Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Jamooche, Apr 27, 2019.

  1. Jamooche macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    #1
    I am planning to upgrade my 2012 iMac and will need some new fast external hard drives. I am confused between USB-C drives and Thunderbolt 3 drives. Is there any benefit to paying more for one that is designated as Thunderbolt 3? My understanding is that the 7200rpm hard drive is the limiting factor and it's not worth the extra cost.

    This USB-C 4TB is only $149:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...0g05666_professional_desktop_drive_power.html

    But this 4TB USB-C Thunderbolt 3 is $359:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...ogy_0g05363_professional_hard_drive_4000.html

    Will there be any noticeable benefit to the more expensive hard drive? Thanks!
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    IF the internal drive itself is a platter-based HDD, get USB3.
    The additional cost and speed of thunderbolt will make no difference.

    It -can- make a difference if it's an SSD.
    Tbolt3 is much faster, but also much more expensive.
     
  3. Jamooche thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    #3
    Thanks Fisherman - that is what I figured. The external SSDs in the 4TB+ range are just too expensive. USB-C regular it is. Thanks again!
     
  4. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #4
    Why in the world wold you be looking at ultra-slow hard drives? 7200 is a snail compared to the slowest SSD. USB 3 is faster than the fastest HDD.

    Time Machine and archival don’t need 7200. The practically bulletproof WD Red is perfect for both uses. NAS rated drives are designed to run 24/7. They have heavier bearings and run cooler.
    https://www.amazon.com/Red-10TB-NAS-Hard-Drive/dp/B0719498XY/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1Q7MOXCCCG7RC&keywords=wd+red+10tb&qid=1556374992&s=gateway&sprefix=WD+red,aps,208&sr=8-3

    Unless running multiple HDDs in a RAID 0 or 10 array, you cannot get “ultra fast” out of anything spinning—even the old 15000 Seagate enterprise drives are slower than a SATA III SSD.

    A TB3 external is what you want if it contains an NVMe 3 x4 SSD. The Samsung X5, for example runs just as fast as the internal SSD on a 2017 or 2019 iMac. $248–$998 depending on size.
    https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Portable-SSD-Thunderbolt-MU-PB1T0B/dp/B07GBTY82P/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Samsung+x5&qid=1556374619&s=electronics&sr=1-3&th=1

    --- Post Merged, Apr 27, 2019 ---
    A SATA III SSD is no faster over TB3 than USB-C or USB 3. This dock comes with both cables and lets you drop in the SATA III SSD of your choice. I haven’t A/B’d to see if there’s any real world speed difference between the two cables but I will.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E80N2E8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    A 2TB Crucial MX500 costs around $250 and drops right in. Just sayin...
    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX500-NAND-SATA-Internal/dp/B078C515QL/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?hvadid=252087320539&hvdev=t&hvlocphy=9031936&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=2543595477820976919&hvtargid=aud-676677759524:kwd-401690385299&keywords=mx500+2tb&qid=1556374910&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
     
  5. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    #5
    If cost is not an issue, or you have extra 1TB SSDs lying around, any reason NOT to use SSD for Time Machine? I just converted a leftover 1TB SSD for this purpose, and it's fast and silent on the backups. Any downside for extended use?
     
  6. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #6
    Time Machine? No but you want your TM drive to be larger than your system. Can you use a 1TB drive to back up a 500GB system? Yes but I’d like to see at least 2TB. I back up a number of devices around here and find that 10TB WD Reds @ $250 are perfect.

    My TM drives are all wireless or Ethernet. No sleep issues ever. I like the WD My Cloud as they come loaded with Reds and TM is one of the default settings (they have phone support but I’ve never used it). It was a Seagate engineer who gave me the heads up that these are built like a tank.

    Archival? Yes. There is evidence that over a long period of time in storage, an SSD can become corrupted. Does it apply to the latest SSD? No one really knows. You can test a lot of things in a lab but leaving it alone requires time.
     
  7. Jamooche, Apr 27, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019

    Jamooche thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    #7
    Great info Mike. I will be using these external drives for my photo and video backups that I run with Lightroom and Photoshop. I do plan on getting the 2tb SSD on the new iMac, so I will maximize speed for most of the stuff I am working on. I keep identical copies of my photos on multiple external drives, so going SSD will be quite expensive as I'd like to have 4-6tb external drives to maximize future additions.
     
  8. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
    Location:
    The Sillie Con Valley
    #8
    Ok. Archival should be done on HDDs and those external docks are fine. This one is $24 and USB 3 only — still faster than any HDD you will ever put in it. I've had one for years.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0099TX7O4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The great thing about these drop-in docks is that swapping is ridiculously easy — turn off, lift drive/set into slot, turn on. That's it.

    I'm still in the setup and tweaking stages for my iMac Pro so I will test the dock I recommended earlier to see if there's any speed difference between USB-C and USB 3 with a SATA III SSD. Theoretically, there shouldn't be but I won't know till I see for myself. It's out of the box but not yet plugged in. Maybe tomorrow???
     
  9. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    #9
    Yep, my 1TB SSD Time Machine is for a 500GB system, so at least the double rule is satisfied, and my Time Machine appears to go back for 5 months, so I should be fine.

    But I thought Time Machine was an archival system, so I am confused that you say SSD is OK for Time Machine but not OK for archival?
     

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8 April 27, 2019