Anyone using an external thunderbolt SSD as a boot drive?

Discussion in 'Apple Forum' started by Jase Winter, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    I'm thinking of doing this myself, probably using the seagate portable goflex adapter and was just wondering if any one has any experience with this.

    I have a 2011 top end iMac and really missing the speed of the ssd I had in my mac mini that I sold to help fund the iMac.
     
  2. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    I think I may possibly the only guy on here using a TB drive at all?

    Not used it to boot from though, but sounds like an interesting concept. You found any info on this anywhere else yet?
     
  3. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Yeah, there was an interesting article from a guy who tested both the desktop and portable seagate thundebolt adapters with mixed results, the portable one seem to get very hot (the adapter itself) and has power issues with any drive larger than 256gb (i'd be picking up a smaller 128gb drive anyway) and seems the desktop version is the more reliable way to go. However I don't really want to have to use an external PSU to power my boot drive.

    Speeds while not quite up to a straight sata3 connection were around 300mb/s, this is apparantly down to the specific thunderbolt controller used in these external adapters which is a little disappointing but i'd rather go that route than fitting one internally myself and risk damaging the iMac and voiding my applecare.

    It's been done or at least i've seen posts from people on macrumours but that place is just full of idiots and one up manship that I'd rather get some more reliable opinions over here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  4. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    I have the WD ThunderBolt Duo drive. It's not the fastest in reviews, but I can write at over 110MB/s or 880Mb/s depending on which you prefer. It's very fast compared to anything I used before.

    I also have a 2006 iMac and swapped to an SSD in there last year. With the right instructions it's straight forward to do the conversion without any damage. Not sure how the drive connections are on your model though, as some come with a proprietary connection later on?
     
  5. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Well, i've taken the plunge and picked up the desktop thunderbolt goflex adapter and a thunderbolt cable today, gonna order an ssd and some cables and i'll report back with my results.
     
  6. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    Nice one. It's great to have someone else grabbing a TB drive finally. You will be a pioneer in getting an SSD install of OS X on there and booting from it mind you!
     
  7. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    I'll be cloning my current install to the ssd, after that it's as simple as holding down option on boot and selecting the TB attached SSD, as far as I can see from what i've read there shouldn't be an issue doing it this way.

    I guess if it doesn't work out though I can pick up an actual go flex disk and have some thunderbolt storage.
     
  8. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    What's not to like!?! A win win situation really! :)

    I could try it for you, but I don't have a 3.5" SSD to use in my WD box temporarily, otherwise would just for the hell of it. Lol.
     
  9. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    True! The ssd should be here in the morning and I have everything else I need so the fun will begin!
     
  10. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    It shouldn't take you long to clone to SSD via TB! Can't wait for results!
     
  11. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Ok drive cloned and boots fine, currently using it!

    Here's the speed test results, I bought a crucial M4 ssd which is sata 3, not known for it's blistering speed but they are reliable and i've used them in my previous mini and macbook with no problems.

    Speed test on standard internal HDD:

    [​IMG]

    Speed test on thunderbolt connected M4 SSD:

    [​IMG]

    I'm very pleased with the results and glad I didn't have to take the iMac apart in order to get an ssd boot drive.
     
  12. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Also, those who are wondering what happens if the TB adapter dies on me, I do have a backup plan! The internal drive now has 3 partitions, one for boot camp, one for data storage and the third is a 130gb partition that I will be cloning the ssd to at daily intervals with carbon copy cloner. Should I ever have a problem booting from the external drive I can easily just switch to the cloned internal drive. I also use time machine should all else fail!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  13. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    Awesome!

    Nice to hear its all working perfectly and giving the speed boost as expected. Nice drive that in fairness. You would get an even greater speed boost with a faster drive, but is it worth it when their not as reliable?

    I am tempted to try my setup like this too, but my Mac Mini Server is running very well as is tbh and would be tricky to install a smaller SSD in my dual WD case.

    Still half tempted to chuck an SSD into it in replacement for one of the standard drive pair mind you...
     
  14. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    I did exactly that with my old mini, it wasn't the server version but I bought the additional cable, kept the stock drive in there and added the ssd. Really missed that speed going to the iMac but no more!
     
  15. Hillskill

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    I bought a 27" iMac 2nd hand off the classifieds here. When it arrived the chassis was slightly bent. DHL paid for the repairs and while it was in the repair centre (independant) I had the guy install a Samsung 530 SSD as a boot drive. It was a completely fresh install of mountain lion and then I restored my apps from time machine. The difference between this mac and my old Core2Duo is night and day. The old was totally competent in all tasks but this new one absolutely flies. I am pretty IT savvy but I really didn't fancy opening up an iMac to install an SSD, as it was in for repair it seemed the perfect opportunity. So glad I did it, I highly recommend anyone buying an iMac to stretch for the SSD for boot drive. If a TB external as a boot drive is the happy medium then I say go for it!
     
  16. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Similar situation to me really, only I didn't receive the iMac damaged as the previous owner delivered it to me, I would absolutely have gone for an internal SSD built to order model had I been able to afford it, buying this way though I saved about £500 on the initial mac purchase. I've built PC's and modded other macs like the mini and a macbook but the sheer amount you have to remove to be able to install an ssd as a secondary drive was a little daunting and since it's in warranty and I shelled out for applecare I didn't fancy the risk.

    If i'd gone for the portable go flex then the total cost would have been a fair bit cheaper than the BTO £400 option but as it stands the desktop TB adapter was £170, TB cable another £40 and £80 for the SSD so £290 all in, still a bit cheaper than BTO but i've only opted for a 128gb SSD rather than the 256gb one that would come with a BTO. This does have the benefit of upgradability though, I can easily upgrade to a bigger drive when the prices come down, just a case of pulling two cable off the drive, also, i've been able to pick the drive I want instead of what ever apple sticks in.

    All in all i'm really pleased with the result, just have to make sure no one pulls the plug to the TB adapter!
     
  17. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    Have you got it set up to auto boot off the TB drive? That would be the simplest route.

    With regards to opening an iMac, I have a 2006 model which I have stripped to bare bones in order to stick an SSD in and then upgraded the CPU at the same time to allow it to run Lion on release last year. It used to be a late 2GHz CD chip with 250GB 5,400 drive machine with 512MB RAM. Now it's a 2.33GHz C2D with 96GB SSD and 2GB RAM. It's maxed on spec now and not supported on ML but still flies for a 6 year old machine.

    Stripping an iMac is tough on the psyche but it's very rewarding once done that's for sure! Had it been newer and under warranty I may not have bothered. In your situation I would do the same with a TB drive too.

    That's the only thing stopping me upgrading the Mini, the warranty. It's a conversion and streaming machine currently so no major gains to be had from the SSD in that respect. Can't imagine the conversion process being quicker somehow?
     
  18. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Yeah, first thing I did after the first boot was change it to boot to the TB ssd by default, not that I reboot all that often, usually on 24/7 with just a sleep schedule for overnight and display set to sleep after 15mins or so.

    My mini was still under warranty and apple care when I put the ssd in it, trust me if you have torn down a full iMac then swapping a drive in the mini is a walk in the park.
     
  19. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    I am pretty comfortable with stripping the Mini down, it's just that I am not sure whether I would gain much with its usage at present to warrant the spend, albeit relatively small these days.

    My usage is a bit strange at present as got the Mini as central Server for all media and it's basically used for duties all related to that. Ripping, conversion and iTunes streaming ultimately.

    I log in to it remotely using either LogMeIn on iThing's or Screen Sharing on the iMac. So am using an older iMac as window into the Quad Core Mini Server! Bizarre really?

    I toyed with grabbing a ThunderBolt Display and selling the iMac on as can then enjoy the Mini for more services and use ML to its best potential. Then I might actually whack an SSD in there?
     
  20. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Such a versatile little machine the mini, for a while I ran mine hooked up to both my crappy lcd monitor and my TV and ran xbmc on the tv until I moved to completely converting everything and just streaming to my ATV.

    It does sound like an SSD would be overkill at the mo though. I'd have loved to get a TB display when I had the mini but figured the iMac was the better bet as I wanted to be able to play games under boot camp and the 6630m in the mini I had wasn't to great at that.
     
  21. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    I bought my first 2010 Mini for using Plex on my TV in the Lounge. Worked perfectly but the only issue was that I wanted to use it for conversion duties plus one or two other things and this was a pain when my Wife and/or Son wanted to watch something. So went for an ATV2, followed by another one. Lol.

    Then decided to upgrade to the 2011 Server model to save time on conversion and for the added on board storage. Have upgraded RAM to 8GB and since sold both ATV2's and bought 3 ATV3's so can stream to all TV's.

    Working perfectly and can stream 1080p to all 3 TV's simultaneously, whilst also streaming to iPad and iPhone too! Very versatile indeed and the Quad Core can really handle a lot in fairness.

    Games...well I am not sure that the Mini is really that suitable as you say...until ThunderBolt graphics cards are commonplace? ;-)

    My view on spending almost as much on the TB display as a new iMac is that it adds a 27" display as opposed to the 21.5" iMac and allows me to use the Mini I already own whilst saving some cash. In future I can then save a lot more money by just paying to upgrade my Mini rather than an iMac each time. Sound logical?
     
  22. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    You have me liking at SSD deals on HUKD today fella! Damn you! ;-)
     
  23. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Ha ha! Do it, you know you want to! :devil:
     
  24. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    As I said, I need to sort out my gear and how I use it prior to thinking about an SSD. Just almost woke up, for want of a better description, and though why am I looking at these again? Lol.

    I have a WD Live 1TB, a WD ShareSpace with 4x 2TB and possibly a WD MyBook Studio with 2x 1TB to sell. Might even sell the iMac too maybe?

    All this prior to contemplating an SSD. ;-)
     
  25. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    Well, after a full day of usage all seems well with the external TB ssd set up, it's a little bit ugly on my desk, had to use a rather long sata/power extension as it was all I had available so I want to neaten that up at some point, it's currently tucked away behind the iMac but I may invest in one of those twelve south backpack shelves that sit on the stand so I can fully hide it away behind the iMacs screen.
     
  26. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    Sounds like it was a case of testing it fully works prior to making it look pretty. No doubt in that being the best method.

    Those Twelve South trays do look like great kit. I always wondered whether my MyBook duo drive would fit on one of those or if would be too big and too heavy also?
     
  27. Jase Winter

    Jase Winter
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    I think it's meant more for like a portable drive, don't think i'd trust it with one of my single drive WD studio drives (the ones with the metal enclosures) but the TB adapter and SSD are pretty light.
     
  28. bpsmith

    bpsmith
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    No good for my TB Duo then. Lol. Nice kit though. :)
     

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