27" iMac SSD + HDD - Which drive for what, organize for performance?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by roland.g, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. roland.g, Jun 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011

    roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #1
    I originally planned on getting a base 27" iMac 2.7 stock variety. I don't think I really have the need for the upgraded graphics in the 3.1 or the HT capabilities of the 3.4. However, while I understand there will be the debate on cost vs. return, and the "well TB externals will be available soon enough", I am seriously considering the extra $600 for the 27" 2.7 SSD + HDD.

    I know to some it seems like a waste, and I'm not sure what my decision will be. What I would really like to know though is:

    1. Most people say OS and Apps on the SSD, and data/files on the HDD. I get that. Would it be better access and performance wise to also include either the User Home folder or at least the iPhoto library on the SSD or would the amount of read/write hamper the lifespan, ie. not be that good for the SSD.

    2. I am moving from a 2007 24" iMac 2.8 Extreme with 4GB RAM so I understand that my iPhoto can be a dog already and would be greatly improved even on a stock HDD Sandy Bridge, but that is where I'm not sure if I went with an SSD, how it would best be utilized. Everyone says that it should be 60 or 120 GB and that 256 is unnecessarily large for a boot SSD, but that is why I wonder how best to utilize it.

    3. I currently house my iTunes media library, ie. all Music, Movies, Apps, Podcasts, etc. on an external 2TB HDD with a redundant 2TB for CCCloner to keep backed up and then use my 750 external as TM backup for my internal 750. So I wouldn't keep any media other than Photos internally. I know some will say, why get the SSD + HDD, save $100 and just get the SSD, but it seems silly not have the 1TB in there for $100 (still overpriced) as essentially a scratch disk.

    4. I can use the 1TB to work in MTR and HB or other places I don't want to use the SSD, keep video footage I shoot, etc. But use the SSD for all docs (not that many), Quicken file, and other small stuff. Or just use it for iPhoto library and keep all other home folder on the HDD, or nothing but the OS and Apps on the SSD. I understand MBA and other SSD only users only have the SSD and that is where they keep just about everything, but with the hybrid internal, what is the best way to utilize the speed and structure?

    Thanks for weighing in.
     
  2. poppakristof macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    #2
    I use my 80gb intel SSD for system and apps. I moved my home folder to the hard drive along with boot camp.
    Works great for me.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. iAK macrumors member

    iAK

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #3
    So, your apps open at SSD speed and your media opens at HDD speed? That sounds like it defeats the purpose of having a SSD. What's the point if having a photo app open at SSD speed, if the content of that app opens at HDD speed? Sounds like a waste of money until the SSD drives become larger and more affordable.

    Am I wrong or missing something?
     
  4. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #4
    Questions about photo libraries + SSD drives

    I am buying a 27" w/ 256gb ssd + 2tb hdd to replace my home work machine.

    Currently I run my aperture 3 library on a FW800 external...

    I am planning on running apps / os on the internal SSD with my Aperture 3 library on the internal HDD. I know that this alone + the 12GB of ram and improved processor in the new iMac will be a HUGE improvement over my 2006/7 24".

    Question: Has anyone ever ran an aperture 3 library from the SSD? How easy would it be to keep the "current" projects from the month in their own library on the SSD, then "merge" them with the archival library on the HDD once completed? This would keep my working files on the faster SSD as opposed to running the app on the fast ssd, pulling data from the slower HDD...

    Is this possible/easy?

    Thanks
     
  5. andrei.barbuta macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Location:
    Romania
    #5
    I am hoping to get the 27" iMac with SSD+2TB HDD option plus CPU upgrade and GPU.
    I was thinking about how I would organize my files and the best conclusion is this.
    I started to make a list of all the programs I used. So for example iPhoto I will keep the library on my SSD. I would like to do the same with iTunes but that's more problematic since it's around 60 GB and that's just music because movies, tv shows i play using Plex Media Center and obviously those will reside either on an external HDD connected to my router.
    So the idea is to get fast access to programs read files when you launch them so those will reside on the SSD. For the other programs you want fast launch times, but because they don;t open many files you don;t need to have the assets on the SSD.
    For example Photoshop, you open it, boom, instant on, then you open a *.psd file for a website design and that file is on the internal HDD. You'll still get a decent performance from the HDD but you won't fill up the SSD.
    The goal is to to get instant response, so for iPhoto, iTunes (depends on your library size) and whatever other apps that reads all it's assets on app launch they got on the SSD. For the rest, Photoshop, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Maya etc. you'll have the Apps on the SSD for instant launch times and thier project files on the HDD with a very good performance throughput but since those assets are not read when you launch those apps then you don't need to store them on the SSD.

    I do want to make a note here. With Lion you'll have Resume, that means that when you launch Photoshop the program will launch along with it the project file you last worked on and since that file will be on the HDD then no more instant on. But here I'm hoping Apple will use in the future the Z68 chipset capability of caching most used or recent files on the SSD. But that's just a whim.

    Enjoy your awesome iMac I'll have to wait 6 more months. :(
     
  6. TxTortoise macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    #6
    Aperture Library on SSD

    My exact configuration, past and current. 1TB Aperture library currently resides on 2TB internal HD with Aperture 3 on SSD. Seems sufficiently fast, certainly compared to the setup we both had with the 24" and external FW drive. I thought about creating a "current library" on the SSD for football season, but I don't think it's going to be necessary, plus my SSD is at 200GB now. Mostly waiting for Thunderbolt drives to come out for the Vaults and backup.

    I'd try it with Aperture on the HD first and see if that works for you. Merging libraries is not a big deal, but is just one more thing to manage.

     
  7. losta macrumors member

    losta

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    NY Metro area
    #7
    I just set up my 27" SSD + HDD this week. I usually migrate my Macs but going from a Mac Pro with 4 HDDs to this has been a bit daunting.

    For now I copied my user folders to the HDD and pointed my iTunes and iPhoto libraries to the copied user folders on the HDD though the main user folder is on the SSD but I'm not sure that is what I want to do. My itunes and iphoto libraries are way too big for an SSD so for me OS and Apps will just reside on the SSD and the greatest benefit is using SSD for Photoshop scratch disk.

    I am looking forward to the release of thunderbolt hardware but for now I also have external FireWire 800 drives and FW Drobo.
     
  8. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #8
    I have the SSD + HDD setup since the 2010 version. I moved the Home folder to the HDD and left everything else on the SSD. This works great.

    For files like iPhoto and iTunes, I never feel like the speed of the read is too slow. To me, the solution is not an SSD vs HDD issue but more of a processor, ram & graphics card issue. Load up on RAM and pay up for a fast(er) processor and a better graphics card option.

    iPhoto and especially iTunes files are relatively small files. They'll load quickly from an HDD. Even if you're rapidly flipping through full (screen) size photos, I bet you won't be able to tell the difference. It doesn't make much sense to be rapidly flipping through iTunes music.

    I do recognize that there would be some technical difference in how fast a iPhoto image loads when you click the thumbnail to blow it up. But if you are not doing that a lot, I don't see it saving you that much time.

    If the need is really one that involves flipping through the thumbnails quickly, I'd go right back to paying up for the faster processor, more ram and better graphics card. If it was an either or (either faster processor, etc OR SSD), I'd probably lean to the faster processor, etc.
     
  9. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #9
    My iPhoto library is at about 20-30 GB. So I'm not sure it would be a big deal to have that on my SSD. I have my iTunes at 700GB on a 2TB external HDD now and that is how I would keep it. I'm just wondering if scrolling through thumbnails of events, etc. would make a big difference on the SSD vs. HDD and really since I would have plenty of space on the SSD after OS and APPS, would there be any disadvantage to having the iPhoto library on there. What % of the SSD do you want to keep free. 30%, 50% ?
     
  10. HobeSoundDarryl, Jun 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #10
    Sounds like you have a good plan. If SSD space becomes precious later you could always just move the iPhoto library off of it to free up that 30+GB space. If you have the space for mostly read-oriented files, why not store them there?

    I generally subscribe to the idea of keeping the write regularly files OFF of the SSD. So I chose the easy option of just putting the whole Home folder on the HDD.

    Relative to flipping through thumbnails in iPhoto, I bet you won't see the difference if you tried it both ways. I really think that is much more about RAM, processor & graphics card vs. SSD read speed advantages. Since it is a big deal to you, I'd really encourage loading up on RAM, etc.

    I see practically no benefit in storing the iTunes library on the SSD, even if you had enough space for it.

    I don't know about the "how much free space is important?" answer beyond the general answer for OS X boot discs.
     
  11. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #11
    I would think that iPhoto encompasses a fair amount of writing since you are often importing from camera, making albums, etc. I didn't realize that the SSD was better as a read device rather than a write, or that one might want to avoid say a lot of writing if that is indeed how I read your comments.

    I plant to get 2x4GB sticks of RAM for a total of 12. Originally I though 2x2 but the price difference on the 4GB sticks isn't much, so it sounds like the way to go.
     
  12. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #12
    That's (12GB total ram) exactly what I did (too).

    You are reading my "read-oriented" use of the SSD right. There's a lot of information (or perhaps misinformation) about SSD being best used as mostly data read devices. If you go with the information (which I do), you don't want a lot of writes to the SSD (like some kind of longer-term RAM).

    The Apple cheerleaders let on that OS X probably covers the TRIM issues and I think I've seen a little apparently objective evidence of that. On the other hand, I've seen a lot more of the "I hope OS X gets some TRIM support" wishing, so I lean to it not being there. TRIM is apparently THE method to properly manage the write cycles aiming to maximize the useful life of the SSD. Instead of using and reusing the same "cells" over and over again, TRIM just keeps appending new writes to the end and then overwrites old deletions when it runs out of virgin space.

    So what about stuff like the Air that ships ONLY with SSD? The argument is that the average user won't wear out the SSD write capabilities before it's time for an Air upgrade. I personally buy for the long term (usually 4+ years) so I'd rather minimize the writes in an aim for the SSD to last the whole time I use this iMac. Replacing it doesn't look like it would be fun.

    All that said, best I understand this concept, the iPhoto writing scenario wouldn't be that big of a deal as you are merely adding new writes to long-term SSD storage (after which they would be left there and pretty much just read until you delete or move those photos). The write issues with SSD's seems to be about stuff like a Safari cache or similar, where you are writing & overwriting, over and over again. It's not an accumulation of files written to the SSD; it's using the same "cells" over and over again for ever-changing content.

    Do a search for SSD Trim and similar to learn more.
     
  13. iAK macrumors member

    iAK

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    Jun 13, 2011
    #13
    So... to me it sounds like you are paying a ton of money so your iMac boots faster and safari opens quicker...do you guys hear yourselves? Why do you really want a 256 SSD drive? Be Honest.
     
  14. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #14
    Boots are much faster, big apps open much faster, anything that is "read heavy" makes accessing the data much faster, etc.

    Sometimes, several hundred more is no big deal. Personally, a 2-drive iMac was much more appealing than a 1-drive iMac, even if one of those drives had substantially less capacity for about 3X more cost than the other drive.

    If you read lots of customer feedback on the topic, a phrase often attached to those who switch from HDD to SSD is "like a new machine again." It makes enough of a difference for people to notice the added speed. Is that worth Apple's price for the stock unit? That's an eye (or maybe wallet) of the beholder question. It's nice to have the option for those that want it.
     
  15. sth macrumors 6502a

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    The old world
    #15
    In real life desktop apps, an SSD is the single biggest performance upgrade you can get. It's not just about startup times – those are just examples. It's about having a snappy, responsive system through and through.

    We have CPUs and RAM capable of shifting several gigabytes of data per second while on the other hand we use conventional HDDs which often slow down to single-digit megabytes (or worse!) per second because of rotational latency.
     
  16. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

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    Nov 20, 2007
    #16
    Yep. Have the dual setup in my mbp (OWCDataDoubler). Don't EVER want to go back to straight HDD again; usinng my 27" i7 (2009) iMac can seem relatively painful in comparison.

    Am tempted to upgrade, just for the SSD alone.
     
  17. zepharus macrumors 6502a

    zepharus

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    #17
    Sounds like you've never used a SSD before.

    It is quite easily a "game changing" experience and one your are used to it you can never go back
     
  18. iAK macrumors member

    iAK

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    Jun 13, 2011
    #18
    I'm typing this on an air, so I do know. I't's fantastic.

    My point is, don't you think it's a little odd to have an SSD drive on an iMac, when most of your files will have to go onto the HDD because of space limitations? What's the point, for example, of having iPhoto open quickly if all your photos have to load from the HDD?
     
  19. poppakristof macrumors newbie

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    Oct 31, 2010
    #19
    Storing an mp3 on an ssd is the waste.
    So what if my safari plist is on the "slow" hdd, the app itself is running from a) sdd b) memory.
     
  20. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    #20
    I have exactly the same setup, and here's what I'm doing.

    The system and all apps are on SSD. Recently edited or created files are on SSD as a general plan.

    I have the Aperture library on SSD and because of limited SSD size, most of the masters are referenced on the HDD. Newly imported images are imported as managed images into the Ap Lib on the SSD. My plan is to Relocate Masters selectively from SSD to HDD when I think the Library is getting too big. I will do this by date - anything older than a certain date gets relocated or maybe anything older than a certain date and NOT 3-5 stars gets relocated. Haven't decided yet.​

    My testing shows that (as expected) there is a worthwhile, but not huge difference in performance with the images on HDD rather than SSD due to the large file sizes (Canon 7D RAW ~ 25MB/image). The SSD makes a very big difference for smaller file accesses and the Ap Lib consists of small files (except managed masters embedded).

    Program loading is very fast.

    Even at 12GBs, I'm getting Page Outs, so I could obviously do with more RAM. However, I'm very rarely noticing much in the way of beachball periods because the paging is satisfied at blinding speed on the SSD. Aperture really likes its RAM!

    I'm also noticing that when I scan through images in full screen mode assigning ratings, if I do it really fast, it pushes my CPU utilization up to near 400% on the i7 3.4. This is another thing about SSD. A faster SSD would probably do nothing for me, because with the one I have, the bottleneck has moved to the CPU. Again, this is no great surprise. Aperture not only likes RAM, it likes CPU cycles!

    HTH
     
  21. curtisinoc macrumors 6502

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    #21
    ^^ makes a lot of sense for the "average" user (like me). . . .
     
  22. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

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    Sep 7, 2010
    #22
    It's more than just iPhoto open time. It's subsequent loading of iPhoto modules, and there is more.

    Go with referenced images in iPhoto. Put the iPhoto library on SSD, and the images on HDD.

    The SSD gives huge benefits for small reads and writes in the library. HDDs are quite good for large reads and writes for the images.

    It's the same story as my posting above on Aperture.
     
  23. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #23
    But can you control which drive Safari uses for its cache. Would you want it on the SSD for performance, or on the HDD because of too many writes to the SSD. As a huge Safari user with often multiple pages open and multiple tabs per window, I can see this as a problem, though I expect the Lion Reading List to hopefully mitigate this somewhat.

    The iPhoto library is a contained module with the library file and the images contained inside. Would you want to separate those putting just the smaller library file on the SSD and all the images on the HDD. I know this works easily in iTunes because it keeps the library in the users music folder but puts the media by type at whatever location you designate, which in my case is an external. I just didn't know I could do that with iPhoto. I am also wondering if I would want to port my library from iPhoto to Aperture with the new machine, but I bought Aperture when it came to the Mac App Store at $79 and really haven't messed with it much. I assume it still has the ability to manage MobileMe shared galleries, but can it be accessed from Mail, Screensaver/Desktop, and all the other apps that iPhoto is integrated into. Either way I would hope that I am not in a situation where I have to manually manage file locations too much beyond the initial set up of library file goes here, images go there, all new imports go there too kind of thing. BTW, still running iPhoto '09 and won't be transitioning to '11 until I get the new iMac.
     
  24. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

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    Sep 7, 2010
    #24
    Roland, the decision to go from iPhoto to Aperture is not a trivial one. There is a learning curve. The Aperture User Guide is near a thousand pages long, so that tells you something.

    But if you want a powerful image management and photo editing package, then it certainly meets those needs.

    Best way to answer your questions is a combination of reading the manual using Preview so you can search it, and trying things out. You'll find things that you like that iPhoto just can't do, and you may find things that iPhoto does that you miss in Aperture.

    I really like Aperture, but it's not for everyone, that's for sure.

    There is a very good Aperture community on the Apple Community website.
     
  25. lunchfoot macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    seattle, wa
    #25
    aren't you guys getting a bit too worried about writes to the ssd? I've read that even with this type of ssd you could write to it at a constant 50 MB/sec 24 hours a day for 8 years straight before it theoretically would wear out. You are simply not going to wear the thing out. You are more likely to have it malfunction and these toshiba drives have very good reliability.
     

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