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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
And... prices are back to normal levels today for these SSDs after yesterday's remarkable discounts. However, one good deal is still available. Akitio's USB-C RAID enclosure is just $89.99 (list price $119.99). With a 10Gbps interface, UASP, hardware RAID, support for dual 2.5-inch SATA drives, and good reviews, it looks appealing to me and should provide higher SSD performance (with a USB-C MacBook Pro) than non-RAID options (though lower than internal SSD or Thunderbolt 3 performance).
 


I have a 2009 Mac Pro (CPU upgraded to Mac 5,1) still running macOS Sierra on an OWC E2 SSD startup Disk.

Thinking ahead to High Sierra/Mojave and APFS, I see that various OWC SSDs had/have issues with APFS.

I’m looking for a fast 1TB SSD for my Mac Pro that will be compatible with APFS in the future.

What do MacInTouch folks recommend?
 


I have a 2009 Mac Pro (CPU upgraded to Mac 5,1) still running macOS Sierra on an OWC E2 SSD startup Disk. Thinking ahead to High Sierra/Mojave and APFS, I see that various OWC SSDs had/have issues with APFS. I’m looking for a fast 1TB SSD for my Mac Pro that will be compatible with APFS in the future.
I have had good experience with Crucial SATA SSDs beginning with my first MX100.
 
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I have had good experience with Crucial SATA SSDs beginning with my first MX100.
I also have a 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 upgraded to 5,1. It is running High Sierra with a Crucial MX100 512GB SSD running APFS. No problems so far in the six months this setup has been together.

FWIW, you will have to ensure that your GPU is Metal-capable to run Mojave....
 
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I have a 2009 Mac Pro (CPU upgraded to Mac 5,1) still running macOS Sierra on an OWC E2 SSD startup Disk. Thinking ahead to High Sierra/Mojave and APFS, I see that various OWC SSDs had/have issues with APFS. I’m looking for a fast 1TB SSD for my Mac Pro that will be compatible with APFS in the future. What do MacInTouch folks recommend?
Another vote for Crucial. I have the MX300 1TB drive in a MacBook Pro. I have also installed Sandisk SSDs in other MacBook Pros, with good results (the Sandisks were on sale for under $200 a few years ago). I can’t address how any of them will do with APFS, but I don’t anticipate upgrading past Sierra anytime soon, so I am not too concerned about it.
 
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The only SSDs I've purchased that have had any issues were the Samsung 840s. When I say "issues", they had problems Samsung addressed with firmware update(s?). Doing the update, at the time, required mounting via SATA to a Windows system. But even before the updates, had noticed no issues in our use.

Recently purchased a variety of PNY, Kingston, AData and other 120|500GB SSDs on Amazon. Haven't run any long enough to comment on durability.

Have run some PNYs for a couple of years. And do have some SanDisks.

Today, Friday June 27, 2018 through Saturday June 28, Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" offers:

SanDisk Ultra 1.024TB Internal SATA Solid State Drive for laptops for $170. The 2TB version is $433.

I know this is a point of view, but SATA SSDs have become so inexpensive, I wouldn't worry about specs, reliability reports; just buy a "known brand" for a low price. Just be sure to have a good backup strategy you need anyway, regardless of drive "ratings"

There's just not much difference in SATA throughput. SSD models and technology change so often, there's little real world reliability data on particular SKUs.

PC Perspective is a good source for real tests of SSDs.
https://www.pcper.com/subject/storage
 



Personally, I wouldn't consider PNY products nor recommend them, based on others' experiences and their Better Business Bureau rating:
In the interest of discussion, the Best Buy sale is of a San Disk 1TB drive. I mentioned PNY drives because I have several, mostly for USB 3.0 boot drives, and also to boot/test varieties of Linux on a NUC I slightly modified by extending the SATA connector outside the case for convenience in changing boot drives. I bought them (along with other different brands) because they're cheap. And they're not being used in anything where it much matters if goes bad.

All arrived (from Amazon) working as advertised. A couple have been around some time but aren't heavily used, and they're all working. One's in a little ASUS PN40 NUC-like box connected to my home media center as a second/data drive, and it's filled with media. Could die tomorrow, and since it cost less than I've paid for some USB thumb drives, I'd just shrug and toss it out.

Better Business Bureau: the link shows a terrible review for PNY, the company, based on three reviews and 13 "complaints" to which the company did not respond. That's a very small sample. GoDaddy is rated A+ in spite of 97% negative reviews.

From Wikipedia about the BBB, the organization has been the subject of controversy, particularly related to its alleged practice of giving higher ratings to businesses that pay a membership fee.

For what it's worth, on Amazon, the $34.21 "Amazon's Choice" PNY CS900 120GB 2.5” Sata III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) has 75% five-star ratings. The $33.47 Kingston A400 SSD 120GB SATA 3 2.5” Solid State Drive has 84%. I have a few of those, too. If I needed any more, at today's price I'd buy the 84% Kingston.

Samsung recently updated its 960 line to 970. The 960 was very highly regarded. Based on that, we would expect the 970 to be better. But to, er, throw in a cautionary note, not every new model is an improvement over its predecessor.
 


LA3

Have a couple Samsung 850 PRO drives running High Sierra. Both are HFS+ format and running for a few years now in both a Hackintosh I built and my early 2008 Mac Pro 3,1. Flawless performance on both machines, best warranty I could find, and highly recommend them. Did not like the APFS format idea. There were little if any utilities available to work on the drives, directory, etc. available.
 


Regarding Crucial SSDs, I think this has nothing to do with the Mac Pro, but be aware that the MX500 series of Crucial SSDs are not compatible with the Nvidia chipsets in some older Macs ('07-'09, more or less). They will be seen as SATA I by the chip, instead of SATA II, which is what the Mac would otherwise use. PNY's CS1311's do not have this issue (which is why I normally use that particular SSD series when encountering older Macs).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
For what it's worth, on Amazon, the $34.21 "Amazon's Choice" PNY CS900 120GB 2.5” Sata III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) has 75% five-star ratings.
I spend quite a bit of effort analyzing reviews, and there are an awful lot of fake ones. I wouldn't suggest taking anything like that at face value. For instance, those PNY CS900 reviews are questionable, according to Fakespot:
Fakespot said:
PNY ssd7cs900-240-rb 240GB 2.5” SATA III Internal Solid State Drive
Our analysis detected 51.6% low quality reviews...
Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there is high deception involved.
 



I mentioned PNY drives because I have several, mostly for USB 3.0 boot drives, and also to boot/test varieties of Linux on a NUC I slightly modified by extending the SATA connector outside the case for convenience in changing boot drives. I bought them (along with other different brands) because they're cheap. And they're not being used in anything where it much matters if goes bad.
I'm glad you've had good experiences so far. My personal experience (and this is citing the same examples I've written about in the past) has been the opposite. Over the years, I've bought DRAM (SO-DIMMs), a CF card, an SD card and two thumb drives from PNY. All were either DOA or failed soon afterward.

The worst was the CF card. It appeared to work perfectly in my camera, but when I took it out and attached it to a USB reader to offload the pictures into my computer, it was blank. And after putting it back in the camera, it was blank there as well. I reformatted it in the camera and after a quick test saw the same thing - worked fine in the camera but was blank immediately after removing it.

I've never had this kind of experience with any other brand, including Kingston, Micron, SanDisk, SimpleTech (Panasonic) and Micro Center's house brand.
 


I happened on this while doing some other research:
Reviews are mixed, but there are some good ones, and some procedural tips, and it's cheap, so it may be worth trying if you want to upgrade Apple's standard SSD in any of these Macs.
I used a similar m.2 adapter with a 2011 11" MacBook Air so I could use a Samsung 850 EVO m.2 SSD, and it performed at the full speed of that excellent SSD, which was quite a bit faster than other 3rd-party MacBook Air-specific options.

The downside was that in the cramped 11" case, the adapter was too tall, and it put pressure on the case and the SSD/adapter when closed. It could have been engineered to be a closer fit but obviously wasn't. I switched it out when I had another use for the 850 EVO (which was bent after a few months in cramped quarters!) and put the previous 3rd-party SSD back in.

Yes, I did notice the reduction in speed afterwards, because this MacBook Air only has 4GB (max available at the time), and swapping memory to SSD via adapter+850EVO was at ~500 MB/sec while the 3rd-party MacBook Air SSD is only at ~150-200 MB/sec. Works fine, but noticeably slower.
 



I used a similar m.2 adapter with a 2011 11" MacBook Air so I could use a Samsung 850 EVO m.2 SSD, and it performed at the full speed of that excellent SSD, which was quite a bit faster than other 3rd-party MacBook Air-specific options.

The downside was that in the cramped 11" case, the adapter was too tall, and it put pressure on the case and the SSD/adapter when closed. It could have been engineered to be a closer fit but obviously wasn't. I switched it out when I had another use for the 850 EVO (which was bent after a few months in cramped quarters!) and put the previous 3rd-party SSD back in.

Yes, I did notice the reduction in speed afterwards, because this MacBook Air only has 4GB (max available at the time), and swapping memory to SSD via adapter+850EVO was at ~500 MB/sec while the 3rd-party MacBook Air SSD is only at ~150-200 MB/sec. Works fine, but noticeably slower.
If you have a machine whose SSD has a really fast non-SATA interface, can you significantly tell the difference between virtual memory on the SSD and the RAM memory? Or, operationally, can you tell the difference with a MacBook Pro running with 16 GB of memory and using 16 GB of virtual memory on a really fast SSD against the same MacBook Pro with 32 GB of memory?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If you have a machine whose SSD has a really fast non-SATA interface, can you significantly tell the difference between virtual memory on the SSD and the RAM memory?
Here's a little perspective on the orders of magnitude difference:
Frank Ober/Solutions Architect at Intel said:
Is the speed of SSD and RAM the same?
SSDs are about 50 to 500 times slower than DRAM, for a modern PCIe SSD and nobody should buy anything but a PCIe SSD since this is the only bus available natively in the CPU. Every other bus (SAS/SATA) must be arbitrated and is considerably slower.
 


About reviews at Amazon: despite the "verified purchaser" designation, a large fraction of reviews are paid for by the manufacturer or partner seller, as documented in a recent NPR story. The fake reviewers buy the item from the site with their own credit card (thus the "verified purchase"), then are reimbursed by the manufacturer or Amazon partner, plus a few bucks for their trouble. Most of the outfits paying for reviews are "Chinese brands selling on.... Alibaba. They're looking to penetrate the US market."

According to Amazon, however, fewer than 1% of reviews are bogus.
 


Sale at Amazon Aug 2, 2018

Kingston A400 SSD 120GB
SATA 3 2.5” Solid State Drive SA400S37/120G, $27.99
Discounts on larger sizes, too.

Silicon Power 120GB SSD 3D NAND S55 TLC 7mm (0.28") Internal Solid State Drive, $26.99

Discounts also on the Part Not Ynumerated 120GB SSD.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Maybe I'll finally get that affordable 4TB SSD I've been wanting... here's some interesting news via a friend who's also interested in the topic:
The Verge said:
Samsung is about to make 4TB SSDs and mobile storage cheaper
A couple of years ago, Samsung launched its first 4TB solid state drives, which might as well not have existed given their $1,499 asking price. Today, the company announces the commencement of mass production of a more — though it’s too early to know exactly how much more — affordable variant with its 4TB QLC SSDs. The knock on QLC NAND storage has traditionally been that it sacrifices speed for an increased density, however Samsung promises the same 540MBps read and 520MBps write speeds for its new SSDs as it offers on its existing SATA SSD drives.
Samsung PR said:
Samsung Electronics Starts Mass Production of Industry’s First 4-bit Consumer SSD
Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass producing the industry’s first 4-bit (QLC, quad-level cell) 4-terabyte (TB) SATA solid-state drive (SSD) for consumers.

Based on 1-terabit (Tb) V-NAND with outstanding performance equivalent to the company’s 3-bit design, Samsung’s QLC SSD is expected to bring a new level of efficiency to consumer SSDs.

“Samsung’s new 4-bit SATA SSD will herald a massive move to terabyte-SSDs for consumers,” said Jaesoo Han, executive vice president of memory sales & marketing at Samsung Electronics. “As we expand our lineup across consumer segments and to the enterprise, 4-bit terabyte-SSD products will rapidly spread throughout the entire market.”
 



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.


FileVault

Write (MB/s)

Read (MB/s)
enabled378402
disabled409420

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).
 


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