

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 10, 2012
6,157
7,718
California
2017 MBP 13' TB.

I'm currently running Windows 10 on VMWare Fusion via an external 1TB USB C SSD (Samsung Pro 860). I get about 480mb/sec up and down. Running Windows is doable, but a little laggy at times. CPU fan tends to run a lot too.

I do Visual Studio with some Oracle db programming. I have run VMWare on my internal drive and it is noticeably faster.

Question #1 : Is it worth it to buy a M.2 NVMe enclosure ($50) with a PCIe SSD (500gb for $129) for the speed increase?

Question #2: Is running VMWare on an external drive vs the internal drive a cause for high CPU usage? So if I get an NVMe enclosure, will cpu be tasked greater versus just running off of internal drive?

Question #3: Will I get a significant performance boost if I run Bootcamp?

I really would prefer to have Mac OS accessible while I work hence why I use Windows 10 with an external drive (that and the 1TB SSD was work provided). I have never run bootcamp before.

Thanks for your time,
 
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Painter2002

macrumors 65816
May 9, 2017
1,169
884
Austin, TX
2017 MBP 13' TB.

I'm currently running Windows 10 on VMWare Fusion via an external 1TB USB C SSD (Samsung Pro 860). I get about 480mb/sec up and down. Running Windows is doable, but a little laggy at times. CPU fan tends to run a lot too.

I do Visual Studio with some Oracle db programming. I have run VMWare on my internal drive and it is noticeably faster.

Question #1 : Is it worth it to buy a M.2 NVMe enclosure ($50) with a PCIe SSD (500gb for $129) for the speed increase?

Question #2: Is running VMWare on an external drive vs the internal drive a cause for high CPU usage? So if I get an NVMe enclosure, will cpu be tasked greater versus just running off of internal drive?

Question #3: Will I get a significant performance boost if I run Bootcamp?

I really would prefer to have Mac OS accessible while I work hence why I use Windows 10 with an external drive (that and the 1TB SSD was work provided). I have never run bootcamp before.

Thanks for your time,
I can't speak for the difference on running Windows in a VM versus on Bootcamp, but I can tell you I run Windows in Bootcamp and it works relatively well, with no issues of lag. I did have some challenges initially getting my bluetooth mouse and keyboard to connect to Windows in Bootcamp, but after some supplemental updates the issue seemed to get fixed.

Also, I know when I use external drives (including the Samsung T5), I seem to max out around 500mb/sec, so it is very possible that the drive is holding the VM back.
 
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ocnitsa

macrumors 6502
Jan 24, 2011
435
772
If you setup Bootcamp, you should still be able to access the Windows partition from VMWare, I believe. Which would give you access to quick and dirty Windows, as well as booting via Bootcamp. In my experience, Windows runs great in Bootcamp.
 

WickedPorter

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
272
217
I just set up my first “native” windows install... using a Samsung X5 drive. Runs fantastic. Had to use an external wired USB keyboard (I’d recommend a wired mouse too if you have one, I didn’t) during setup, as the MacBook trackpad and internal keyboard were not recognized during the setup process. I’m guessing a lack of necessary drivers in the pre-install Windows environment. Once the BootCamp drivers were installed, all is well.

Using a Samsung X5 (true TB3 NVMe) + i9/Vega 20/32GB ... whew. Crazy fast Win10! :D
 
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LtRoyalShrimp

macrumors member
May 21, 2014
43
24
SF, CA
I just set up my first “native” windows install... using a Samsung X5 drive. Runs fantastic. Had to use an external wired USB keyboard (I’d recommend a wired mouse too if you have one, I didn’t) during setup, as the MacBook trackpad and internal keyboard were not recognized during the setup process. I’m guessing a lack of necessary drivers in the pre-install Windows environment. Once the BootCamp drivers were installed, all is well.

Using a Samsung X5 (true TB3 NVMe) + i9/Vega 20/32GB ... whew. Crazy fast Win10! :D
If you don't mind me asking, how did you go about this? I just got a the i7/Vega 20/16GB model and a 500GB X5 and i've tried various guides with no luck.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
11,517
6,014
I can’t comment on VMware performance when run from external drives (there are a lot of factors), but I did run Windows natively from an external USB-C SSD. The performance was perfectly fine, but the setup was unmaintainable. Not only was installing windows to an external drive needlessly complicated but windows updates would regularly render the drive unbootable.
 

WickedPorter

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
272
217
If you don't mind me asking, how did you go about this? I just got a the i7/Vega 20/16GB model and a 500GB X5 and i've tried various guides with no luck.

It wasn't too bad, here are my quick tips:
Note: Windows 10 typically doesn't allow you to install to an external USB, however if it's a true TB3 drive, it sees it as an installable drive.
  1. Format your X5 in MacOS; FAT32 with a GUID partition table
  2. Load BootCamp in MacOS, under one of the menus you'll have an option to download Windows Setup files (drivers)... once downloaded you can close Bootcamp
  3. Get a USB key with enough space for the ISO. Borrow a working Windows machine, use Rufus to write the Windows 10 ISO of your choice to the USB key. Rufus will make it bootable/etc.
  4. Boot back in to your Mac and put the Windows Setup files you downloaded in step 2 on the USB key.
  5. Boot your Mac in to recovery (hold command+r at boot time), in the utilities menu, select the startup security utility. Turn off all boot security and select the option that allows booting from USB.
  6. Reboot your Mac, holding down option key, boot from the USB key. Make sure your X5 TB3 drive is also connected.
  7. Also make sure you have a USB Keyboard and mouse connected as well
  8. Run through the setup process. Select a "custom" install when windows setup asks, and format the X5 with NTFS (don't touch the small EFI partition)
  9. Once Windows is installed, run the setup program for the Windows Setup Files (step 2, 5) to install the drivers. After a couple of reboots, you should be able to use your internal mac keyboard/mouse at that point.
Real quick and dirty guide here, let me know if anything needs any further explanation.

I haven't tried turning any of the boot security features back on yet.

Nick/WP
 

LtRoyalShrimp

macrumors member
May 21, 2014
43
24
SF, CA
It wasn't too bad, here are my quick tips:
Note: Windows 10 typically doesn't allow you to install to an external USB, however if it's a true TB3 drive, it sees it as an installable drive.
  1. Format your X5 in MacOS; FAT32 with a GUID partition table
  2. Load BootCamp in MacOS, under one of the menus you'll have an option to download Windows Setup files (drivers)... once downloaded you can close Bootcamp
  3. Get a USB key with enough space for the ISO. Borrow a working Windows machine, use Rufus to write the Windows 10 ISO of your choice to the USB key. Rufus will make it bootable/etc.
  4. Boot back in to your Mac and put the Windows Setup files you downloaded in step 2 on the USB key.
  5. Boot your Mac in to recovery (hold command+r at boot time), in the utilities menu, select the startup security utility. Turn off all boot security and select the option that allows booting from USB.
  6. Reboot your Mac, holding down option key, boot from the USB key. Make sure your X5 TB3 drive is also connected.
  7. Also make sure you have a USB Keyboard and mouse connected as well
  8. Run through the setup process. Select a "custom" install when windows setup asks, and format the X5 with NTFS (don't touch the small EFI partition)
  9. Once Windows is installed, run the setup program for the Windows Setup Files (step 2, 5) to install the drivers. After a couple of reboots, you should be able to use your internal mac keyboard/mouse at that point.
Real quick and dirty guide here, let me know if anything needs any further explanation.

I haven't tried turning any of the boot security features back on yet.

Nick/WP

Thank you! This worked perfectly. Im now running bootcamp off of a Samsung X5 and it feels like its running off of the internal drive. Interesting note: I used Black Magic disk speed test on the X5 before installing Windows and the X5 got faster read and write speeds than the internal Apple SSD. lol.
 

stylinexpat

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2009
1,918
4,061
It wasn't too bad, here are my quick tips:
Note: Windows 10 typically doesn't allow you to install to an external USB, however if it's a true TB3 drive, it sees it as an installable drive.
  1. Format your X5 in MacOS; FAT32 with a GUID partition table
  2. Load BootCamp in MacOS, under one of the menus you'll have an option to download Windows Setup files (drivers)... once downloaded you can close Bootcamp
  3. Get a USB key with enough space for the ISO. Borrow a working Windows machine, use Rufus to write the Windows 10 ISO of your choice to the USB key. Rufus will make it bootable/etc.
  4. Boot back in to your Mac and put the Windows Setup files you downloaded in step 2 on the USB key.
  5. Boot your Mac in to recovery (hold command+r at boot time), in the utilities menu, select the startup security utility. Turn off all boot security and select the option that allows booting from USB.
  6. Reboot your Mac, holding down option key, boot from the USB key. Make sure your X5 TB3 drive is also connected.
  7. Also make sure you have a USB Keyboard and mouse connected as well
  8. Run through the setup process. Select a "custom" install when windows setup asks, and format the X5 with NTFS (don't touch the small EFI partition)
  9. Once Windows is installed, run the setup program for the Windows Setup Files (step 2, 5) to install the drivers. After a couple of reboots, you should be able to use your internal mac keyboard/mouse at that point.
Real quick and dirty guide here, let me know if anything needs any further explanation.

I haven't tried turning any of the boot security features back on yet.

Nick/WP

Thanks for sharing. I have a 20128 MBP and was thinking and wondering how well Windows would work on an external drive. I currently have an external drive I built myself with something like this in it hooked up via Thunderbolt 3. I was wondering how well Windows would run on my MacBook with it being external. Would be cool to have it when you want to plug it in and disconnect it and just run the internal Apple OS when not needed. Does it work that easily..?
 
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BigMcGuire

Contributor
Original poster
Jan 10, 2012
6,157
7,718
California
Thanks for sharing. I have a 20128 MBP and was thinking and wondering how well Windows would work on an external drive. I currently have an external drive I built myself with something like this in it hooked up via Thunderbolt 3. I was wondering how well Windows would run on my MacBook with it being external. Would be cool to have it when you want to plug it in and disconnect it and just run the internal Apple OS when not needed. Does it work that easily..?

I switched to Parallels because VMWare fusion would result in a Windows 10 that locked up and never recovered during updates. Parallels allowed me to use my Windows 10 copy on my Mac as if it ran normally, without high CPU usage, so much so that I’ve ended up using my MBP at work now for the last week.

I could never get VMWare fusion to work right, even on the internal SSD. There would be long periods of lockups and CPU usage would always be high with the fan running. Parallels? Feels like I’m running Windows natively, no lockups, does Windows Updates normally, when I move off of Parallels to Mac apps - CPU is reasonable and fan isn’t running. I use the Pause feature all the time.

I’ve run Windows on my 1TB SSD and on my internal SSD in Parallels. I can’t feel a difference. Only obvious benefit is, if I need to use my laptop in another office, it’s a lot more convenient to have the Windows 10 image on my internal disk, so I do that.

Parallels has changed my life. I’m able to use my Mac as my work computer for the first time in my life (I’ve used Windows since I was a child). I program in Visual Studio 2019 with heavy applications that require compiling and dealing with thousands of files of source code.

RDP doesn’t work well at all in Parallels so I had to download the Microsoft RDP app on the Mac App Store and that worked perfectly for dealing with Windows servers on the LAN at work.

I cannot stress how much Parallels has been a night and day difference for me with Windows 10 vs VMWare Fusion. Feels like native windows, uses my EGPU, smooth, never any lockups, my CPU fan isn’t running all the time, and I really really like it.

Been using this for a week. I’m going to be giving my work back the XPS they gave me at this rate.
 
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stylinexpat

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2009
1,918
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I switched to Parallels because VMWare fusion would result in a Windows 10 that locked up and never recovered during updates. Parallels allowed me to use my Windows 10 copy on my Mac as if it ran normally, without high CPU usage, so much so that I’ve ended up using my MBP at work now for the last week.

I could never get VMWare fusion to work right, even on the internal SSD. There would be long periods of lockups and CPU usage would always be high with the fan running. Parallels? Feels like I’m running Windows natively, no lockups, does Windows Updates normally, when I move off of Parallels to Mac apps - CPU is reasonable and fan isn’t running. I use the Pause feature all the time.

I’ve run Windows on my 1TB SSD and on my internal SSD in Parallels. I can’t feel a difference. Only obvious benefit is, if I need to use my laptop in another office, it’s a lot more convenient to have the Windows 10 image on my internal disk, so I do that.

Parallels has changed my life. I’m able to use my Mac as my work computer for the first time in my life (I’ve used Windows since I was a child). I program in Visual Studio 2019 with heavy applications that require compiling and dealing with thousands of files of source code.

RDP doesn’t work well at all in Parallels so I had to download the Microsoft RDP app on the Mac App Store and that worked perfectly for dealing with Windows servers on the LAN at work.

I cannot stress how much Parallels has been a night and day difference for me with Windows 10 vs VMWare Fusion. Feels like native windows, uses my EGPU, smooth, never any lockups, my CPU fan isn’t running all the time, and I really really like it.

Been using this for a week. I’m going to be giving my work back the XPS they gave me at this rate.

My upcoming project is to buy a separate external SSD and see if I can install parallels on my current MacBook Pro and then load up Windows from the external drive without the fans working non-stop. The fans now almost rarely turn on. My MBP pretty much runs now like my iPad Pro with fans rarely turning on. Now if it could do this with Windows running on an external device would be great.
 

JosepPont

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2019
97
49
Albaida, Valencian Country
It wasn't too bad, here are my quick tips:
Note: Windows 10 typically doesn't allow you to install to an external USB, however if it's a true TB3 drive, it sees it as an installable drive.
  1. Format your X5 in MacOS; FAT32 with a GUID partition table
  2. Load BootCamp in MacOS, under one of the menus you'll have an option to download Windows Setup files (drivers)... once downloaded you can close Bootcamp
  3. Get a USB key with enough space for the ISO. Borrow a working Windows machine, use Rufus to write the Windows 10 ISO of your choice to the USB key. Rufus will make it bootable/etc.
  4. Boot back in to your Mac and put the Windows Setup files you downloaded in step 2 on the USB key.
  5. Boot your Mac in to recovery (hold command+r at boot time), in the utilities menu, select the startup security utility. Turn off all boot security and select the option that allows booting from USB.
  6. Reboot your Mac, holding down option key, boot from the USB key. Make sure your X5 TB3 drive is also connected.
  7. Also make sure you have a USB Keyboard and mouse connected as well
  8. Run through the setup process. Select a "custom" install when windows setup asks, and format the X5 with NTFS (don't touch the small EFI partition)
  9. Once Windows is installed, run the setup program for the Windows Setup Files (step 2, 5) to install the drivers. After a couple of reboots, you should be able to use your internal mac keyboard/mouse at that point.
Real quick and dirty guide here, let me know if anything needs any further explanation.

I haven't tried turning any of the boot security features back on yet.

Nick/WP

Hi, I follow the steps. It work but at the moment to select the drive were Windows will be installed nothing appears, no drives to select. I was thinking Windows maybe don't recognize my drive (X5) and I got the drivers from the $WinPEDriver$ folder and that works, the drive appear and allows me to continue.

My problem now is that when Windows reboot the system during installation an inaccessible_boot_device error appears. How can I fix it?

Thanks!!


Josep Pont
 

WickedPorter

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
272
217
My problem now is that when Windows reboot the system during installation an inaccessible_boot_device error appears. How can I fix it?

I'm not sure what would cause that... you're using an X5 drive, correct? (i.e. not a T5) ... and all boot security settings are disabled (step 5) ? Apologies, I've not run in to this issue so don't have many ideas on how to fix it...

Make sure your ISO is 1809 or newer, this would help with any potential driver issues. Also, when the initial windows setup screen appears where you select which drive you want to install, be sure you're selecting the X5 drive, and delete any partitions that exist on it (i.e. if your X5 is listed as "drive0" - you should only see one listing for drive0 with "unallocated" next to it, with space equal to around the full capacity of your X5).
 
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JosepPont

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2019
97
49
Albaida, Valencian Country
I'm not sure what would cause that... you're using an X5 drive, correct? (i.e. not a T5) ... and all boot security settings are disabled (step 5) ? Apologies, I've not run in to this issue so don't have many ideas on how to fix it...

Make sure your ISO is 1809 or newer, this would help with any potential driver issues. Also, when the initial windows setup screen appears where you select which drive you want to install, be sure you're selecting the X5 drive, and delete any partitions that exist on it (i.e. if your X5 is listed as "drive0" - you should only see one listing for drive0 with "unallocated" next to it, with space equal to around the full capacity of your X5).

Yes, I'm trying with the X5. It is maybe a problem with the new Windos 10 ISO or I was mess some point. I will try another time with a different ISO.

Thank you!

Note: I'm trying with the X5 500GB version and a new Macbook Pro 16 inch.
 

Fliu

macrumors newbie
Nov 7, 2016
17
1
It wasn't too bad, here are my quick tips:
Note: Windows 10 typically doesn't allow you to install to an external USB, however if it's a true TB3 drive, it sees it as an installable drive.
  1. Format your X5 in MacOS; FAT32 with a GUID partition table
  2. Load BootCamp in MacOS, under one of the menus you'll have an option to download Windows Setup files (drivers)... once downloaded you can close Bootcamp
  3. Get a USB key with enough space for the ISO. Borrow a working Windows machine, use Rufus to write the Windows 10 ISO of your choice to the USB key. Rufus will make it bootable/etc.
  4. Boot back in to your Mac and put the Windows Setup files you downloaded in step 2 on the USB key.
  5. Boot your Mac in to recovery (hold command+r at boot time), in the utilities menu, select the startup security utility. Turn off all boot security and select the option that allows booting from USB.
  6. Reboot your Mac, holding down option key, boot from the USB key. Make sure your X5 TB3 drive is also connected.
  7. Also make sure you have a USB Keyboard and mouse connected as well
  8. Run through the setup process. Select a "custom" install when windows setup asks, and format the X5 with NTFS (don't touch the small EFI partition)
  9. Once Windows is installed, run the setup program for the Windows Setup Files (step 2, 5) to install the drivers. After a couple of reboots, you should be able to use your internal mac keyboard/mouse at that point.
Real quick and dirty guide here, let me know if anything needs any further explanation.

I haven't tried turning any of the boot security features back on yet.

Nick/WP

Any idea if this would work if I partition the X5 with a Windows partition and a MacOS partition?
 

Nguyen Duc Hieu

macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2020
363
82
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Any idea if this would work if I partition the X5 with a Windows partition and a MacOS partition?

Don't know why you would need a second MacOS partition on an external drive, but I would do as follow:
- On Windows machine, use Rufus to create a WindowsToGo disk on USB SSD box
- Move it to Mac machine, boot to WindowsToGo, install BootCamp and all, ensuring it works flawlessly, no conflict with the current MacOS.
- Bootback to MacOS, Use Disk Utility to shrink the Windows volume on external USB box.
- Create a new partition for 2nd MacOS.
- Install MacOS to that volume, using in place installation method, not USBinstaller method.
- Check on System Preference if it can see all 3 partitions as bootable.
- Reboot to the newly installed MacOS partition.
 
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