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.
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.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
I have a... 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
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).I have a mid 2015 MacBook Pro with the 2TB SSD option. It is rather amazing...
Here's one more option for the record: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.
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.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.
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?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.
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".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).
If you look at the MCE link I posted previously: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.
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.)It's terribly unfortunate the JetDrive is not also sold as an enclosure-only product for a reasonable price.
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 actually bought an obscure portable Thunderbolt enclosure (from Delock), only to find out its performance was worse than USB 3...
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 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.
Feel free to give it a try after you read the reviews, and let us know how it goes.
I'm not sure what you're looking for, but MCE's description says:Another reason is because we know what the benchmark data is for the 970 EVO but we lack such data on the MCE.
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!
Could be problematic...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.
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.
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.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.
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).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).
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,
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.
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."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.
Thank you for your time and kind cooperation.
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?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?"
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.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.
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.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.
... 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.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
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.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 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 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.
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