2017 iMac external SSD for Photography

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jmantn, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. jmantn macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2012
    I’ve seen a lot of threads about external drives here and was wanting to jump in for a little more specific advice.

    I have a new 2017 iMac i7 3Tb Fusion drive and do a lot of Lightroom and Photoshop as well as occasional video editing.

    I’m coming from a 2012 and had the same 3TB drive and need extra storage and the 2TB SSD caused some sticker shock so I’m saving up now for an external SSD solution.

    I prefer 1TB or larger SSD. I’ve had several HDD failures over 20 years (mostly with PC’s) but love how reliable the Samsung EVO’s seem to be. I currently have a Seagate 5TB external that’s is a backup and isn’t necessarily blazing fast.

    Ideally I’m considering moving my Photos Library and Lightroom Raw files (possibly everything) to an SSD for faster performance as Lightroom on my old computer and even on my new computer is kind of slow on some global adjustments like temperature changes and with some presets which makes comparing between this or that irritating (I could do virtual copies but that’s an added pain).

    So I’m looking for something where I could move my entire photography workflow to an SSD over thunderbolt 3 and if need be at a later date even use as my start up disk.

    I’m looking at Samsung Evo 850 or 960 but no clue on enclosures or if the 960 is overkill for Lightroom, Photoshop, and possibly as my main drive down the road.

    Any suggestions?
  2. driftless, Jun 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
  3. jmantn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2012
    Yeah everything fits the bill but the price :O
    Guess I’ll be waiting a while. Was hoping to see some sub $1000 options.
  4. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    Ext. SSD can be cheap but not at the capacity that your require. For this moment I think it is still not the time yet for an entirely SSD photography workflow, unless for someone with close to no budget ceiling.

    The most sensible solution most photog pros choose is to maintain multiple falvors of drives with multiple perfromances and capacity combination. For example: OS and apps on the fastest PCI SSD; LR catalogue + cache + PS scratch disk on the 2nd fastest but slightly bigger SSD (probably SATA); permanent storage + archives/backups on mirrored slower HDD arrays.

    Your case is slightly trickier since the internal drive in the iMac being the 3TB fusion it doesn't fit into any of the above. I myself would use it only for scratch and temp project drive, OS + apps + LR cat on a fast ext SSD like the Samsung T3 (1TB I think is enough unless you keep all 1:1 previews). And then TBs of older RAWs can reside on other ext HDDs, you may already have a bunch around anyway, if mirrored and/or multiple copies are maintained, the chance of data loss can be reduced close to zero.
  5. JVNeumann macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2017
    I can't speak to the safety or reliability of this method, but he could theoretically split his Fusion into a separate SSD and HDD as per this article: http://www.macworld.com/article/2015664/storage-flash/how-to-split-up-a-fusion-drive.html

    This would give him his flash drive for the OS and core apps, and a secondary large HDD. Combine that with an external SSD and he would have the pyramid structure you described as being optimal.
  6. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    I did this a few years ago, but on a MacMini 2012, it was a server version with 2 SATA cable where my local German Mac seller did a "BTO" themselves. They used a 256GB SSD, which at the time was much larger than whatever Apple was using, so the first thing I did after getting that machine was to split the 2 physical volumes into 2 logical partitions to be used as is. Performance was notably better than fusion drive Minis which I had several around the studio as well, beachballs or long wait for disks to spin up is entirely gone.

    Though the current iMac 3TB fusion using a 128GB is ok for OS and apps, but perhaps somewhat limiting that you may have to offload cache files to externals, which can be hard with certain apps. I wonder if someone already did the split and tested the speed of the 128 portion? If it gets the same 2000MB/s then it would be quite an amazing standalone volume to be used just for OS. Anyway I think the options are quite open for OP, the USB 3.1 ext SSD like the Samsung T3 is pretty good stepdown from LaCie et al while still offering quite decent speed for the money it asks.

    I am in similar situation as I use Lightroom alot and also just ordered an i7 iMac, but with 512GB SSD to at least ensure very fast OS/apps, while still have room for a very large LR catalogue database filled with 1:1 and smart previews. The actual RAWs can be on my older TB1/2 RAIDs which are faster enough for my taste. TB3 is definitely much nicer to have but for spinning disks, even stacked arrays the benefits are not as much.

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