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Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

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Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby Kwackman » Sat Mar 21, 2020 5:59 pm

I recently bought a used 2012 mac mini.
I’m hoping to add at least one external SSD drive to it, for sample libraries etc.
It has one thunderbolt port. It just says Thunderbolt, so I’m guessing it’s Thunderbolt 1, not 2 or 3.
What’s the best way to add drives?
I was thinking of maybe a caddy of some sort that I could drop or plug SSD drives into.
When I google thunderbolt caddies, I seem to get USB3 devices, which seems to use the same connector.
Open to ideas….
Thanks.

This is the model of mac mini if it helps.
https://everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_ ... specs.html
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Mar 22, 2020 12:04 am

I have one of those, I keep it as a spare nowadays but it was my main machine for a few years. Decent machine. It's definitely Tbolt 1 with a displayport type connector. I don't recall seeing any SSDs with Tbolt 1 or 2 ports, only Tbolt 3 at wincingly expensive prices.

The USB ports are all USB 3.0 which is reasonably brisk so I'd settle for that with something like this, maybe.

CC
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:47 am

Yup, I have 2011 and 2012 MBPs and would certainly give a SATA SSD in a USB3 caddy a try, I have a couple and they perform pretty well though I don't use them in the same way as you are suggesting.
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby Kwackman » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:43 pm

Thanks for your replies.
They made me explore a bit more, and discover was wrong thinking that USB3 and Thunderbolt use the same connector. :headbang:
So, as you've already pointed out, thunderbolt1 caddies aren't out there!

I'd like to use the Thunderbolt 1 port, as the 4 USB ports are already being used.
So, how would I go about adding a SSD drive to this port?
I'm guessing this would need a Thunderbolt 1 - to USB adaptor cable? Then buy an SSD drive with a USB connector, which seem easier to track down.

If my logic is wrong (again!) or there are better solutions, I'd be very happy to take advice.

Thanks.
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby Guido3 » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:48 pm

I'm not familiar with the MacMini you have. Does it have a Superdrive? If so, you could remove this and replace it with an internal SSD of your choice. I did this with an old MBP off mine. You can get the kit from Amazon for around £25. This includes a USB caddy for the Superdrive so you can still use it when required.

2.5" internal SSD's can be had pretty cheap nowadays so why not replace the system drive with a SSD whilst you at it. I had a 512GB system SSD and a 1TB SSD internal sample drive and the machine flew!!

You could probably do all this for around £200.
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:11 pm

You could get docking stations that plugged into the Tbolt port and gave you a range of extra ports. I've got a Belkin one that gives ethernet, firewire, 3 x USB 3 ports and an extra Tbolt port for daisy chaining. They're no longer made but you might find one second hand.

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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby Kwackman » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:53 pm

Thanks Guido, there isn't an optical drive in this machine, but for this workflow I prefer an external drive. Thanks anyway.

Thanks CC, I'll have a look for one of those docking stations. :thumbup:
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:11 pm

If you see a Tbolt 2 version that will work just fine with a Tbolt 1 port. 1 and 2 are almost the same except that T1 had 2 channels whereas T2 aggregated them into one double speed channel to support very high resolution screens. They have the same displayport connector and use the same cable.

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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:46 pm

I would have thought that a Thunderbolt to SATA convertor would be most appropriate for an external SSD.
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Re: Adding external drives to mac mini thunderbolt port?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:06 am

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