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A very low cost 2TB SSD solution
Last post Tue, Jan 25 2022 by Macker, 1 replies.
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Posted on Tue, Jan 25 2022 17:29
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 544

My 3TB of SSD were getting embarrassingly full; I had to do something about it.

With an eye to the time when my 2017 iMac's internal Fusion Drive eventually packs up, I had my other eye on the LaCie FireCuda Pro portable 2TB SSD. Although substantially more expensive than the Samsung X5 2TB (which I have as my Big Sur external boot volume) but not substantially faster, the Firecuda Pro has far longer life expectancy (expressed in terms of Total Bytes Written), which matters a lot when used as a boot drive. Well, I've been dragging my heels on that purchase, thinking about the nasty big bills I'll be facing in April.

But then I spotted the astonishingly cheap (£166 in UK Amazon) Crucial X8 portable 2TB SSD rated at 1050 MB/s max read/write speed. OK what's the catch? Crucial are pushing it hard at PlayStation5 users, who seem to be happy with it. Video game hard drives just need to get the next game map loaded into RAM within a tolerable length of time; write speed is not that important and can be relatively slow. So there is a sort of similarity between gaming drives and sample library drives. The catch with the Crucial X8 is that its write speed soon falls dramatically (to about 200 MB/s and often far below that), when writing massive files to it. Who cares? Not me. I'm not about to explode into an apoplectic fit of impatience if it takes a long time to install sample libraries in the SSD - it's a once-only job.

So I bought a Crucial X8 2TB., strictly for sample streaming duties only.

Many AmorphousDiskMark measurements later, it seems the X8's read performance is similar-ish to the Samsung T7 Touch 1TB SSD. I've been using a T7 for the past 18 months for my most-used sample libraries (including Syz Dimension Strings), with not a moment's fuss, worry or doubt. The T7 does the job. But in my rig it's not quite that simple. I have only 2 USB-C ports alongside the 4 USB 3.0 ports, and one of the USB-C ports is dedicated to the Samsung X5 boot drive - and that of course is non-negotiable. So either my T7 or my new X8 is going to have the pleasure of a slick USB-C port while the other is relegated to good old USB 3.0.

The good news is, the port decision isn't as drastic as it might seem. In actual use of drives dedicated to sample streaming only, maximum-speed sequential reads are not the norm but rather the exception. Synchron Player's (randomised) speed test shows my "2800 MB/s" Samsung X5 delivers at around 280 MB/s or so, the T7 at around 167 MB/s, and the X8 at around 158 MB/s. So in actual practice none of these 3 SSDs require any more than USB 3.0 speed for purposes of sample streaming!

USB 3.0 may of course slow down loading of presets into the players - but I'm patient; I don't mind. The bottom line is, either my X8 or T7 is going to be governed by USB 3.0 to a maximum read speed of about 450 MB/s. At present I've let my T7 stay on the USB-C port, so X8 gets the slow lane. Some quick tests with my VEPro template haven't indicated any problems. I'll see how it goes.

When the time comes to replace my iMac's internal drive with a fast external SSD, the X8 and T7 will then both have to operate via USB 3.0 - unless I choose to do without dual-booting, which is unlikely.

"We should always remember that sensitiveness and emotion constitute the real content of a work of art."
~ Maurice Ravel
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