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I have a gaming laptop and a desktop that I switch between pretty regularly due to not being home often. Rather than purchasing two SSDs, I was considering whether I could get away with getting a single USB 3 SSD and installing the games I needed on it instead!

I currently have SATA II , 7200rpm drives drives in both. Standard drives, basically. I'm looking to see a performance increase on load times on both machines, and was curious whether the USB 3 SSD would be able to outperform them in this regard or not. It seems like it would, but I've heard latency across USB 3 can actually be pretty bad, so I don't want to put out the money necessary to get this drive and find out that, in actuality, it comes out slower!

Just for a side note- the laptop does not have an esata drive, so I that isn't an option. :-\

So what do you guys think: Would a high quality USB 3 SSD beat the load speeds of a SATA II internal 7200rpm for gaming?

By external SSD, I mean an SSD drive in a USB 3 enclosure for 2.5" drives (claims 5Gbps)

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Xavierjazz, Dave M, mpy, Mokubai, Michael Kjörling Aug 24 '13 at 19:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Well USB-3 has a 5Gbit/s transfer rate while SATA-2 has only a 3 Gbit/s transfer rate. This would make seem that USB-3 is better than SATA. Reality is that there are a lot of things running in the background and most likely you won't get near any of those speeds. This being said, if a USB-3 can function well with a lot of different I/O operations, the SSD should be faster. – Doktoro Reichard Aug 23 '13 at 14:21
There are so many uncontrolled variables here that it's impossible to give anything remotely resembling a definitive answer; I can guarantee that USB 3 at full bandwidth is going to outperform SATA 2 at same, and that a 7200RPM drive isn't going to be able to saturate a SATA 2 channel in any case, but USB 3 won't be any faster if your enclosure's or machine's USB interface can't keep up. All that said, and reiterating the caveat that you'd need to do comparative benchmarks to get a real answer, I would expect to see better performance out of the SSD than out of a 7200RPM hard disk. – Aaron Miller Aug 23 '13 at 14:23

There are several factors you'd have to take into account for both the desktop and the laptop;


What chipset do you have for this? Not all give the best performance.

Any other devices on the USB bus? On the USB3 bus?


High-end or low-end? Because there's been some turmoil in the SSD market recently.

Are all of the features fully supported by your operating system?

Since most SSDs are designed to interface w/ a SATA-based controller, what management/performance features do you lose when you go over USB3?


Just because you specified the path to the USB3 drive during the installation, doesn't mean that there aren't a few hundred lines in your registry and dozens of other files scattered throughout your operating system's drive.

This is true for most Windows-based software.

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Not actually answering, skips the internal drive, but adds interesting topics. – Doktoro Reichard Aug 23 '13 at 15:35
I'm sure the poster already has a feel for how fast the internal drives are on each system. "Would an internal SSD or an external USB3 SSD be faster?" was the boiled-down question (as I read it). – Signal15 Aug 23 '13 at 16:45

In 2010 Techcruch did an experiment between eSata and Usb 3.0. In their tests eSata was faster. They do not specify which version of Sata they are using.


Take a look at MaximumPC's review of the OCZ USB 3.0 SSD drive. The speeds averaged about 170 MB/s

Compare that to a review of the WD Black 750 2.5 inch. The speeds max out at about 113MB/s

Based on these benchmarks, I believe SSD on USB 3.0 will be faster than a 7200 rpm on Sata 2

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