SSD internal vs. USB 3.0

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Jeff Charles, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Jeff Charles macrumors member

    May 21, 2009
    I asked an OWC rep in an online chat about the speed difference between an internally installed SSD and an SSD in their On-the-Go USB 3.0 enclosure. His response:

    It will be about twice as fast internally as in the On the Go USB 3.0. Normally USB 3.0 is slated to go about 480-500 MB/s, but as it is so new it only goes about 300 MBps or a little slower. Until the USB 3.0 standard is fully updated to the 500 MBps you will get better speed internally; it will be about 550 MBps in your computer.​

    I also called Apple sales support. The rep told me that installing an SSD will void the Mini's warranty. I guess if there was a problem requiring warranty service, you could put everything back the way it was, but there is a risk that it will not be covered.

  2. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Both people are right. USB 3.0 is not a good idea if you plan on using SSD as main OS drive. Speeds alone aren't that important but there are other factors. USB will always slightly tax your CPU because of the way its implemented. Also, the way it reads data isn't ideal, it reads data in chunks - so it's not really good for main drive because OS reads and writes lots of small files all the time.
    However, if you choose to go with Thunderbolt, you will not notice any difference between internal/external. I've seen some single external SSDs (I think from Lacie) that could be used for this purpose or you can get Seagate GoFlex adapter.
    Yes, you will void warranty if you put SSD into mini, I wouldnt risk it unless its a used machine with no warranty. If you really want to do it, visit apple official repair center and they will make it for a small fee without voiding the warranty.
  3. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    +1 for the previous reply.

    This question gets asked a lot and this thread is an excellent statement of the alternatives and consequences.
  4. dasx macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    Look around or search. There's a thread in this subforum in which someone compares his internal SSD to an external SSD. ;)
  5. Jeff Charles thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2009
    Having experienced an SSD in my 2009 MBP, I do not want a computer without one. It makes the computer much more responsive, and that's with a SATA II connection and a relatively slow SSD.

    To summarize, based on your post and other sources:
    • Using the SSD in an external USB 3.0 enclosure is not a good choice for the OS.
    • There are no available Thunderbolt single-drive enclosures, other than the GoFlex.
    • A Thunderbolt enclosure with a 256 GB SATA costs as much as the Apple internal 256 GB SATA.
    • Installing my own SSD will void my new Mini's warranty. I spoke to an Apple store and several Apple service shops. Apple will not install a third-party drive. The only service shop that would said it would void the warranty, even if they did it.
    • Fusion Drive will likely do well for the OS and programs, but may not know to put things like the Lightroom catalog on the SSD. Also the 128 GB SSD would be tight for storing Lightroom previews, even if the OS knew to put them there.
    I'm starting to think that the simplest option, although expensive, is to buy the Mini with the Apple 256 GB SSD.

    Or, put my Samsung 830 256 in my 2009 Mini and wait a year. Maybe by then, Apple will have matured out of its "cute" phase and will offer an easy-to-upgrade Maxi :D.

  6. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    After much the same analysis I got the 2.6 with the Apple internal SSD.
    1) They are using pretty much the same Samsung 830 + an apple modified controller (even better). Extra cost above DIY ~$100 to $150. Was tempted by the Server with dual 256 but the second 256 was going to be $500 more!!! I got a samsung 840 500GB + USB3 case for less than that!
    1a) With apple care I get 1-3 years on the SSD as well - even better.
    2) Although not optimal I have no issue with running OS from USB3 and SSD. I am the one who posted the comparison results and I have booted off a much slower intel 320 SSD and USB3 and it works great.
  7. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Strange on both accounts.

    First, installing an SSD drive doesn't void the warranty. Any damage that you do during the installation, any damage caused by the drive (unlikely) and obviously any damage to the drive itself is not covered, but the warranty for the computer should be just fine.

    Second, the MB/second state is the maximum transfer speed, and is rarely important. The big benefit of SSD is close to zero access time - you will notice very little difference except in artificial benchmarks due to the maximum transfer speed.
  8. Jeff Charles thread starter macrumors member

    May 21, 2009
    I did read your comparison. My concern, based on a prior post, was that there would be issues for the boot drive, but it sounds like an external USB3 SSD for the OS is worth considering. The option would always be there to install it inside or to move it to a Thunderbolt later.
  9. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    THE FIRST IS WRONG , but and this is a big but if you do not break anything and return the machine to stock it should be undetectable. Not legal but no one knows and you get away with it. I do not encourage it but those are the facts.

    The second one is correct 4k random read writes can be 100x that of a hdd.
  10. shinji macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2007
    What is the actual CPU overhead when booting off USB 3.0? Is it noticeable in any way? Would any of you expect someone doing mostly Photoshop work to run up against it?

    Are you booting off the same enclosure in the other thread, the Thermaltake Silver River 5G? I've been strongly considering that.
  11. Rambaud macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2008
    Norwich UK
    Here in the UK, such a blanket statement about voiding the Warranty is unlikely to impress a Judge, if the Warranty work is unrelated to the installation of the SSD drive.

    However, the onus would be on the owner to prove this (on the balance of probabilities).

    [I have added a 256Gb SSD drive to my mac Mini.]

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