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JDW

As for Tim Standing's presentation, I would like to add that it was made nearly a year ago and was based on the APFS implementation in macOS 10.13 High Sierra. Will consider that the first production version. Apple has updated macOS APFS for 10.14 Mojave. Will consider that another version. We need to be a bit careful in making assumptions for one being the same as the other.
But we also need to be careful about making assumptions that they are different. If APFS has been updated in Mojave in any significant way, then I would expect Apple to release a High Sierra update so its APFS version either matches or is compatible with the Mojave version. In the absence of such a High Sierra update, there would be the potential for APFS in High Sierra to not work well with APFS in Mojave. We have not heard anything about High Sierra's APFS implementation being updated, so I must therefore assume that any changes to APFS in Mojave are not significant, such that those changes would break compatibility with people using APFS under High Sierra.
 


I found an APFS discussion in Apple's Forum where the level 9 guru says it's best to leave external drives HFS+ formatted. Then again, he also says that "Samsung EVO series SSDs do not enjoy a good reputation among Mac users." I had always thought the EVO series had a good reputation among Mac users. I've had a 1TB EVO inside my late 2009 27" iMac for a few years, now running High Sierra on APFS, and never had any problems at all.
in my opinion, that's an ill informed statement by this 'guru.' My own experience with Samsung EVOs, in MacBook Pros and externals, has been both stellar and uneventful. And whatever issues people have had, judging by my perusing all manner of forums for years on the subject, they certainly don't outnumber negative experiences with other manufacturers/models.

Many of the anecdotes of rough going involve specific compatibility disappointments and confusions. Straddling both professional audio DAW and professional photography, I can say unequivocally that Samsung EVOs have been the most-used third-party SSD for both internal and external use that I see happily humming along in people's Mac rigs. I have never even heard of a bad rep that I could disagree with among EVO users. : )
 


I've spent time searching unsuccessfully for a full set of photos of the drive but can only find the same angles over and over. My question is whether it has an indicator light and where that light is located. My one, silly complaint about the T5 is that I wish its light were on the side opposite the USB port, not on the same side, because it always wants to point away from me as I set things up (with the short USB cables).

Meanwhile, here's a review in PC World of the SanDisk, with benchmarks and Samsung T5 comparisons.
I have one. No indicator light of any type.
 




in my opinion, that's an ill informed statement by this 'guru.' My own experience with Samsung EVOs, in MacBook Pros and externals, has been both stellar and uneventful. And whatever issues people have had, judging by my perusing all manner of forums for years on the subject, they certainly don't outnumber negative experiences with other manufacturers/models.

Many of the anecdotes of rough going involve specific compatibility disappointments and confusions. Straddling both professional audio DAW and professional photography, I can say unequivocally that Samsung EVOs have been the most-used third-party SSD for both internal and external use that I see happily humming along in people's Mac rigs. I have never even heard of a bad rep that I could disagree with among EVO users. : )
I believe nearly all of my problems with SSDs have been as a result of outdated firmware. The industry badly needs a system of updating firmware, like updating apps.
 


JDW

That is was a great deal!
Terribly unfortunate, I missed that amazing price by only a few days!

My SanDisk Extreme Portable 2TB arrived today. Using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test set to 1GB and using the default ExFAT format, I get about 415MB/s Write and 425MB/s Read. I then used Disk Utility to reformat the drive as MacOS Extended (Journaled), which is HFS+. I ran the Blackmagic tests, and the results were almost exactly the same. (I ran the tests on my mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has USB 3.0 and is why the SSD speeds did not approach 500MB/s.)

The drive is small, rubberized and feels nice in the hand. It gets slightly warm after being plugged in for several minutes. There is no LED that I can see. I need to use the USB-A adapter it comes with, which is OK, I guess, but adding that makes the connector quite long. The cable itself is very short, but I don't see that as a problem. My next step is to test it with Final Cut Pro X 10.4.x.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Just checked pricing on the 2TB Samsung T5 (which I like), and it has fallen nicely:

Amazon Price History

Type

Price

When

Current

$583.00

Sep 20, 2018

Highest *

$799.99

Aug 18, 2017

Lowest *

$583.00

Sep 20, 2018

Average +

$671.37

-

The current price is much better! Not sure how long it will last, but here's what I see at the moment:

 


JDW

As a follow-up to my previous post about the SanDisk Extreme Portable 2TB, I recently finished editing a 3-hour video shot in 1080p 30fps 10-bit, with all footage and my FCPX library saved to the SanDisk and connected via USB3 to my mid-2015 MacBook Pro.

Footage was left in H.264 .mov format (not transcoded), taken straight out of my Panasonic GH5. I edited for several hours and had only one hard lockup that forced me to hold the power key down and restart. I've not yet edited 4K 10-bit on this SSD, but I can say for now that the speed is more than adequate for 1080p 10-bit 30fps.
 







You can also get the Samsung T5 500GB portable SSD for $110. I bought one and hung it off the back of my Mac Mini 2012 until I upgraded the slow-as-molasses internal drive to an internal SSD.
Ah, but like the vast majority of these great deals out there now, it's only USB 3. The great thing about AntonyG's Akitio find is that it also supports Thunderbolt 1. Just what I need to keep my otherwise fine 2011 Mac Mini media server running perfectly well.
 


You can also get the Samsung T5 500GB portable SSD for $110. I bought one and hung it off the back of my Mac Mini 2012 until I upgraded the slow-as-molasses internal drive to an internal SSD.
However, the 2 TB model is now $676, compared to $478 two weeks ago. My wife and I both use T5's, and we've been totally pleased with the speed and reliability.
 




I was checking prices of the Samsung 850 EVO 2TB drive at a favorite site and noticed it was replaced by the 860 EVO. The price of the 860 was considerably less than the 850.

I then did a check of price history of both. The 850 ranged from a high of $800 to a low of $600 with its final price at $678. I paid about $650 when I bought mine.

The price of the 860 has a high of $650 and a low/current of about $348.

It appears that the 860 is the updated version of the 850 but at quite a cost savings. But am I missing something here?

Note: I'm looking specifically at the SATA III version.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It appears that the 860 is the updated version of the 850 but at quite a cost savings. But am I missing something here?
No, I don't think so. Samsung's 860 EVO is quite attractive and has stellar ratings on Amazon. I wrote about it a few months ago in the MacInTouch products (home page) section (with links to more info). The benefits (price/performance) are achieved via a switch to 64-layer 3D TLC V-NAND from less-dense previous technology, plus other refinements. I think the 860 is better than the 850, and I bought several 850’s.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I thought I'd check out a new version of a Samsung flash drive I've been using a lot, due to its decent performance and nice form factor.
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test showed very fast read speeds but rather slow writes. Here are the numbers (which vary a bit from run to run):

Write: 24.5 MB/s
Read: 205 MB/s
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I just experimented with an OWC 4M2 enclosure, plus a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD, and Apple's Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • The OWC 4M2 enclosure seems well made, but its fan is noisier than I anticipated.
  • Using Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter, the 4M2 is recognized by a Thunderbolt 2-only MacBook Pro (2015).
  • Even with Apple's adapter, this Thunderbolt 2-only MacBook Pro does not work with a Samsung X5 SSD, which lacks a power supply of its own.
  • The 4M2 enclosure is recognized under macOS 10.12 (as "Express 4M2" on the Thunderbolt bus), but the installed NVMe Samsung 970 is not recognized.
  • The Samsung 970 SSD is recognized in the 4M2 enclosure when booting from macOS Mojave, and it can then be formatted in Mojave's Disk Utility app.
This basically makes sense.
  • Third-party NVMe support wasn't provided until macOS 10.13, so macOS 10.12 can't see the NVMe device (even though it's inside a separate enclosure).
  • Any Thunderbolt 3 devices must be self-powered to work with Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter, because this adapter doesn't transfer any power from the Thunderbolt 2 side across to the Thunderbolt 3 side, so the unpowered Thunderbolt 3 Samsung X5 SSD won't work. (It might work if it's connected to a powered Thunderbolt 3 hub that is, in turn, connected to the Apple Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter, which is then connected a Mac's Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 port.)
(During all these experiments, I ended up with a shutdown that wouldn't finish, so I did a hard power-off, then I ended up with some drive corruption (of my main boot drive!), so I'm still a little leery of potential issues with Mojave and/or Thunderbolt setups, and I try to keep good backup clones far away from any experiments.)
 
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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Following up on the earlier experiments, I booted macOS Mojave 10.14.1 and ran Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on the 500GB Samsung 970 EVO installed in the OWC 4M2 enclosure, connected via Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a 2-meter Thunderbolt cable (which may have slowed things down).

Write: 667 MB/s
Read: 771 MB/s
 
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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Following up on the earlier experiments, I booted macOS Mojave 10.14.1 and ran Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on the 500GB Samsung 970 installed in the OWC 4M2 enclosure, connected via Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a 2-meter Thunderbolt cable (which may have slowed things down).
I guess the cable wasn't a factor, as I got virtually the same results with a cable a quarter the length (and there are always variations in these results, too):

Write: 678 MB/s
Read: 779 MB/s

Meanwhile, I was able to clone the Mojave startup volume to the Samsung 970 in the 4M2 enclosure and boot from it over the Thunderbolt chain. (I have to say, though, Mojave boot seems slower than Sierra startup, so far.)
 
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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I only just found this note in the OWC support database, and I'm sure glad I didn't buy a SATA M.2 SSD in hopes of compatibility with macOS 10.12 Sierra, because that doesn't work (you must run macOS 10.13 or later to use the Express 4M2's required NVMe cards, at least with a Samsung 970 EVO and similar SSDs):
macsales.com said:
OWC Express 4M2: Drive Compatibility
The Express 4M2 enclosure only works with NVMe (PCIe 3.0) SSDs. SATA M.2 drives will not function if installed.

Note that you cannot distinguish an NVMe M.2 drive from a SATA-based drive just by looking at the M.2 connector key. Both types of drives can utilize the M-key style connector required by this enclosure. Therefore the only way to verify your M.2 drive(s) are the correct type, is to make sure the specifications and/or packaging specifically mention the use of NVMe and an M-key connector. Note also the required M.2 form factor is "2280" (i.e. 22mm wide x 80mm long).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It looks like there could be some pleasant SSD pricing changes coming our way:
Reuters said:
Samsung slashes capex, calls end to chip boom after record third quarter

“NAND (flash memory) chip prices will further decline through the first half of next year ... (as) Toshiba’s new production line will start and Hynix starts mass production of one of its NAND lines,” said Song Myung-sup, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities.

“Oversupply is expected to continue.”
...
Samsung also said it was considering converting some of its NAND production lines to make DRAM chips next year, rather than add capacity amid a glut of NAND flash chips.
 


The 10.14.1 Mojave update delivers full NVMe support for the 2010/2012 Mac Pro 5,1 towers, via a new 140.0.0.0.0 EFI update. It also gets applied to 2009 Mac Pro towers flashed to 5,1. This support is natively available under High Sierra and Mojave.

This is a Big Deal for tower Mac Pro owners. It allows us to use industry-standard m.2 NVMe drives, achieving speeds of 2 to 3 GB/sec on just a single drive, and more for RAID arrays. This is a huge improvement over the SATA bays (300MB/Sec) or PCI SATA3 cards (600MB/Sec).

This support is plug-and-play under High Sierra and Mojave. All you need to do is buy an NVMe PCI adapter, such as the Lycom DT-120 (1 NVMe only, only $20) or the Highpoint 7101A (up to 4 NVMe cards, fast RAID support, $400). You plug the NVMe drive(s) into the PCI card, boot up, and format the drive(s) in Disk Utility - they are ready for use.

NVMe drives are bootable!! You can even build simple RAID arrays using Disk Utility if you have multiple NVMe drives mounted. I am seeing 5GB/sec read and 4GB/sec write using the 7101A card and two Samsung 970 Pro 512GB NVMe cards in a RAID0 array built in Disk Utility.

To get this EFI update, you must download the Mojave installer from the App Store and run it. The first thing it will do is update your EFI, before actually installing Mojave. If you already have Mojave and just install the 10.14.1 update, it does not seem to run the EFI updater. At least it did not for me.

Once the EFI update has been applied, you can then go back and run High Sierra or potentially even Sierra.

You can extend NVMe support, including booting, to Sierra, by installing a custom kext file. This process has been documented by Nick Woodhams on his site:

I have been able to get this to work on my 5,1-flashed 2009 Mac Pro, so that I could have a bootable Sierra drive, but it was not easy. A big sticking point is that you may get a kernel panic after applying a system or a security update. In my case, I built a working bootable Sierra NVMe drive with macOS 10.12.6 and Security Update 2018-004. When I applied the latest 2018-005 security update, the NVMe drive gave a kernel panic on boot. I don't know how to apply a security update to a system that has update-specific kext patches already in place.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's an experiment I'm not quite set up to run... Has anyone tried using SoftRAID to combine two Samsung T5's in a RAID 0 configuration then run a performance benchmark?

I think we'd want them connected directly to two separate USB ports in a Mac - preferably 10Gbps USB-C ports, but even USB 3 results would be interesting.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
OK, I have access to some more Macs this weekend and am doing more testing.

I just connected* the Express 4M2 to a 2017 MacBook Air running macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and it recognized the Samsung 970 EVO just fine. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test shows about:
Write: 667 MB/s
Read: 772 MB/s

And, for comparison, here are the results for the 2017 MacBook Air's internal SSD (128GB):
Write: 684 MB/s
Read: 1123 MB/s
* MacBook Air > 2m Thunderbolt cable > Apple Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter -> short Thunderbolt 3 cable -> OWC Express 4M2
 
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Another curiosity about the OWC Express 4M2: The specs say it will work with macOS 10.12, but, SSD's using 512b sector sizes require 10.13 or later.

I would have thought that the NVMe requirement would require 10.13 minimum from the get go. I can't see a way I can use this setup with Thunderbolt 2 and the adapter (2013 Mac Pro) running Sierra Server.

I also can't find the sector sizes listed anywhere for the Samsung 970 EVO.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I just connected* the Express 4M2 to a 2017 MacBook Air running macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and it recognized the Samsung 970 EVO just fine. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test shows about:
Write: 667 MB/s
Read: 772 MB/s
So... let's try the Express 4M2 Samsung 970 EVO with an ancient, unsupported-by-Apple, 2011 MacBook Pro 13"... should be slow, since it only has Thunderbolt 1 and not even Thunderbolt 2 (let along Thunderbolt 3).

Boot the 2011 MacBook Pro off High Sierra in* the Express 4M2, run Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, and get...

Write: 631 MB/s
Read: 682 MB/s
I guess that shows what these old, abandoned systems can do...

*2011 MacBook Pro -> 2m Thunderbolt cable -> Apple Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter -> short Thunderbolt 3 cable -> OWC Express 4M2 with Samsung 970 EVO inside...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Another curiosity about the OWC Express 4M2: The specs say it will work with macOS 10.12, but, SSD's using 512b sector sizes require 10.13 or later. ... I also can't find the sector sizes listed anywhere for the Samsung 970 EVO.
I discovered that Binary Fruit's DriveDX app displays sector size, and it says that the Samsung 970 EVO sector size is 512. By contrast, for my Apple internal SSD*, it says the sector size is "512 bytes logical, 4096 bytes physical."

Nothing I do in the latest version of macOS 10.12 will make the Samsung 970 EVO (in the Express 4M2 enclosure) show up. Yet it shows up and works fine if I just boot from High Sierra (which can be installed on the Samsung 970 EVO/Express 4M2, or on any other boot drive).


*2015 MacBook Pro 15-inch
"Apple SSD SM1024G"
 


I discovered that Binary Fruit's DriveDX app displays sector size, and it says that the Samsung 970 EVO sector size is 512. By contrast, for my Apple internal SSD*, it says the sector size is "512 bytes logical, 4096 bytes physical."

Nothing I do in the latest version of macOS 10.12 will make the Samsung 970 EVO (in the Express 4M2 enclosure) show up. Yet it shows up and works fine if I just boot from High Sierra (which can be installed on the Samsung 970 EVO/Express 4M2, or on any other boot drive).


*2015 MacBook Pro 15-inch
"Apple SSD SM1024G"
Based on my adventures in getting a Samsung 970 Pro NVMe drive to work with Sierra, I would guess that you need a patched kext file for the 970 EVO to work in your 2015 MacBook Pro and Sierra. The symptoms you've described are exactly the same as what I saw on my 2010 Mac Pro - the NVMe drive worked perfectly under High Sierra and Mojave, but under Sierra it just doesn't show up. I think the process I underwent for the Mac Pro would also work on a MacBook Pro to get an NVMe drive to work in Sierra. See my earlier MacInTouch post here.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I just connected* the Express 4M2 to a 2017 MacBook Air running macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and it recognized the Samsung 970 EVO just fine. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test shows about:
Write: 667 MB/s
Read: 772 MB/s
* MacBook Air > 2m Thunderbolt cable > Apple Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter -> short Thunderbolt 3 cable -> OWC Express 4M2
And I've now had a chance to run tests on a 2017 MacBook Pro 13" with the Express 4M2 connected via Thunderbolt 3 (confirmed by System Information). The Express 4M2 was supplying (limited) power to the laptop via the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port.

To my surprise, there was little improvement in benchmark results with the move from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3.

AJA System Test Lite
Write: 662 MB/sec.
Read: 784 MB/sec.
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
Write: 660 MB/sec.
Read: 785 MB/sec.

System details:
2017 MacBook Pro 13"
MacBookPro14,2
Intel Core i5
3.3 GHz
16 GB RAM
macOS 10.13.6
 


To my surprise, there was little improvement in benchmark results with the move from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3.
785 MB/s is 6.2 Gbps, which is not even reaching the 10 Gbps speed of Thunderbolt 1. You appear to be speed constrained by something other than the Thunderbolt interface.

I've only done a little bit of searching, but this report shows similar results as yours. If I had to guess, I'd say that the Express 4M2 is the bottleneck, and that you're only going to get about 780 MB/s out of each SSD you add to it.

The Samsung's are certainly capable of faster operation. For example, this older NVMe Samsung 950 Pro installed in a MacBook Air using this simple key adapter scored twice as fast in the Blackmagic Speed Test as your 970 EVO in the Express 4M2.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I've only done a little bit of searching, but this report shows similar results as yours. If I had to guess, I'd say that the Express 4M2 is the bottleneck, and that you're only going to get about 780 MB/s out of each SSD you add to it.
Whoa, some significant issues discussed there! (I had completely missed the 1-lane limitation. Bummer.)
SoftRAID said:
New OWC Express 4M2 enclosure performance results
OWC Releases the Infinitely Configurable Express 4M2
...
Do NOT try using these enclosures with the Apple Thunderbolt 3/2 adapter on a Thunderbolt 2 port. It will not be stable.
...
Well, the drive bays specs on the 4M2 enclosure are: 4 M.2 - 2280 "M Key" (PCIe 3.0 x1 per slot), so each SSD is limited to 1 lane. I am correct?
 


Do NOT try using these enclosures with the Apple Thunderbolt 3/2 adapter on a Thunderbolt 2 port. It will not be stable.
I think you need to read a little bit further, where they posted a month later that despite initial potential reports, they didn't find any issues traceable to the adapter.
Well, the drive bays specs on the 4M2 enclosure are: 4 M.2 - 2280 "M Key" (PCIe 3.0 x1 per slot), so each SSD is limited to 1 lane. I am correct?
Whoops, skimmed right over that part. That would explain your bottleneck entirely. PCIe 3.0 x1 speed is about 985 MB/s, which is severely crippling your SSD's performance.
 



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