Thunderbolt speed

dcmaccam

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Sep 14, 2017
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Hi, I have a late 2011 iMac to which I have 2 Lacie Thurderbolt drives attached, a 1TB and a 2TB both contain 5400 RPM drives. Now I did a Blackmagic speed test on both drives the 2TB gives around 120Mbs Read / Write the 1TB gives around 60Mbs Read / Write.

Any idea why the big difference ?

The 2TB has 1 partition but the 1TB has 2 partitions one of which is used for time machine.

Also is there any cost effective way to connect the Thunderbolt port of this iMac to a Thunderbolt 3 drive?
 
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jaytv111

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Oct 25, 2007
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The 1 TB might be an older generation hard drive and not only could it be slower in the beginning but also could have slowed down over time thanks to mechanical wear.
 

dcmaccam

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It seems strange that is consistently running at exactly half speed. Diagnostics and smart status is showing no errors.

The 2TB is a ST2000LM003 HN-M201RAD
the 1TB is a ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB

Might be worth replacing the 1TB with a 2TB. Anyone recommend a suitable drive ?
 

jaytv111

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Oct 25, 2007
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Seems like the 1 TB drive is older as it uses SATA 2 (3.0 Gbps) and the 2 TB is using SATA 3 (6.0 Gbps). (Both well fast enough for these drives so the interface doesn't do it, but it does indicate the 1 TB is potentially years older than the 2 TB).

Only thing that is certain is hard drives can be highly variable.
 
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vertical smile

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Anyone recommend a suitable drive ?
Put a SSD in it.

I did this in a few LaCie Rugged Drives, one of which is Thunderbolt.

It would be a really fast external drive for your 2011 iMac.
- - Post merged: - -

Seems like the 1 TB drive is older as it uses SATA 2 (3.0 Gbps) and the 2 TB is using SATA 3 (6.0 Gbps). (Both well fast enough for these drives so the interface doesn't do it, but it does indicate the 1 TB is potentially years older than the 2 TB).

Only thing that is certain is hard drives can be highly variable.
Other than age, I doubt being SATA II versus SATA III would cause such a difference in speeds.

HDDs typically perform below the capabilities of even SATA I.
 
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vertical smile

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Would a good replacement to fit inside the case be something like a WD Blue 2TB ?
You didn't post what model of LaCie drive that you have, but typically any SATA drive would do. If it is a 3.5" drive, then you can fit a 3.5" or 2.5" drive in it. If it is a 2.5" drive, you are most likely only going to be able to put a 2.5" drive in it.

If you are going for speed, I would definitely consider a SSD to put in your LaCie TB drive, you would most likely get read/write speeds of 300-400 MBps.

If you are going for storage size and the cost of a large SSD is prohibitive, then I would consider a HDD model that fit my needs.

But, going SSD would be what I would do.

Are you still running a HDD as your internal drive?
- - Post merged: - -

Also, what LaCie TB drive model do you have?
 
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jaytv111

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Oct 25, 2007
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You didn't post what model of LaCie drive that you have, but typically any SATA drive would do. If it is a 3.5" drive, then you can fit a 3.5" or 2.5" drive in it. If it is a 2.5" drive, you are most likely only going to be able to put a 2.5" drive in it.
He posted model numbers of 2.5" drives.
 

vertical smile

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He posted model numbers of 2.5" drives.
Oh I see, that narrows it down to 2.5".

But, I am still curious of the LaCie TB drive model numbers.
- - Post merged: - -

It might also be a good idea to get to not get a drive that has a height thicker than 9.5mm, as that is what the OEM drives are. You can go smaller of course, but you may not be able to go thicker.

Luckily, most 2.5" HDDs are 9.5mm or smaller, unless you are looking for a HDD that is bigger than 2TB.
 
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PaulD-UK

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Oct 23, 2009
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The first generation of Lacie TB drives (TB1 - the sort that had 5400 HDs) only had SATA II (3Gb/s) controllers. So won't give full performance with SATA III SSD's. Something over 200MB/s is typical.
Much better than an HD internally, but not as good as an internal SSD.

The Apple TB3 to TB2 convertor cable is bidirectional so will allow a TB3 drive to be read by your TB1 iMac. I've tried it on a 2012 MBP, and it gives very good speeds - in the region of 750/850MB/s with an NVMe SSD.
 
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dcmaccam

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Sep 14, 2017
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Still running a 1TB drive in the machine. Both drives I got secondhand at a knockdown price. Both are the drives that have the captive Thunderbolt cable plus an additional slot on the front for a USB 3 cable.

Looking for capacity at the moment but might put a Samsung SSD in one (the 1TB)

You realise how slow USB2 is on this machine.

Thanks for your help on this matter

One further question.

Would there be any point of putting say a 256GB SSD drive in one of these Lacie drives and moving the operating system onto this. Then set this as the boot drive.

Would that provide an improvement in the general operation of the machine which has a 3.1Ghz i5 with 20GB Mem
 

vertical smile

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You realise how slow USB2 is on this machine.
Yeah I do, I had a top of the line BTO 27" Mid-2011 iMac, that my friend pulled from a dumpster. It didn't work, and he gave it to me to mess around with. I replaced the internal HDD with a SSD, and had to bake the GPU, but I got it working and it worked and looked great.

But, the USB2 was painfully slow compared to my newer Macs with USB3.

The SSD in the LaCie Thunderbolt drive worked great, and got speeds almost as good as the internal SSD.

Would there be any point of putting say a 256GB SSD drive in one of these Lacie drives and moving the operating system onto this. Then set this as the boot drive.
Sure, especially if you are still using the original internal HDD in your iMac. You would get better performance replacing the internal SSD over an external TB SSD, but you will still see a huge improvement either way.
 
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dcmaccam

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Sep 14, 2017
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Black Magic speed test:-

Write Read
Internal 1TB 7200 drive 100MB/s 109MB/s
Lacie 2TB 5400 drive 120MB/s 124MB/s
Lacie 1TB 5400 drive 66MB/s 66MB/s

Both Lacie drives are Rugged THB USB3
 

vertical smile

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The first generation of Lacie TB drives (TB1 - the sort that had 5400 HDs) only had SATA II (3Gb/s) controllers. So won't give full performance with SATA III SSD's. Something over 200MB/s is typical.
Much better than an HD internally, but not as good as an internal SSD.
I am not sure what generation it is considered, but I have the LaCie TB1 USB3 model: LAC9000294. It has a SATA III controller.

Based off the the description of the OP's LaCie drive, I looked it up and it it appears to have a SATA III controller too. Can't be sure without a model number though.

The Apple TB3 to TB2 convertor cable is bidirectional so will allow a TB3 drive to be read by your TB1 iMac. I've tried it on a 2012 MBP, and it gives very good speeds - in the region of 750/850MB/s with an NVMe SSD.
I did not know this, and is really good to know. I might try this out soon.

Thanks.
 
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PaulD-UK

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Oct 23, 2009
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That will be TB2 (SATA III), so a 250GB SSD will be a big improvement as the boot drive for your iMac. Probably as good as opening the iMac to put an SSD internally (there is an unused SATA port internally for this, but you need the right cables to fit this).
I use my TB1 port on my 2011 iMac to attach a Matrox dock which runs a 2nd monitor and has a USB 3 port - that's my solution to the slow USB 2 connections.
 
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vertical smile

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Internal 1TB 7200 drive 100MB/s 109MB/s
Yeah, this is really slow by today's standards.

I would recommend swapping the internal HDD for an SSD for multiple reasons, one being all the heat form the HDD.

If you want to keep it simple and stick with an external TB SSD, you will still see huge performance gains. You will probably be kicking yourself for not doing this earlier.

You can use the internal HDD as your other drive, or back up for your external boot drive, or many other options to choose.
 
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vertical smile

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Just checked my two Lacie drives both are model number LRD0TU1
That is different than the LaCie Rugged TB 3.0 drive that I have, which super easy and quick to swap the drives. You can literally do it in less than 60 seconds.

Maybe your drive will be as easy. I have a few different models of LaCie Rugged drives, and none of them are really hard, but my Rugged TB 3.0 drive is just super easy to swap the drive.

Here is the specs on your drives:

It appears that they are TB1 with SATAIII, so it will be pretty fast with a SSD in it, about 3-4 times faster than your current boot drive.
 

dcmaccam

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Thanks for the info. Easy to swap drives. Just take rubber bumper off and take out 4 screws.

What make off SSD would you recommend. I was thinking a 500GB Crucial MX500
 

vertical smile

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Easy to swap drives. Just take rubber bumper off and take out 4 screws.
The same for my Rugged Thunderbolt drive. Some of the older Rugged drives were not as simple.

What make off SSD would you recommend.
Many people on here suggest the Samsung 860 EVO, it has really excellent reviews.

I personally have used variety of brands ranging from the 860 EVO down to cheap budget brand and never had an issue with any of them.

If it was me, and I was using the SSD as my boot drive on my main Mac, I would probably get Samsung, but you would probably be fine with any of the better known brands.

Just check the reviews.
- - Post merged: - -

Thunderbolt to USB3 adapters are rare but they do exist.
I have one.

The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station. It has 3xUSB3.0, 1xHDMI, 1xGigabit Ethernet, Audio in/out, and 2xThunderbolt ports.

I wanted to use it for a hub requiring just one cable for my Late 2011 17" MBP, to use in clamshell mode, but I couldn't get the HDMI to work with my setup for some reason.

The USB3 works on it though.
 
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kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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Drive performance depends on several factors. This includes rotational speeds, interface, cache memory, and size. For general work loads (web, etc), what most people *notice* is low latency. For spinners, this is the time for the head to move to the correct cylinder and wait until the correct sector arrives, and repeat as necessary until all data needed by that command is delivered. SSDs have essentially no latency. A good example of this is putting a SATA SSD into a MP from the 2009-2012 era. These have SATA 2 disk bays. Anyone putting an SSD into one of these bays is always pleasantly surprised at improved startup and application launch times.
Some people get special adapters to install PCIe NVMe SSDs. The interface is 3-5x faster (for simple interface cards) than SATA, but there is not really anything noticeable for day-to-day apps. It does make a difference for intensive computing apps, like working in 4K in a video editor.
Here's what I get for various speeds in my 2009 cMP (all SATA is 3Gbps SATA-2):
PCIe NVMe SSD 1TB HP EX920 - 1470/1400 MBps R/W
SATA Sandisk SSD 500GB - 250MBps
SATA Seagate 4TB 7200RPM 256MB cache - 200/175 R/W
SATA Hitachi 1TB 5400 64GB cache 120/110 R/W

I seem to recall some years (releases) ago in reading an Apple OS white paper that the OS was designed to make lots of small read/writes to the disk. Slow spinners would suffer, while SSDs would shine. A measurement for this is IOPS. Good spinners do something in the low hundreds. Most SSDs start at 30,000.
 

dcmaccam

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If I install an SSD drive in one of my Thunderbolt cases will I just be able to do a restore from my backup drive to transfer the existing operating system ? Then set the system to boot from that drive each time ?
 

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If I install an SSD drive in one of my Thunderbolt cases will I just be able to do a restore from my backup drive to transfer the existing operating system ? Then set the system to boot from that drive each time ?
There is a few different ways to do this, but the easiest way that doesn't require any special software would be to:

1. Put your SSD+LaCie drive together
2. Connect to your Mac and format using Disk Utility, if you are unsure about what to do, use this:
3. Download the OS of choice (probably High Sierra) from the Mac app store
4. Install the OS on the external drive
5. After install, set up new boot drive
6. When prompted, use Apple's Migration Assistant to copy all files, data, settings, etc. to your new boot drive. It will ask you were to get the data, select "Another Mac", and then select your internal boot drive
7. Wait, sometimes Migration Assistant can be slow.
8. Once everything is done, go to system preferences>Startup Disk>Unlock> the select your external TB drive.
9. Enable TRIM:
10. Check to see if TRIM was enabled by going to About this Mac>System Report>SATA/SATA Express> select your TB drive, check to see if TRIM is enabled
TRIM.png
11. Enjoy the much faster boot drive

I am pretty sure I am not missing anything, but many of these steps can be done out of the order that they are listed above.
 
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dcmaccam

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 14, 2017
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West Coast of Scotland
Thanks for the info. I have done it that way before, but I wondered if I just took a Time Machine backup of my boot drive and just did a restore to the ssd drive. I have done this several times before with my existing boot drive. But I don't know if this would work going to an ssd. Good info on the TRIM support👍
 
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