MacInTouch Amazon link...

SSD, Fusion and flash drives

Channels
Security, Products
I've had a few recent PNYs that have shuffled off their mortal coil after the (2-year?) warranty. As Samsungs have 3-year warranties and the prices are actually less than the best CS1311 PNY unit, I've switched.
My experience with a PNY SSD suggests that Crucial or Micron is a better choice.
 


The manufacturer may or may not provide that information readily. I always look when I write up SSD products for MacInTouch and I typically include that data if it's available.
Samsung has been better than Crucial in supporting older SATA standards.
One consideration, if you're not using the retired iMac frequently: a hard drive may have better data retention than an SSD (though there are a lot of variables). And Snow Leopard actually runs well on a hard drive, unlike OS X 9 and later.
I'm not going to buy an SSD, as this is just a "what if I need to open a file/run an app from the distant past" exercise (and this hasn't come up in the 2+years since I retired the iMac). Any files/apps on the iMac would be redundantly backed up on multiple drives in multiple locations, and I still have my Snow Leopard install DVD, so data retention isn't an issue.

I do have multiple SSDs laying around, though, so once I finish moving to Mojave I'll have a SanDisk SSD Plus, an Adata SU800, a Crucial M4 and a WD Blue 3D that I could repurpose. I'll have to look into which of those would be best.
 


USB 3 is perfectly fine for a standard SSD, as it offers 5 Gbps. SATA III is only 6 Gbps, and standard SSDs aren't going to lose much on USB 3 (assuming a decent enclosure, as with the Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD).
Thunderbolt is more appropriate for SSDs in a striped RAID (e.g. OWC Thunderbay 4) and for NVMe SSDs (e.g. Samsung X5), which can be much faster than SATA ones.
I was thinking that no external drive could be as fast as the internal SSD, but how about a Thunderbolt 3 striped RAID using NVMe SSDs?

For reference, the internal SSD in my iMac is connected via 4 lane NVMExpress with link speed 8 GT/s, which Wikipedia says is 3.94 GB/s throughput. Thunderbolt 3 is supposed to be 5 GB/s.
 


I was thinking that no external drive could be as fast as the internal SSD, but how about a Thunderbolt 3 striped RAID using NVMe SSDs?
For reference, the internal SSD in my iMac is connected via 4 lane NVMExpress with link speed 8 GT/s, which Wikipedia says is 3.94 GB/s throughput. Thunderbolt 3 is supposed to be 5 GB/s.
I have a Mac Mini 2018 with a 1TB internal drive, a RAID4 OWC Express 4M2 4-Slot M.2 NVMe Thunderbolt enclosure, and a RAID5 OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID-Ready (JBOD) Thunderbolt enclosure.

The 4M2 has 3 Samsung 970 PRO 500GB drives and a single Samsung 970 EVO 500GB drive (the parity drive).

The ThunderBay has 4 2TB WesternDigital Red NAS drives.

The RAID settings are those recommended by SoftRaid for the SSD's and HD's. Here are the speeds as listed by Blackmagic Disk Speed Test 3.2 rounded to nearest 10MB/s:

DriveWriteRead
MacMini2018_1TB_Internal_SSD2670 MB/s2730 MB/s
MacMini2018_1.5TB_OWC_4M2_RAID4930 MB/s2000 MB/s
MacMini2018_6TB_OWC_ThunderBay4_RAID5290 MB/s360 MB/s
 



I was thinking that no external drive could be as fast as the internal SSD, but how about a Thunderbolt 3 striped RAID using NVMe SSDs?
We covered this earlier (I think in this thread), but the problem with the OWC 4M2 is that it only allocates a single PCIe lane per M.2 SSD slot, severely hampering the performance of each blade, and the overall performance unless all 4 slots are populated. And then there's another limit (see below).

For reference, the internal SSD in my iMac is connected via 4 lane NVMExpress with link speed 8 GT/s, which Wikipedia says is 3.94 GB/s throughput. Thunderbolt 3 is supposed to be 5 GB/s.
So, apparently, on a Thunderbolt 3 port, the max speed available for data transfer is about 22 Gbps. I'm not entirely clear on the technical reasons why, but there are references to this available here:
So, the max transfer rate you would see on an external Thunderbolt storage device would be about 2,700 MiB/s. There are internal SSD's that can exceed this transfer rate.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's a warning for others purchasing a new SSD: I just bought a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and a 500GB Samsung T5. As I always do, I used SoftRAID's Certify feature to test them prior to putting them into production (one for backup, one for a photo library). The Samsung T5 tested fine, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable failed certification with write errors.

I tried a second time after removing and replugging the cable a few times, but it failed again, so I'm going to have to send it back to Amazon, and I wanted to let others know, because this type of failure may not be obvious unless you do something like this certification procedure.

DriveDX didn't show any errors in the SMART data, so I don't know where the problem is - possibly the cable, but it's defective, wherever the cause lies. I have another 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable that I bought previously that hasn't shown any problems, but I'll probably enable Carbon Copy Cloner's "Find and replace corrupted files" option next time I do a backup to double-check it.
 


Here's a warning for others purchasing a new SSD: I just bought a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and a 500GB Samsung T5. As I always do, I used SoftRAID's Certify feature to test them prior to putting them into production (one for backup, one for a photo library). The Samsung T5 tested fine, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable failed certification with write errors.
I tried a second time after removing and replugging the cable a few times, but it failed again, so I'm going to have to send it back to Amazon, and I wanted to let others know, because this type of failure may not be obvious unless you do something like this certification procedure.
DriveDX didn't show any errors in the SMART data, so I don't know where the problem is ...
Did you by any chance allow your computer to sleep or do another task while certifying was in progress? I had the same experience with a Samsung 860 EVO 4TB (El Capitan Mac Pro mid-2010, VoyagerQ USB3). Certification quit after some time, with a bunch of errors and a suggestion to return the SSD for a replacement. I tried again, this time setting all the "savers" to "never", and the SSD certified perfectly. I have been using it only for a couple of weeks, so I can't say that this is any more than coincidence, but it is a data point.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Did you by any chance allow your computer to sleep or do another task while certifying was in progress?
That's a good question, but I had enabled Caffeine to prevent sleep (and the errors didn't take long to appear).

The computer (2018 MacBook Pro 13" on macOS 10.14.4) wasn't doing anything else (unless Apple was doing something funny in the background).

I normally do this on a MacBook Air, but that had somehow lost its mind after being turned off a few days and wanted to reinstall macOS. (Haven't dealt with that problem yet...)
 


Here's a warning for others purchasing a new SSD: I just bought a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and a 500GB Samsung T5. As I always do, I used SoftRAID's Certify feature to test them prior to putting them into production (one for backup, one for a photo library). The Samsung T5 tested fine, but the SanDisk Extreme Portable failed certification with write errors.
I tried a second time after removing and replugging the cable a few times, but it failed again, so I'm going to have to send it back to Amazon, and I wanted to let others know, because this type of failure may not be obvious unless you do something like this certification procedure.
DriveDX didn't show any errors in the SMART data, so I don't know where the problem is - possibly the cable, but it's defective, wherever the cause lies. I have another 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable that I bought previously that hasn't shown any problems, but I'll probably enable Carbon Copy Cloner's "Find and replace corrupted files" option next time I do a backup to double-check it.
On my server running Sierra, I had Drive Genius start telling me that a couple of SSDs that were running had problems. (I have eight disks, both spinning and SSD connected to the server Mac Mini.) This was a result of a periodic automatic scan. I went to SoftRAID, and SoftRAID reported that nothing was wrong.

I did not do a Certify but, rather, depended on SoftRAID's standard checking. (I have experienced several automatic integrity checks where both Drive Genius and SoftRAID agreed.) I trust SoftRAID.

(I do think that the disk-checking software struggles with SSDs as compared to SATA hard disks. I wonder if the variety of firmware systems in SSDs makes it harder for the testing software to be accurate over all brands.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I do think that the disk-checking software struggles with SSDs as compared to SATA hard disks. I wonder if the variety of firmware systems in SSDs makes it harder for the testing software to be accurate over all brands.
This hasn't been my experience, and hard drive firmware and technology are changing, too (e.g. the introduction of high-capacity helium-filled drives).
 


I use TechTool Pro's "check for bad blocks" tool (forgot the exact name) on every hard drive and SSD I want to put into service. It's found bad drives (hard drive/SSD), and I return or exchange them. I realize the SSDs work differently than spinners, but TechTool Pro's "block tool" seems to work reliably for me. No SSD vendor has ever argued with me when I tell them the reason for the return/exchange.
 


I have a number of spinning hard drives in two multi-bay USB3 enclosures, as well as 15 or so single USB3 drives (various brands in Toshiba cases, WD, Seagate 8TB, a couple of "docks").

I had one particular drive that, although passing my TechTool Pro tests, started reporting write errors through Carbon Copy Cloner. I disconnected the drive from its hub and connected it to my Mac where it, again, passed all tests.

Then I remembered that the USB hub where it had been connected was some oddball brand that was a gift, not one of the 7+3 port Ankers I otherwise exclusively use. I swapped out that oddball hub for an Anker and *presto* everything was perfect again.

Like I really needed reminding but top-quality USB3 hubs are essential (as we all know). I can daisy-chain through four Anker hubs and expect perfection. The oddball hub is going to the recycling center; I'd feel guilty giving it to another user.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I normally do this on a MacBook Air, but that had somehow lost its mind after being turned off a few days and wanted to reinstall macOS. (Haven't dealt with that problem yet...)
OK, I reinstalled macOS High Sierra from Recovery on the MacBook Air, rebooted, updated the SoftRAID driver, and ran SoftRAID Certify again on the 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, connected to the USB 3.0 port. Within a few minutes SoftRAID again reported errors. This SSD is clearly defective and will be returned to Amazon.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
MCE Technologies MacBook Air and MacBook Pro SSD (flash) upgrades still look good to me, but I don't see AHCI options for the MacBook Air, so macOS 10.13 is required for these (but NVMe also provides much higher performance):
Meanwhile, OWC has a new SSD upgrade for the MacBook Air, promising both better reliability vs. its earlier upgrades and support for macOS 10.12 Sierra (though I'm not sure how that works with an NVMe device).
MacSales.com said:
Aura N
  • Consumes less power and runs cooler than earlier models
  • Designed for macOS 10.12 and beyond
  • NVMe – PCIe 3.1 x2
Lastly, there are inexpensive adapters to use standard NVMe SSDs with Apple's non-standard connectors. (These also require macOS 10.13 or later, and low-power/low-heat SSDs are recommended - Samsung's 970 seems to use much more power than OWC's Aura N or a WD Blue NVMe SSD.)
Amazon said:
 


Meanwhile, OWC has a new SSD upgrade for the MacBook Air, promising both better reliability vs. its earlier upgrades and support for macOS 10.12 Sierra (though I'm not sure how that works with an NVMe device).
It turns out that Sierra actually supports NVMe SSDs, but only if they have 4K block sizes. Most consumer NVMe SSDs are configured with 512B block sizes; however, some can be reformatted for 4K block sizes. They can then be used natively in Sierra without any hacks.

High Sierra introduced support for 512B block sizes, making it universally support all NVMe drives.
 


I did the firmware update this morning... and still it booted to gray afterward, even though from the other boot volume I had selected the Accelsior as the Startup Disk. I'll try the battery next, but probably this weekend.
If the battery doesn't fix it, and I will be surprised but delighted for you if it does, it's the drive.

SATA SSDs are incredibly cheap now. You might want to install one as a way of troubleshooting. If the system boots correctly on a new drive, that would tend to confirm the problem is your OWC drive. Too bad the Mac Pro 5,1 is only SATA II, because cheap SATA III SSDs aren't that much slower than your OWC. It might be possible to get closer to the full capability of SATA III drives with a PCIe > SATA III card, or even set a couple of those up in RAID 0?

I looked for ways for force Garbage Collection to run on Sandforce controller SSDs, and did not find the trick. Crucial once published how to force Garbage Collection to run on its drives, and that involved having TRIM enabled, deleting a bunch of files, shutting down the Mac, then powering it up but stopping the boot process before it completed. This fed power to the SSD, but didn't burden it with activity that conflicted with Garbage Collection. I left mine in that state overnight, and it worked much better and continued to do so.

Your drive is effectively two SSDs in RAID 0. That makes me dubious about the option of booting to the LiveUSB of Linux Distro PartedMagic and doing a secure erase.

Best of luck!
 



... Too bad the Mac Pro 5,1 is only SATA II, because cheap SATA III SSDs aren't that much slower than your OWC....
Samsung does SATA II controllers well. I found SanDisk does not, and will, instead, yield SATA I speed. PNY CS1100 is also okay with SATA II. But OWC has SATA II SSDs that are designed for this purpose.
 


Personally, I'd want to use an Angelbird Wingz PX1 PCIe card and something like a Samsung 970 EVO on it, if that meets requirements. Unfortunately, that card seems to have been discontinued. :-(
PX1 still available but re-badged as a Wolftech Pulsecard:

I have them booting macOS 10.3.6 with Samsung 970 Evo NVMe in Mac Pro 4.1 and 5.1 with the Mojave firmware. They can saturate the PCIe 2.0 (slot 3 or 4) bus read and write!
 



Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint.

First, is Thunderbolt 3 vs. 2 compatibility bi-directional? (That is, I know a Thunderbolt 3 Mac can use a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with adapter, but can a Thunderbolt 2 Mac use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure?)

It seems very hard to find Thunderbolt 2 enclosures for 2.5" drives now. All the compact enclosures seem to be going to USB-C, which her MacBook can't support. I'm not sure USB less than 3.1 [Gen 2] would really take best advantage of the SSD. Any suggestions?

Thanks.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint. First, is Thunderbolt 3 vs. 2 compatibility bi-directional? (That is, I know a Thunderbolt 3 Mac can use a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with adapter, but can a Thunderbolt 2 Mac use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure?)
Yes, but... the adapter does not pass power. As I've described in earlier posts here, this means you cannot use the ultra-fast Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 SSD directly with your 2015 MacBook Pro, even with the Apple Thunderbolt adapter, because it won't get any power. However, you can use it by connecting it to a Thunderbolt 3 powered dock that's in turn connected to the Thunderbolt 2-Thunderbolt 3 adapter (see this post, for example). Similarly, you should be able to use a self-powered Thunderbolt 3 storage system with the Apple Thunderbolt 3-2 adapter and the 2015 MacBook Pro.
It seems very hard to find Thunderbolt 2 enclosures for 2.5" drives now. All the compact enclosures seem to be going to USB-C, which her MacBook can't support. I'm not sure USB less than 3.1 [Gen 2] would really take best advantage of the SSD. Any suggestions?
Plain old 5Gbps USB 3 is almost fast enough to saturate common SSDs, so you don't lose much hooking one up to your computer that way. All you need is a USB-C to USB Type-A cable, which comes in the package with a Samsung T5 and similar devices (or you can use a cheap adapter to bridge any USB-C and USB 3 devices).

If you want to push into the next level of SSD performance - for example an SSD RAID 0 or NVMe - then the added speed of 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 may be helpful.* But optimized 10Gbps USB setups are an unusual configuration when Thunderbolt 3 is so much faster at the high end, and standard USB 3 works fine on the lower end.

(*A USB-C port may support either 5Gbps or 10Gbps USB 3, or it may host 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, all depending on what you connect to it and what the port's own capabilities are.)
 


I have a refurbished mid-2015 MacBook Pro with a 1TB internal SSD, to which I have hitched an Akitio Thunder 2 Dock, to which I have attached by USB a Ugreen hub with three USB ports and one Ethernet port. The Thunder 2 Dock has one Thunderbolt 2 port, 2 eSATA ports, 2 USB 3 ports and FireWire 800 port.

The other day I was downloading a bunch of videos in 6 parallel streams via the Ethernet port. Two of the three USB ports were each at the same time connected to two 4 TV Samsung 860 EVO drives. I have not noticed any obvious speed difference when the machine is booted from one of those as compared to when it is booted from the internal SSD. I also have, but have not yet needed to use, a Mini DisplayPort hub that feeds DVI, HDMI or VGA, which I am assured will feed an external display from a Thunderbolt 2 port.

So not all is lost if you have only Thunderbolt 2.
 



Looking to get an external SSD for my wife's mid-2015 MacBook Pro, besides speed, we are interested in reducing the external footprint.
I recently got a Samsung T5 SSD (500GB) and am completely satisfied with it, running on a late 2013 MacBook Pro 13" Retina with 500GB internal SSD. I notice very little difference (if any) when running from the external, which is USB 3.0 (at least, as reported in System Report). Unless she is doing lots of heavy graphics, I suspect this would suffice for most work situations. I believe this drive has been recommended here on MacInTouch before, and I would add to any recommendations.

That's not to say that others would not work, but this one is relatively small and not particularly expensive.
 


Amazon disclaimer:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts