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Old 10-10-2020, 03:42 AM
engybaby engybaby is offline
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: London
Posts: 2
Default Running a Protools setup from an external SSD

Hi everyone!

I have just upgraded from a 2012 Macbook Pro to an iMac 2017 27", i5 3.5ghz with a 2TB fusion drive built in (128gb is SSD) with a view that I could open the machine up and change that to an SSD. Much like I did a few years back with the MBP.
This can be done but I would love to not have to!

I still have my MBP - I run ProTools 12 with lots of juicy plugins like; Voltage Modular, Arturia Analog 3 and 4 - Arcade but it labours and crashes.

Now my question is: should i change to that internal SSD or can I get a good and fast setup with an external SSD?

The connections are four USB 3.0 ports, dual Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

So many people have warned against the fusion drives and so I just assumed I would have to swap it out but maybe I don't have to?
Any ideas on having plugins or projects distributed over an external SSD drive or experience running an iMac setup with external drive would be really appreciated.

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Old 10-10-2020, 03:49 AM
JFreak's Avatar
JFreak JFreak is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Tampere, Finland
Posts: 20,322
Default Re: Running a Protools setup from an external SSD

Just get rid of that fusion drive, or take the time to split it up
What we do in life, echoes in eternity.
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Old 10-10-2020, 08:18 AM
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Ben Jenssen Ben Jenssen is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Oslo
Posts: 3,400
Default Re: Running a Protools setup from an external SSD

Running OS and sessions on external SSD is easy and very functional. But it has to be a good, fast SSD, not just any SSD. I had a 2015 imac with 1tb fusion drive for a while. I took a OWC 6G Extreme pro 2.5" blade from my old mac pro, put it in a 20 dollar plastic enclosure and connected it to a TB3 port. 400+ mbps read/write speeds makes for fast startup, app launch, session load and so on. And I used the internal (70mbps) for backups and files.
Of course, even better if you have one for OS, and another for sessions and samples.

Other people here will have much more detailed info.
Life-long audio enthusiast and small studio owner. Retired.
Mac mini, quad core i3, 3.6 GHz (Late 2018), 16 GB RAM
Focusrite 2i2 3rd gen, Dynaudio BM6's, Command 8.
Pro Tools 2020.9.1, Mac OS 10.15.7.
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Old 10-10-2020, 11:31 AM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 14,654
Default Re: Running a Protools setup from an external SSD

Get an external Thunderbolt 3 SSD that uses PCIe/NVMe. A Samsung X5 in an example. Very pretty and compact, gripes with the X5 is no locking cables and it runs hot and is expensive... but it has a quality Samsung 970 Evo equivalent M.2 card inside... there are other options with M.2 cards in docks/chassis etc. but avoid multi-M.2 card docks/chassis unless you really know what you are doing, or you will likely get a fraction of that drive's potential performance. If you want to roll your own and do not have complex needs start with an external single card chassis like the new OWC Envoy Express with a Samsung 970 Evo M.2 card. That will give you multiple times the performance of a SATA SSD at not much more cost.

Avoid USB-C drives that are not Thunderbolt 3, and avoid drives that use SATA and not NVMe.

You can also split the fusion drive, how useful that is depends on how large the SSD part is, and if the HDD part is 5400 rpm that is so slow its not much use for anything.
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