Fusion Confusion

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by vandrv, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #1
    I am looking for input as to which is liklier to be a better option for me. I have decided to replace my Imac with a new Mac Mini. I am a photographer and mainly will use Lightroom and Photoshop to work on rather large files from a Nikon D800. Currently I store all my photographs on external USB2 drives, and can't decide whether I would be better off buying the fusion version of the Mini or the SSD version and either a large Thunderbolt or USB3 drive? I would appreciate opinions from anyone who has made, oriscontemplating a similar choice. Thanks.
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    xlii

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Millis, Massachusetts
    #2
    If having your photos on USB2 drives has been working for you, then I would recommend switching over to USB3 drives going forward. Your USB2 drives will work just as well on the new mini as they have been working on your current iMac. So you can keep using your current USB2 drives if you want to.

    Get the quad stock mini ($799). The 4 cores give you quite a bit of processing power. You can save quite a bit of money by adding 16 GB of memory yourself and if you want add the SSD yourself. You can decide if turning the SSD + the HDD into a fusion drive is the way to go or keeping them separate is what you prefer. I made my own fusion drive and I think it is just great... but you will find others who will recommend keeping the SSD and HDD separate so each their own and that is fine.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #3
    Thank you for the reply. So far, I haven't had any problems working the way that I do. My main reason for upgrading is that Lightroom has gotten very slow sine upgradifing to Lightroom 4 and upgrading to a 36 megapixel camera. I don't mind keeping everything on external drives, but was just wondering if Fusion might be the way to go. I will certainly upgrade the ram myself, but am unsure about doing the SSD myself. It doesn't look terribly hard and it would save me a few dollars, but I don't know if saves enough to justify not ordering one directly from Apple. Can you recommend a decent cost effective SSD?
     
  4. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #4
    Fusion will be a lot faster than storing you work files on USB or thunderbolt external drives.
     
  5. philipma1957, Dec 23, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012

    macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #5
    mostly correct but not fully correct.


    thunderbolt is faster then fusion in many setups and can store huge amounts of info 18tb in the case of pergasus r6.






    even the lacie little big disk with 2 ssds will b-slap fusion.

    1tb ssd raid0 for 800 bootable.


    209 for a lbd


    http://www.ebay.com/itm/LaCie-90001...331?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item416dca725b



    drop in a pair of these


    http://www.ebay.com/itm/CT512M4SSD2...?pt=US_Solid_State_Drives&hash=item337eb3db5c

    730 and a cable 50


    total is 989. and 2 spare 500gb hdds.


    if you sell them on ebay for 100 total is 890 or so.


    to the thread starter;

    fusion won't be fast if you fill it with more then 500 gb of huge photos. think of why that is true only 128gb of the photos well more like 95-105gb of the photos will be on the ssd.


    right now no one has shown tests of big photo files 10 36mb photos is 360 mb 100 is 3.6gb 1000 is 36gb


    10000 photos is 360gb and on fusion it will not be fast since you are far past the fusion's ssd.


    you know your workload. I do not.. but the numbers above would show me that 2000 photos = 72gb okay


    3000 = 108gb the beginning of fusion not being okay.

    no one has tested this to show I am right or wrong.

    but I would be shocked to see a 128gb ssd + a 1tb fusion works fast beyond 150gb of your photos
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #6
    Potentially true I guess, but the original poster wasn't using thunderbolt connected RAID storage at the moment.

    Vs. consumer grade "External hard drives" (i.e., the USB type like the OP currently has), Fusion internally will be much faster.

    Obviously if he wanted to run NFS or iSCSI off to a $200k enterprise SAN it would be quicker, too.

    We're talking an order of magnitude price difference to go to external SSD RAID (of similar capacity) over just buying a fusion drive, too.
     
  7. philipma1957, Dec 23, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012

    macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #7

    yeah I agree a lot of fusion is faster then some t-bolt setups.



    the op mentioned he was using a 36mb camera so I figured he was spending a lot on it.

    below is a simple but not cheap solution for him. it can do 512gb ssd in a raid0 and it is small

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/H...b-2-by-128gb-ssd-thunderbolt-storage-solution


    it gets good reviews and is really fast small size.

    here is a review


    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6225/...e-smallest-high-performance-thunderbolt-drive



    here is a 24MP camera so the op has spent a lot if he upgraded to a 36MP camera.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/892428-REG/Nikon_D600_Digital_Camera_with.html
     
  8. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #8
    I guess it depends how much storage you need for your stuff - for me 512gb is not enough, for example (750 for me is about the sweet spot), but YMMV. You're also talking about 400 bucks in drives, plus the enclosure, plus some way of backing it up.

    RAID0 SSD is something i would very much discourage though - you'll also need some other (non time machine) way of backing it up. Not sure TM can back up external drives?

    Fusion will be a lot simpler: order the fusion drive with 1tb, order a 2tb external (or time capsule) for time machine, job done.

    Yes, RAID0 SSD on thunderbolt will outperform it (but fusion is still way faster than spinning disks). At a cost in terms of complexity and $.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #9
    Thank you for all the replies. I think maybe this discussion has now moved a bit over my head, computer techiewise.:); Right now, I do have a large number of photos in a Lightroom catalog, that I would prefer not to split up, so probably a fusion drive would be very close to full, right from the get go.
    The way I do things now is to use Photo Mechanic to import my photos to an external USB drive and at the same time back them up to a second. I have never used any type of raid system. So far, this has worked well for me , but I am certainly open to any suggestions as to something better. What I was thinking is probably going with an SSD mini and a large thunderbolt external drive for my main storage and continue to use a USB drive as backup. My main complaint about my current computer is how is how slowly Lightroom renders previews and how slowly sliders work in the develop module.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Location:
    North East US
    #10

    I'm in a similar position and what you're saying makes perfect sense. Those folks who point out the speed of the fusion drives don't seem to understand what file sizes you're talking about. A few assignments later you will have started to fill up the SSD portion of the fusion drive with your 40MP raw files plus jpegs and who knows what else. Once everything lives on the slow 5200 rpm portion of the fusion drive I don't see how external storage would be any slower - especially with USB3, FW and TB as options. I'll stick to external storage plus external backup for my photo stuff. Make sure you keep copies outside your work area as well, either online or at a separate physical location.

    I'm hopeful that the quad mini with an SSD and ample memory will render faster in LR. Though I'm also reluctant switching to LR4 from LR3 since these issues seem to be more pronounced there. I'm on an ancient computer still and LR3 actually works reasonably fast.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #11
    I too hope the new mini is up to the task. I agree that Lightroom 3 was much faster than 4, but after upgrading, I don't think I could go back.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Location:
    North East US
    #12
    No, you shouldn't. You'd lose everything that was generated in the new raw engine unless you convert it to the previous process (2010). I heard that things can go wrong during that conversion and that adjustments end up being off.

    I really hope Adobe comes out with a better version 5 soon.
     
  13. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    #13
    One thing that people don't really think about when it comes to raw files in Lightroom is that once the raw file is imported into the catalog and the 1:1 previews are rendered, the original file isn't accessed any more unless that preview needs to be re-rendered. Let me clarify that, when dealing with raw files this is true since any changes are written to an XMP sidecar file. So a fusion drive setup is fine for this because eventually the photos will be pushed out of the SSD onto the 1TB drive and they don't need to be accessed anymore. The other thing too is that its not the whole file that gets left/brought back on the SSD, its done at the block level. Only the most accessed blocks are on the SSD. Even if you have 10,000 photos, the most accessed blocks of those photos are being left on the SSD which might in all actuality only be 10GB.

    More likely the case is the majority of your catalog and preview files would stay on the SSD, which depending on the size of those might be closer to maxing out the SSD part of the Fusion Drive.

    If you're figuring that your photo library will max out the whole fusion setup and not leave any room for future pictures and you want to keep everything in one spot, my recommendation would be to look at a TB or USB external drive with mechanical drives to store all your photos on and have either a SSD or Fusion Drive internal drive and keep your catalog and preview file on that.

    The only benefit I see of spending the extra money on an external SSD is if you wanted to use that as a temporary place to import all photos onto in Lightroom which could help speed up the import process so you can start working on them sooner and then move them using Lightroom to your main library location. Depending on how many pictures you take between importing them into Lightroom this could be done right on your main drive without need for an external drive assuming your main internal drive is a SSD or Fusion Drive.

    All in all, the upgrade of the quad processor and memory are going to make the most impact to Lightroom, with having a SSD or Fusion drive as the main drive as a minor overall impact.

    In case you are wondering, I've got a mac mini 2.6 quad with 16Gb of ram and Fusion Drive. I've worked on some 2+GB tiff files in Lightroom 4 and have no issue at all with them, everything is smooth on my 27" NEC monitor. I have yet to try Photoshop CS6 on the mini. My 2010 MBP hated me for using the content aware patch on those same 2+GB tiff files but I don't think I'll have any issue with the mini with them.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    #14
    Op, as a photographer (1dx and 5dMKIII) I would recommend getting the biggest ssd you can and get a raid thunderbolt drive to store your catalog from Lightroom and also backup your files. You should also max out your memory as much as you can. I don't have any issues at all by having Lightroom on my 512 ssd internal drive and the catalog in the external tb drive. It handles anything I throw at it with no issues as all. I do have 16gb of memory on my Mbp. I am curios though, why the Mac mini and not the new iMacs?
     
  15. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #15
    Thank you for your reply. it is nice to know how you are using a fusion drive mini. I don't have any plans to get an external SSD, I was planning on moving to a USB3 or Thunderbolt external drive. My main reason for wanting to upgrade my computer is the same as yours, Lightroom is really chocking my computer. Good to know that a Mini can handle the job.


    This is basically the setup I would like to have. I just am not sure which option to get as far as the hard drive goes. I assume that the internal SSD speeds things up enough to be worth the extra money.
    My reason for wanting to go with the Mini rather than an Imac, is that I much prefer a matte screen to edit photos on and I already have a good monitor for that.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Location:
    North East US
    #16

    Great to hear that. Looks like you're using exactly the setup - including a 27" NEC monitor" that I'm about to order in the next few weeks as my main photo editing machine. I'll probably pass on the fusion drive and go with just an SSD and then internal and external data drives (my current active catalog including raw files is in the 1TB range), but it's reassuring to hear that this setup works for you.
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    #17
    Haha I guess you didn't notice, you and I have been going back and forth on your monitor thread too.
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #18
    Doh! In any case: Merry Christmas!
     
  19. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #19
    Scottyd, I still haven't quite made up my mind as to which Mini to order, but since you have the fusion drive, I have one question for you. When I import a card of photos, can I import them to the 1tb drive, or does it show up as a single drive along with the SSD? I would like to keep the SSD as empty as possible.
     
  20. benwiggy, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

    macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #20
    The whole point of the Fusion drive is that the distinction between the two drives is completely opaque to users.
    You have ONE volume, made up of two types of hardware. You don't choose where the files go: the OS does. You don't need to worry about where the files go: the OS will sort it out. I imagine the algorithm is "more optimal" than me reckoning I know which files should be where.

    There's no point having an SSD if you want to keep it as empty as possible! :p Core Storage does set some space aside for file transfer, short-term temp files and the like, so you'll never completely fill it.

    I've got a 2.6Ghz with the Fusion drive. Photoshop CS6 works like a dream.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #21
    OK, I do get the point of Fusion drive, I guess. I'm just not sure how it decides what goes where. My concern is that if I have a Lightroom library, with thousands of photos on it, will this fill up the SSD or will they be relegated to the slower drive?
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #22
    Fusion can have parts of a file on the SSD and part on the mechanical drive. So something like a huge Lightroom or iPhoto library will probably be split between the drives. With new or commonly accessed parts of it on the SSD.
     
  23. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #23
    CoreStorage moves BLOCKS, not files, between the SSD and HDD. So if you have a 100Gb video file, but you only keep watching the first 5 minutes, then it's not all going on the SSD.
     

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