Apple & Thunderbolt 3

I recently sold my 5K iMac (late 2014 model) and replaced it with an iMac Pro. Having bought dozens of Macs over 33 years, I was careful not to fall for Apple’s price-gouging trap. Particularly when their internal storage options are now priced at a ridiculous $2,800 extra for a 4 TB SSD (solid state drive). Yes, I emphasize “extra” because you get no credit for the 1 TB stock SSD they replace.

My “old” iMac had a 3 TB Fusion Drive (a combination of mechanical and solid state), so I had to do some serious juggling to pare my internal storage needs down to fit a more affordable stock 1 TB SSD.

In doing so, this was part of my solution: The super-sexy Samsung X5 Portable SSD – 1TB – Thunderbolt 3 External SSD. It’s priced at $499.99 now on Amazon. This drive uses the latest super-fast PCIe interface, called NVMe (cleverly pronounced “Envy Me”). Here are the typical write/read speeds I’m getting with it:

This makes it ideal for use as a Final Cut Pro X cache drive. I’ve learned that to maximize data throughput for video production, it’s important for the system to avoid reading/writing to the same drive. It’s better to read raw video files from a fast, read-only source drive, and write all the project data out to a separate, fast destination drive.

By comparison, here are the typical write/read speeds I’m getting on my iMac Pro’s internal 1TB SSD:

As you can see, they’re both scorching fast. For some reason, the internal writes faster but the external reads faster. They’re very similar on average, though: ~2215 MB/s external versus ~2583 MB/s internal. That means the Samsung X5 is within 15% of the maximum possible performance — and that’s good enough for me, especially considering this solution saved me $300 versus Apple’s inflated upgrade price of $800 to go from 1 TB to 2 TB. That, and it’s portable to boot.

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