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Old September 12th, 2013, 02:59 AM   #1
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2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Hey guys. I've been having trouble with simply googling this so, 2 questions.

First, I got a 2011 Imac earlier this year. I'm still not fancy enough to do the whole RAID thing, so I still simply work with external drives for media for video editing. However, my fastest drive is a FW800. Would I benefit from a thunderbolt drive over FW800 for this in terms of speed/performance etc. etc.? If so, would you recommend (price considerations aside) a solid state drive or spinning? My research indicates the speed gains with solid state for that particular application don't merit buying them right now considering the prices.

Also, RAM. My computer came with 8 GB installed. Where does RAM really help out with video editing and apps like Motion, After Effects, etc? Where would I see gains if maxed out to 32GB (or whatever the max is on this machine?)

PS machine is 3.4 Ghz intel core i7 if that helps.
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Old September 12th, 2013, 08:17 AM   #2
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Apples thunderbolt to FW800 adapter works but is really slow compared to the dedicated port. What you really need is eSATA via Thunderbolt with the Lacie or Belkin adapters. I can say eSATA or USB3 makes a huge difference. Your current drive is plenty fast I'm sure, it's just being limited by FW800. You might expect a 50% increase in throughput over eSATA.
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Old September 12th, 2013, 11:39 AM   #3
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Is SATA faster than TB???? That's seems so strange since that connection isn't on the machine (I guess I missed that era). If not why do you recommend that over a drive with a TB connection
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Old September 12th, 2013, 12:39 PM   #4
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

eSATA isn't faster than TB, but eSATA will max out the throughput of a single drive. I simply recommended it because eSATA is much cheaper and unless you're using RAID, you don't need the speed of TB. You would need a thunderbolt to eSATA adapter box. Unless there a cheap single drive enclosure with TB available?
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Old September 12th, 2013, 06:58 PM   #5
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

So if i understand you, sata will give me the fastest speed a single drive is capable of and i would only get gains in speed beyond that with a RAID array? What about future proofing (if some new tech comes out that makes the TB speed more important?)

Also, how does the solid state vs spinning aspect apply to things like rendering, playback speed etc? Especially for things like after effects and motion?
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Old September 13th, 2013, 11:47 AM   #6
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

eSATA should be more than sufficient for single drive use, the only benefit of Thunderbolt would be if you really get into using SSD drives, and even then, only in RAID configuration. But that would take a lot of $$$ for the same amount of storage space versus traditional HDD. The reason I recommend HDD and eSATA is because of the cost/performance ratio - it's pretty darn good.

As far as future proofing goes, I wouldn't worry too much. Storage solutions will get cheaper, and hard drives aren't really a huge expense for small operations like you and me. Buy what you need at the moment.

I also would HIGHLY recommend you implement some sort of backup system, RAID or otherwise. Single drives with lots of work on them are scary. Something as simple as a two-bay enclosure in RAID 1 would at least protect an (impending) drive failure. Check out this system on OWC, it would give you about double the performance of your current FW800. The 4TB version would give you 2TB of protected working space for under $500. When the drives fill up, take them out and put them on the shelf, then buy two new ones and pop them in the enclosure.

OWC's Elite Pro External Hard Drive + Lacie's Thunderbolt eSATA Adapter Combo Package - Up to 8.0TB Storage

Thunderbolt is also nice in the sense that you can hook up a half-dozen eSATA boxes and not worry about creating a bottleneck in the connection to your computer. The TB cable is like the 4 lane highway, and the eSATA cables are the like the service roads to feed the highway.

I can't speak about having media on SSD vs HDD, but I can say that having my operating system on SSD has made a big difference.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 03:59 PM   #7
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Ok thanks. For that money RAID doesn't sound like such a big deal. As for backup, I guess you're not counting time machine? I already have a dedicated drive for that.

I do have my OS on an SSD, that's how this Mac was shipped.

Are you sure TB is expensive as you think it is? I just looked last night and saw a 3 terabyte thunderbolt Lacie for about $300.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Haven't seen those Lacie desktop drives before - I just thought they made the little SSD ones. At that price for HDD drives with TB, you might as well. The dual drive-bay Lacies look like a better deal though, along with RAID0 or RAID1 capability, they have two Thunderbolt ports instead of just one so you can daisy chain more of them or an a second monitor. Don't forget the $30 TB cable...

Sounds like you're all set on the OSX SSD front too. When I mentioned backups, I was referring to your external working drives - your source footage and project files are in at least two places, right?
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Old September 13th, 2013, 07:44 PM   #9
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

You can set time machine to back up whatever you want. . .I have my set to back up my externals and OS Drive stuff. So techincally yes, footage is on its external and time machine, and OS Drive stuff/project files are in two places.

I didn't realize those external drives only had the one TB port. I'm used to externals having two at least, so yeah, I'd go for the drives with the extra ports.
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Old September 13th, 2013, 07:59 PM   #10
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Sometimes you can find factory refurbs on the Lacie drives. I've gotten some great deals over the years.
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Old September 14th, 2013, 07:47 PM   #11
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

A client/colleague recommended something like this:

LaCie 2TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series 9000358 B&H Photo

I think he may be on the right track...thunderbolt, RAID, extra ports to expand.
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Old October 20th, 2013, 05:12 AM   #12
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

I know this is an old topic, but since I have seen quite a few of these questions, I wrote some articles on these issues.

I would suggest to go to Tweakers Page first, so you know what various connections do to disk throughput and then go to the main Tweakers Page and select the topic about External Drives.
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Old October 20th, 2013, 05:27 AM   #13
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Thanks. I ended up getting the 2TB little big disk. Still curious about the RAM though.
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Old October 20th, 2013, 06:22 AM   #14
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

Although written mostly from a PC perspective, memory is not that different on a Mac. Have a look at Tweakers Page -What PC to use.

You will see a significant performance improvement going from 8 to 16 GB and again going from 16 to 32 GB. AE can gobble up anything you throw at it, for PP 32 GB is usually enough.
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Old October 20th, 2013, 07:00 AM   #15
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Re: 2 questions - SSD/thunderbolt external drives and RAM

I thought this mac maxxed out at 16 but maybe it is 32? I just looked and it says I have 4 slots available, two of which are currently occupied by 4 GB cards. I have no idea what max card sizes are these days or what's compatible (again, 2011 27" Imac here). Says it takes 1333 Mhz DDR3 memory modules.
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