What hdd? Thunderbolt with 5400rpm or usb 3.0 with 7200rpm?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by golu14, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. golu14 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2012
    Delhi, India
    What enternal hdd would be faster?

    One with usb 3.0 and 7200rpm speed
    One with thunderbolt and 5400rpm speed

    How much would the difference be?
  2. Morien macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2010
    USB 3.0 and thunderbolt both max out hdds of that speed. The difference would be the same as any 7200rpm vs 5400rpm drive.
  3. TickleMeElmo macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2012
    I have a feeling that a Thunderbolt drive with a good controller will have less latency than a USB3.0 based drive since Thunderbolt is PCI-E based and therefore has to go through one less interface layer.

    That said, the 7200RPM drive will be faster for most if not all uses since it spins significantly faster.
  4. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    I assume you're talking about 2.5" drives?

    Imagine that that the drives are cars so we can figure out their top speed by using their sequential transfer rates. That means that the 7200 RPM car can achieve a top speed of around 110 km/h and the 5400 can achieve a top max speed of around 65 km/h.

    The transfer mechanism is basically a road. The thunderbolt motorway can be traversed safely at around 900 km/h whereas the USB 3 motorway can be driven on safely at around 450 km/h. (USB 2 rubbish road with potholes can only be driven at 35 km/h)

    Therefore it really does not matter because your cars cannot reach these max speeds anyway and the 7200 RPM car will be faster.

    This is a very simplistic explanation because there are other considerations, such as the latency of USB, but that does not matter when talking about performance of mechanical HDDs.
  5. Qbiinz macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2010
    you should go with a ssd. they really only have them available for usb 3.0 at a reasonable price. to get a 512 GB thunderbolt ssd cost like $800 so its probably best to wait on that one.
  6. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Go for the Dual-SSD Thunderbolt RAID, you won't regret it. All for the low price of $899.00
  7. gamerish macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2012
    Or you could just buy a 512GB SSD and a Thunderbolt Adapter from Seagate for like $500. Still not that great of a deal but it's significant savings.
  8. macrominnie, Jul 3, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012

    macrominnie macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2010
    This is a great thread because all responses are excellent (until me :^P ).

    I assume we’re talking about large read & write tasks, where differences would be significant.

    If money is no object (just buy everything!...), then Thunderbolt with SSD is the way to go. I suppose that if storage and speed demands are huge, you could even daisy chain TB + SSD Raid enclosures. There’s probably little track record for that. At TB & SSD prices, it gets quickly to the price neighborhood of Mac Pros & high end solutions to slip drive into. (It’s possible someone might want (relative) portability with large storage and speed demands.)

    Remember that TB solutions also include the cost of one or more cables at $50 a pop. USB cables are much less expensive.

    With price in mind, getting an SSD with USB 3.0 will provide good speed with some future proofing and less noise compared with HDD solutions. If you plan to use with USB 3.0 to share data with many different (“foreign”)computers, there’s also less worry about widespread adoption of the TB standard.


    (Note the difference between the Koutech and the Voyager to see how the HDD limits USB 3.0 compared to SSD.)

    With USB 3.0, there's also be the flexibility of using both SSD and HDD devices as needed at lower prices. USB 3.0 hubs are cheap compared to TB solutions. (You could also use a USB 3.0 dock with SSD and HDD & swap out as needed.)

    With a bit more fuss and price ($200 to $300), there’s a third solution: eSATA. That might be a bit faster with SSD than USB 3.0. There are TB to eSATA devices from Lacie and Sonnet. It’s something to think about if you already have eSATA enclosures.


  9. fiveainone macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2011

    Great explanation. It's the reason why I cancelled my Thunderbolt 1tb hard drive from Apple. Didn't realize it until I did some research. Instead of shelling out $300 for 1tb, I went with 3tb external for $125 using usb 3.0. http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Expan...41335323&sr=8-1&keywords=seagate+external+3tb

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