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NVME M.2 drives  



A colleague just shared with me about NVME M.2 SSDs, and wow, I had no idea how fast they were. They're touting read/write speeds of 3,500/2,700 MB/s. So I'm wondering what the bottleneck might be trying to use it as a "tech disk" to copy files and do migrations on other machines. If the machine has a rotational drive then obviously the bottleneck will be there. If the machine has an SSD will USB 3.0 be the bottleneck? Would it make sense to try and get a thunderbolt enclosure for this thing if I wanted to do a speedy clone or migration on a MacBook Air or new Pro?

7 Answers

USB 3 would be a bottleneck. A full speed Thunderbolt interface would be the most effective. 


Some Google searching for “USB3 real speed” will find some articles that compare different interfaces. I found on from MacWorld that covered USB3 and Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt won when an SSD was used. 


Seems like this is the closest thing to a simple Thunderbolt 3 enclosure I can find. The item here looks closer but has a drive already included.


Follow up: this is actually what I was thinking of. The only challenge now is to get something that could connect to a USB or Thunderbolt 2 machine as well, since I'd mostly be working on doing clones or migrations on non-TB3 machines. 


Given those requirements, I would not worry about getting NVME M.2 drives. 


Rather just get a USB3 SSD that can also be plugged into USB2.  It will be faster than any rotational disk, and give you the most flexibility for attaching to different Mac configurations.


If the device was just for you to be attached to a system where you would be putting it under high demand, then the effort to get the fastest interface possible might be worth it, but trying to get a USB2, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3 compatible device is really not worth the effort today.


In a few years, when most of your customers will have Thunderbolt 3 Mac, then it might be worth it to get a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with screaming faster SSD storage.



@datafornothingandbitsforfree thanks so much for your replies. 🙂 I used to have a Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt 2/USB 3.0 drive. I tore the enclosure open and put an SSD in there. Since Thunderbolt 2 reaches up to 20Gbps and many older Macs have TB 2 ports, is this in theory then the fastest and most versatile drive for my needs? I'd really love to "roll my own" enclosure rather than needing to buy the drive. Do you know if that's a thing? To have a PCIe fixture (not sure of the right word there) with both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.1 ports, then slot an SSD in there and put some type of chassis or enclosure around it?


I zero knowledge one way or another about such adapters or enclosures.


@datafornothinandbitsforfree thanks again for your help. 

@davehamilton, you have any thoughts? What would be the fastest & most versatile portable drive? Possible to "roll your own" as I suggested above?