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New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

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New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby james090 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:39 pm

Ok so I am using an older iMac 2011 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 with internal SSD and 16GB plus extra drives, and its all working great on 10.13.6 High Sierra.

I daren't upgrade anything, as its working so well, and I am really busy with work at the moment so you just know it would be a disaster.

I do plan on running this into the ground, as its old and then jump to a new M1 Mac at some point, and make the transition.

However I do need another Ext Drive for Sample Libraries, and obviously I'd prefer to go SSD External (samsung T7?)
This would be 'future proof' I guess for when I do finally move over to a new Mac, but would it be ok to run externally on an iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)?

I think I'm on USB2.0 on this Mac but wanted to make sure I could still get good speeds on an External SSD on this machine while im happily working away?

I 'still' use FW800 as a solution for 2 x drives for Sample Libraries, and they have been very good. But they are old in the tooth, probably extinct now, and need to go (and move over to a fast SSD) when this Mac takes its last breath?

Thoughts on a good SSD / Library streaming solution that could just switch to a new M1 Mac when the time comes? :)
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:47 pm

james090 wrote:I think I'm on USB2.0 on this Mac but wanted to make sure I could still get good speeds on an External SSD on this machine while im happily working away?

No, you will not get good speeds with this over USB2.0.

Slower than FW400, a lot slower than FW800, and a lot lot slower than internally connected.
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby james090 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:49 pm

desmond wrote:
james090 wrote:I think I'm on USB2.0 on this Mac but wanted to make sure I could still get good speeds on an External SSD on this machine while im happily working away?

No, you will not get good speeds with this over USB2.0.

Slower than FW400, a lot slower than FW800, and a lot lot slower than internally connected.

So what would your solution be for getting a drive for streaming with this setup?
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:55 pm

Drives with thunderbolt are still expensive I think, but then I have a thunderbolt hub with USB 3 on my 2011 MBP, as well as FW800 etc, so I'd mostly likely use a USB3 SSD/interface connected via thunderbolt (well, I have an SSD mounted internally, so it would be better just to upgrade that with a bigger one, and/or replace the other internal drive with an SSD too but you have a different set of constraints.)

I certainly wouldn't expect much from USB2.0. Fine for mice and scanners and even limited audio interfaces but otherwise...
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby MOF » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:23 pm

USB 3 drives are backwards compatible with USB 2 ports so you could put an SSD in a USB 3 caddy and use it with your current setup and see how you go.
USB 2 is no slouch, it’s used for multiple channels of audio after all, the front part of each sample is stored in the computer’s program/internal hard drive and the rest is streamed from the external disk as and when required.
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby james090 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:28 pm

MOF wrote:USB 3 drives are backwards compatible with USB 2 ports so you could put an SSD in a USB 3 caddy and use it with your current setup and see how you go.
USB 2 is no slouch, it’s used for multiple channels of audio after all, the front part of each sample is stored in the computer’s program/internal hard drive and the rest is streamed from the external disk as and when required.

Yes this is better, and good to know. I have USB 2.0 drives here, 3 main ones and it keeps up fine. But I know its old hat and once this Mac goes, I will move on from USB2.0 but if its good enough for streaming is the main thing, like Kontakt Libraries..?

I can't see another way of doing it apart from FW800 again, which
(a) is probably dead and not worth it, and (b) I'd be daisy chaining 3 x FW800 drives then in total which is probably a hiding to nothing?!
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:30 pm

MOF wrote:USB 2 is no slouch, it’s used for multiple channels of audio after all

Want to have a guess at how long it took to copy 2TB of data from a USB 2.0 drive?

(Which is what I started doing yesterday in order to make some space for backups...)

It's fairly painful, even compared to FW800, let alone USB3.whatevertheycallitthisweek or TB...
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:34 pm

james090 wrote:Yes this is better, and good to know. I have USB 2.0 drives here, 3 main ones and it keeps up fine. But I know its old hat and once this Mac goes, I will move on from USB2.0 but if its good enough for streaming is the main thing, like Kontakt Libraries..?

I didn't say it wouldnt work - you can do it, but you specifically asked if it would be fast and whether you gain much benefit from the SSD over USB2, and you would just be maxing out the USB2 connection, which isn't fast even compared to FW800 (*and* is more processor intensive, due to the way it works.)

james090 wrote:I can't see another way of doing it apart from FW800 again, which
(a) is probably dead and not worth it, and (b) I'd be daisy chaining 3 x FW800 drives then in total which is probably a hiding to nothing?!

It depends on the throughput on that FW connection that you are using. You can't get bigger drives and combine those multiple smaller ones into a single bigger one? You can get 18TB drives these days... You can also run a FW buss of TB too with an adaptor, so that would give you a separate FW buss to hang stuff off of too.
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Re: New External SSD on older Mac with USB 2.0?

Postby Agharta » Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:39 pm

USB 2.0 tops out at roughly 45MBs.
SATA 3 at about 550MBs.
But the advantage of an SSD is as much to do with the latency in some cases.
So for streaming, if the overall bandwidth required isn’t that high, you might be pleasantly surprised how well USB 2.0 works.

Note: I am not sure how well 2.0 handles random reads versus 3.0, so it is possible that might be a bottleneck.
For copying large amounts of data, 2.0 is horrible though.

You used the term streaming, which implied to me that you aren't loading all the sample data into memory.
If you don't actually mean streaming, then the load times could be ten times slower.
Loading gigabytes of data at 45MBs is slow.
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