USB 3.0 Hub Speeds vs JBOD Speeds?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by nemesis379, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. nemesis379 macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    I was wondering...

    If I bought 4 Seagate USB 3.0 External Hard Drives and put them on a USB 3.0 Hub


    If I bought a 5 Bay JBOD Enclosure with 5 Hard Drives

    Would I have the same speeds on either of these, or would the hard drives on the Hub run slower?

    Basically I'm looking for storage options for the iMac, and the External Hard Drives with Hub look like a better option for me (more space, and is cheaper).

  2. nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
  3. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    It depends on the detailed specs of the disks, the hub and the JBOD enclosure.

    If the JBOD enclosure has a USB 3.0 interface, it could either have inside a USB 3.0 hub plus 4 USB-SATA controllers, or it could have a single SATA controller than supports multiple disks. Either way, all the JBOD data has to go through a single USB connection to the computer.

    If you have a bunch of separate disk enclosures connected to a USB 3.0 hub, all the data also has to go through a single USB connection.

    So it really comes down to the throughput of all the USB components in the chain, all the USB-SATA controllers, and all the SATA disks. If your typical usage only has a single disk busy at one time, it probably doesn't matter much which way you do it. If you typically keep most or all of the disks busy at the same time, you may saturate the USB 3.0 interface no matter which way you go.

    If you use a USB hub, make sure it can supply enough power for all the disks you connect to it. Not all hubs can support a full load of bus-powered disks.
  4. nemesis379, Jan 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013

    nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
  5. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    In theory the speed will be about the same either way. There are advantages and disadvantages to both solutions.

    5 Bay Disk Enclosure
    • Advantages
      • Single power cord
      • Single data cable
    • Disadvantages
      • Single powersupply
      • Single USB controller

    USB Hub + External Drives
    • Advantages
      • Individual power supplies
      • Ability to reconfigure around various failures
    • Disadvantages
      • Multiple power cords
      • Multiple USB cables
      • USB Hub failure knocks all the disks offline

    The main issue with the individual disks is really cable management. And USB hubs usually have a low failure rate so it's not that much of an issue. Overall I'd say the individual disks is probably better for you.

    If you're really worried about speed, buy an empty Thunderbolt enclosure and put disks into that. This presumes you have a newer iMac.
  6. nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    Well I've been a long time user of Windows/PCs and have gotten tired of building my own etc.., so I'm going iMac, just waiting a couple weeks before I buy the new iMac because people have gotten a few problems with their new gen iMacs.

    Also thunderbolt enclosures are overpriced at the moment, so yeah, I think I will go with the second option, thanks!
  7. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    That USB hub doesn't offer much in the way of tech specs. I don't see anything about its power rating, or what USB controller chip it uses. It also only lists Windows compatibility, so they probably haven't tested with Mac OS.

    I bought the 7-port version of this hub:
    I haven't tried it yet because my iMac just arrived and I'm still setting up. This one gives more info about power, chipset, OS version compatibility, etc. And they offer tech support. I can't vouch for it, but it looks better to me based on the info at Amazon.
  8. nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    It's the only one that looked any good, I know the Belkin USB 3.0 Hub see here ( works with iMac but isn't sold in the UK, and I saw that one but it looked kinda cheapish, I'll just go with the Trust one, try it, and if it's no good, just return it.
  9. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    It doesn't matter what's in the HUB. A proper USB 3.0 hub should work no problem.

    As for power, since the disks in question have their own power supply, the hubs power specs do not matter either.

    As I stated above, the Trust hub should work just fine. And as you said, you can always return it.
  10. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    USB chips have firmware; firmware has bugs. The USB chips + firmware + software in the computer, the hub, and the disks need to work together. Sometimes they don't. That's why you see notes like this (from the Amazon description of one of the USB 3.0 hubs):

    "* Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4 users may experience unstable connections due to microchip incompatibility. Where possible, we recommend upgrading your OS X to Mountain Lion 10.8.2 or later.
    If you encounter other performance concerns, please contact our customer support with your operating system information. We can then provide guidance on how to upgrade your hub's microchip firmware."

    This tells me that the vendor has tested the hub with some Mac configurations, found some problems, and made some firmware changes to solve the problems.

    You're right, a PROPER USB 3.0 hub won't be a problem. But I doubt there are any fully-compliant, bug-free hubs on the market. So we have to choose from the imperfect ones that are available.
  11. mannyo1221 macrumors member

    Sep 21, 2011
    Blandford, UK.
    Trust in the UK are an entry level product manufacturer, and their devices can be very hit and miss.

    The Trust hub already as a one star review where Windows fails to identify it correctly sometimes and loads the wrong driver. Now if this happened with something simple like a mouse then its not a problem, however you are going to be relying on the hub for data storage. If the hub does not get recognised correctly, your data could be at risk.

    I would buy something from a recognised brand as recommended by members on here who have used them with good effect, rather than buy something that's already getting poor reviews and does not list OSX as compatible.
  12. nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    Well if anyone has tried any decent USB 3.0 hub that works, post it here, the only one I know that works is that Belkin USB 3.0 one but is only avail in the US.
  13. Huginnmuninn macrumors regular


    Oct 8, 2011
    I have two D-Link 4-port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Hubs

    Currently $53 at Newegg and, and a 3rd-party seller I've never heard of is selling it at amazon for $51. (Personally I'd choose newegg or jr this time.)

    JR's page has one 5-star review for it, Newegg has five reviews all 4-star or 5-star. And amazon has 24 reviews with an average of 4-stars.

    (Whatever hub you get, consider that people who tend to report problems on these sites also tend to have Windows PCs with USB hardware that may be having driver issues.)
  14. 4Hummer macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
  15. nemesis379 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2012
    This hub is like £40 in the UK, quite a lot considering it's only 4 port :/.

    Those both are waaaay overpriced.

    Anyone got any USB 3.0 Hubs that actually work properly with MAC, I must be able to purchase it in the UK as well.

    Thanks again all.
  16. Huginnmuninn macrumors regular


    Oct 8, 2011
    How is my suggestion overpriced when you can't get anything of equivalent quality for less? Sometimes you get what you pay for. Quality USB 3.0 hubs are not in wide supply, but there's plenty to choose from cheap if you're willing to stick with a USB 2.0 hub.
  17. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    If you get a USB 2.0 hub then you're stuck with the much slower USB 2.0 speeds.
  18. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    Not much of different.

    With 5 bay enclosure, this is how is connected: HDD to Port Multiplier to USB
    With USB3.0 Hub, this is how is connect: HDD to USB adapter to USB Hub to USB host

    Each of the connection, it introduces a little latency, also Port Multiplier has Link Aggregation feature, where USB3.0 hub questionable.

    Like other replies:

    5BAY enclosure is much cleaner, where USB HUB too much cable

    I would say 5 bay enclosure is a better solution
  19. lali macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2007
    excellent post, thank you
  20. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    Great information here. I am thinking along the same lines for my mac mini server. I would like a 4 bay enclosure for the cable management and smaller foot print, however 2 of the disk are weekly backups so they real do not need to be running all the time. I always thought it's better to turn on the disk once a week for the backup.
  21. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
  22. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    Certainly! Remember all those 2.5 single Thunderbolt drives from a year or so ago? A 5200rpm 2.5 inside (Sloooow) BUT it had "Thunderbolt! - Ta Daa!"

    Can't blame em for trying though. Hey, they still sell Drives for Mac!
    Woo, must be a special type drive. It has Mac written on it.

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