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)

  • 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. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 14:21
  • 2
    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. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    Not actually answering, skips the internal drive, but adds interesting topics. Commented Aug 23, 2013 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
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 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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