What external SSD to buy, for Mac mini?


I will be needing a external SSD on about 1-2TB for my music library.

I got a Mac mini M2 and would like to connect it to one of the thunderbolt ports.

What would you recommend? I do not really need portability.

A few years back it was very important that it had it’s own power-supply. But does it matter that much?

Could a Samsung T7 Portable SSD 2TB do a great job?

The T7 is USB 3.1 Gen2 drive so is limited to 10 gbs and has reported read / write speeds of 1000 mbps. The drive also has lots of reported problems with macOS Ventura (Google T7 problems)

I would go for a Thunderbolt SSD from Other World Computing (OWC.com) if you want a portable enclosed drive their Envoy Pro FX has read write speeds of 2300 mbps via Thunderbolt 40gbps bandwidth. 2TB is +- US250. Have several OWC Thunderblade raid SSD’s and the Envoy Pro FX for several years without any issues.

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That search does show some potential problems indeed. My personal experience with the T5 2tb on Mac Mini i7 Intel and Mac Mini M2 with T7 2tb formatted with Mac OS Extended running Ventura has been great so far. I also use a T7 2tb plugged directly into my NAD M33 using FAT I believe. So far so good, I do use the cable that is supplied with the unit. And I do put some little stick on risers/feet to raise it up and enhance air flow OCD probably but easy enough.

Seems to be primarily format, cable, not plugging directly into the computer issues.

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If you are building a high-performance playback system, it is best to not tax the power-supply of the Mac mini with a bus powered drive, even though it can power multiple devices… Remember all devices connected to the computer buses will put demand on the power topology of the computer if bus-powered and those surges will have impact on the digital-audio signal flow…The salient aspect to keep in mind is having all of your related playback components on a common ground/earth point of the main power circuit.

As Djm1960 recommends, OWC has a great selection of SSD’s… you don’t need the fastest drive to have great performance… (I’m still using a 7200rpm USB 3.0 HDD)… Put your DAC at the top of your USB bus hierarchy if it is connected so.

Also, if you intend to run the Mac mini headless, a HDMI video dummy load is recommended:

Mac and PC computers can pack phenomenal power into a compact form factor, but when they’re operated without a display attached, the GPU isn’t activated — meaning it’s not pulling its weight. So when you access your Mac or PC remotely, the CPU does all the work in rendering the user interface. As a result, the interface lags; OS animation, cursor movement, menu navigation, and typing all suffer, making remote operations a pain.
NewerTech® : Video : HDMI Headless Video Accelerator

:notes: :eye: :headphones: :eye: :notes:

I agree on the disk speed but hard disks tend to spin down to ensure longevity. Using the SSD prevents any lag in a file transfer. Also copying 1.5 TB of music files across will only take about 10 minutes with a fast SSD versus…………,……,zzzzzzzzzz with a mechanical hard disk. Prefer the speed myself!

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Sleeping the HDD is controlled by macOS and is only enabled in the Battery System Prefs on my MBP however, probably controlled in the Power Prefs on the Mac mini… I don’t see my HDD sleeping between tracks, etc. However I am about to upgrade to an OWC 6G SSD. :sunglasses: :+1:

Yes you can adjust the disk sleep timer in macOS, in the power section of system settings. Some disks like LaCie have a timer also built into the firmware of the hard disk controller. This can create issues with lag using them for on demand file service which will slow down the reading of the file. Also constantly spinning disks is not recommended as it increases failure rates.

For me have had many mechanical disks fail in my time using computers. Not had an issue with an SSD yet (feverishly knocking on wood or as I type) and intensive use of a Thunderblade raid SSD from OWC for the last 3+ years has not resulted in any loss of capacity due to wear yet……,.

Each to his own I suppose.

Failure rate is a non-issue, especially when you can have a very inexpensive back-up ‘Father, Son, and Grandfather’ scheme… SDD’s are not free of memory burn-out… so a back-up scheme is essential in any event…

Agree on the requirements for a back up strategy! Have attached a link to a Backblaze report on reliability of SSD’s versus HDD ( they use SSD’s and HDD’s as boot drives in their data centres) The failure rate of the SSD’s was almost half of the HDD however they are both at very low levels.

Cheap or fast…… up to the individual.

I tried two HDMI virtual display adapters.
The sound certainly changes, but not for the better.
The virtual stage in headphones is larger, but with a loss of density and resolution in the low and high frequencies.
The load on the CPU at first approximately corresponds to the load without an adapter (2-3%).
Subsequently, it begins to grow to 8-11%, thanks to the growth of the Kernel task.

Interesting… Can you describe your system configuration and the manufacturer of HDMI load? Your experience seems a corner-case, this may be of interest for other users running headless Mac mini systems.

If the HDMI load is activating the video sub-system processor and associated video RAM, why do you think this affects Audirvana processing and system RAM access and Core Audio operations? :thinking:

Thanks for all the replies!

It seems to be wise to go for something from OWC then.

Would OWC Envoy Pro FX be the best choice even if I do not need it to be portable?

A 2TB version seems to cost around 350EUR. Is there maybe something cheaper and more stationary from OWC that also would be good?

The Mac mini is always connected over HDMI to a Dell monitor btw. I use to listen to headphones from a DAC connected to the Mac mini while I use my work-laptop (USB C powered from the monitor), and then I just switch input on the monitor, to go back and forth.

This is an inexpensive SSD option, no need for TB3/4 throughput…

Manufacturer: YJMP Electronic (China).
System configuration Mac mini 2018- Mac mini M1 (Audirvana Origin)- Audio GD R7HE MK2- Cayin HA 3A- Kennerton Heartland.

Turning on the GPU causes the CPU cooling process to increase.

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It seems counterintuitive, that the CPU would be taxed when the video GPU processing and video RAM is engaged, when previous to installing the HDMI load, it was tasked with the video processing without the GPU engaged… The CPU cycles are increased without the GPU and graphics RAM enabled, requiring the fan to engage in that scenario… :thinking: And… I believe the fan power management is on an isolated power-plane

It seems counterintuitive, but in practice the CPU load is higher.

This is a common problem with Macbooks, but the Mac mini M1 is not without it.

Have you reset SMC and NVRAM? How much system RAM are you running?

This didn’t help MacBook users, I didn’t even try it.

Audirvana is allocated 2 GB of memory out of 8.

You may have to do multiple SMC and NVRAM resets… I’ve read this has cleared the Kernel task system problem… It would be interesting to see what is going on in Activity Monitor when the HDMI load is installed…

I’m not convinced that something else is playing into what you are experiencing, like 8GB of system RAM… I’m not convinced this is enough system RAM under certain file playback scenarios… However, you seem to be satisfied with your system performance… so, generally it is moot for you at this point. Maybe we will get more corroborative insights from other M1 and M2 Mac mini users here on the forum, regarding the installation of other HDMI loads from other manufacturers.

I am absolutely satisfied, since M1 is used only for Audirvana.
All other tasks are performed on a Mac Mini 2018.

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