To everyone using an external thunderbolt SSD as a boot drive...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by triple-tap, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. triple-tap macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    #1
    How has your long term experience been with this setup?

    I have a late 2013 base model 27" iMac (quad i5, 1tb spinner hdd, 24 gig ram), and I am interested in adding an SSD.

    I have read that a USB 3.0 enclosure will be adequate for adding an SSD, but TRIM isn't supported over USB 3.0.

    I've also ready that quite a few people have bought a thunderbolt enclosure and attached it to the back of the iMac base. I am looking at a Samsung 840 evo 240gb SSD, and I am completely lost as to which SSD to get. I've seen conflicting stories as to whether or not an external enclosure with its own power source is necessary or not.

    I am just curious as to the long term experience of the external SSD setup as a boot drive? Have any of you experienced serious problems with this setup?

    Also, could you please provide which SSD you are using and which external thunderbolt enclosure?


    Thanks in advance ladies and gents.
     
  2. Fishrrman, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016

    Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    Just a report based on personal experience:

    I don't have an iMac -- rather, I have a late 2012 Mini 2.6ghz i7, which I bought in January 2013 (almost two years ago).

    From the start, I have booted and operated the Mini using an SSD mounted in a USB3/SATA docking station (plugable.com "lay-flat" USB3/SATA dock w/UASP).

    Of course, TRIM has never been enabled.

    Since March of this year, I've been using a Crucial m500 240gb SSD in the dock.
    Below are two screen captures made with BlackMagic Disk Speed Test.
    The first image was made when I first installed the drive - March 13.
    The second image was made after 8+ months of usage - November 2.

    How much has the drive slowed down?
     

    Attached Files:

  3. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #3
    I've been booting off a Delock 42490 Thunderbolt enclosure with a Samsung 840 EVO 500Gb SSD since March of last year (already 2015 here :p) and am extremely pleased with it. I haven't had any problems to speak of. You can read more and see some benchmarks here.

    The Delock is AC powered but you probably don't need it with a 250GB Samsung 840 EVO. I do, however, recommend going with Thunderbolt for the ability to enable TRIM, not to mention the ability to run SSD firmware updates and also to use Bootcamp if you choose. I have mine split half and half between OS X and Windows.
     
  4. WilliamG macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #4
    I've been booting from a 256GB Samsung 830 over Thunderbolt since late 2012 in a Seagate Backup Plus 2.5" enclosure, without any issues, ever. I have, however, upgraded to a 3TB Fusion disk in my new iMac so I no longer boot over Thunderbolt, but if reliability is a concern, NO complaints about Thunderbolt boot disks.
     
  5. bassjunky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    #5
  6. perspective7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    #6
    I have the Samsung 840 evo 1TB SSD, with the delock thunderbolt drive enclosure on my machine for about 6 months, works like a dream on my iMac 2011.

    Im upgrading to the new retina with 512 flash, so I'm actually in the proses of selling my SSD and enclosure if your interested triple tap
     
  7. triple-tap thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    #7
    Interested in the enclosure, but I don't really need the SSD.

    You don't receive PM's tho, so im not sure how to communicate about this. Let me know. Thanks.
     
  8. gmm421 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #8
    Thinderbolt SSD

    I have been using a LaCie 256GB Thunderbolt SSD as a boot drive for the past couple of years on a 2011 iMac, and it continues to be speedy.
     
  9. JavierDiaz4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    #9
    Perspective7, what does BlackMagic say you get on your current Evo set up? I might be interested also in buying your current setup.
     
  10. perspective7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    #10

    Hmm must be because I've only joined, will have a look
     
  11. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #11
    Unfortunately, MR newbies don't get the PM function. MR regulars and above do :)
     
  12. perspective7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    #12
    started the test but it was taking ages left it on for at least an hour but had to go out and me kid wanted to play Minecraft on the mac lol

    will try when i get a bit of time
     
  13. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #13
    I can't speak for perspective7's Delock but these are the BlackMagic results for my own Delock 42490 enclosure and the Samsung 840 EVO SSD.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040

    SlCKB0Y

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    Feb 25, 2012
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #14
    It will just go as long as you leave it running.
     
  15. JavierDiaz4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    #15
    So pretty much the delock is off the market. Anyone have any alternatives to this device? Thanks. I'd like to upgrade my iMac as the last Apple computer in the house without an SSD
     
  16. bplein macrumors 6502

    bplein

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX USA
    #16
    I bought my 27" iMac (Late 2012) about 3 years ago, at the beginning of 2013, and it came with a 1TB Fusion Drive. Soon after getting it home, I bought a Seagate STAE128 external Thunderbolt adapter (designed for their own system of drives), used Velcro to strap it to the back of the stand, dropped in a Samsung SSD, and installed Mac OS X on it, using the Fusion Drive as my "bulk storage".

    I've never run into a situation where I've regretted doing this. My only concern now is how easily can I upgrade my 1TB Fusion Drive to 3TB or greater.
     
  17. JavierDiaz4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    #17

    Thanks for the feedback..Will go on the Bay now and get one. The market is bone dry of that guy too.
     
  18. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #18
    Are you in the US? They are not available on Amazon, but they are available without eBay.

    Syncrotech is the US distributer for Delock. They sell the 42510 model (silver, the older Delock is 42490 was black but otherwise identical.)

    They show available on the web site, and I purchased one from them a few months ago for the same price.

    http://www.synchrotech.com/products...sd-drive-external-enclosure-delock-42510.html
     
  19. Malus120 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2002
    #19
    I've used external thunderbolt (ish at times) drives with my iMac(s) as (sometimes partial) boot drives since around mid 2012 with no problems.

    My original setup was a Mid 2011 iMac using the Sonnet Echo Expresscard Pro with a cheap eSATA expresscard to connect to a Crucial M5 in a generic enclosure. Setup worked well aside from the cheap card having issues with the write speed being capped at 100Mbps or so (read speeds were unaffected thankfully) and the ease with which the eSATA cards could fall out of the adapter.

    About aa year later i picked up a first gen thunderbolt Lacie Little Big Disk on clearance, stripped out the drives, bought another M5 and raided them for a 512GB SSD boot disk. That was/is great, especially after i took out the whiney little fan inside. Only downsides are that it's limited to two SATA II connections internally which limits the speed unless you're raiding them, and if you leave the the other thunderbolt port on the enclosure connected to an external display not doing anything for too long it will cut off power to the enclosure requiring a hard reboot (this may be a sleep issue).

    After replacing my Mid 2011 with a 5K Retina iMac in 2014, I've configured the two M5's in the external enclosure to act as components of an all SSD fusion drive with the internal Apple SSD. It was a pain to set up, and I'm certainly taking a risk as if one of the drives goes, I'll lose everything on the boot drive (thankfully I backup daily), but overall it works great, all the speed benefits of an Apple SSD with Flash capacity to spare. I'm' now looking to replace one of the M4's in the enclosure with a 960GB Sandisk Ultra II so that I can have additional capacity and lower risk by having data spread across 2 drives instead of three.

    So overall yeah, if you want more Flash storage but don't really want to pay the price for one of those super fast Apple SSDs (or perhaps you'd like to get something even faster via thunderbolt 2 and a PCIe adaptor) then I'd highly recommend a thunderbolt setup. USB 3.0 should be fine as well, just be aware that without TRIM you may see some performance degradation over time.
     
  20. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #20
    Malus wrote above:
    "USB 3.0 should be fine as well, just be aware that without TRIM you may see some performance degradation over time."

    In my experience, the lack of TRIM makes essentially NO difference in running speeds over time.

    Please see my post #2 above for a real-life example.

    OP:
    Stop worrying about thunderbolt v. USB3.
    Get a USB3 enclosure, put your SSD into it, and be happy.
    I'd recommend something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/MiniPro-Exter...=1452353496&sr=8-1&keywords=2.5"+minipro+usb3
     
  21. JavierDiaz4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    #21

    Thanks for this. I'll go with this and buy from their site. Thanks again
     
  22. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #22
    Glad to see you found a source for the Delock. Just to let you know that my trusty 42490 is still going strong. :)

    Delock makes some quality enclosures and you can't beat the price.
     
  23. Malus120 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2002
    #23
    While I don't disagree with the point your making, Thunderbolt and by extension TRIM, are are still nice to have.

    A year ago, One of my Crucial M4's basically stopped working (kept having errors causing the computer to reboot). After a firmware upgrade which was supposed to fix the issue, the drive still wasn't working properly, and I was ready to give up. As a latch ditch effort I installed TRIM enabler, forced TRIM to run and Viola problem solved. The drive has been working great ever since.

    As you can't install firmware updates OR run TRIM via most USB enclosures I would've been forced to get rid of of a perfectly good SSD had I not had a thunderbolt enclosure.

    That said, given the price difference between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, and the rapid depreciation in the $/GB cost of SSDs, if you don't get a good deal on thunderbolt enclosure, you're probably better off just saving the money and buying a new drive a few years down the road.

    Just some food for thought though.
     
  24. bplein macrumors 6502

    bplein

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX USA
    #24
    USB3 is great. But you don't get "native" access to the SSD. That means SMART doesn't work with USB3 drives. You cannot update the firmware of an SSD when it's in a USB enclosure, either. If these don't matter to you, then USB3 may be OK. But Thunderbolt usually exposes a native SSD persona, as it is simply a SATA controller in the drive bay, and Thunderbolt is simply a PCIe cable. That's why all Thunderbolt enclosures are not created equal, some are using cheaper/worse SATA controllers vs. others.
     
  25. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #25
    It will with this driver.
     

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