SD cards fast enough for Windows games?

My M2 MBAir is running out of storage (494GB used of 512GB total = low overhead) since I installed Parallels Desktop, Windows, Steam and Windows-only games (none of them needing internet). Since the internal SSD’s not upgradeable, I’m looking for an external solution which would work more or less seamlessly. I have a VAVA USB-C hub which accepts SD cards. My hope is that if I transfer all the Parallels, Windows, Steam + games stuff onto a card, I could play the games from there. But I’ve read that SD cards aren’t as fast as the internal SSD, so it might not be fast enough - games would perhaps stutter, maybe not even run at all. I’m willing to buy a big fast one (SanDisk Extreme Pro?), but only if I were sure it’d work well.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Alternatives? Simply delete games I might not want to use just now and reinstall them again when I want them?

Out of interest, since you’re looking at something external anyway (the USB-C hub), why not buy an external SSD. Without looking into it, my gut feeling is that you will get a lot more performance and capacity for the same price with USB-C SSD vs SD card. If you can even get an SD card with acceptable speed. Or alternatively, if you want something more compact, a high performance USB-C flash drive/memory stick.

I’m not trying to derail your question, I’m keen to know if there are good high performance SD cards that would work for this (as they could then also be used as an external Mac boot disk), but just throught I’d throw this into the mix.

I had a similar issue. My approach to it was to get an OWC Envoy Express 0TB Thunderbolt 3 enclosure and fit it with any NVMe M.2 2280 SSD. And it comes with plastic holder that allows you to attach it to your laptop.

Way faster than a USB SSD or SD card.

1 Like

Thanks, that sounds good. I’ve just written them and asked about the difference between the Express, the Pro SX, and Pro FX (I see the latter are faster), and also whether they could possibly suggest something better. I’ll report back when I know more.

I got the Envoy Express as a side drive for my Studio and plan to bump up the storage once the cost of 4 TB chips come down.

Eureka, wonderful solution, everything I wanted to achieve works! I mostly wanted to offload Windows stuff from my MBAir M2 onto an external drive, but I’ve also long wanted to create a bootable clone.

Just FYI, so TidBITS Talk can advise others:

I got an OWC Envoy Express and fitted it with a 1 TB OWC Aura P12 Pro (very fast, very easy installation), on which I created 3 volumes, Windows, Stacks (for sundry stuff, no programs), and a bootable clone (which boots nearly as quickly as my Mac). That last was a little tricky. I first make a clone with SuperDuper!, after that, as Bombich (from CCC) suggests, I installed OS Ventura 13.1 on that volume, then I had to allow that drive to boot, administrator privileges, and a little back and forth, but it finally works. Now I have a 1.5 TB MBAir rather than just my built-in 512 GB, at an additional price of €225.00. And if I ever need to have to even more external storage space (I don’t think I will), Aura P12 Pro’s come in up to 8 TB. I’m a really happy camper.

Thanks very much for your help.

1 Like