Thunderbolt USB3.0 External Drive: HDD versus SSD

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by colicab, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. colicab macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2011
    I was wondering if anyone knows about a benchmark test where both HDD and SSD version of the Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt/USB3.0 line are compared to each other? What is the performance drop when using the HDD version?

    I'm sure for my purposes the Thunderbolt SSD version is overkill, but I'm curious anyway :)

    To give some context: my iPhoto library is getting too large (>40GB) to keep it on my Mac's internal SSD (128GB). I have a MBA mid-2011, with Thunderbolt but without USB3.0. For now I have the library on a regular USB drive but performance of iPhoto is really low. Loading pictures is taking too long and scrolling through them is unbearable. So I'm considering buying the LaCie 1TB Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 to have fast access to my external iPhoto library.

    Will the Thunderbolt HDD version be enough for these purposes? Some numbers about read/write speeds of the HDD and SSD version would also be very helpful.

  2. innominato5090 macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2009
    for your purpose, a mechanical hard drive is surely better than an SSD, which might be too small to hold your photo collection as it grows.

    Protip: make sure to backup your new external drive, too.
  3. colicab thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2011
    That's definitely a reason to go for the higher capacity HDD. Although I don't expect my library to grow bigger than 128GB in the next 5+ years.
    The question is more: will the HDD Thunderbolt version be able to give me access to my library as it would be on my internal SSD drive (or at least very close to that experience). That's what I'm lacking with the regular thumb drive right now.

    Most definitely, but the USB2.0 thumb drive will suffice for that.
  4. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    for a single HDD, the speeds will be about the same for USB3 or thunderbolt.

    The only time you will see an advantage using thunderbolt, is if you are using a RAID (in a mode that increases speed) or with SSD.

    get the black magic disk speed test from the app store.

    a single external USB3 (or thunderbolt) HDD should give you around 100 MB/s.
    USB2 will be 25-30.

    and to answer your first question.
    i googled "Lacie Rugged benchmark" and the first answer had your question.
  5. colicab thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2011
    Thanks for the reply, though partially off topic. My question wasn't concerning Thunderbolt vs USB3.0 but HDD vs. SSD both with a Thunderbolt connection. Unfortunately I don't have USB3.0 ports in my MBA, else I'd have definitely bought a USB3.0 device and not bother with Thunderbolt. But that's not the case. So I'm set on buying a Thunderbolt drive, together with USB3.0 for cross-compatibility and future purposes.

    Thanks. You're right, I should have searched better and opened the review. I briefly looked at the title (LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 2TB Review) and thought it only concerned the HDD version.

    I guess my main question still is somewhat unanswered: will the Thunderbolt HDD be fast enough to host my iPhoto library on? Not for backup purposes but for actively browsing through it, editing etc.
    I guess this comes down to the question: will the 100MB/s speed be enough to seamlessly interact with the external iPhoto library?
    My experience so far: a USB2.0 flash drive is not. Will a Thunderbolt HDD do the trick? Or do I need the SSD version?

    Sorry for the confusion. I should have chosen a more suitable title for this topic in retrospect

    Many thanks.
  6. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    sorry, thought you had USB3 available, which would give you more and cheaper options.

    If you're going to a USB2 thumb drive, you're probably getting 10-15 MB/s as they are not the speediest.
    A USB 2 external HDD would be in the 20-30MB/s range.

    the external thunderbolt HDD would be the same as if you were using an internal HDD.
    The HDD should be useable, it will be a huge increase over your current.
  7. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2010
    If you're not getting an external SSD, don't pay for thunderbolt. You can get USB3 HDDs for much cheaper.

    Does your MBP have an SSD? If so, the external HDD will obviously be slower than what you experience now. For most people 100MB/s is good enough.
  8. colicab thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2011
    That's what I needed to know.

    Thanks a lot waw74!


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