2015 iMac storage planning for FCPX

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Avery1, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. Avery1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    #1
    I'm looking to purchase a 2015 iMac, and one of the intended uses will be to edit some videos for personal use -- mostly small stuff, possibly something mid-sized. I recently purchased FCPX, but have not had a chance to use it much yet. I currently only shoot 1080p/60 video, but can see that in a couple years I will probably be shooting 4k.

    I've read multiple posts recommending 3 disks -- 1 for OS/Apps, 1 for raw Media, and 1 for the working files/cache/etc.

    Given the crazy fast speeds of the internal flash/SSD, is it reasonable is it reasonable to combine the OS/Apps with the working files/cache/etc on internal flash/ssd (1TB), instead of having two drives? I prefer a simpler setup, if it can function well.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    I could be wrong, but unless you're a professional, you don't need three drives for your setup. Infact the iMac lends itself to a single drive setup as does OS X. That is, it takes a bit of work to separate your home folder from the drive that holds the OS.

    Here's my suggestion, get a 256GB (or 512GB) SSD in your iMac, and then when you need the higher amounts of storage for FCPX, get an external thunderbolt drive, either a single drive or multiple depending on your needs. This will give you fast throughput thanks to the TB interface and gobs of storage.
     
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #3
    If you want to pay for the 1TB SSD upgrade then by all means go for it, it'll be simplest, fastest, most stable storage solution you can use but will cost you an extra $900. Most of the talk on these forums about different ways of getting large amounts of faster storage is because people aren't prepared to pay for that upgrade.
     
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #4
    From a performance standpoint, there is no problem putting everything on the SSD system drive of a 2015 iMac. The new SSD has about 1,700 megabytes/sec bandwidth.

    OTOH it is limited in size, and video takes a lot of space, esp. 4k. FCPX creates a lot of additional files (render, cache, etc) which take up space.

    For a limited amount of 1080p material you will probably be OK for a while.

    Another point most people misunderstand is the I/O bandwidth of H264 1080p material is not very high. If it took very much I/O, the camera itself (with its weak CPU) could not write it fast enough when shooting. In most cases FCPX on a contemporary machine can edit camera native 1080p without transcoding, so the I/O rate for that is very limited.

    If you transcode to ProRes then space (hence I/O rates) go up by about 8x, but this is usually not necessary.

    Even with everything on the internal SSD, you will still need an external drive for backup.
     
  5. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #5
    There are a lot of reasons to put your media files on an external drive. Any editor will tell you that organization is key not only to editing projects, but returning to them in the future. If you work off your system drive, then major and little bits and pieces of video, sound and graphics files will live there. Trying to make sure they all get off when you need free up space and to stop work on that project is a nightmare. Also, computers don't last forever. So even though your internal Flash Drive is super fast and reliable, the computer will likely be sold or passed on in about 4-5 years. Again, where are those files for the piece you edited? Somewhere in some dark folder on that drive.

    If you're working with lighter media (say 1080P) then external SSDs make sense. Otherwise, RAID spinning disks for 4K in H264. Either are plenty fast enough and there are other bottle necks you may encounter -- reading and writing files is unlikely to be one of them. You don't need a separate disk for the cache.


     
  6. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    #6
    All -- thanks for the insight... really appreciate it. We have laptops and purchased a TS-653 NAS, but it isn't really able to serve all the purposes as advertised (yay marketing with crappy delivery), so this desktop is basically going to replace that. I don't see the point in keeping the NAS but will be keeping the 4x 4GB HGST drives. So the system will either look like
    1) 512 SSD + those drives in RAID 10 in a thunderbolt enclosure, or
    2) 1TB flash drive and using 1 of the drives via USB3 for time machine backups, and one of the drives via usb3 for high volume storage (video, photos, software, etc)

    I like the simplicity of the 1TB Flash and it may be best since I'm going to run a number of VMs on the machine. However, I can also see the draw of the 8TB RAID 10 array, though that will consume more power, cost more, and I'll have to buy a 6TB drive. Will option 2 work sufficiently from a FCPX performance perspective if all my media is on a JBOD 4TB USB3 externally docked drive? I guess that question goes for both 1080p and 4k (future).

    Thanks!
    Avery
     
  7. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #7
    That's a big difference between Premiere and FCPX (which the OP is using). FCPX can manage all the media for you, and when moving (they call it "consolidating") off a current set of paths, it remembers every file location and will extract and move that to a single destination library.

    Even though the 2015 SSD is fast enough for virtually any video use, I usually don't recommend that because it's generally not big enough. People always underestimate how much storage video requires.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 7, 2016 ---
    In general I like #1, but it must be backed up, which requires yet another drive array. In general you cannot go without a backup, whether the source is SSD or RAID.

    #2 is probably OK but a single drive limits you to around 130-150 MB/sec. That is OK for H264 1080p, but the moment you transcode to ProRes, the space and I/O bandwidth increase by 8x and 4K increases that by another 4x.

    FCPX is very good at handling camera native media so normally you don't need ProRes, but even 1/4 res proxy media roughly doubles space and I/O requirements.

    There is no single right or wrong solution, just varying degrees based on your current and projected workflow. In general I like a high-performance RAID array for all media and another high performance device to back that up. However you have to pragmatically compromise based on your budget and actual requirements.

    OWC has some good moderately-priced Thunderbolt arrays: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/External-Drive/OWC/ThunderBay-4
     
  8. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    #8
    joema2 -- thanks for providing your insight. My only issue with the OWC enclosure is that doesn't support hardware RAID 10, which is the only way I'd go. The Pegasus2 R4 does support my HGST 4TB NAS Disks, but isn't available diskless (at least, anymore it seems)
     
  9. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #9
    OWC using SoftRAID has excellent performance in RAID-5, see the graphs that Mac Performance Guide did:
    http://macperformanceguide.com/Reviews-OWC-Thunderbay.html

    If you are concerned about the alleged vulnerability of RAID-5 to a double failure, most of the articles written on this are based on an erroneous interpretation of HDD spec for unrecoverable errors.

    See discussions in this forum for more details:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads...in-my-new-27-inch-imac.1943733/#post-22382727
     
  10. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    #10
    Thanks! My concerns are 1) software RAID -- I think it's difficult to test all scenarios here, and you're at the whim of multiple vendor software updates for stability (OS, Hardware, and possibly 3rd-party the software vendor... all this drives down reliability) 2) potential failure during RAID 5 rebuild, which can't handle that second error. I've worked in enterprise IT for many years, and one of the most respected, seasoned, and simply brilliant engineers I've ever worked with (and who is a consultant on the side building super computers) talked me into the fact that RAID 5 isn't good with consumer level drives or for mission critical applications. In general, I favor reliability. While I will have backups, I don't want the hassle, and finding that right balance for my tolerance is the goal :) I'll have a look though the thread tonight
     
  11. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #11
    As mentioned in the above-listed thread, this has been studied and much of the fear about RAID-5 is unfounded. There is a "soft" capacity point where it might make sense to transition to a higher RAID. However RAID-5 is commonly used in mission critical applications. Much of the concern stems from a flawed interpretation of HDD unrecoverable error statistics.
     
  12. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #12
    You can even use a non-RAID external if you plan your work flow properly. For me, the key to keeping your main drive usable is to move any project that you have completed to an archival drive as soon as you can. Your archival drive can be a single USB 3.0. If you should ever need to work on that project again it can easily be moved back to your main drive. IMHO it is easier and faster to move a project back to the main drive rather than work off of a slow external. I use multiple drives but I could easily work from my iMac and one external archival drive.
     
  13. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    #13
    Thanks, driftless. Being new to FCPX, one of the things I don't have a native feel for is how much of a hassle it is moving/copying media from an archive type location to a working location and back. If someone can speak to that it would be awesome.

    I'm still teetering on the internal flash/SSD size. I have enough data that in any case, I will need at last one external 'disk' for storing data (photos, video, audio, software) and one external 'disk' for time machine and data backups. The real question is 512 internal SSD + external raid + 1 stand-alone backup drive, or 1TB internal SSD + 2 external JBOD drives. The third option is the first setup, but with the 1TB drive... I can see the value in this if it is meaningfully more useful to a 4k editing work flow (fast SSD internally, with at least 600 GB free), but otherwise leaning towards option 1 (where I can assume I'll have at least RAID 10 type speeds). Would 600 GB free on the internal SSD be enough space for doing a full edit on say a 30 minute 4k h264 movie (all disk space)? I suppose that is highly dependent on the amount of media being used.
     
  14. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #14
    It is painless and fast to move ~ 35 - 60GB files back and forth. I have currently 4 - 2 camera, 1 - 2 AC projects, all over an hour and half in progress at the moment. I would suggest buying the the largest SSD iMac that you can afford coupled with an inexpnsive external like a LaCie Porsche desktop or a G-Tech drive (of course with back-up, off-line preferred). As I posted before, finish projects and move them off you your main drive as soon as possible. I think that you are really overthinking your external devices prior to having any projects under hand. Just start with your iMac and build once you really have know your workflow.
     
  15. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 14, 2010
    #15
    Fair enough -- and yes, probably overthinking, but difficult to avoid when being a theorist about 4k and hoping to have the imac last 4-5 years. Thanks for your input!
     
  16. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #16
    Unlike some other editors, FCPX has extensive media and file management. It can do a lot for you, or can be configured for entirely automatic "managed library" mode. You also have options for how to archive projects. I suggest reviewing these instructional videos:

    MacBreak Studio #256, Camera Archives in FCPX:



    MacBreak Studio #257, Archiving Tips:



    MacBreak Studio #272, Media Management Changes:


    MacBreak Studio #273, File Management in FCPX:
     
  17. Avery1 thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 14, 2010

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