Which External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by -Garry-, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. -Garry- macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Hi everyone.

    I really need some help selecting an external hard drive for my 2016 MBP.

    I'm totally confused by Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3, USB 3.1 and USB-C.

    I'm looking for something 1TB or bigger and preferably quite fast as it'll be used for video editing. It doesn't need to be blistering fast though and I'm limited to a budget of maybe $200.

    Something bus-powered would be great if that's an option and I'd like to not have to use any dongles.

    Obviously I'll compromise if my perfect product doesn't exist or is out of my budget.

    Thank you for your recommendations.
  2. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Take a look at the Samsung T3. It does not support TB3, but does support USB 3.1 and has a USB-C connector so no dongles needed. I regularly see transfer rates around 600 MB/sec.
  3. -Garry- thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Thank you for that. It's definitely a suitable drive but it looks as though only the 500GB version would be within my budget.

    Looking at Amazon.co.uk, the 1TB version is selling for the equivalent of nearly $500.

    I found the LaCie Porsche Design for a good price. Does this look like a good option? https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EIP37IY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_67CmzbB5229YB
  4. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    The good news is....if you talking spinning HD, not SSD, all of those busses are faster than any HD. So, it doesn't really matter. Most important is to think about what you will be connecting to (other machines). Any flavor of USB will be cheaper than any TB. USB controllers are very inexpensive, so that is reflected in the product price.

    Unless you need TB, no great reason to spend extra on it that I am aware of. If you are sticking with newer Macs, USB C makes sense. If you need it to work with lots of machines, old and new, USB 3 or 3.1 might be the best all around.

    I like a good case I can easily swap drives in any time I want, so I tend to stay away from the retail externals that are not (easily) openable.

    All 2.5" external drives are bus powered. 3.5" externals need a separate power supply.

    Needs adapter to connect to older machines: If it is just for newer machines, then USB 3.1/C means no adapters or dongles...unless you connect to an older machine. Something like this. Carry this cable to connect to older USB 3 or USB 2 machines.

    Needs adapter to connect to USB 3.1/C: For easy connections to older machines, the previous USB 3 model is a good choice.

    Needs adapter to connect to USB 3.1/C: Something like this is very flexible, when connecting to older machines. The Firewire port can easily adapt via a dongle to Thunderbolt 1 or 2, if you need it....otherwise USB only saves some $, while still having USB 3.

    Tons of other brands, but I like these because you can buy them bare and add exactly the drive you want, they are rugged, and the aluminum helps dissipate heat, while plastic cased tend to insulate (keep heat in).
  5. ZapNZs, Jun 2, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017

    Your system can use TB2, TB3, and USB 3.1. With TB2, it would need an adapter, but the high pricing of Thunderbolt accessories of any generation makes it a moot point as it is outside the budget. So, for you, USB 3.1 is the way to go IMO. Plus, as others have noted, which will not matter with a single-disk HDD (and will make minimal difference even with a single-disk SATA SSD.) Most hard drives are still developed around USB-A and include a USB-A to USB-B/micro cable - if you wish to use the drive without an adapter, you will need to purchase a USB-C --> USB-B/Micro# cable, which costs only a few bucks.

    IMO, skip the LaCie Porsche and purchase a HGST. I feel they offer a better product often for less money. You can often find the 1TB HGST TravelStar for $60 USD, and can purchase an enclosure for it for as little as $10 USD ($20-30 gets an extremely nice enclosure that uses USB-C on both ends, avoiding the need to buy any adapters/additional cables.)

    If you are OK with a 3.5 inch, the HGST UltraStar family is arguably an industry benchmark of performance and reliability. It is fast as crap for a 7200 RPM HDD (175-250 MB/s depending on the interface), proven to be extremely reliable, and sometimes is more cost effective because it has a longer service life (5 year warranty, and 5-10 year service life isn't unreasonable.) The primary downsides are a slight pricing premium and the louder noise that is expected of a 7200 RPM 3.5-inch enterprise class drive. This is arguably a "professional" grade hard drive that is designed to run 24-7 for a half decade+ continuously.
    HGST UltraStar 7k6000 2TB
    3.5-inch aluminum enclosure (this is a budget model - some higher end models do a better job at reducing noise)
    (and a USB-C --> USB-B cable to use without dongle)

    If you must have 2.5-inch form factor, it might be worth considering the 1TB WD Black or 1TB HGST TravelStar (both 7200 RPM and both often on sale for under $70 USD). While quieter than the UltraStar and more portable thanks to bus power/smaller form factor, they are not nearly as fast, not as reliable, and not designed for 24-7 use.
    HGST TravelStar 1TB
    WD Black 1TB
    Oyen Digital USB 3.1 Type-C 2.5-inch enclosure (great quality enclosure that works great with HDDs and SSDs - cheaper ones exist but IMO this is worth the money)

    If you want a SSD, the SanDisk SSD Plus can be purchased in the 1TB flavor for around $250 - all you would need is a cheap USB 3.1 enclosure that includes a type-C USB cable.
  6. -Garry- thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Thanks for the detailed rundown!

    I did look at the Samsung and Sandisk SSDs but, sadly, I'm in the UK so the costs of the drives recommended are significantly higher than the equivalent price in the US. I may have to stretch my budget but you've given me lots to think about.
  7. TofSanity macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2010

    I use the G-Technology SSD Slim USB-C Drive. The 500 GB one. I like it a lot.
  8. killawat, Jun 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017

    killawat macrumors 65816

    Sep 11, 2014
    @ZapNZs has good points above. Make sure you provision additional storage for backups. Large 2 or 3 TB external drives are dirt cheap. No need for it to be portable, just sync up at the end of the day. Don't be that guy who shows up on these forums complaining that their gear was stolen/run over/firebombed/formatted and freaking out cause all their stuff is toast.

    I would get the oyen usb-c enclosure that was mentioned earlier. I use oyen stuff daily. The drive type will matter depending on what you are doing. Most of the 1 tb 2.5 drives will be fine for one or two 4K streams, anything more and you are looking at raid 0 or SSDs for speed.
  9. hobowankenobi, Jun 6, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017

    hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.

    Just an FYI for those sold on HGST drives.....G-technology is owned my HGST, so you know what brand of HD you are getting. Other retail externals can vary, so you may not know what brand drive is inside.
  10. lobo1978 macrumors 6502


    Sep 22, 2011
    If you are for speed then only Atom RAID SSD will do the job - transfer speeds are up to use available TB3 bandwidth (800-900 MB/s) - waayyy better then Samsung T3 which is just SATA drive with USB-C connection (capped by interface).

    Size up to 2TB.
  11. rugmankc macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2014
    I have had Lacie's for a long time. If they meet your other needs --- a good product. Very quick on 5-7gb HD movie transfers.

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