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USB 3 is pretty fast

I recently disposed of an old 2010 MacBook pro which died and I decided to take out its 1 TB SSD drive (which I had installed to speed the machine up). I bought a drive enclosure for the extracted SSD so I could use it as an external drive and I decided to do some experiments to see how fast it would be as an external drive. The enclosure has a USB 3.1 port so I figured it might be pretty fast.

I downloaded the Black Magic Disk Speed Test app from the Mac App Store and did some tests. First, I tested against my MacBook's internal SSD disk and got these results:

Mac's main SSD disk

  • 1400 MB/s write
  • 1400 MB/s read

Next, I hooked the old SSD drive directly to my Mac via USB-C and saw that performance was close to what you'd expect from an internal disk. Great!

1 TB SSD connected directly to USB 3.1 port via USB-C 

  • 1196  MB/s write 
  • 1793 MB/s read (faster than the internal drive; can that be right?)

Hooking the old SSD drive up via a USB 3 to USB 2 converter cable slows things down quite a bit:

1 TB SSD connected via USB-C to USB 2 converter

  • 420 MB/s write
  • 491 MB/s read

And hooking up via a USB 2 hub really kills write performance:

1 TB SSD connected via USB 2.0 hub

  • 43 MB/s write
  • 419 MB/s read

The above is all imprecise and totally unscientific but I think it shows that connecting a fast USB 3 device via USB 2 really slows things down and that a SSD disk connected via USB-C is almost as fast as (my 2016) MacBook Pro's built-in SSD.

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