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Old July 6th, 2014, 07:46 PM   #1
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External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

Hi, I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro 15" Retina, 2GB graphics card, and 500GB internal SSD. I just got Final Cut Pro X for it. I normally do my editing on my Win 7 x64 workstation at home, but in preparation for use on my laptop, I understand I should get an external drive. Is it worth getting a Thunderbolt drive? I'm wondering if I would even come close to utilizing the throughput of Thunderbolt using a 7200 RPM external disc. This is the one I am looking at:
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile Hard Drive 0G03040 B&H Photo

However, I'm also looking at this much cheaper USB 3 drive: Amazon.com: Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (Silver) STDR1000101: Electronics

I understand the best option is a multi-disc RAID 5 enclosure, but I think it's overkill for what I'm doing. Does anyone edit just using the internal disc? Does having an external give you a significant performance improvement? Thanks!
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Old July 6th, 2014, 09:50 PM   #2
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

The Lightning dock I was looking at on the OWC site was ~$250! I use a dock with USB3/Firewire800/SATA. My 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro's have SATA card slots, Firewire 800 and USB2 ports.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 09:10 AM   #3
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Janka View Post
Hi, I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro 15" Retina, 2GB graphics card, and 500GB internal SSD. I just got Final Cut Pro X for it. I normally do my editing on my Win 7 x64 workstation at home, but in preparation for use on my laptop, I understand I should get an external drive. Is it worth getting a Thunderbolt drive? I'm wondering if I would even come close to utilizing the throughput of Thunderbolt using a 7200 RPM external disc. This is the one I am looking at: G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile Hard Drive 0G03040 B&H Photo

However, I'm also looking at this much cheaper USB 3 drive: Amazon.com: Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable External Hard Drive with Mobile Device Backup USB 3.0 (Silver) STDR1000101: Electronics

I understand the best option is a multi-disc RAID 5 enclosure, but I think it's overkill for what I'm doing. Does anyone edit just using the internal disc? Does having an external give you a significant performance improvement? Thanks!
I edit only using external USB 3.0 drives without much issue. I edit on a 2013 15" MBP retina display (probably same as yours). I don't work in anything other than AVCHD so it may be a different story if you're working with larger files. My last project was a 3 camera multi cam edit with all of the media on the same drive. I was working with 3-5 minute multi cam clips without any playback issues utilizing the one drive. Portable USB 3.0 drives are dirt cheap and can be had at walmart.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 08:49 AM   #4
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

I would beware of that Seagate; it's probably a 5200rpm green drive.

I've been considering this combo, expensive but quick and portable - Seagate Drive sled and pick your size SSD:

Amazon.com: Seagate Backup Plus Portable Thunderbolt Adapter: Electronics

Amazon.com: Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Single Unit Version Internal Solid State Drive MZ-7TE1T0BW: Computers & Accessories

With the constant saves FCPx performs, i'd think this is ideal. Although, with the update you can now designate the 'operational files' to the PCI-e drive and the media to a USB3 drive and it should be good until you cut more than 3 or 4 angles. If no multi cut editing, no question go for the USB3 as it's so much cheaper.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 09:09 AM   #5
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

Here's another option – though, not much of a track record on this off brand.

Amazon.com: U32 Shadow™ 480GB External USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Drive SSD (Silver): Computers & Accessories

Thunderbolt is definitely not required for single drive storage especially rotational drives.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 12:21 PM   #6
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

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Originally Posted by Mark Ahrens View Post
Thunderbolt is definitely not required for single drive storage especially rotational drives.
Agree with Mark on this.

TB really shines with a multi-disk RAID array ... especially with SSD's.

If you're planning to use a just a single drive enclosure, then a good USB 3 enclosure with a speedy 7200 (preferably non-green) HDD or a SSD should be sufficient ... unless of course you are going to edit uncompressed HD or 4K which then you may want to invest in a TB RAID configuration of some sort.

With my 15" MBP-RD (2012 version) I use:

This USB3 desktop 4tb HDD - HGST Touro Desk Pro | Stackable USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Two Levels of Backup ...

... as well as this mobile TB/USB3 256gb SSD - https://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?id=10599

The Touro I use is OK for storage, but not recommended for editing as it has a "green" type of power function (spins down to save the disks and power).

The Lacie Rugged TB/USB3 is great, but lacking a bit on the storage side for the SSD versions; where it tops out at 500gb. You can always buy an aftermarket SSD and swap it out as this is a very nice enclosure. But if you opt for a HDD (spinning disk), you can get capacity up to 2tb.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 03:01 PM   #7
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

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Originally Posted by Patrick Janka View Post
....
Does anyone edit just using the internal disc? Does having an external give you a significant performance improvement? Thanks!
Using the internal SSD is much faster. The advice to place media on a different disk came from the days of rotating disks and the problem was "head contention" where the read/write head could only by at one place at a time. In those days of mechanical storage a second drive allowed heads to be over a second file's location.

With SSD there are no mechanical parts to move and you are best to place ALL the files on the one SSD. (unless you have more then one SSD.)

The problem is that with video you will very quickly fill up your SSD. So what you do is keep the current work on the SSD and move it off to a big external drive for archive. You will need a disk MUCH larger then 1TB for any kind of decent archive.


Also you want a second external disk to run Time Machine and yet more for an off-site backup USB3 works well for all of this.

You can outgrow this if you start working on projects that do not fit on the SSD. Then I would recommend a RAID built with multiple SSDs and connect that with Thunderbolt. Yes it is expensive but it your project needs that kind of storage the $3,000 cost is a drop in the bucket.
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Old July 11th, 2014, 09:59 AM   #8
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

I have the G-Tech and several other pocked drives, the G-Drive is faster than the others as its my only pocket drive that runs at 7200 rpm... speed is the same connected via thunderbolt or USB3.

Careful with some of those little Seagate drives they are really slow.

both are 1tb drives and are about 85% full
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Old July 14th, 2014, 12:44 PM   #9
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

How can you tell if a drive is "green"? How do you search for non green drives? I can't seem to find a proper term for it.
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Old July 15th, 2014, 05:36 AM   #10
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Re: External drive Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

Usually, the HDD's will state something along the lines of:

"Low Power Consumption" or "Spin Down Mode To Save Power".

The HDD's that are NOT green, usually will state that they are "High Performance" drives; such as those used in NAS setup's.

Have a look at the links below and you'll see what I am referring to:

Desktop Drive Kits | HGST Storage

NAS Desktop Drive Kits | HGST Storage

The Touro Desk Pro, HGST Touro Desk Pro | Stackable USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Two Levels of Backup, has the "spin down" technology; which is good for saving power and extending the life of the HDD's ... but not so good for editing. Though I have used them for capturing tape footage and it has worked flawlessly. I just have to remember to "spin them up" first!! Unfortunately, Touro doesn't state anywhere that it has this "green" technology for this particular HDD. Just found out by using it.
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