Where are Thunderbolt 3 external SSDs?

Lisse

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Jan 1, 2017
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I'd like to buy a portable solid state drive for a gift for a friend who has a new MBP with USB-C ports. He purchased it with a 512GB SSD and hoped to keep his large iTunes library as well as video editing projects on a fast external drive. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any portable Thunderbolt 3 SS drives with USB-C ports except for one from laCie. That is $2,000 and did not get terribly good reviews.

Can someone suggest where to purchase one of these items?

Thank you.
 

0983275

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Mar 15, 2013
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Samsung T3, Sandisk Extreme 900, WD My Passport SSD?

All these have USB-C port (except for T3, which comes with USB-C to USB-A cable, but the port on the drive is USB-C), no TB3 though, but you still get 400MB/s+.
 

ZapNZs

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What are the financials looking like?

I am far from an expert in this area (so someone smarter than me might correct any errors I make in terminology), but the reason I ask is because the limiting factor with SSD speed is often the SATA versus the PCIe-NVMe interface, and:

SATA is far less expensive in both drive prices and enclosure prices (enclosures can use USB-C 3.1), but the max transfer speed is around 500-550 MB/s for the highest end single-enclosure/single-drive SATA 6.0 SSDs. Many SATA-based SSDs are extremely compact, using a 2.5-inch form factor and an extremely thin body thanks to 3D NAND. For most usage, this is more than enough, because it is a nice blend of speed, reliability, capacity, and great cost efficiency. The Samsung 850 PRO is arguably the finest SATA SSD made and it uses MLC flash unlike the large bulk of consumer-grade SSDs (I am biased towards MLC SSDs, but whether consumers even need the durability/longevity/error correction of MLC over TLC, and whether 3D TLC NAND adequately addresses the shortcomings of planar TLC to a point where it can dominate the consumer market, is another topic...)

PCIe often means 3-15 times the price of the SATA SSDs and can support transfer speeds in excess of 2,500 MB/s (enclosures will have to use ThunderBolt 2 or ThunderBolt 3). A large portion of the PCIe enclosures are massive when compared to the SATA enclosures. There is a lot more selection of MLC/enterprise MLC flash here, which features enhanced durability/longevity (and, obviously, speed.)

A RAID enclosure that uses multiple SATA SSDs is often a compromise between the two. The SanDisk 900 is a RAID 0 of two SSDs using the faster USB-C 3.1 gen2 and several companies offer two-to-four+ SSD enclosures for RAID setups using Thunderbolt 2/3 (the brand I am familiar with is AKiTiO, which offers the Thunder2/3 Quad, Quad Mini, Duo.)
 
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TheOkeland

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A SATA-based SSD with TRIM support (so not USB, but maybe eSATA or something like that) would be nice.
Spending quite much money on a SSD and then it dies because USB does not support TRIM? Who thought this would be a "nice" idea? :confused:
Even a Ethernet-Connected SSD would make more sense :D
 

ZapNZs

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A SATA-based SSD with TRIM support (so not USB, but maybe eSATA or something like that) would be nice.
Spending quite much money on a SSD and then it dies because USB does not support TRIM? Who thought this would be a "nice" idea? :confused:
Even a Ethernet-Connected SSD would make more sense :D
I like eSATA a lot. I like how both eSATA and TB/TB2 support TRIM, and I assume TB3 does as well. With single-drive SATA SSDs, I get better transfer speeds/times with eSATA than I do with the Thunderbolt or USB 3.1 enclosures I have tried thus far, especially if moving many smaller files. I use this product and it will take a Samsung 850 PRO to around 550 MB/s read, and 500 MB/s write, even when the drive is encrypted. As it uses two independent SATA controllers, it works well with RAID 0 as well. :D

I was under the impression that some USB 3.1 gen2 products will support TRIM with certain chipsets?
 
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TheOkeland

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Apr 4, 2017
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Aachen, Germany
I was under the impression that some USB 3.1 gen2 products will support TRIM with certain chipsets?
Would be new to me. As far as I know the USB-Protocol is the problem, because USB does not support TRIM.
Would love to see external SSDs with TRIM support, I don't want to carry a RAID-System around every day :cool:
 
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MrX8503

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Thunderbolt 3 doesn't come with any other connector other than USB-C, so you can just say Thunderbolt 3.

Unfortunately there aren't any affordable TB3 external SSDs. The really expensive ones contain NVME SSDs, which is significantly faster than traditional SATA3 SSDs.

You'll have to opt for USB-C external drives mentioned above.

I like eSATA a lot. I like how both eSATA and TB/TB2 support TRIM, and I assume TB3 does as well. With single-drive SATA SSDs, I get better transfer speeds/times with eSATA than I do with the Thunderbolt or USB 3.1 enclosures I have tried thus far, especially if moving many smaller files. I use this product and it will take a Samsung 850 PRO to around 550 MB/s read, and 500 MB/s write, even when the drive is encrypted. As it uses two independent SATA controllers, it works well with RAID 0 as well. :D

I was under the impression that some USB 3.1 gen2 products will support TRIM with certain chipsets?
VIA and ASMedia chipsets "supports" TRIM but it's flakey. I have a satechi USB-C coming in soon and I'll try to test TRIM on it.
 

Weaselboy

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VIA and ASMedia chipsets "supports" TRIM but it's flakey. I have a satechi USB-C coming in soon and I'll try to test TRIM on it.
Not that I have seen on macOS. Here is an older post of mine discussing this issue.

I have an asmedia enclosure and it won't do TRIM on macOS.

You are correct. USB cannot pass along the SATA TRIM command.

What some people have read and it has caused confusion, is some UASP (USB-attached SCSI protocol) enclosure chipsets can convert the SCSI Unmap command (similar to TRIM) to TRIM commands at the drive. Windows can run this SCSI Unmap command with the Powershell command Optimize-Volume and the -ReTrim option. OS X cannot run the SCSI Unmap command (at least not that I have been able to find). So at this point, no matter what chipset you use, you are not going to get TRIM over USB on a Mac.

There is some discussion at the bottom of this article.
 
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wickkedd

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May 22, 2014
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Not that I have seen on macOS. Here is an older post of mine discussing this issue.

I have an asmedia enclosure and it won't do TRIM on macOS.
So does this mean that even if someone gets a usb-c to thunderbolt 2 jack, and connects an SSD in a thunderbolt 2 enclosure to that jack, it won't support TRIM because it's still technically "USB?"
 

MrX8503

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Not that I have seen on macOS. Here is an older post of mine discussing this issue.

I have an asmedia enclosure and it won't do TRIM on macOS.
Keyword is "Windows" only. I was unaware of that and I'm not surprised why people are confused.

Those that review the enclosures fail to clearly state that it works in Windows but not macOS.
 

treekram

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So does this mean that even if someone gets a usb-c to thunderbolt 2 jack, and connects an SSD in a thunderbolt 2 enclosure to that jack, it won't support TRIM because it's still technically "USB?"
Thunderbolt has never had it's own connector. It's either used the Mini-Displayport (TB1, TB2) or the USB-C (TB3) connectors. For Mac computers that have Thunderbolt, the computer can sense whether there's a TB device connected or not and output the appropriate signal. So if you connect a TB1 or TB2 device to the Apple TB3-TB2 adapter, it will see it as a Thunderbolt device (not a USB device because it's only using the USB-C connector, not the USB3 Gen1/2 signal). The caveat with the Apple TB3-TB2 adapter is that TB2 side of the adapter does not have the ability to sense and output a Displayport signal, which a Mac with TB1/TB2 can do.
 

Lisse

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First, thank you all for contributing your knowledge to this discussion.

Then I guess it looks like what I’m looking for doesn’t exist. It sounds like there are portable SS USB-C drives, but no such drives that exploit the speed of thunderbolt 3.

I also don’t know what TRIM is, but I’ll do my homework on that.

Thank you again.
 

Weaselboy

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So does this mean that even if someone gets a usb-c to thunderbolt 2 jack, and connects an SSD in a thunderbolt 2 enclosure to that jack, it won't support TRIM because it's still technically "USB?"
I have never tested that setup, but I don't think it will work because you are still going over the USB bus and that cannot send the SATA command.
 

MrX8503

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So does this mean that even if someone gets a usb-c to thunderbolt 2 jack, and connects an SSD in a thunderbolt 2 enclosure to that jack, it won't support TRIM because it's still technically "USB?"
I don't think those exist? If it did, it would not support TRIM. There is a TB3 to TB2 adapter that Apple sells that would support TRIM.

First, thank you all for contributing your knowledge to this discussion.

Then I guess it looks like what I’m looking for doesn’t exist. It sounds like there are portable SS USB-C drives, but no such drives that exploit the speed of thunderbolt 3.

I also don’t know what TRIM is, but I’ll do my homework on that.

Thank you again.
TRIM basically keeps your drive fast after prolonged use. When you delete files from an SSD, the cells aren't actually "deleted" or "empty". TRIM will actually empty those cells. Without TRIM, your SSD will clear the cells upon saving data, which is where you'll experience the slow down. There are some SSDs that have aggressive built in garbage collection that mitigates the necessity of TRIM.
 

treekram

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So does this mean that even if someone gets a usb-c to thunderbolt 2 jack, and connects an SSD in a thunderbolt 2 enclosure to that jack, it won't support TRIM because it's still technically "USB?"
Because this is the Macbook Pro forum, I assume that you meant the USB-C connector on the 2016 MBP. And right now, the most common USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is the one from Apple. I haven't tested it, but once you plug in a TB device, the connector passes a TB signal and you should have TRIM if the Thunderbolt device you're connecting supports it. If you're talking about the current Macbook, it has USB-C but does not support Thunderbolt out of that connector - something like the Apple TB3-TB2 adapter is useless in that situation.
 

MrX8503

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Because this is the Macbook Pro forum, I assume that you meant the USB-C connector on the 2016 MBP. And right now, the most common USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is the one from Apple. I haven't tested it, but once you plug in a TB device, the connector passes a TB signal and you should have TRIM if the Thunderbolt device you're connecting supports it. If you're talking about the current Macbook, it has USB-C but does not support Thunderbolt out of that connector - something like the Apple TB3-TB2 adapter is useless in that situation.
I've tested it and TRIM does work.

TB3 is also USB-C, so to lessen confusion just say TB3.
 

robvas

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I have never tested that setup, but I don't think it will work because you are still going over the USB bus and that cannot send the SATA command.
USB-C is just the connector, so you could still be using Thunderbolt.

SATA comes into play if you have a USB to SATA bus adapter (like you would on your typical low-end external HD)

You want to have a custom chip on a Thunderbolt drive with M.2 drives (or a PCIe RAID controller) - then you aren't restricted by SATA speeds and you can still issue TRIM commands, it's basically the same as having a M.2 drive on your motherboard - Thunderbolt is just an external link to those.
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I've tested it and TRIM does work.

TB3 is also USB-C, so to lessen confusion just say TB3.
But in the case of the MacBook, USB-C isn't TB3
 
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