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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
For what it's worth, I just discovered that the SanDisk Portable SSD isn't all that much bigger than the Samsung T5, having been confused about that by the marketing material. I still like the Samsung better, as it has an activity light and two cables, but the SanDisk has been consistently priced lower, sometimes quite a bit lower, and it seems solid, too.

Prices have come down a lot (though the T5 jumped up a bit this week), and I expect they'll continue to improve, as demand for NAND looks like it may drop next year.
Also worth noting: Bombich Software (Carbon Copy Cloner) lists some odd issues with the Samsung T5. I haven't verified these (but I have experienced a lot of delays related to APFS volumes).
Bombich Software said:
Help! My clone won't boot!
...
Compatibility issues specific to the Samsung T5 Portable SSD
Some users have reported that the Samsung T5 Portable SSD cannot function at all as a bootable device on the T2-based MacBook Pro 2018. Efforts even to install macOS Mojave onto this device fail to produce a bootable volume. This is a popular enclosure that we've seen great success with, and so far these reports are limited to the 2018 MacBook Pro.

The Samsung T5 Portable SSD also introduces an exceptional delay during startup, whether you're attempting to boot from that device or your Mac's internal hard drive. This appears to be a compatibility problem between the Mac's firmware and this particular SSD when the SSD is formatted as APFS. To avoid this delay, we recommend formatting the Samsung SSD as HFS+ until the compatibility problem is resolved:
  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Choose "Show all devices" from the View menu
  3. Select the top-level "parent" device of the Samsung T5 SSD in Disk Utility's sidebar
  4. Click the Erase button in the toolbar
  5. Set the format to "Mac OS Extended, Journaled" and give the new volume a name
  6. Click the Erase button
  7. Open CCC and re-select the new volume as the destination, then run the backup task
Note: If you have a T2 Mac, please bear in mind that T2 Macs cannot boot from an encrypted HFS+ formatted device. The Samsung T-series devices will not be a suitable backup device for your T2-based Mac if you require that the backup disk is encrypted.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Bombich Software said:
Help! My clone won't boot!
...
Compatibility issues specific to the Samsung T5 Portable SSD
Some users have reported that the Samsung T5 Portable SSD cannot function at all as a bootable device on the T2-based MacBook Pro 2018. Efforts even to install macOS Mojave onto this device fail to produce a bootable volume. This is a popular enclosure that we've seen great success with, and so far these reports are limited to the 2018 MacBook Pro.
Now confirmed here on the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018. The Samsung T5 boot hangs at the same point the delay occurs - about 60-70% through the progress bar. There's repetitive activity on the T5, but it never progresses beyond that point.

And when I removed the T5 and booted from the MacBook Pro's internal drive, it didn't pause but continued straight past the problematic point.

I can boot from a Samsung X5 SSD (although it also has a delay mid-way through the progress bar, even though it's a lightning-fast drive).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Now confirmed here on the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018. The Samsung T5 boot hangs at the same point the delay occurs - about 60-70% through the progress bar. There's repetitive activity on the T5, but it never progresses beyond that point.
The same thing happens with a 2017 MacBook Pro. (I have Little Snitch on both machines, which could be a factor. I haven't tried removing it.)
 


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)

enabled

378

402

disabled

409

420
And now for comparison, a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD:

2018 MacBook Pro, macOS 10.14.2, 10Gbps Type-C port

Blackmagic DIsk Speed Test

APFS Encrypted:
Write: 377 MB/s
Read: 502 MB/s

HFS+ Encrypted:
Write: 416 MB/s
Read: 515 MB/s

AJA System Test Lite

APFS Encrypted:
Write: 390 MB/s
Read: 509 MB/s

HFS+ Encrypted:
Write: 444 MB/s
Read: 495 MB/s


2015 MacBook Pro, macOS 10.12.6, 5Gbps USB 3 port

Blackmagic DIsk Speed Test

HFS+ Encrypted:
Write: 377 MB/s
Read: 398 MB/s

HFS+ (unencrypted):
Write: 383 MB/s
Read: 421 MB/s

AJA System Test Lite

HFS+ Encrypted:
Write: 392 MB/s
Read: 404 MB/s

HFS+ (unencrypted):
Write: 423 MB/s
Read: 419 MB/s


The faster 10Gbps USB-C port in the latest MacBook Pro appears to benefit performance vs. the 5Gbps USB 3.0 port in the earlier MacBook Pro, even though these USB SSDs are themselves limited in performance internally (probably hitting a 6Gbps SATA bottleneck).
 
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Reactions: JDW



I'm very disappointed to find that the included USB-C to USB 3 adapter is very poor in the unit I'm testing and doesn't make any kind of secure contact. With this, its lack of an activity light, performance, and size, I still prefer the more expensive Samsung T5.
Ric, try reversing the cable. On my SanDisk USB=C to USB=A adapter, it fits securely one way, but if flipped, it does not. Close examination shows small plastic tabs fit into the adapter only one way. I also notice that there is an arrow (sideways triangle) that aligns with a similar arrow on the plug when they are in the correct position to lock.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Ric, try reversing the cable. On my SanDisk USB=C to USB=A adapter, it fits securely one way, but if flipped, it does not. Close examination shows small plastic tabs fit into the adapter only one way. I also notice that there is an arrow (sideways triangle) that aligns with a similar arrow on the plug when they are in the correct position to lock.
Wow, thanks for explaining that! You're right, the USB-C adapter only works correctly one way up, not when turned the other side up (despite the fact that USB-C is expressly designed to work either side up). And, yes, now that you've explained it, I see that there are black-on-black triangles showing the match. Much obliged!
 


I noticed that OWC SSDs that were in a MacBook Air were dying ("Sandforce 33K" in Disk Utility), and I am trying to get warranty coverage (they want actual receipt copy... so I emailed them PDF before holidays).

Then I get email from someone I did the same OWC upgrade for (13" MacBook Pro) but a different size, and they are starting to get boots with folder "?" (same issues the user with the MacBook Air was getting prior to the SSD dying).

Is there a slew of these Sandforce-based SSDs from OWC dying now? (I'm aware there was a firmware update on some. But I'm a bit concerned.)
 


I noticed that OWC SSDs that were in a MacBook Air were dying ("Sandforce 33K" in Disk Utility), and I am trying to get warranty coverage (they want actual receipt copy... so I emailed them PDF before holidays).
I had a similar problem several months ago with OWC's Aura Pro in an 11" 2011 MacBook Air. Although the SSD seems to work fine, after several hours of heavy use, it goes off-line. The computer freezes and reboots to a blinking question mark. If I turn the computer off for a few hours, it boots up just fine afterward.

I suspect an overheating problem. I don't think the Air can cool this SSD enough for it to keep working under stress for a long time.

There were no problems using the original Apple SSD (we replaced it to get more storage, not because of any failure).

I had no problem getting OWC to exchange the Aura Pro. The support people were great and replaced it quickly, but the replacement had the same problem. So I now suspect a design flaw.

We ended up replacing the computer (since it was pretty old anyway) and haven't bothered trying to return/exchange the Aura Pro for something else. I will say that the experience has made me decide to avoid a similar upgrade for another 11" 2011 MacBook Air in our household.
 


I had a similar problem several months ago with OWC's Aura Pro in an 11" 2011 MacBook Air. Although the SSD seems to work fine, after several hours of heavy use, it goes off-line. The computer freezes and reboots to a blinking question mark. If I turn the computer off for a few hours, it boots up just fine afterward. ...
I can 100% verify exactly the behavior that David Charlap describes, using a newly replaced 960GB OWC Aura (sold as 1TB) in a 2015 MacBook Air 11". I did use one of these drives in that machine for years on Sierra without issue (apart from running hot, quick battery drain, and inability to recover from hibernation, which were all known issues I lived with).

The beta firmware update, bizarrely only found in one of their knowledge base articles, not on their support or product pages, changes the drive to appear as internal, rather than external (which was always odd). That allows the macOS installer to update the firmware on the host computer, allowing the drive to be used on High Sierra and later without having to first put in an original Apple drive to perform the machine firmware update. The notes on the drive firmware update also suggest that it improves the hibernation recovery issues.

I performed the update, and am now using the drive on Mojave, but have seen the above "drive disappearing" issues David describes when the drives or CPU are under heavy load, or the MacBook Air has been running for a while on an insulating surface (e.g. a mattress). So, it does seem heat related. Still, I never had this issue before, so I don't know whether the new firmware, or something about being on Mojave, exacerbates the issue. It's not frequent, but it when it happens, it's obviously upsetting.

The firmware update tool is made by Marvell, who supply the RAID controller that allows the two 480 GB SSD's on the module to appear as a single volume. Interestingly, it also lets you reconfigure the module from RAID 0 to RAID 1, or no RAID at all, meaning two volumes appear. I elected for the latter, with the hope that if the RAID controller had to do less work, the drives would run cooler.

Unfortunately, I've seen the same "disappearing volume" behavior for the individual drives. This is less of a crisis when it's my non-boot volume that vanishes; in the standard RAID 0 configuration of the Aura, I'd assume the dropout of either disk causes system failure.

(I was also eager to try SoftRAID to create a single volume with considerably more reporting and diagnostic information than the hardware RAID 0, but, according to its author, Mojave does not support booting from any kind of RAID, and probably never will.)

On the plus side, I now recover from hibernate fully and reliably, every time. I haven't tried it in the RAID 0 configuration.

Anecdotally, as a consultant, I've seen quite a few failed OWC Aura modules -- I'm estimating around 15% -- both for SATA and PCIe modules, mostly in MacBook Air 11" and 13" models but also some MacBook Pro Retinas. I love that these products exist at all, and I've been enthusiastic about OWC forever, but the longevity and reliability of the Aura internal modules concern me. And the issue I've seen with the drives just stopping entirely make my own PCIe Aura non-trustable for my personal work.

I don't know whether any of these issues are in fact made worse by the beta firmware update, or running on Mojave, so if you are using an Aura Pro successfully on Sierra or earlier, I'd be cautious before upgrading. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who has one of these drives running reliably on Mojave.

I also don't know whether any of these issues apply to the Aura Pro X NVMe models. But, given the track record I've seen, if I wanted to install 2 TB in a PCIe MacBook Air or Pro, I'd be tempted to instead try a Samsung 970 EVO with a Sintech M.2 adapter (which also costs less). The reviews on Amazon of the latter seem positive, and TRIM support is appealing.

I agree that OWC has always been helpful about replacements, but I find that the requirement of providing a receipt, when they are the direct vendor in most cases, to be bothersome and antiquated. What happens when a client ordered directly from them and can't locate their receipt? Further, the 3-year warranty is simply insufficient when a data storage product is this prone to failure; I've been given a hard no when asking for an exception/extension on behalf of a client. (I'm glad to see the NVMe models have a 5-year warranty.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
(I was also eager to try SoftRAID to create a single volume with considerably more reporting and diagnostic information than the hardware RAID 0, but, according to its author, Mojave does not support booting from any kind of RAID, and probably never will.)
Thanks for your post and all that good information. I'm just wondering about one thing regarding RAID: Would it not be possible to boot Mojave from a hardware RAID storage system? As I understand it, that should appear to the Mac like a normal, bootable, non-RAID device (though I haven't tested it).
 


The [OWC Aura] beta firmware update ... changes the drive to appear as internal, rather than external (which was always odd). That allows the macOS installer to update the firmware on the host computer, allowing the drive to be used on High Sierra and later without having to first put in an original Apple drive to perform the machine firmware update.
This is interesting. I recently installed the OWC Accelsior S PCIe card to mount my EVO 860 SATA drive. The SSD appears as an external drive. Your comment would suggest that when I try to update to High Sierra that the firmware updates for my MacPro 5,1 might not be installed.
 


Would it not be possible to boot Mojave from a hardware RAID storage system? As I understand it, that should appear to the Mac like a normal, bootable, non-RAID device (though I haven't tested it).
Yes, absolutely. Sorry for the lack of clarity there. The Aura module is, in fact, a hardware RAID itself, and Mojave boots just fine from it. The system, as you say, is oblivious to the fact that it's even a RAID.

Mojave will apparently not support booting a system from a software RAID, whether it is SoftRAID or Apple RAID (i.e. Disk Utility).
 


This is interesting. I recently installed the OWC Accelsior S PCIe card to mount my EVO 860 SATA drive. The SSD appears as an external drive. Your comment would suggest that when I try to update to High Sierra that the firmware updates for my MacPro 5,1 might not be installed.
I think that's the case. Firmware updates are only installed when installing High Sierra or Mojave on what appears to the system as an internal drive; once that's done, High Sierra can be run from the "external" drive. (I do believe there is some utility that exists for getting the firmware updates out of the High Sierra installer to be run as standalone entities, though I've never tried it.)
 


Would it not be possible to boot Mojave from a hardware RAID storage system? As I understand it, that should appear to the Mac like a normal, bootable, non-RAID device (though I haven't tested it).
Yes, absolutely. Sorry for the lack of clarity there. The Aura module is, in fact, a hardware RAID itself, and Mojave boots just fine from it. The system, as you say, is oblivious to the fact that it's even a RAID.
So is there a consensus for recommended hardware RAIDs that are known to work with Mojave? Nothing against OWC's Aura models, but given the quoted anecdotal estimated 15% failure rate, I'm hoping for other recommendations as well.

I had to decouple the SSD software RAID disks of my LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 in order to make those backup drives bootable in Mojave (which, after all, is the reason for SuperDuper backups in the first place, at least for my purposes). But these older SSDs really suffered when formatted as individual drives, making my backups take almost twice as long. So I'm looking for a reliable hardware RAID to replace them.
 



I am considering purchasing a Samsung 970 EVO 2TB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD.

There are a wide variety of external enclosures on Amazon from manufacturers that I do not recognize. What would you all recommend? I am assuming a USB 3.1 gen latest version.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I am considering purchasing a Samsung 970 EVO 2TB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD.
There are a wide variety of external enclosures on Amazon from manufacturers that I do not recognize. What would you all recommend? I am assuming a USB 3.1 gen latest version.
Any USB enclosure, even a 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosure, will hurt performance of this lightning-fast SSD.

Do you need to connect it to USB, or can you use Thunderbolt 3 for full performance? If you're limited to USB, something like a Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD seems more appropriate. You might also consider a RAID option I mentioned previously (which is even cheaper now).

If you really want to go with a USB enclosure, I've had decent luck with Sabrent, and they have one for NVMe SSDs, though I haven't tried it:

 


Not sure if this you are only interested in the OWC Aura SSD, but... I have an older 480GB Sandforce-based Mercury Pro 6G (SATA 3) SSD in a 2011 MacBook Pro 15". It still works with no problems.
 


This is interesting. I recently installed the OWC Accelsior S PCIe card to mount my EVO 860 SATA drive. The SSD appears as an external drive. Your comment would suggest that when I try to update to High Sierra that the firmware updates for my MacPro 5,1 might not be installed.
In my experience, that is not true. I had two Accelsior S cards in my Mac Pro 5,1, with SSDs - 1TB 850 EVO and 1TB 860 EVO - and they indeed show up as external drives. The 860 EVO was my boot drive.

Throughout the Mojave beta program from 10.14.0 to 10.14.3, I recall at least three firmware updates during certain software updates — with the prompt to shut down, press and hold the power button until you hear the tone, etc.

I can’t check on its current firmware version since I mothballed it after migrating to the Mac Mini.
 


There are quite a few options, and this one is rather large, but one unit I tested passed without problems:

Here's an inexpensive, more compact alternative that looks good, but I haven't tested it personally:
I have the latter (Mini Pro RAID), set to separate drives, not RAID. My only concern with it is that it does not support S.M.A.R.T.

The Akitio Thunder3 Quad X is S.M.A.R.T. compliant without needing to install additional drivers, so I plan to purchase the Akitio Thunder3 Quad Mini for 2.5" drives, confident that it will work just as well as its big brother.

Just be informed that the Quad X provides only 27 watts of USB-C power, the Quad Mini only 15 watts; probably not enough for your laptop. And neither one has hardware RAID capability.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have the latter (Mini Pro RAID), set to separate drives, not RAID. My only concern with it is that it does not support S.M.A.R.T.
That's a very good point, and the CRU RTX220-3QR does not appear to support S.M.A.R.T. data, either (as least not when using hardware RAID).
 


Please remember that installing any recent macOS on a hardware or software RAID will prohibit the use of "Find My Mac" in Cloud, as well as an inability to create and use the Mac OS Recovery partition. Probably a few other features will be unavailable as well; I can't recall.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Please remember that installing any recent macOS on a hardware or software RAID will prohibit the use of "Find My Mac" in Cloud, as well as an inability to create and use the Mac OS Recovery partition.
This is the first I've heard of this problem. Can you share some references/documentation about it?
 


Please remember that installing any recent macOS on a hardware or software RAID will prohibit the use of "Find My Mac" in Cloud, as well as an inability to create and use the Mac OS Recovery partition.
This is the first I've heard of this problem. Can you share some references/documentation about it?
Ric:
Apple Support said:
SoftRAID Forum said:
 


Any USB enclosure, even a 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosure, will hurt performance of this lightning-fast SSD. Do you need to connect it to USB, or can you use Thunderbolt 3 for full performance? If you're limited to USB, something like a Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD seems more appropriate. You might also consider a RAID option I mentioned previously (which is even cheaper now).
If you really want to go with a USB enclosure, I've had decent luck with Sabrent, and they have one for NVMe SSDs, though I haven't tried it:
I could use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure on my MacBook Pro. What would you recommend?

For another machine, would a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure be backwards-compatible with USB 3.1?
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I could use a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure on my MacBook Pro. What would you recommend?
One option is a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe chassis. As I described previously, I bought and tested a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD on an Angelbird Wings PX1 PCIe card inside a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box. The Breakaway Box is neither compact nor elegant, but it's quiet, provides top speed, and can host a GPU card, if it's not being used for something else.

This is probably not what you need, though, and there are smaller alternatives that don't have power supplies big enough for a GPU, but I haven't tested any of these. Other folks have commented on Thunderbolt 3 RAID storage systems, but I haven't tested those, either, only the very compact and speedy Samsung X5 SSD.
For another machine, would a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure be backwards-compatible with USB 3.1?
Unfortunately not. The Samsung X5, for instance, will simply not function when connected to a normal USB port. However, you can connect a Thunderbolt 3 device to a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 port on an older Mac, using Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 converter, though self-powered Thunderbolt 3 devices (e.g. the Samsung X5 or G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD) will have to be connected to a Thunderbolt 3 dock, because Apple's adapter does not pass power through from the computer.
 


There are quite a few options, and this one is rather large, but one unit I tested passed without problems:
Here's an inexpensive, more compact alternative that looks good, but I haven't tested it personally:
Thank you for the recommendations. I neglected to add in my request the necessary information on my computer, which is a Mac Pro (Late 2013) "trash can" model. It doesn't have Thunderbolt 3, only Thunderbolt 2 connections. So your second option unfortunately won't work with Thunderbolt 2, per their specifications. And having only USB 3 ports on this Mac, I can't get above 5 Gb/sec using USB, so I'm wanting to use the Thunderbolt 2 port's 20Gb/sec speed instead.

If I had given my Mac Pro specs in my initial post, I'm sure that would've altered your recommendations somewhat. But again, thanks to you and others for responding so quickly.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Thank you for the recommendations. I neglected to add in my request the necessary information on my computer, which is a Mac Pro (Late 2013) "trash can" model. It doesn't have Thunderbolt 3, only Thunderbolt 2 connections. ... having only USB 3 ports on this Mac, I can't get above 5 Gb/sec using USB, so I'm wanting to use the Thunderbolt 2 port's 20Gb/sec speed instead.
For that scenario, I might want to go with a Thunderbolt 3 dock and an Apple Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter, and get a Thunderbolt 3 RAID that you hook into the dock. It's a bit more expensive, with the added dock and adapter, but more of a forward-looking solution with maximum performance.

Thunderbolt 2 systems are starting to disappear, but you still may be able to get a Thunderbolt 2 RAID system if you're happy being limited to that particular level of technology. I'd be careful to test it very thoroughly before committing important data to it, making sure it doesn't suffer from any of the notorious Thunderbolt random disconnect problems (which is true for any Thunderbolt storage devices).

Here are some OWC Thunderbolt 2 options.
 


Any USB enclosure, even a 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosure, will hurt performance of this lightning-fast SSD. Do you need to connect it to USB, or can you use Thunderbolt 3 for full performance? If you're limited to USB, something like a Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD seems more appropriate.
The Samsung T5 and SanDisk Extreme Portable are both SATA SSDs internally, though, so their performance is limited to about 500-525 MB/s.

The M.2 NVMe to USB 3.1 Gen 2 bridge chipsets (JMS583 and ASM2362) are relatively new (appearing only in July), and I haven't seen them in any retail products. However, you can DIY an enclosure for $50 or less on Amazon, adding a Samsung 970 EVO inside. The NVMe SSD will allow you to fully saturate the USB 3.1 Gen 2 bus the way the SATA SSDs can't. Some of the speed tests in the Amazon enclosure reviews show that you can reach 1000 MB/s, or almost double the speed of the SATA SSDs. A 2TB Samsung 970 EVO plus enclosure will run about $498 + $50 vs. a 2TB Samsung T5 for $428. So about a 30% premium for almost double the speed. If you substitute an entry-level NVMe SSD like the Crucial P1 (when its 2TB model finally launches) or the 2TB Intel 660p (currently at $380, but selling for as low as $250 in the past), you could meet or beat the price of the Samsung T5, and it should still be fast enough to saturate the USB bus, or at least be quite a bit faster than the SATA SSDs.

If you want full NVMe speed (externally) though, you have to get a Thunderbolt enclosure, which should more than double the speed of USB 3.1 Gen 2. I'm not aware of any M.2 NVMe to Thunderbolt enclosures though (except for one listing on Amazon for $160 with no reviews). So, for retail drives, the only ones I'm aware of are the Samsung X5 ($1000 for 2TB) and the OWC Envoy Pro EX ($729 for 2TB) and HP P800 (no 2TB option). As with everything Thunderbolt, you pay a high premium. Maybe that $160 enclosure is worth a try after all.

If you choose to go with Thunderbolt, though, you lose the ubiquitous compatibility of USB, of course. So, I guess it depends on which systems you want to attach your external drive to, and how much premium you want to pay for speed.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Thanks for the informative post. A few additional notes:
  • I see that the "OWC Envoy EX" has both USB-only and Thunderbolt versions, so be careful when ordering.
  • Thunderbolt single-drive enclosures without SSDs are likely not certified, and I'd be extremely reluctant to order one of those from China (e.g. the listing noted).
  • George previously posted a great link about a TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt upgrade project. (The low-end SSD included with the drive might be well suited to a USB-C enclosure.)
  • I've ordered a Sabrent NVMe USB enclosure for testing. A critical issue with these may be heat transfer and availability/effectiveness of thermal pads connecting the chips with the aluminum enclosure.
 


If you want full NVMe speed (externally) though, you have to get a Thunderbolt enclosure, which should more than double the speed of USB 3.1 Gen 2.
Theoretically, it should be triple the speed, more or less. Thunderbolt 3's maximum bit rate is 40Gbit/s, but it is limited by the bridge chips. Assuming your Mac is using 4 PCIe lanes for its Thunderbolt 3 chip (e.g. the 2018 Mac Minis use 4 lanes for each 2-port chip), then that has a maximum speed of 32Gbit/s (4GB/s) per chip, compared with USB 3.1 Gen 2, which has a theoretical top speed of of 10 Gbit/s.

Of course, this assumes that the SSD and NVMe-Thunderbolt 3 bridge chip in the external drive also uses 4 lanes of PCIe 3.
 


For good (or possibly ill) Other World Computing (OWC/MacSales) bought Akitio effective January 1, 2019. OWC has owned SoftRaid since 2015, and I only found that with a lot of "Google-foo" in this MacInTouch post.
Robert Mohns said:
I noticed that the copyright statement in their footer says "© 2015 OWC Holdings, Inc." That's the parent entity of OWC (macsales.com). I was a bit surprised! A little checking on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine indicates this happened sometime between October 26, 2015 and November 9, 2015.
OWC is a private company. A couple of sites that try to guesstimate revenue and employee census of private companies suggest gross revenue of about $100 million and employee count ranging from 50 to 100.

One of the issues with OWC "gear" failing and OWC (which sells direct and shouldn't need a receipt to "know" it sold the item to a customer) is a company of that size isn't making its own products but re-branding or ordering stock parts, custom-Assembled to a unique appearance. When a customer's OWC device fails, OWC likely has to submit it for refund/replacement to its own source.

Akitio was also a private company before acquisition by OWC. Found one "guesstimator" site (Owler) that pegged Akitio's revenue at $22 million and employee census at 25. Akitio has made some well-reviewed products, which says good things about the company's design and engineering capability. One thing of interest: Akitio stamps its products with a logo inside a USB-C shaped oval:
Akitio
California USA

in the same spirit as Apple's trademark
Designed by Apple in California
That's not the same as the required country of origin label, which seems to be missing from Akitio's website and PR images available online, though by persisting, I found some Akitio product images it was possible to enlarge enough to find the inevitable "Made in China", and in one case, the "China" label on the power supply fan on the back panel of one product was far more legible than the grey "Akitio California" logo.

Since China's the source for nearly everything, that Akitio may be ordering from fabricators there isn't that important. What matters to customers of both OWC and Akitio is whether the kind of design that has earned Akitio good reviews will survive the acquisition in both Akitio and OWC brands.
 


  • Thunderbolt single-drive enclosures without SSDs are likely not certified, and I'd be extremely reluctant to order one of those from China (e.g. the listing noted).
  • George previously posted this great link about a TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt upgrade project. (The low-end SSD included with the drive might be well suited to a USB-C enclosure.)
I did some more research, and found this thread where they claim that "Intel requires that all bus-powered thunderbolt 3 enclosure include an SSD drive." To me, that is as ridiculous and anti-consumer as Apple soldering the RAM to the motherboard. I don't get why it seems Intel is trying to further stunt Thunderbolt adoption.

Also from that thread is this interesting brochure of Intel-certified Thunderbolt products. The Mikosi enclosure on Amazon is not listed in that brochure (even though it claims to be Intel-certified). However, more interesting is the very last product listed on the very last page, the Winstars Thunderbolt 3 USB-C to NVMe SSD Adapter (WS-UTE01). Although you can't buy it domestically without an SSD inside, it looks like you can order it directly from the Chinese manufacturer for $60 each with a minimum order of 5 units:


That seems like a really decent price for a Thunderbolt enclosure, if you can find a few people to split the order with.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
However, more interesting is the very last product listed on the very last page, the Winstars Thunderbolt 3 USB-C to NVMe SSD Adapter (WS-UTE01).
A look at the Alibaba Winstars web page didn't seem to show any thermal connection pad joining the SSD to the aluminum enclosure, which may rely on convective cooling, and I'm not sure that's good enough.
 


A look at the Alibaba Winstars web page didn't seem to show any thermal connection pad joining the SSD to the aluminum enclosure, which may rely on convective cooling, and I'm not sure that's good enough.
One of the descriptions I found for the enclosure says "Aluminum housing with unique heat-sink structure allowing extraordinary heat dissipation to keep NVMe SSD running at peak performance." Additionally, this user review describes a heatsink inside that attaches to the drive (and also confirms that the Thunderbolt cable is replaceable, unlike some other enclosures). (The enclosure in that review is the Winstars enclosure, just private-label branded for Wavlink.) It would be nice if there were pictures of the inside, but it sounds like (hopefully) adequate attention has been given to thermal dissipation.

I found some additional reviews on Amazon, including a speed test with a Samsung 970 EVO installed that shows 2500 MB/s read speeds.

I just noticed that the Alibaba page I mentioned earlier has a "Place Sample Order" link where you can request a single unit for $65 (plus shipping, I assume). Winstars accepts PayPal, so it could be pretty simple to get one that way.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Quick tests of the inexpensive ($90) WD 500GB My Passport Go Cobalt SSD out of the box (using a 2018 MacBook Pro and a USB-A-to-USB-C adapter):

AJA System Test Lite
Write: 185 MB/sec​
Read: 294 MB/sec​
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (first run)
Write: 103 MB/s​
Read: 296 MB/s​
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (second run after quit and relaunch)
Write: 126 MB/s​
Read: 299 MB/s​
 


I'm trying to reinstall macOS on an iMac (27-inch, Late 2013), prior to resale. I've already wiped the 3TB Fusion drive.

I've tried various versions of macOS, both from USB flash installers and via Internet Recovery, but they always fail with an error such this one from High Sierra:
macOS could not be installed on your computer
POSIX reports: The operation couldn't be completed. Input/output error.
Quit the installer to restart your computer and try again.​
The last message in the Installer log prior to the POSIX error is "Clearing automation and attempting to rebless".

Something led me to believe it could be problem with the Recovery HD partition. So I de-fused the Fusion drive, which wiped out all partitions including the Recovery HD, and then re-fused it.

Disk Utility doesn't think there's anything wrong with the drive. However, back when I was trying to migrate from this iMac to a new computer, the Fusion drive spontaneously de-fused, losing all the data. That would hint at some kind of hardware issue. But, back then, I re-fused the drive and restored more than a terabyte of data to it, with no I/O errors at all -- which would seem to indicate the hardware is OK.

Has anyone seen anything like this before? Any ideas to get it to install?

If I can't reinstall macOS, then this iMac won't be sold, it will be recycled as non-functional.
 


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