MacMini 2018 External Storage

So, my work MacMini 2012 with a 1TB internal ssd and a 2TB internal hdd is about to be replaced with a 2018 MacMini.

Initial purchase budget can’t stretch to more than 512GB internal ssd, so I will need some external disk space on which to work fairly regularly.

Do I need to go Thunderbolt 3 and external ssd (Samsung X5 - v expensive!)?
Would Thunderbolt 3 and an 6GB external hdd drive be OK?
Would a USB-C external ssd (Samsung T5) be OK?

I will be doing some video editing, btw.

Many thanks, Robert

Video editing is a lot of data, get the fastest connection.
Alternatively you can copy the project to the
internal drive and archive it back on the external drive once completed. USB 3 will
be fast enough for that.

Dont forget a 2nd external drive for backing up the Mac Mini and the external drive…

Thanks, MacExpert.
I’m backup crazy : Time Machine, Drobo 5D, other usb external hdds and Backblaze!

It’s getting the fastest external read/write solution, within fiscal common sense …

I was recently considering a Mac Mini so looked into options, deciding this:

  • Mac internal SSDs are really fast
  • X5 or external enclosures are fast, but just as pricey
  • The way SSDs are made means their speeds improve up to 1TB capacity (maybe not all brands, but true for Apple)
  • T5 is fast enough for storing documents
  • HDDs are fine really for storing media

I decided to get 256GB internal to store macOS and applications, with my User folder on an external T5 and a Seagate Backup Plus HDD for backup.
Now Apple has dropped pricing, I might switch to 1TB internal, but I actually dropped plans for the purchase.

You say you’re doing some video; if it really is just some, I would say a T5 is plenty fast enough.

Get plenty of RAM though; I was aiming for 32GB of 3rd party RAM since I do a fair bit of audio and some video in Logic and FCP (overkill really, but I need at least 16GB for multitasking doing that work).

The X5 is what I’m saving up for. My 1TB internal SSD is almost full and the X5 can provide similar performance in an external package. If you want to be editing video files while they are on the external drive, it’s really the way to go, but I’d prefer to take that money and put it to the internal SSD if the mac hasn’t been purchased yet.

The external HDD can be USB 3 since that’s already more bandwidth than it needs. Thunderbolt would be a waste for that one. But depending on frequency of access and size of files, it could be too slow. You are definitely going to hurt when transferring video files back and forth and you can forget about editing in place.

I currently use a 1TB T5 for backup of my Parallels VM and storage of infrequently used project/reference files. Why use something like that for backup? Because my VM is over 70GB and it takes less than three minutes to copy. A spinning disk external takes a half hour to copy the same file. Time = $$. If you can’t do more internal storage and can’t afford the X5, the T5 is a good compromise, but I would copy the video files to the internal SSD to work on them. (I tried to use the WD external SSD but only got about half the performance out of it, so I’d stick with the Samsung.)

When I did my research, I was trying to understand if Apple’s charge for their SSD upgrades was at all reasonable, and considering the cost of the X5 I decided it was…but the specs are overkill for a lot of use cases. That X5 and others of its ilk are pretty sensational demonstrations of the power of Thunderbolt 3.

Just testing my MBP from 2017 with an 18.2GB file, I found the T5 4x faster than the external HDD. These were copying the file to the external storage.
Seagate 4TB HDD: 280s
Samsung 512GB T5: 70s
This relates reasonably well to data that puts the Seagate at around 115 MB/s and the T5 at 550 MB/s. That data suggests an internal SSD or Thunderbolt 3 external SSD will be between 1500 and 2500 MB/s depending on size and brand (numbers from my memory).

So, you will certainly see improvements with the more expensive option, it’s just up to you how important that time is. If it is work, the cost is likely to be worthwhile. For my hobby, I’d rather wait a bit and keep only 1 or 2 working projects on the expensive storage. Again, it depends what some video editing really means.

One consideration is future proofing. If you buy a 1 or 2 TB internal SSD then it is most likely only going to last as long as the computer. If you instead invest the same money into a 1 or 2 TB external, Thunderbolt 3 SSD then the drive can move to new computers as you upgrade.

Many thanks for the replies so far - all very helpful - no decision yet though!

Next question - is something like this :

worthy of consideration - of course you then have to add a M.2 NVMe SSD into the equation.

Is this suitable for long term everyday use?

I wouldn’t, as nVME is way faster than that by my understanding. It looks like it’s only going to be 50% faster than a T5. For an enclosure look for Thunderbolt 3 speeds. Many places seem to mention Thundebolt 3 ports, but I think they’re just cheekily playing on the fact they have the same shape as USB C.

With Apple dropping internal SSD prices, I’m back to considering an internal 1TB drive personally.

OK - so the computer has been ordered by work with the 512GB ssd, so I ordered on of these ;

I’ve always used La Cie in the past and their 2TB offering is cheaper than Samsung’s.

Many thanks for all your help.