Which port is best for external SSD on 2013 Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by vapourtrails, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. vapourtrails macrumors regular

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    Jul 18, 2016
    #1
    Which port is best for external SSD on 2013 Mini? I'm thinking the Thunderbolt port is best bit I cannot seem to find an exclosure that is not pricy? Is USB3 fast enough? Any other suggestions?
     
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #2
    If you are using a single SSD drive, then USB3 is fine. Firmtek makes a very nice little USB3 enclosure "dLite" that gives very good throughput and (in my case I use Samsung Evo) drives that are a snap to put in. There are other makers of enclosures that also work well but I like the design and reputation of the Firmtek offerings. Not all USB3 enclosure are created equal and some do not have the modern chipset that allows for the maximum speed/throughput.

    Thunderbolt would have the advantage if SSD drives were in RAID 0 (striped) and believe it or not, some USB3 work faster than Thunderbolt for single SSD drives.
     
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #3
    I don't think there's any such thing as a 2013 Mini, just 2012 and 2014. ;)

    I recently got two Samsung T3 USB 3.0 external SSD's - a 512gb and also a 1TB model. They both clock the same with the BlackMagic Disk test.

    [​IMG]

    I am using the 512 as the boot drive for a 2012 base mini that I'm giving as a Christmas gift, using the 1TB for media files on a 2012 quad mini that is dedicated to video editing.

    Theoretically you should be able to get faster speeds on Thunderbolt, but the SSD's I looked at were more expensive and not any faster, although I was only looking at pre-assembled products and not do it yourself. FWIW, I have the original Apple 256gb internal SSD on the 2012 quad Mini and it clocks around 495 write/550 read so it's faster than the Samsung externals.

    I believe the 2014 Mini has a faster controller for internal disks that can give speeds like Apple's laptops of the same generation - around 800MB/sec. It also has Thunderbolt 2, but I don't know that would make much difference with currently available external drives.
     
  4. vapourtrails thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 18, 2016
    #4
    Thanks for the input...I did find the Lacie Rugged drive that has Thunderbolt port. Looks a bit ugly but I might give one a try
     
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #5
    Why would you need a "rugged" external drive with a desktop computer? I looked at this one awhile ago. It seemed rather expensive and their advertised transfer rate of 387MB/sec is slower than what I get with the Samsung T3 - http://www.lacie.com/professional/rugged/#table

    I see the LaCie Rugged 500gb SSD selling for $350, which is the same price I paid for the 1TB Samsung T3...
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    Pretty much all SSD (save for perhaps Apple's newer faster internal) are slower than the real maximum speed of USB3. Thus, a quality USB3 enclosure for the most part will be nearly identical to a solid performing TBolt enclosure. When we get to RAID 0, Tbolt will be a superior performer because the USB3 will have maxed out while TBolt still can handle even faster speeds. So no, TBolt isn't really much if at all faster than USB3 when it comes to a single SSD drive. At one time, a given enclosure (See Barefeats) that was USB3 bested its Tbolt counterparts with single SSD drive.
     
  7. vapourtrails thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    I guess because I was focused on the Thunderbolt port. Now I will probably look for a USB model
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
    OP:

    If all you need is a single drive, USB3 is equivalent to thunderbolt, speed-wise, and considerably cheaper.

    Pay attention to post 3 above. The numbers Boyd is getting are about the optimum you will get with an attached USB3 drive (and I doubt thunderbolt could do any better).

    There are numerous drives available.
    One brand you might consider:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    If you're currently booting and running from an internal HDD, plugging one of these in and using it as your "external booter" will offer a HUGE increase in overall performance...
     
  9. treekram, Dec 12, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016

    treekram macrumors 65816

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    #9
    The USB 3 speed is 5Gb/sec., Thunderbolt 1 (2012 Mini) is 10Gb/sec., Thunderbolt 2 (2014 Mini) is 20Gb/sec. However, in order to get significantly faster speeds than 500MB/sec. using Thunderbolt, you need an enclosure that can do RAID 0 (as mentioned in post #6) or one that uses a PCIe NVMe SSD. Either of these solutions would typically add several hundred dollars to the cost. A RAID 0 enclosure typically requires AC power as well.

    I have a Monster Digital 240GB Thunderbolt SSD connected to my 2014 Mini. Supposedly this uses the internals of a Crucial/Micron M500 SSD. I also have a 480GB M500 in the Mini (SATA). I don't know for sure that the Monster uses an M500, I don't know to what degree it was customized (it was customized by Monster to some degree because it doesn't say it's an M500 SSD). Also, different sizes of the same SSD model may result in different benchmark results (typically larger capacity drives have better performance). With that said, these are my Blackmagic results.

    Monster Thunderbolt (240GB): 349 MB/sec write, 510 MB/sec read
    M500 (480GB) in USB 3 enclosure: 382 MB/sec write, 421 MB/sec read
    M500 (same drive as above) using SATA: 421 MB/sec write, 483 MB/sec read

    It should also be noted that the NAND chips in the Samsung are at least a generation ahead of the M500. The USB 3 enclosure I have is a <$20 one.

    I see on Amazon that the 240GB Monster is $14 more than the comparable Samsung T3. When I bought my drive a year ago (in December), the price difference was greater - I don't know if the drive has changed since then but my guess is that it hasn't. My reason for getting the Thunderbolt drive was to not have contention on the USB bus - the 2014 Mini uses a single bus for all USB ports (not a problem for most people). Also, at the time the Mini was under warranty and I didn't want to crack it open until the warranty was up - I put in the M500 into the Mini when the warranty expired.

    EDIT: Something to consider is the use of TRIM. Most Thunderbolt drives support it. Tom's Hardware says T3 TRIM support is working under Windows while anandtech says it's "indeterminate" and don't think Samsung claims that it's supported. TRIM is more important the more volatile your data is. For my Thunderbolt drive, I typically write large (7GB+) files, process them and then delete them within a few days so that was a consideration for me.
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #10
    FWIW, just ran the test on the 2012 Mini Server original factory 256gb drive, it is a little slower than I recalled but still not too bad. System Profiler identifies it as an "Apple SSD SM256E".

    [​IMG]
    --- Post Merged, Dec 12, 2016 ---
    Just now finished a clean install of Sierra on the 500GB USB Samsung T3 for the base mini that I'm giving as a Christmas present. After pressing the power button it takes 26 seconds to boot to the desktop. Quite an improvement over the slow internal 500gb hard drive! :)
     
  11. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #11
    People should not be suggesting SSD over USB3 without the warning that the vast majority of USB3 drives and enclosures do not support TRIM.

    Any frequently used SSD without TRIM will be very fast at first and make everyone happy, but it will inevitably bog down by a very noticeable degree. The more you store on it and the more you use it, the faster this will happen.

    I was an early SSD adopter on OS X and this was a big problem even for internal SSDs, until Cindori created TRIM enabler.
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #12
    I have been concerned about this myself but there seems to be some disagreement in various posts I've read. For example:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/2014-mac-mini-upgrade-will-this-ssd-work.2000033/#post-23573183

     
  13. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #13
    Perhaps that individual's use cases are mostly "reads" (what slows down is "write" performance only). This would not be surprising for average Mini users. Only demanding users are going to notice a big slowdown in write performance. Or heck, maybe he even has a USB 3.0 drive that supports TRIM (some do). Or maybe he has tons of empty space on the drive, the slowdown doesn't really happen unless you are pushing the capacity. So it's entirely possible his use case is just fine, but he shouldn't imply that it's a bunch of BS. It's a well known and documented phenomenon for those who work and fill their drives.

    He's pretty insulting to imply TRIM is only for dilettantes to argue about just because he's personally fine. It's not just theory--many, many people had complaints in the Mac Pro forum about SSDs becoming unbearably slow over time, and enabling TRIM fixed it. That's real life use, but I suspect that Mac Pro users by definition are more likely to be impacted by write performance and full drives than Mini users.

    In any case I'm not against using USB 3.0 SSD drives, I'd just pick one that supports both UASP and TRIM rather than one that doesn't.
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #14
    FWIW, found this with a quick Google search.

    https://www.bjorn3d.com/2016/04/samsung-t3/2/

    Support for the Trim-command has been largely undetermined both with the Samsung Portable SSD T1 and the T3. Using the program we get a “undetermined” rating for the drives. Trim support is important as it helps stop the degradation of speed over time so it is a bit dissapointing that it seems the Samsung Portable SSD T3 does not support it. However – we have been using the Samsung Portable SSD T1 for 7 months since the review and writing and deleting a lot of data on it and when we ran our benchmarks again for this review, albeit on a different computer, we still get similar performance as when it was new so it seems that there might be something Trim-like going on anyway or that the drive does not degenerate in speed as quick as one might think.

    Whatever, I will find out the "hard way" I suppose. I am using a 1TB T3 for video editing which results in writing a lot of large render and temp files...
     
  15. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #15
    Darn shame that Apple thinks that handling SSD external drives is of so little importance. Seems they really don't care about actual use of products and fixing the OS rather than adding bloat crap to it.
     
  16. Fishrrman, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016

    Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    #16
    ActionableMango wrote:
    "Any frequently used SSD without TRIM will be very fast at first and make everyone happy, but it will inevitably bog down by a very noticeable degree. The more you store on it and the more you use it, the faster this will happen."

    Once again I must respond and label the reply above as ABSOLUTE NONSENSE.

    ActionableMango has no experience regarding the topic of which he speaks.
    I will assert that he has NEVER booted and run a Mac via USB for any length of time.
    He is totally unqualified to speak on this topic.

    On the other hand, I have extensive experience running a Mac this way, perhaps more than anyone else in this forum.
    I've been booting and running my late-2012 Mac Mini since January 2013 via an SSD mounted in a USB3/SATA docking station.
    That's just shy of FOUR YEARS of usage.
    Often the Mini is turned on around 9.00am and left on (I don't put it to sleep) until midnight. It's been used heavily.

    I've used two drives with it, the first an Intel 530 series, and the current one a Crucial M500.

    Following are two benchmarks of the Crucial drive.
    The first was taken on the day of installation (March 2014) m500 Main Speed Test (Blackmagic).png .
    The second was taken a few minutes ago.
    Crucial Speed 12:15:16.png
    How much has the drive (in ActionableMango's words) "bogged down"?
    Use your own judgement.

    If I repeat the test a few times, write speeds will jump back up to over 270mbps.
    Read speeds are as fast, or a hair faster, then when new.

    The read speed of about 430mbps seems to be about the maximum throughput that can be obtained via a USB3 connection (others have reported essentially the same speed after installing a USB3 SSD). Of interest is that "aging" doesn't seem to change it at all.

    The write speeds can vary depending on the manufacturer of the drive, and the size of the drive itself. The drive shown above is relatively small (240gb). Larger capacity SSD's will often yield faster write speeds.

    There indeed may be -some- SSD's that -might- be subject to slowdowns related from the lack of TRIM. But those I've tried have none.

    TRIM, in my opinion, is a non-factor when booting and running an SSD via USB. A subject much-discussed, but of little real importance (something akin to the "McGuffin" in an Alfred Hitchcock film).
    Or, as ol' Will would have written, "Much Ado About Nothing"..!
     
  17. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    California
    #17
    No USB attached SSD is going to work with TRIM under macOS. Here is an earlier comment of mine that explains a bit with an article linked at the end.


    --- Post Merged, Dec 15, 2016 ---
    You know, you could just say your experience differs without being insulting and rude.

    I don't think anybody familiar with the topic would try and argue that TRIM is not beneficial. Do some people like you manage to run without TRIM and have no slowdowns? Sure they do. Put there are also many many users on this forum who have posted their experience that not having TRIM did slow the write speeds of their drives and a quick TRIM run restored full write speeds.
     
  18. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #18
    Ok, thanks!
     
  19. treekram, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016

    treekram macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Fishrrman, my write results on my M500 drive is quite different than yours. My M500 is 480GB (size can make a difference). But as mentioned in my post #9, I got 382MB/sec write speeds on my M500 in a USB enclosure connected via USB 3 hub, versus 250-270MB/sec that you're getting. This was when the drive was new (in terms of writes, not in chronological age) and I'm pretty sure (but not absolutely certain) that I tested it on my 2012 (2.6 quad-core) Mini, not my 2014 Mini (based on where the text files containing the test results were). The M500 is in my 2014 Mini now so it would be pain to retest it. This is obviously not a TRIM issue. Compared to what I currently get (SATA) in the Mini - the USB was 87% of the SATA speed for the writes and 90% for the reads so I'm pretty confident that the USB benchmarks were not a fluke.

    So if you have a 480GB M500, you might want to investigate to see if you can get higher write speeds (maybe a different enclosure - mine was under $20 but was purchased this past summer, yours maybe dates to 2014? or try it connected directly to the Mini to see if that makes a difference). Just a suggestion.

    EDIT: Looking at how it compares to my 240GB Thunderbolt SSD, which supposedly has the internals of a M500, that would be more consistent with your results - which is 79% of the write speed, 85% of the read speed of the Thunderbolt-connected SSD.
     

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