Forgive me for any ignorant/incorrect terms.
My mate wants to follow my successful experiment of moving his startup drive to an external SSD to easily breathe life into an old machine. I used an Adata SSD for this with my mid-2012 MacBook Pro (USB 3 connection) with massive success.
He wants to do the same for his mid 2011 iMac with a Samsung T5…but there is a stumbling block…that machine has USB 2.
From research I’m fairly certain he will see nowhere near the full capability of the Samsung SSD with the limitations of USB 2.
BUT…are the inevitable bottleneck of read/write speeds as relevant when you are simply looking to run MacOS off the SSD…just to bring back that snappiness and to lose those beachballs!
I have other questions/suggestions…but for now there is a gap in my knowledge…are max read/write speeds and start-up speeds for machine/apps etc comparable…or the same thing?..In short…is it still a worthwhile experiment despite the SSD running through USB 2. (and Thunderbolt SSD has been discounted due to keeping costs down).
While it will work, the usb 2 interface is just too slow. You don’t mention the amount of disk space required. Amazon has a Transcend Thunderbolt 256gb drive for $170. I have a similar 1tb drive for a CCC backup. Very speedy. Alternative option is to switch the internal iMac drive for an SSD. I have a 2011 iMac with an SSD in it. Runs great. Check out the iFixit instructions on how to make the drive swap.
The Firewire 800 option is a good idea, but Firewire 800 will still max out at 80 MB/s. And the SSD will deliver much higher transfer speeds than Firewire 800 is capable of.
What about Thunderbolt?
Is this the iMac we are talking about?
Theoretically, one of those Thunderbolt ports is able to deliver speeds up to 1250 MB/s. Using this port, the SSD should be very fast.
There might be an issue though, if you intend to use a Samsung T5 SSD. You would have to convert the USB-C signal to Thunderbolt 2. There is an adapter, but it is intended the other way around:
It might work with a separate Thunderbolt 2 cable or it might not. I have no idea.
The better way would be to find a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure and to install an SSD into that and to connect that via Thunderbolt 2 cable to the iMac. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure. Only some crazy people, who sell old used Thunderbolt 2 stuff for several hundred dollars…
Just ran a Black Magic speed test on my Transcend Thunderbolt connected drive on a 2011 iMac. Write 296 MB/s, read 373 MB/s. Faster writes than the internal Samsung but slower reads.