USB/Thunderbolt SSD enclosure and USB hub

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by navaira, Dec 24, 2015.

  1. navaira macrumors 68040

    navaira

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #1
    Hello,

    I am looking for a way to expand a mid-2011 iMac with SSD without opening it. SSD will contain OS X and all applications, while internal spinner will contain most of the data.

    I am looking for an external enclosure. I would like not to waste any of the precious three USB slots, so it needs to either use Thunderbolt or provide a hub with additional USB 3.0 ports. Moreover, this is a present for my fiance, who is... not technical. So any superfluous steps like choosing a startup drive, or even flipping the switch on/off should ideally be removed. It should be on the It Just Works (TM) side of things.

    The best solution I found so far is the all-in-one Inateck hub. It features three USB slots while occupying two. It has an on-off button. (What would happen if I don't switch it off seeing as it's USB powered?) The additional USB slots would be more than welcome but if I can get a Thunderbolt solution that doesn't occupy any of the existing ones it's OK. The Inateck is 26 UK pounds (35 euro), and I'd like to spend no more than, say, 75 euro on the perfect solution.

    Has anybody else done this? What would be the best way to go about it?

    Thanks a lot in advance!
     
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #2
    I'll just add a word of caution - putting a device between your computer and your drive may or may not allow boot up off the external drive. I would highly recommend you investigate using directly a USB drive to a USB3 port and then consider a device to plug into your other USB3 port(s) to expand the number of USB3 ports (if your Mac has them). Also, a single SSD with the proper USB3 enclosure is as fast as Thunderbolt (given that SSD is slower than the connectivity of each). Obviously, a Thunderbolt dock is your best choice but is more costly and doesn't (unless specified) guarantee that drives connected will work as a boot up drive.
     
  3. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #3
    So you think that the Inateck enclosure/hub won't work as well as separate enclosure and hub?

    (I actually didn't check and iMac mid-2011 doesn't have USB3, just USB2.0. Hmmm. Maybe Thunderbolt would make more sense then.)
     
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #4
    Thunderbolt enclosures are rather expensive for what you get. Enclosures that include an SSD drive for sale are often too, expensive ... however with the holidays upon us, you might find some deals. OWC carries Tbolt drives but there are other makers that do as well that are more likely to offer sales and discounts. The best I can say is if budget was not an issue, a Thunderbolt docking station would be an excellent option. Calldigit, Elgato, OWC, and more make some nice ones and then the spiffy Sonnet that is shaped more like a box, houses a drive (or two) and either a DVD or Blue Ray reader/writer option.
     
  5. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #5
    I own a 21" 2011 iMac, and am currently using a ssd as a boot drive. Here are the problems with the proposed Amazon item above.

    2011 Only has USB 2/thunderbolt 1. Booting to a USB 2 drive (or USB 3 drive at USB 2 speeds) will be very slow.

    The 2011 iMac cannot boot to a USB 3 drive using a thunderbolt dock.

    (Once OS X loads, you can use USB 3 devices using a thunderbolt to USB 3 dock, just can not use it to boot.)

    Thunderbolt drives will work as boot drives, that is the method you will want to use.

    I use a 1tb crucial mx100 ssd in a delock thunderbolt drive, along with a caldiget thunderbolt station to give me USB 3 (but not to boot from.). It works great so far. The delock does end the chain, if that is a consideration.

    Us distributer of the delock (much easier to find in Europe I heard)
    http://www.synchrotech.com/products...sd-drive-external-enclosure-delock-42510.html

    Thunderbolt station (2 add USB 3 / hdmi out if needed.)
    http://www.caldigit.com/thunderboltstation/
     
  6. navaira thread starter macrumors 68040

    navaira

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    #6
    I was just looking at the Delock. Found it for 106 euro on eBay. Indeed USB 2.0 makes zero sense, and FW800 is slow as well. Thanks, I knew I'd get some great advice here!
     
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #7
    While expensive, the Sonnet Echo Series TB dock/enclosure is boot capable from the drive you can put in it. I do admit I am unsure if that would apply to the OP's particular older Mac.
     
  8. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #8
    True. I believe you still can't boot from any attached external USB 3 drive, just the internal drive in the Sonnet echo dock. (It behaves like a thunderbolt native drive for this purpose.)

    EDIT: I have not verified this, it is simply my belief that is how the Sonnet is configured.

    My understanding is that some/most computers can actually boot to a thunderbolt attached USB 3 drive, but only if the computer was factory equipped with USB 3.

    The booting limitations described above are particular to those computers that only left the factory with thunderbolt 1 and USB 2 (I think that only occurred for about a year before USB 3 native support started coming with all thunderbolt Macs.)
     
  9. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #9
    Make sure to purchase a thunderbolt cable. The delock does not have one in the package, and they are somewhat pricy. I purchased an official apple one, my caldiget dock came with a third party one, both have worked without any issues.
     

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