Switching to external SSD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ravinder08, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. ravinder08 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2010
    #1
    Seriously thinking of converting to an external SSD as my main boot drive. Can anyone recommend a good 1Tb USB 3 SSD to go with? I have a late 2012 27” iMac.
     
  2. bbnck macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 19, 2009
    #2
    Your 2012 iMac has Thunderbolt 1 ports (supporting speeds of up to 10 Gbps) which is faster than SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (supporting speeds of up to 4.8 Gbps). Try and find an external SSD supporting Thunderbolt 1 or 2. If you decide to buy a Thunderbolt 2-based SSD, it will certainly work with your iMac but bear in mind it will only run at Thunderbolt 1 speeds on your particular machine.

    Please note Thunderbolt 3 has a different connector design. You'll need to buy a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter or cable if you wish to connect Thunderbolt 3 devices to your iMac.
     
  3. iTurbo macrumors 6502

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    Sep 9, 2008
    #3
    I just picked up a 500 GB Samsung T5 external SSD (USB 3) for my late 2012 iMac at Best Buy and it was only about $110 (same as Amazon).
     
  4. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #4
    Never thought about doing this. Great suggestion if I can get one fir a reasonable price I’ll go for it. Do they still do Thunderbolt 2 ssd’s?
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    "Seriously thinking of converting to an external SSD as my main boot drive. Can anyone recommend a good 1Tb USB 3 SSD to go with? I have a late 2012 27” iMac."

    DO NOT buy a thunderbolt drive. This is bad advice.
    They're NOT faster -- in some cases (tested by barefeats a while ago) a USB3 drive is faster than thunderbolt.

    A decent USB3 SSD will give you read speeds around 430mbps and writes 300-350mbps or better.

    I'd suggest a Samsung t5 (REFORMAT it and remove any Sandisk software before you use it) or a Sandisk Extreme.

    You don't really need to spend extra for 1tb. 500gb will "do the job".
    Just leave the large libraries of stuff (movies, music, pics) on the internal drive.
    They don't require the speed of an SSD.
    Indeed, you want to keep the external boot SSD "lean, clean and mean" so it will always be at its best.

    I've been booting and running my 2012 Mini this way since the day I first took it out of the box in January 2013. Still runs great, and I intend to keep using it until early next summer.
     
  6. billyb2 macrumors newbie

    billyb2

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Location:
    SoCal
    #6
    This is both true and false. USB3 has a high burst rate, but the sustained rate speeds suck. If you want true consistent speed from your drive, you need Thunderbolt.

    If you are only browsing the web, and doing work that doesn't require a lot of sustained read/write speed then USB3 will suffice. But if you're doing some heavy lifting, you need Thunderbolt. I had a USB3 enclosure for my drives for a long time and took me a while to realize that the enclosure was my bottleneck. Once I moved them into a Thunderbolt enclosure, my output more than doubled.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 16, 2018 ---
    This is good advice. Always keep your system drive free of clutter. Downloads, music, photos, files, etc... put that on a separate drive. System drive should be OS, apps and necessary items only!
     
  7. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #7
    Any external single drive is limited by SATA III, max 550mbs. USB 3 is a bit slower. TB is faster but cannot be faster than the drive. The only way to get faster is a RAID array.

    Yes, TB is better but not because of speed. TRIM works over Thunderbolt but not USB even if you boot from it.

    Why not do it right?

    Get rid of the HHD inside your iMac. Around here, the labor charge averages $75 if you don't want to do it yourself. You can get a 2T SSD for less than $300; 1T for under $175. The adapter costs $12 and the heat sensor is $39. If you want to do it yourself, the tape kit is $22 and the right tools another $20. Might as well replace the 7 year old NV RAM battery while you're in there. A BR2032 is $7 for 1 or $8 for 3 on Amazon.

    The spinner inside your iMac generates heat and draws power. The savings on your electric bill will pay for the upgrade over time. The reduced fan noise is an added bonus.
     
  8. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #8
    Too scared to open up an iMac myself, would the extra cost of paying someone to install an internal SSD really be worth the outlay?
     
  9. chabig macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    #9
    I don’t doubt that is true in your case, but his machine only has Thunderbolt 1. For him, Thunderbolt isn’t worth the expense.
     
  10. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    Oct 14, 2018
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    The Sillie Con Valley
    #10
    Yes!!!!

    Lower energy costs? Better than you think. Quieter? Oh hell yes! Longer component life? Absolutely — heat is your enemy. The WD and Seagate drives that Apple was using back then run Hot! Hot! Hot! Get it out of there.

    I did it to my 2010 three years ago when the cost of the 2T SSD was just under $1,000(!) and have never looked back. I often ran my air conditioning just to keep my office cool—it was that much warmer than the rest of the house.

    Your 2012 is Mojave compatible and likely to be good for the next round of OS upgrades (or 2 or 3). Invest a bit of money and it should be worry-free for quite awhile.

    I'm on a tight schedule this morning but if you need a parts and tools list, I can put one together for you this evening.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 16, 2018 ---
    Again, a single external SSD is limited by its speed. TB 1, 2 or 3 does not matter at all. Since nearly all externals have a SATA drive inside including the T5 mentioned in the OP, the max transfer rate is 6G or slightly better than the burst speed of USB 3.

    TB is still better for an external boot drive for many reasons including TRIM but internal is still the best.
     
  11. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #11
    So it would defo be beneficial to have an internal SSD in the long run??
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    If you want to pay -- have one installed internally.

    But... the fastest, cheapest, easiest, and safest way to "get the speed of an SSD" is to go the USB3 route. You'll get speeds about 85% of what you'd see from an internally-installed drive.

    Will that 15% or so really make a difference, in light of the extra expense?
     
  13. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

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    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #13
    To support the fisho above, I use identical Kingston SSDs for backups using SuperDuper, one via TB and the second via USB3.

    In real terms they are practically identical in performance, with less than one second between them doing Smart Backup on a weekly basis.
     
  14. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #14
    good point, is the samsung t5 usb-c or usb 3
     
  15. iTurbo macrumors 6502

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    Sep 9, 2008
    #15
    It is USB-C, but comes with a short adapter cable to plug into a USB A port. It is actually USB 3.1 gen 2.
     
  16. mlody macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 11, 2012
    Location:
    Windy City
    #16
    I just picked up a used iMac 27 2012 and have been also contemplating about upgrading the internal hdd to ssd. I did the upgrade on my 2010 27 iMac but somehow the slim iMac scares me a bit.
     
  17. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

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    Oct 14, 2018
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    #17
    Don't let it scare you. Do get the plastic pizza wheel to remove the screen safely—it's held together with double-stick foam tape. Watch the videos at OWC and the pictures at iFixIt.

    You can install a blade and/or an SSD into the 2012. Blades are faster so if you can find a system pull at a reasonable price, why not? In any case, get that spinner out of there. You already know the benefits. Were I doing it, I'd go for a 1T blade + a 2T SSD for most clients.

    For myself, I'd find a used 2015, stick a 2T PCIe 3/4 blade in it + a 4T SSD and sell the old blade. Why? There are those who have figured out that an NVMe PCIe 3/4 blade (as used in the 2017) gives a significant speed bump to the 2015 iMac. Apple used a slower PCIe 2 blade in those, same as the 2012–2014 so 2015 pulls are a good source for the used iMac blades you see on eBay.

    Also get a BR2032. Unlike your 2010, the NV RAM battery is on the front of the motherboard so that doesn't have to be pulled. The OWC heat sensor for the SSD is different from the 2009/2010 but readily available and still only $39.
     
  18. aeronatis macrumors member

    aeronatis

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #18
    For sure, changing the internal drive will give you better results overall.

    However, if you decide to use external SSD, Samsung T5 would be good for the money. It is USB 3.1 Gen 2 over USB-C and comes with two cables: one with USB-C on both ends and another with USB-A on one end. I would not use it as a boot drive though. For me, it is an additional device to the internal SSD to store library & database of the software I am using.
     
  19. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #19
    A 1TB internal ssd costs roughly £440 inc all parts and labour.
    An external 1Tb samsung T5 will £220
    Not sure if the extra £220 would be justified for the slight increase in speed? The law of diminishing returns.
     
  20. aeronatis macrumors member

    aeronatis

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    Sep 9, 2015
    #20
    I mean a low storage internal SSD + Samsung T5 1 TB would be good if your storage needs mainly consist of data that could be used over an external device.

    For instance, I use 2 TB Samsung T5 for sound library, steam library, work database and FCP cache files. The OS and the applications are installed on the internal drive.

    If you want all data to be stored on the same drive and save money, yes, Samsung T5 SSD is a good choice. I found booting over an external drive a little uncomfortable though.
     
  21. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #21
    Really?
    Can you explain how please?
    The iMac is over 5 years old so don’t want to spend too much on upgrading. Will buy a new machine in a few years time.
     
  22. aeronatis macrumors member

    aeronatis

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    Sep 9, 2015
    #22
    I used to have bootcamp partition on my previous external SSD (Samsung T3 500 GB). I used to get connection problems probably due to USB connection instability which always resulted in restarting. It didn't happen too often, but when it happened, it got really annoying.

    Also, having to plug and unplug the device every time I open and close the computer was also getting annoying. Since your computer is desktop, this part is not applicable to you though.

    It was an easy decision for me since I already had Samsung T3 at that time, so I tried and decided not to continue like that, but you should decide before you buy.

    Would using a 256 GB internal drive + 1 TB external be uncomfortable for you? Do you think it is an option for your use case?
    --- Post Merged, Oct 18, 2018 ---
    I think the best solution for you to buy Samsung T5 1 TB now and try booting over it. Only if you decide it is not good enough, you could buy an internal 256 GB drive and use the external one additionally.

    This way you wouldn't spend unnecessary money in advance and even after upgrading your computer in a few years, Samsung T5 will still be usable as an external drive.
     
  23. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #23
    I think will go with this option.
    Many thanks
     
  24. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #24
    OP:

    I explained what you need to do, and what hardware you need in reply 5 above.

    A USB3 SSD is "all you need", and I predict it will exceed your expectations.
    You can spend more for thunderbolt, but the "user experience" will be no better.

    There really isn't much more to say about it...
     
  25. ravinder08 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 11, 2010
    #25
    Thanks fisherman
     

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