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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Just got my 2TB Samsung T5 and ran a quick benchmark on it with Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (5GB test size, macOS Sierra). I used a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", whose USB 3 ports handle only 5Mbps; a 2016 or later MacBook Pro with 10Gbps USB-C should be faster.


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I verified that assigning a drive (partition) to Time Machine does not install a Recovery partition, so the TIme Machine drive, by itself, is not bootable. But Carbon Copy Cloner can create a Recovery HD partition from another system on the Time Machine drive (as long as CCC sees an unencrypted/non-Core Storage partition that it can shrink to make room for the Recovery HD volume).

For a bit more real-world perspective, I was able to backup a 500GB system from the MacBook Pro to the T5 in about 1 1/4 hours while doing other work and with Time Machine doing some limited backups at the same time.

And re-running the 500GB backup (after completing it once) with Find and Replace Corrupted Files (CCC Advanced Settings) took less than an hour to complete. Disabling that option dropped the time to less than 10 minutes (copying more than 1GB of new files).

I'm impressed with how well the T5 keeps cool under heavy usage. It's also Trim-enabled (via Disk Sensei).
 


JDW

I have a top-end, 2015 MacBook Pro 15" with Apple 1TB internal SSD, 16GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M370X dGPU, and 2.8GHz i7 CPU.

I use it for FCPX video editing (in conjunction with a 27" 1440p Eizo FlexScan EV2750 display connected via Thunderbolt 2/MiniDisplayPort-to-HDMI cable).

I have a spinning platter external USB3 hard disk drive that gets about 200MBps transfer speeds, but when I put my 4K ProRES footage on it and then try to edit in FCPX, playback is too choppy to be usable. I don't have that problem when played back from the internal 1TB SSD. So I am considered a faster external drive.

I've never tried the Samsung T3 or T5, but my concern is that most USB3 drives won't be fast enough. I wrote to Glyph about their Atom 1TB and Atom RAID 1TB. They said the USB 3.0 on the 2015 MacBook Pro 15" would limit throughput to between 400 - 420 MBps for both read and write, nullifying any merit to the RAID SSD. The Samsung T3 and T5 would appear to be similar. And I spoke with Jon L. Jacobi of PC World who also confirmed the speed cap.

For those of you who haven't already seen it, Jon wrote an excellent article on external PCIe NVMe SSD drives for Thunderbolt 1, 2 and 3 Macs. I exchanged emails with Jon today about my FCPX use case and the best external SSD implementation. My thinking is it is better to spend a little more and try to get a more future-proof external drive than to save $100 and lock yourself into Thunderbolt 1/Thunderbolt 2 only, and Jon's article agrees.

It's important to note Apple sells a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter (which is mentioned in Jon's article). Some of the newer Thunderbolt 3 external SSDs that draw power from Thunderbolt 3 are very compact and attractive, but they won't work on Thunderbolt 2 Macs like the 2015 15" MacBook Pro. Here's one example external SSD:

HP P800 1TB Portable External Thunderbolt 3 PCIe NVMe SSD

Jon told me that Thunderbolt 2 passes power, but, sadly, the Apple Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 adapter does not pass power, and since that is the only Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 adapter that [is bidirectional], external SSDs requiring power will not work on a Thunderbolt 2 Mac (like the 2015 MacBook Pro) using Apple's Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 adapter. If only Apple would have come out with a better adapter, this wouldn't be an issue.

That leaves only the Akitio external SSD solution presented in Jon's excellent article. This is what I am considering at the moment:

• Akitio Node Lite, $199
• Samsung 970 EVO PCIe 1TB SSD, $350; or Samsung 970 Pro 1TB, $450
• Apple Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 Adapter, $45
• Lycom DT-120 "M.2 PCIe" to "PCIe 3.0" x4 Adapter (Supports: M.2 PCIe 2280, 2260, 2242), $22

Totals:
With EVO: $616
With PRO: $716
With Akitio Thunder2 instead of Node Lite: $557 with EVO, $657 with PRO.

All of those items are available on Amazon US right now. Jon told me that the Samsung 970 EVO is fast but that its speed drops considerably (down to 615MB/s) when writing very large files of 22GB and larger. That is shown in Jon's PC World article. Apparently that doesn't happen to the Samsung 970 PRO. So for video editors who use 4K and very large files, the more expensive Samsung 970 PRO may be the better choice.

I've not pulled the trigger on a purchase yet. This is just what I am pondering, and I though the information would be relevant to your current discussion and useful for your other readers.

If anyone has experience with the Akitio Node Lite or Thunder 2 boxes, I'd love to hear from you! I'd also love to hear from people who edit 4K video with all the footage on an external SSD. My intent is to be able to edit footage from the external drive without dropped frames or choppy video during playback.

Thanks.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... For those of you who haven't already seen it, Jon wrote an excellent article on external PCIe NVMe SSD drives for Thunderbolt 1, 2 and 3 Macs....
That's a wonderful article and right on my favorite topic! It's my favorite topic, because SSD upgrades are what have produced the largest real-world performance gains for Mac systems in recent years, and there are a lot of technical intricacies involved, which I have been following carefully.

My recommendation is simply to get this 2TB NVMe internal SSD upgrade for your MacBook Pro (I'd love to have one in my own, but it requires macOS 10.13):

2TB NVMe PCIe-Based 4 Lane (x4) SSD Flash Storage Upgrade for MacBook Pro (Mid 2015) 15-inch only

That should solve all the problems and save you a lot of time with its ultra-fast speed.

A few notes on other options:
  • Yes, USB 3.0 in the 2015 MacBook Pro is limiting (to less than 500 MBps). USB 3.1 Gen 2 doubles that speed for 2016 and later MacBook Pros, where you should see the difference with a Samsung T5 or an Atom RAID device.
  • I loved hearing that Jon also experienced horrendous Thunderbolt performance in the older Mac, because I saw that same thing (documented here previously). It's shocking. (In my case I was using two internal SSDs, around 500 MBps, and Target Disk mode.)
  • If, for some reason, you don't want to upgrade your internal SSD and must use an external device, Thunderbolt 2 and RAID-0 are your friends. You can get a dual-drive or quad-drive Thunderbolt 2 RAID enclosure, pop in some inexpensive SATA SSDs, use a short, full-speed Thunderbolt 2 cable, and you should get well over 500 MBps.
  • Reverse Thunderbolt 2-Thunderbolt 3 adaption seems like an awkward approach, especially if you start adding in PCIe expansion boxes. I wouldn't do it without a compelling reason (e.g. you expect to upgrade to a Thunderbolt 3 Mac in the near future and will then also require a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe box for some extremely demanding task).
  • You might want to also check HighPoint's Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 storage products.
  • Sonnet also has Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 expansion boxes, etc.
 


JDW

Thank you for the 2TB NVMe internal SSD recommendation, Ric. That sounds like a great idea. One question though. Is the MCE brand the top pick for 2TB NVMe SSDs right now? For example, is the MCE SSD better than the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB? I ask because the 970 EVO 2TB is $700 on Amazon, but the MCE SSD is $949 direct from MCE. That's a big difference in price. I'm pondering speed, long term reliability, and warranty.

By the way, I've purchased a few OWC SSDs in the past (none of them NVMe) and had various troubles with them, so I'd rather stick to other SSD brands with regard to upgrading my 2015 MacBook Pro 15". But the Thunderbolt 2 RAID enclosure from OWC looks interesting. Thanks for that recommendation, too.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
One question though. Is the MCE brand the top pick for 2TB NVMe SSDs right now? For example, is the MCE SSD better than the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB? I
The problem is that Apple's computers do not have standard M.2 slots - hence the need for a very specific alternative (from MCE or Transcend), instead of supporting all the M.2 options available to Windows PC owners.
 


... My recommendation is simply to get this 2TB NVMe internal SSD upgrade for your MacBook Pro (I'd love to have one in my own, but it requires macOS 10.13):
2TB NVMe PCIe-Based 4 Lane (x4) SSD Flash Storage Upgrade for MacBook Pro (Mid 2015) 15-inch only
I have a 2015 2016 MacBook Pro with the 2TB SSD option. It is rather amazing, in that there are times when it is shut down and I wiggle the mouse to log in, as from it being asleep. I realize that it is shut down and press the startup button. Often the start up procedure is as fast as wake from sleep.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have a mid 2015 MacBook Pro with the 2TB SSD option. It is rather amazing...
If you have the Apple 2TB option, you should see even faster performance with the MCE NVMe option (or a newer MacBook Pro), due to the much faster speed of the NVMe protocol (though it requires macOS 10.13).
 


So it sounds like it is best to edit 4k video on the internal SSD and use external devices as storage, at least for the 2015 MacBook Pro 15" with Thunderbolt 2.

I am running an external Helios drive from OWC. I have Blackmagic Speed Test clocking it as 500 write and 650 read. Fine for 1080p work.

I just read the topic of FCPX freezes on playback on 2015 MacBook Pro 15". I am on the fence between Resolve 15 and FCPX after years of working on Adobe Premiere. To continue with Premiere, it would take $20 a month to license. I am learning to use Resolve at work. I've paid for FCPX. Maybe I will try throwing some large files at FCPX to see if it freezes, all the while watching temperatures and fan speeds. I bought the 2015 MacBook Pro 15" for the legacy ports, because I didn't see anything with Thunderbolt 3 that looked interesting.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have a spinning platter external USB3 hard disk drive that gets about 200MBps transfer speeds, but when I put my 4K ProRES footage on it and then try to edit in FCPX, playback is too choppy to be usable. I don't have that problem when played back from the internal 1TB SSD. So I am considered a faster external drive.
Here's one more option for the record:

Transcend JetDrive 825 - Thunderbolt PCIe Portable SSD - 960GB

It's an external, aluminum-encased SSD that you could just plug into your MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt port. While it's only 10Gbps Thunderbolt 1, that's probably not a major bottleneck for this sort of external SSD (though it pales in comparison to an internal NVMe drive).

(The product is sold as an upgrade for an internal Mac SSD, but I think you can just take the included SSD and put it in the included enclosure and be good to go without any internal swaps.)
 


Regarding the poor performance of an hard disk drive and worries about insufficient performance over USB3.0 or other external interfaces, just something to keep in mind while doing comparisons and shopping:

There is sometimes a tendency to focus on maximum throughput of a drive or interface. For some operations--for example, capturing or playing back single-stream high-resolution video--this is the most important metric. But in a lot of real-world use cases latency has a much larger impact on performance than simple throughput, and even at relatively slow bus speeds the latency advantage of an SSD can make a huge difference in measured and actual performance.

Basically, if your use case involves random access, an SSD, even if connected with a fairly slow bus, might perform better than the raw throughput indicates due to low latency.

Looking at a few samples of standard worst-case-scenario 4k read and write throughput benchmarks:

A 6TB 7200RPM hard disk drive, directly connected via SATA, clocks sequential read and write rates of around 200MB/s, but its random 4k read and write speeds are a paltry 5.5MB/s and 3.5MB/s, respectively. A 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro USB3.0 pen drive has slightly slower sequential throughput rates, but clocks about 11MB/s on both of the same random benchmarks--two or three times faster than the hard disk drive. Which is to say that, even though the SATA interface of the hard disk drive and its sequential throughput are faster than the pen drive, for some tasks the lowly pen drive will actually be significantly faster.

A Samsung T5, which is more of an SSD in a USB3 case, manages about 450MB/s sequential, and somewhere around 30MB/s in random read and write. At the high end, a Samsung 960 Pro NVMe PCIe SSD can handle a staggering 2TB/s sequential throughput, the random numbers are 50MB/s read and around 150MB/s write.

None of this is to say that fast SSDs aren't astoundingly fast--they are--or that TB3 RAID-0 arrays of SSDs don't have legitimate use cases. Just that one shouldn't immediately assume that in all cases a "slow" USB3 interface will translate to proportionately slow performance, or that a many-times-faster PCIe interface necessarily translates into proportionately faster throughputs.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
There is sometimes a tendency to focus on maximum throughput of a drive or interface. For some operations--for example, capturing or playing back single-stream high-resolution video--this is the most important metric. But in a lot of real-world use cases latency has a much larger impact on performance than simple throughput, and even at relatively slow bus speeds the latency advantage of an SSD can make a huge difference in measured and actual performance.
As a good real-world example of that, I swapped a fast hard drive for an SSD in my old Power Mac G5, and the change was transformative, even though the SATA bus was limited to a paltry 1.5Gbps. The change can even be observed with an SSD via FireWire 800, whose bandwidth is slower than modern hard drives, let alone SSDs.
 


JDW

The problem is that Apple's computers do not have standard M.2 slots - hence the need for a very specific alternative (from MCE), instead of supporting all the M.2 options available to Windows PC owners.
Thank you for that information. I did not know the Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD was not drop-in compatible with my 2015 15" MacBook Pro! That would mean our options really are limited to MCE for an internal SSD in the 2015 MacBook Pro 15", correct?

I actually wrote to MCE yesterday, asking for more technical data on their 2TB SSD since their website is rather lacking in that regard. I told them flat out I was comparing with other SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO, and I wanted to know how their SSD compared in terms of performance. I think that is important because there is a lot of technical things going on when we talk about "good performance." For example:
If you read through those articles, you, like me, will wonder where the MCE 2TB SSD stands in the performance mix with those other SSDs. Ric has essentially said the MCE 2TB is "faster than the Apple SSDs in the 2015 MacBook Pro," but I am curious under what conditions. I also wonder about heat and how the MCE drive is put together. If it is two 1TB SSD chips RAIDed together, it likely would run hotter than the standard Apple SSD, and with Apple notebooks already running fairly hot, heat of a replacement SSD is a legitimate consideration.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks.
 


JDW

Transcend JetDrive 825 - Thunderbolt PCIe Portable SSD - 960GB
It's an external, aluminum-encased SSD that you could just plug into your MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt port. While it's only 10Gbps Thunderbolt 1, that's probably not a major bottleneck for this sort of external SSD (though it pales in comparison to an internal NVMe drive).
It's terribly unfortunate the JetDrive is not also sold as an enclosure-only product for a reasonable price. I like the small size and fast interface. The MCE enclosure is $89 and only USB3. Speed-wise, the Thunderbolt 1 interface of the JetDrive is much better than USB 3.0 on my 2015 MacBook Pro 15".
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I also wonder about heat and how the MCE drive is put together. If it is two 1TB SSD chips RAIDed together, it likely would run hotter than the standard Apple SSD, and with Apple notebooks already running fairly hot, heat of a replacement SSD is a legitimate consideration.
If you look at the MCE link I posted previously:
it doesn't look like a RAID device (nor do they claim it is). Its performance is on par with the latest generation of other NVMe SSDs in the M2 form factor - it's just an altered package to accomodate Apple's perversely non-standard connector.

Please let us all know what you hear back from the company.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It's terribly unfortunate the JetDrive is not also sold as an enclosure-only product for a reasonable price.
The lack of affordable/portable Thunderbolt enclosures really bugged me, too, and I asked someone in the industry about it. He said the problem was that companies couldn't get Intel/Apple certification for bus-powered enclosures that aren't populated with the SSDs. (Self-powered devices are apparently different, hence the availability of RAID enclosures.)

I actually bought an obscure portable Thunderbolt enclosure (from Delock), only to find out its performance was worse than USB 3, a huge disappointment for a pricy item.
 


JDW

I actually bought an obscure portable Thunderbolt enclosure (from Delock), only to find out its performance was worse than USB 3...
I found this JetDrive 825 review that shows 730MB/s read and 581MB/s write over its Thunderbolt 1 connection to an older 2013 MacBook Pro, which soundly beats what you'd get over USB 3.0 on the 2015 MacBook Pro 15".

I wonder if I could negotiate with them to sell me just the enclosure for $90 or so, getting them to turn a blind eye to Intel/Apple certification. If I could use my verbal persuasion skills to actually purchase the enclosure-only from them, it would clearly beat the MCE $89 USB3 enclosure to house the stock Apple SSD after I remove it for a 2TB upgrade. Performance matters! It's also very small and compact, too, which I like.

Anyway, I'm still waiting for MCE to reply back to me about detailed performance data and specifications, and I will post what they say when and if they do reply. If they never reply to me, I would take that as a dark cloud over my prospective purchase. So far 1 day has passed with no reply.
 


JDW

The problem is that Apple's computers do not have standard M.2 slots - hence the need for a very specific alternative (from MCE), instead of supporting all the M.2 options available to Windows PC owners.
What do you think about the Sintech NGFF M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter, Ric? Reading through the Amazon comments I see some people who have used that adapter successfully with Samsung 970 EVO 2TB.

The reason to consider the 970 EVO 2TB is that the cost of the SSD and the Sintech adapter is only $719, as compared with $949 for the MCE 2TB NVMe SSD. Another reason is because we know what the benchmark data is for the 970 EVO but we lack such data on the MCE.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
What do you think about the Sintech NGFF M.2 PCIe SSD Adapter, Ric?
Feel free to give it a try after you read the reviews, and let us know how it goes.
Another reason is because we know what the benchmark data is for the 970 EVO but we lack such data on the MCE.
I'm not sure what you're looking for, but MCE's description says:
2TB NVMe PCIe-Based 4 Lane (x4) SSD Flash Storage Upgrade
The MCE 2TB NVMe PCIe-based Flash Drive is the Fastest and Highest Capacity Internal Storage Upgrade Made for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Mid 2015), clocking in at 2900MB/S Read and 2100MB/S Write speeds!
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Anyway, I'm still waiting for MCE to reply back to me about detailed performance data and specifications, and I will post what they say when and if they do reply. If they never reply to me, I would take that as a dark cloud over my prospective purchase.
Could be problematic...

I rescind my recommendation. :-(
 
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Am I the only one suffering severe sticker shock when looking at the cost of some of these SSD storage options? It takes me back the the early 90’s, when I spent $425 for an APS 700MB external drive for my IIci, which seemed almost cheap at the time, a year or two after shelling out over $500 to add a 240MB external to a Mac II at work. I’d like to get a 2TB SSD at some point, but can’t stomach the cost yet.
 


Ha! My first hard drive was a $440 40-MB drive, and I was ecstatic that the price had just dropped, since the original standard was 20 megs...! But backup to floppies was easier at that size. (Mac Plus.)

I, too, am seeing some sticker shock. I like speed, but anything Thunderbolt seems crazy expensive (except Thunderbolt 3 docks, which for whatever reason, are often quite cheap). Wish Apple would just use stock gear for replaceable parts....
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I was looking for SSD historical pricing data and stumbled on this interesting history of the technology:
Zsolt Kerekes said:
SSD Market History
I published the world's first comprehensive history of the SSD market here (below) on StorageSearch.com which has been used as the primary resource for many other "so called" SSD history articles in other web sites and publications - although the attribution to my original article(s) here are often notable by their absence.

This article lists key technical, product and market milestones from 1976 upto the present day.
 


While I was waiting to have my 2012 Mini Server upgraded to SSD's, I got an Apple Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) To Thunderbolt 2 Adapter (MMEL2AM/A), an OWC Express 4M2 4-Slot M.2 NVMe SSD, and a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (MZ-V7E500BW) for my 2011 Mini Server all for $560 from Amazon.

Even with the Thunderbolt 1 of the 2011 Mini, Blackmagic Disk Speed Test showed 615MB/s write and 625MB/s read speeds. So, even the Thunderbolt 1 connections on older Macs can make enormous speed improvements, and the upgrade's speed can be comparable to an internal upgrade.
 
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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
So, even the Thunderbolt 1 connections on older Macs can make enormous speed improvements, and the upgrade's speed can be comparable to an internal upgrade.
That makes sense, as Thunderbolt 1 (in theory, at least) offers 10 Gbps, while the older Macs' internal SATA interfaces offer onlly 6 Gbps at best (and even less for earlier models). USB 2 is less than 0.48 Gbps, while FireWire 800 is 0.8Gbps, USB 3.0 is 5 Gbps, eSATA is up to 6 Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 is 10 Gbps, like Thunderbolt 1.
 


Could be problematic...
I rescind my recommendation. :-(
Ric,
After researching the options, I discovered MCE and their offerings, which are advertised as being superior to the competition. I recommended an MCE 512GB internal SSD to a client earlier this year as an upgrade. She purchased and received the SSD without delay and received notifications along the way. No issues and no complaints. So, it seems that MCE is able to process an order and deliver a product at least in some situations. Just offering my experience. My client is satisfied.
 


If you have the Apple 2TB option, you should see even faster performance with the MCE NVMe option (or a newer MacBook Pro), due to the much faster speed of the NVMe protocol (though it requires macOS 10.13).
Careful - Apple OEM parts (currently made by Samsung) come in both flavors. The well-known and easier-to-find SSUAX and SSUBX parts are AHCI-based, but there's an NVMe one as well, tagged SSPOLARIS. These will only work in a 2015 MacBook Pro or a MacPro6,1 (trashcan), but they are super fast, particularly on the 15" MacBook Pro. And, virtually alone amongst NVMe SSDs, they'll work off the shelf with macOS 10.12 (and possibly OS X 10.11, can't remember).

I don't have direct experience with the MCE NVMe drives, but I agree that from published specs, they look like by far the best option if you have a 2015 MacBook Pro and can't get an Apple OEM SSPOLARIS. MCE's performance numbers are nearly identical and the only ones I've seen that are close to Apple's.

Here's a nice guide that covers almost (but not quite) everything you might want to know if you're starting down this road from scratch:
Cody Henderson said:
The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs

Apple's Proprietary Connectors

When Apple released their first “blade” solid state drive in the Late 2010 release of the MacBook Air, they still used established mSATA interface technology, but ditched the traditional SATA and mSATA form factors found in most laptops at that time, instead opting for a custom connector that’s never been used by another manufacturer before or since. With the 2010 MacBook Air, Apple began a new trend of developing proprietary connectors and form factors that eventually pervaded the entire Apple lineup and ushered in an era of drives that, while easily replaceable, were not so easy to source.

Many people incorrectly assume the connectors use one of the M.2 variants found in many PCs, but to date, Apple has still never used a standard M.2 connector. And unlike M.2 pin arrangements, Apple’s connectors were never given distinguishing names,
 


JDW

Could be problematic...
I rescind my recommendation. :-(
Ric, after reading your reply and seeing those links, with it having been two days since my email to MCE and still no reply, I sent the following email this morning to 6 different MCE email addresses (eliminating any excuses about spam filtering or "I never saw your email"):
I sent you an email 2 days ago, but no one from MCE has yet replied. I am aware of SPAM folders and server-side filtering, so if that is the reason I fully understand such things happen. Even so, I hope this email gets through to you.
But if you did in fact receive my previous email and for whatever reason chose not to make time to reply, that is an altogether different matter. Some of my online associates have alerted me to the following discussion threads, but I nevertheless wish to give MCE the benefit of the doubt. Whether you reply or not, I shall post the result in an online forum for other would-be PCIe NVMe SSD buyers to consider. Therefore, your kind assistance it replying back to me at your absolute earlier possible convenience would serve the best interests of us both.
https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/mce-technologies-c178110.html
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/word-to-the-wise-never-buy-from-mce-tech.834171/
Thank you for your time and kind cooperation.
Sadly but not unexpectedly, Transcend sent me an email reply today saying, "I am sorry to report that we do not sell the enclosure for our JetDrive SSDs separately."

Big companies make no exceptions to the rule nor create special cases like small companies often do. It's a crying shame, but such is life. I have no regrets for asking, though. "Ask and ye shall receive" is still good advice for us all.

TomJ72... I was able to Google the OWC 4-Slot M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure. I still prefer Ric's original advice to me of simply buying a 2TB replacement for my existing 1TB Apple-branded SSD (in my 2015 MacBook Pro 15"), but your suggestion is a good idea for supplementary storage in the future.

I read the other replies and see there are still some supporters of MCE PCIe NVMe SSDs. But even if MCE finally replies back to me, the fact remains that no third party has benchmarked them. And the fact also remains that the MCE 2TB is $949, while the Samsung 970 EVO with adapter is only $719. Is the MCE really worth $230 more than the Samsung?

Surely there must be one among you who has an MCE SSD in their MacBook Pro who could run such benchmarks? Even so, the vast majority of the data out there shows how the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB performs, and you can see links to all of that in my earlier messages in this thread. Samsung also has a good reputation with regard to their SSDs, and I have purchased some SATA versions in the past. Since Samsung is a known brand to me, I am naturally bound to consider their SSD tech as a 2TB upgrade for my 2015 MacBook Pro.

Also, do any of you at least know someone who use uses a Sintech NGFF M.2 PCIe SSD adapter (or similar, sold on Amazon) in combination with a Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD in a 2015 MacBook Pro 15"? With prices this high, and with my living in Japan (having to get stuff transshipped to me from the US to get the best prices), I don't want to pull the trigger on a purchase until I am well informed about what I will receive.

Many thanks for all the information provided to date.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Is the MCE really worth $230 more than the Samsung?
The real comparison here is between the MCI upgrade and the Samsung + Sintech NGFF M.2 PCIe SSD adapter, which is a little more complicated than you imply. An obvious question: "How much is your time worth?"
 


JDW

The real comparison here is between the MCI upgrade and the Samsung + Sintech NGFF M.2 PCIe SSD adapter, which is a little more complicated than you imply. An obvious question: "How much is your time worth?"
That's what I am trying to determine, Ric. Precisely how much more of my time would be required for the Samsung + Adapter, $230 cheaper, route?

From what my eyes see, it would seem to take mere seconds to pop the Samsung 970 EVO into that adapter, but I've never opened my 2015 MacBook Pro before, so I don't know if that combination would even fit (thickness, I mean -- adapter thickness plus Samsung 970 EVO thickness combined). Apparently, it does fit, as per a couple comments I read on Amazon. But if I buy that combo, wait for it to get transshipped to me from the US to Japan, then find out it won't fit, it's quite messy to do the Amazon return, since I'd have to coordinate that with a family member in the US.

Still no reply from MCE. :-(
 


If you read through those articles, you, like me, will wonder where the MCE 2TB SSD stands in the performance mix with those other SSDs. Ric has essentially said the MCE 2TB is "faster than the Apple SSDs in the 2015 MacBook Pro," but I am curious under what conditions. I also wonder about heat and how the MCE drive is put together. If it is two 1TB SSD chips RAIDed together, it likely would run hotter than the standard Apple SSD, and with Apple notebooks already running fairly hot, heat of a replacement SSD is a legitimate consideration.
FWIW I recently replaced the 256GB SSD in one of my users' 2015 MacBook Pros with a 512GB model from MCE, and the drive I received is an actual Apple SSD — looked identical to the 256GB drive I removed and had all of the same ID stickers and everything. It was appreciably more expensive than the flaky OWC Aura I first tried to upgrade this computer with, but the MCE drive gave me zero problems during installation and continues to work perfectly.

I wasn't aware that Transcend also makes Mac-compatible SSDs at the time I bought the MCE unit... I might give them a try next time around.
 



You guys are giving me ideas about the Mini in the basement, which is dead slow (but shouldn’t be) and has Thunderbolt 2. I found the Transcend external drives and USB drives to be higher quality than most competitors — at least the ones I've gotten and as far as I can tell.
 


You guys are giving me ideas about the Mini in the basement, which is dead slow (but shouldn’t be) and has Thunderbolt 2. I found the Transcend external drives and USB drives to be higher quality than most competitors — at least the ones I've gotten and as far as I can tell.
My current flock of Minis all have Thunderbolt 2. One still has the original internal 5400-rpm drive installed by Apple. A couple of others were previously upgraded to 750GB 7200-rpm spinners. All now boot from Crucial SSDs in OWC Thunderbolt IV enclosures. A login script for the primary user on each machine executes a forced dismount of the internal drive. The big difference, aside from the SSD-provided speed improvement, is the return of drive activity lights to my life.

Another advantage of these enclosures is the ability to swap drives easily. This allows a production machine to safely serve as a beta test machine. They also facilitate regular offsite backup drive swaps. In my usage, each backup drive is permanently installed in a drive sled, which easily fits in a static free bag and takes a minimum of safe deposit box space. Each machine has a dedicated set of backup drives large enough to clone all active volumes on one physical drive. Currently, all backup volumes are HFS+. The transition to APFS boot drives just worked™.
 


JDW

Gentlemen, good things come to those who wait. Arnie Ramirez at MCE offered me the courtesy of a reply last night, which I followed up with more questions, and I received his answer this morning. The summary of his replies to me are given below.

Specifications for MCE 2TB NVMe SSD for Retina MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015):
Random Read: up to 420,000 IOPS
Random Write: up to 350,000 IOPS
4KQD1 Read: up to 14,000 IOPS
4KQD1 Write: up to 48,000 IOPS
Endurance: 1,200 TBW
MTBF: 1.5 Million Hrs
DRAM Cache: 2GB
Operating Temperature: Not measured, but same as stock Apple SSDs
... MCE has tested write speeds on files up to 45GB with no appreciable drop in performance. This is an important consideration in light of PC World's Jon Jacobi finding that write speed of the Samsung 970 Evo slows to 600MB/sec when writing files larger than 22GB or so. That slowdown does not affect the Samsung 970 Pro, but there is no 2TB version of the 970 Pro.

MCE 2TB SSD shipping to Japan is currently US$30 by USPS Priority Mail and takes 7-10 business days. Shipping within the US is currently free.

MCE conducted this Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on their 2TB SSD in a 2015 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. In order to obtain a true performance measurement of the raw input/output of the drive, MCE boots the 2015 MacBook Pro 15" from an external drive and then runs the speed tests on the internal NVMe SSD of the MacBook Pro. MCE states that this allows the internal SSD to be unbridled from having to perform housekeeping and system maintenance tasks if it were the boot drive. MCE went on to say that housekeeping tasks continue during the testing process and don't appear in the Disk Speed Test measurements, ensuring that extraneous I/O is minimized as much as possible to get a truer measurement of the SSD's speed capabilities.

MCE provided their SSD MacBook Pro Replacement Guide at my request, showing what is involved in the installation, including the two necessary tools, which apparently are included in the MCE SSD purchase.

So, at this point the primary point of consideration is price. The MCE 2TB SSD is $949, while the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB with required adapter comes to $719. Ric has properly pointed out that there are risks to the Samsung-and-adapter approach, and as an engineer, I am well aware that added complexity causes added risk of future problems or failure. But how practical those worries are is something untested by me, and I only read a couple comments on Amazon which praise the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB as having worked fine in their 2015 MacBook Pro 15". Even so, to get the comparatively lower risk MCE 2TB SSD will cost you $230 more.

And there you have it.
 


For the last two years I’ve had an OWC 480GB SSD drive in my mid-2013 MacBook Pro to replace the 256GB internal drive.

It's worked fine all this time until recently. Suddenly it wouldn’t boot up at all. Digging around using Disk Utility produced type-8 errors, and the only way to repair the drive was to wipe it. I tried that twice, but the same issue cropped up again.

Talking to OWC (macsales.com) led to them suggesting I do a clean install. However, you can’t do that with macOS 10.13.6. A message pops up saying that you can’t install it on a third party drive, or to be precise:

"macOS High Sierra cannot be installed because the third-party storage installed in your Mac is not compatible.”

On the phone to OWC again they suggested a different tack.


I tried that, and it didn’t work again, and I can’t try creating a bootable drive with an earlier version of the OS, because a message pops up saying “this version of OS is too old for this machine” (probably because the drive is formatted as AFPS). I’ve also tried re-formatting as an old Mac OS journaled format, and that didn’t work either, so my only conclusion is to avoid installing this at all.

It's quite disappointing, as the drive has worked fine until this point, but life is too short and I need a working computer.
 


It's quite disappointing, as the drive has worked fine until this point, but life is too short and I need a working computer.
I had a user with a 2015 Retina MacBook Pro that needed an SSD upgrade, and I went with an OWC Aura. They have a few different versions of their SSD though... one that only works with macOS 10.13, and one that works with older versions of OS X. Didn't realize this until I installed the Aura and couldn't install macOS 10.12 on it. Went back and forth with OWC until I got the "older" version and was able to put 10.12 on it and get my user back to work.

A few weeks later the user dropped his laptop and the Aura died(!) so I decided to cut my losses and tried an SSD from MCE. Was more expensive but appears to be an authentic Apple SSD that worked (and continues to work) perfectly.

I hear Transcend is now making Apple-compatible SSDs, so I might try them next time around. Or, maybe I'll tell my user to buy a laptop that uses industry standard SSDs instead of this silly and wholly unnecessary proprietary stuff. :)
 


I had a user with a 2015 Retina MacBook Pro that needed an SSD upgrade, and I went with an OWC Aura.
...
A few weeks later the user dropped his laptop and the Aura died(!) so I decided to cut my losses and tried an SSD from MCE. Was more expensive but appears to be an authentic Apple SSD that worked (and continues to work) perfectly.

I hear Transcend is now making Apple-compatible SSDs, so I might try them next time around. Or, maybe I'll tell my user to buy a laptop that uses industry standard SSDs instead of this silly and wholly unnecessary proprietary stuff.
I was a huge fan of OWC until the Aura debacle with my Late 2013 Mac Pro, which pretty much required sacrificing virgin chickens to upgrade to High Sierra. I finally installed the Bizon "Apple Genuine SSD 1TB Flash Storage Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro Late-2013." Aside from an interesting FileVault/4K monitor issue that has nothing to do with the SSD, it is working just fine.
 


I also have had OWC SSD drives die on me suddenly just after the warranty date. I have had better results so far with Crucial SSD's. OWC's response to the drive no longer working is that "the device is electronic and it happens."

SSD's are nice, but definitely keep backups of your data.
 


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