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What Speed External Drive Do I Need?

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Matt M, PA
What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:31:33 am

As some of you know, we have a new system on an iMac with an Ultra Studio 3D. We're running FCP 7, and we have a Firewire external drive.

I just completed my first edit, and all things considered...it went well.

I notice sometimes I have frames drop out, but it's not all the time. My assumption is that certain compressions simply require more speed to play properly than the Firewire can handle.

I was thinking of exchanging it for a Thunderbolt drive. Oh yeah, and adding some RAM too. Anyone have a thought?


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Bret Williams
Re: What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 22, 2011 at 6:39:13 am

FW800 does ok for playing back rendered video in HD, especially if it's something like 720p proves 422. Start getting into 1080p and 422 hq and you're pushing it, especially if you expect too much real time. If you're serious, get the tb pegasus raid. I got the 8 tb and it's nice. It comes setup as raid 5 for speed and data loss protection. You actually get 6 tb. There's nothing that will make working on your system snappier than maxing out your ram. I mean geez, 16gb of crucial ram for an iMac is $70 on amazon. Go to OWC or somewhere and you'll pay around $100. So what on earth would be the excuse for not having 16gb of RAM in the iMac. Unless you got the lower end that only supports 8gb.


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Matt M, PA
Re: What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 22, 2011 at 1:15:55 pm

Thanks for the help. I figured I needed more RAM, when I set it up. I'll get on that.

At least on playback, the drive is indeed rapidly flashing and I'm thinking it's not quite to the job. To the good, I bought it at the Apple store and thanks to buying near Christmas...I have until well in January to return it.



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Matt M, PA
Re: What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 22, 2011 at 3:04:29 pm

I realize I could have been detailed. My iMac will take as much as 16gb of RAM, and I'm thinking I'll go that way.

I also understand (perhaps incorrectly) that FCP only uses so much RAM, and no more. I'd bet that everything will work better with more RAM, but I don;t quite understand why unless it has to do with multiple programs stunning at once, etc.



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Bret Williams
Re: What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 22, 2011 at 11:49:25 pm

Final Cut is 32bit, so it can only access 4 gb of RAM, but only 2.5 for the app, and 1.5 for still cached. And FWIW you should plan on it becoming obsolete before your iMac. I assumed everyone on this board was planning on moving on to something else within a year, maybe a little more. But when they eol'd FCP June 21st, it was already a year and a half old, and the previous upgrade a year and a half before that was only window dressing. So it was already 2-3 years long in the tooth and we were all barely holding on hoping for a 64bit version that can address multiple processors and perhaps had many of the useful features of FCP X. I just got a iMac because I need to spend the money. I've been waiting for a new MacPro for over a year. So I got the iMac i7 27" with 16gigs and the graphics card speed bump.

More RAM will help everything. Especially switching between apps. When multiple apps are open, and there isn't enough ram, OSX caches the memory onto a hard drive, so when you switch back to that app, ti has to reload it into memory from the drive. More Ram would let you say, be rendering in FCP while at the same time rendering in Motion and surfing the internet while listening to iTunes and watching a movie. But it's the first two that really matter as far as work productivity.

I love how if you have enough ram, and quit an app, it actually stays in memory until that ram is needed. With a lot of RAM you can quit an app and there is a good chance next time you launch it it will launch near instantly because it's actually still in ram. That's called inactive ram. If you look at the activity monitor you'll often see there is little if any free ram available. All the ram listed as inactive is actually available at any time if needed. If you see a lot of page ins/outs, then that's your disk being used as ram because you don't have enough.


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Matt M, PA
Re: What Speed External Drive Do I Need?
on Dec 23, 2011 at 12:01:17 am

Thanks very much Bret...I really appreciate your detailed response.

With the cost of RAM being so reasonable, I figure I'll just get 4 4GBs and be done with it. There are times I am working in Motion, with FCP open and also Boris RED open...so I'd like to do all I can to help it along.

I did notice with this first project behind me, that hopping between programs was very slow...and figured it was likely RAM related.



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