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Old Dec 26, 2010, 02:58 PM   #1
mosk22rte
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First gen AppleTV HD upgrade - importance of drive speed and/or cache size?

I have a first generation AppleTV w/aTVFlash. It still has the 40GB PATA drive, and I plan on upgrading it to a ~500GB SATA drive as described in this thread.

My question: when considering drive upgrades for the the AppleTV, how important are drive speed and cache size? I know the 40GB drive that's in there now is 4200 rpm and has a 2 MB cache. Considering that the AppleTV is used almost exclusively for media playback, will a 7200 rpm drive with a 16 MB cache give me noticeably better performance than a 5400 rpm drive with an 8 MB cache? I have a spare 2.5" 500GB/5400RPM/8 MB cache drive left over from a laptop upgrade -- will that do? At the same time, there are some great deals to be found on 7200rpm/16MB cache drives, and spending an extra $50 or so for one of those would be fine if the faster drive was a worthwhile upgrade.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Jeff
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Old Dec 26, 2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosk22rte View Post
My question: when considering drive upgrades for the the AppleTV, how important are drive speed and cache size? I know the 40GB drive that's in there now is 4200 rpm and has a 2 MB cache. Considering that the AppleTV is used almost exclusively for media playback, will a 7200 rpm drive with a 16 MB cache give me noticeably better performance than a 5400 rpm drive with an 8 MB cache?
The drive you have is very slow. It could probably manage to display about five seconds worth of video every second, which is five times more than needed. A fast drive could probably display about twenty seconds worth of video per second, which is absolutely pointless. Media playback is far, far from performance critical. I'd look for the lowest power rating instead.
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Old Dec 26, 2010, 06:40 PM   #3
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Random access time is the most important factor in the performance of the Apple TV's hard drive. That's one of the reasons the new Apple TV and the iPad seem so fast, they use solid-state storage (flash memory) that has very good random access performance but only moderately good bulk data transfer rates. The flash memory used in those devices isn't nearly as fast in raw read/write performance as one of the expensive solid-state storage drives (SSDs) that you find in notebook computers.

In any case, I tried using a 3.5" 10K Western Digital Raptor drive in my first generation Apple TV (using a SATA-to-PATA adapter) and while it worked it really didn't make the overall experience that much better. So, I'd say just get the largest 2.5" PATA drive you can find and call it a day. One thing that would be interesting to try would be an SSD, but they're so expensive right now that their use in an Apple TV would be kind of ridiculous. That and the fact that they don't make SSDs using a PATA interface (as far as I know). If my first generation Apple TV lasts for another year or two I may give an SSD a try using the aforementioned SATA-to-PATA adapter (as a test to see how very fast random access and very high read rates affect the system).
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Old Dec 26, 2010, 07:31 PM   #4
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Like already said go for lowest power consumption and if possible try and find a low heat unit. Faster drives=more heat
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Old Dec 26, 2010, 08:58 PM   #5
mosk22rte
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Thanks for the responses. It looks like the drive I have (Western Digital WD5000BEVT, 500GB/5400rpm/8MB) is pretty efficient power-wise, so I'll probably give it a try since I have it at hand.

Thanks again,

Jeff

Last edited by mosk22rte; Dec 26, 2010 at 09:07 PM.
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Old Dec 26, 2010, 09:18 PM   #6
occams razor
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Dont forget to put the stock drive in a external enclosure so it doesnt goto waste!
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 10:35 PM   #7
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You can snag a cheap ssd. I did find a ssd for 50 bucks. Doesn't have the sand force drive but don't think it's necessary for the apple tv. Keep an eye on microcenter. Found an ocz 32gb right before Xmas. Where do you get the sata to pata adapter at?
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 10:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bearcatrp View Post
You can snag a cheap ssd. I did find a ssd for 50 bucks. Doesn't have the sand force drive but don't think it's necessary for the apple tv. Keep an eye on microcenter. Found an ocz 32gb right before Xmas. Where do you get the sata to pata adapter at?
He is looking for more size on a device that speed doesn't matter. An SSD isn't going to make the apple tv a new machine like it would a computer.
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Old Dec 28, 2010, 11:32 PM   #9
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I'm just want my atv to run cooler. Getting rid of the hard drive would definitely do this. Putting a bigger mechanical drive would create more heat.
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