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iMac Hard drive Configuration

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Alexis VxiMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 27, 2013 at 8:23:42 pm

Hi all,
I just bought an iMac which I will use mainly for AE. It has a 1TB 7,200 drive.

What do you recomend I do in terms of storage? I wanted to buy another external hard drive to help with speed and efficency.

How do you recomend I divide the workflow?

I was thinking:

1TB - Partition:
C: 700GB / OSX - Programs / Cache
D: 300GB / Output- Preview

External: 1TB 7,200 / Footage - Archive of finished projects


iMac Specs:
3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5
1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm


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Dave LaRondeRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 27, 2013 at 10:48:04 pm

I would do the following:
Leave the internal hard drive as it is.
If the machine allows it, install a solid-state drive to use for AE preview cache files.
Hook up the external hard drive via the machine's thunderbolt connection.

If you have that, you're talkin' a pretty good amount of speed. Well, at least you're minimizing the amount of time that the drives get in the way.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Ridley WalkerRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 28, 2013 at 12:42:58 am

I agree with Dave. There's no real benefit in partitioning the internal HD. Get an external SSD for the media cache and set it up via preferences > media and disk cache.

Ideally you have media on one drive, renders to another and cache on a 3rd.


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Walter SoykaRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 28, 2013 at 2:52:31 am

[Ridley Walker] "I agree with Dave. There's no real benefit in partitioning the internal HD. Get an external SSD for the media cache and set it up via preferences > media and disk cache."

I'm with Dave and Ridley here.

Partitioning gives you a management benefit (that logical separation between OS/apps and data), but often incurs a performance penalty (because the same drive has to service all kinds of I/O requests).


[Ridley Walker] "Ideally you have media on one drive, renders to another and cache on a 3rd."

I don't think splitting the media onto one drive and renders onto another is always necessary. The only time this will give you a concrete improvement is when your renders are disk-bound (when reading/writing takes longer than computation). I'd recommend going for a fast RAID if budget allows before I'd recommend separate drives.

That said, keeping the cache on a dedicated SSD drive is a good idea. This can be connected via Thunderbolt.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Ridley WalkerRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 28, 2013 at 4:22:08 pm

[Walter Soyka] "[Ridley Walker] "Ideally you have media on one drive, renders to another and cache on a 3rd."

I don't think splitting the media onto one drive and renders onto another is always necessary. The only time this will give you a concrete improvement is when your renders are disk-bound (when reading/writing takes longer than computation). I'd recommend going for a fast RAID if budget allows before I'd recommend separate drives."


In an ideal world we would have infinite amounts of RAM as well. As Walter points out, the real world is a different place.


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Alexis VxRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 28, 2013 at 7:35:22 pm

Thank you all for your answers and valuable tips.

Ok, so I won't partition. I will keep everything on one drive and get an external for cache.

My question however is this, do I really need an SSD for cache? I know that SSD is much faster but will it make a difference just for the cache? Also what is the optimal size of drive. As it will be used for cache only, I assume I only need a small one. Lastly, I know that Thunderbolt is much faster than USB 3, but will this make a difference for the cache drive.

So my questions are:
1) Do I really need SSD for cache?
2) What size drive should I get for cache?
3) Will Thunderbolt make a big difference from USB3?

Drive options:
SSD:
LaCie Rugged SSD - 120GB - Thunderbolt - $200
LaCie Rugged SSD - 256GB - Thunderbolt - $350

Non SSD:
Seagate Backup Plus - 2 TB - Thunderbolt - $260
Lacie Rugged 5400 rpm - 1TB - Thunderbolt - $220

Seagate Backup Plus - 500 GB (USB 3.0) - $60
Seagate Backup Plus - 2 TB (USB 3.0)- $110


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Ridley WalkerRe: iMac Hard drive Configuration
by on May 28, 2013 at 8:51:31 pm

[Alexis Vx] "1) Do I really need SSD for cache?"
It does make a significant difference. Prior to using an SSD for a cache I used a 7,200rpm drive for the cache in my MacPro. Installing a 120GB SSD for the cache sped up the process significantly. I don't have firm benchmarks to back this up, but I wouldn't go back to the spinning platter drive.

[Alexis Vx] "2) What size drive should I get for cache?"
Depends on the sort of work done on the system. I get by with 120GB and rarely use it all. My primary work in HD motion graphics with shorter video clips (~ 2-3 minutes). If I were working on longer sequences with 4k footage I'm sure that I'd need much more space for the cache.

[Alexis Vx] "3) Will Thunderbolt make a big difference from USB3?"
Thunderbolt does offer a theoretical doubling of speed over USB3, but in practice I've used a USB3 drive with an SSD on my MacBook Pro and its OK. Still not as fast as my MacPro, but very useable.

A USB3 case is around $20, a bare bones 120GB SSD is $100 or so. The Thunderbolt drives will be faster. Note that they may require a Thunderbolt cable sold separately at a cost up to $50.


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