5k iMac External Drive, Advice Please

Discussion in 'iMac' started by AdiosVista, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. AdiosVista macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    #1
    Hello, I'm a current iMac user looking to upgrade to a mostly-maxed-out 5K 27" soon. The only remaining question for me is HDD configuration.

    To give you some background, I do web design, photography, and video editing (4k). Currently, all my files fit on my iMac's 3TB drive but I'm almost out of room.

    With the new iMac, I'm leaning toward 512 internal SSD for applications and moving all my work files to a 4TB external. That's the big question.

    At first, I shopped for single non-SSD Thunderbolt 2 external drives but noticed that even with the super quick Thunderbolt connection, the external HDD itself would be the bottleneck and possibly not fast enough for editing 4k. It seems the only use for Thunderbolt would be if I was doing a RAID 0 for the increased HDD speed. Am I correct?

    What are my best options for a 4TB external that would actually be fast enough to edit 4k video over, while trying to keep costs down (no external SSD)? I'm also not opposed to USB 3.0 if there was a combination that would work but I suspect thunderbolt is the way to go for the speeds I need.

    Any insight would be appreciated, thanks for your time.
     
  2. April Knight Suspended

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    #2
    I am also very interested in this as I am in the exact same position as you. Looking to keep programs and other important files on internal 512GB, while using an external for everything else. Just want something fast enough to enable 4k editing without having to move the files to my internal storage, basically.
     
  3. desmond2046 macrumors regular

    desmond2046

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    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #3
    USB 3.0 is more than enough and Thunderbolt 2 is overkilling even if you are using SSD. Only when you use two SSDs for RAID 0 could you benefit from the extra bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2.
     
  4. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #4
    I use the Seagate Backup Fast to edit 4K video. It's a 4TB RAID stripped USB 3 drive. It's small and bus powered and very reasonable. http://www.seagate.com/external-hard-drives/portable-hard-drives/performance/backup-plus-fast-hdd/ Transfer speeds are excellent.

     
  5. zhaoxin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    #5
    I think you should do an investigation yourself before you buy anything.

    For example, you should test the disk speed that when you are doing 4k editing. You were using a 3TB iMac. If you are not using a fusion drive, I positively guess your 3TB hard drive speed is under 150MB/s both reading and writing. So if that speed is good enough for you, you should be happy with any solution that has a 3.5" hard drive.

    Just using a software like iStat Menus, you will keep a track on both reading and writing speed of your hard drive when you are working.

    Besides, you should also think of keep a backup of all your works.
     
  6. squidward macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    #6
    How is the video compressed? Is it RAW 4k video? I would look into getting an SSD external drive by itself or in Raid 0, Raid 1, or Raid 10. If you want to save money you could get away with using hard drives over SSD but find a drive with 7200RPM with 128MB cache. HDs with 128MB cache should higher read and write speeds.
     
  7. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #7
    Thank you all for the replies, very helpful so far.

    When you say USB 3.0 is enough, is that still true for a regular HDD and not SSD? Is it a must to use RAID 0 or are there fast enough single non-SSD drives?

    I appreciate the recommend and will check it out. Price seems good, too.

    My current iMac is late 2012 with the normal 3TB drive, not the fusion. Actually, it's the Seagate drive that had the recall so all the more reason to upgrade to a new machine. I'll try to get some real-world speed tests done.

    The compression varies between projects but Apple ProRes 4444 is the highest I've used so far. SSD external is out of my price range, maybe in a couple years though. For now, I'm leaning heavily toward a RAID 0 setup but can't decide on USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 1/2, or drive model.
     
  8. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #8
    One more bit of info: I just ran the Black Magic speed test on my current iMac and I'm seeing write speed of 112 and read of 121. That was using the 5GB stress test option. This app is a little confusing to use; I also see other write/read values for different video formats. For example 2K video at 10 Bit YUV 4:2:2 is showing write speed of 13 and read 14.

    Knowing this, what is a good external drive setup that would at least match (and hopefully beat) this performance?
     
  9. desmond2046 macrumors regular

    desmond2046

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Columbus, OH, United States
    #9
    Cases where USB 3.0 is enough:
    Single HDD
    RAID 0 with HDDs
    Single SSD

    Case where USB 3.0 may not be enough:
    RAID 0 with SSDs

    Hope this is clear enough.

    The price of a single 1TB SSD is becoming very reasonable nowadays. Since you can afford an iMac 5K, I highly recommend you invest in an external SSD.
     
  10. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #10
    Thanks for following up, I appreciate it. My decision not to go with an external SSD is because I need between 4TB - 6TB of storage and SSD is not reasonably priced within those ranges.
     
  11. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #11
    The OP needs to edit 4K video and needs a minimum of 4TB. Cost/performance a RAID 0 USB 3 spinning external drives makes sense (like the Seagate Backup Fast I recommended). Is he cutting RAW? No, because the cheapest RAW camera for 4K is around 3 grand without lenses, monitor, tripod, SSDs etc which is another 3 grand easily. And if he was spending that kind of money, then he wouldn't be here asking questions about what drive to get. He'd either know or ask his DP. He's likely shooting H264. Perhaps Pro Res, but I doubt it. Either way, he doesn't need or want SSDs for the work he's doing. Focus and read the posts.

     
  12. zhaoxin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    #12
    Considering of the data lose. I suggest you buy at least 3 bays (4 bays are better) external hard drive with usb 3.0 or thurnderbolt 1/2 connection. Because using at least 3 hard drives, you can do raid 5, which means one of the hard drive fails, you can still get all you data back by replace the failed hard drive with the same size hard drive. With 2 hard drive, you can only does raid 0, which means one of the hard drives fails, all you data is lost.

    The link is only showing what the drive I talked looks like. I have not read much on that and I think you should learn more on this by reading reviews.

    There are also NAS with 4 bays. However, they use 1 Gbps lan, which means 125MB/s most, so I think they do not suit you.
     
  13. squidward macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    #13
    I'd get this http://www.akitio.com/desktop-storage/nt2-u31

    Has raid built into it, you just configure the raid setting on the back. If you're using raid 0 then be sure to back up. Get some 3.5" drives with 128mb cache. Avoid toshiba drives. if you're really on a budget then get 2x2tb with 64mb cache drives as raid 0. Should get you about 300MB/s. If you require something faster then you may have to spend a lot more.
     
  14. zhaoxin macrumors regular

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    Jan 28, 2015
    #14
    I have to say that current no Macs support USB 3.1. So if the price varies much, we would better to choose USD3.0 unless you want to buy some dock to convert thunderbolt 2 to USB 3.1 (If there is that kind of thing).
     
  15. squidward macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    #15
    If you look at the features it is compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0. It also comes standard with a regular USB 3.0 cable. I know, how they describe it is pretty weird but in the USA they can be had on Amazon for a good price. Plus hardware raid that is easy to configure. Just make sure that any drives you put in do not already contain data.
     
  16. double329 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #16
    I use the thunderbolt Seagate extra HD and I am very happy with the performance. I have seen some article(don't remember where?) that has the same drive as I use but set as RAID configruation using multiple disc daisy chain using thunderbolt. The speed shown in the article was very impressive. I also have USB3 ext disc also and it is good. But, I didn't have a chance to do a comparison between the thunderbolt and USB3.
     
  17. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #17
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I think I'm settled on a USB 3.0 RAID 0 (2 drives) and I already have a separate drive dedicated to backups. This seems the cheapest option that will still be fast enough. I appreciate all the good points made in this thread.
     
  18. squidward macrumors newbie

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    Dec 9, 2015
    #18
    Sounds good! It seems Seagate makes some 2TB drives with 128MB cache or a little over $100 USD. Two of those with raid 0 would give you 4TB, 300-400MB/s @ around 300 dollars including enclosure! If you end up going any route, post up some benchmarks. Would like to see how everything performs :D
     
  19. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #19
    But do you need to work on all 4TB - 6TB? I also do web design, photography and video. Here is my workflow: internal SSD for scratch drive and apps. 1TB SSD as a second scratch drive and current project. Additional drives for back-ups and archives with online backup as well. You can keep your 4GB - 6TB on your existing drives an use and 250GB - 1TB, TB or USB3.0, as a scratch drive; you don't have to have all of your files on the drive that you work on.
     
  20. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #20
    I'm curious where/how you decided to store your photos and videos (iPhoto, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro, etc.). Those seem to be the heaviest files I have.
     
  21. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #21
    Just to follow-up and let everyone know what I decided on, I spent a few extra bucks on a G-Raid Thunderbolt 6TB. They're not the cheapest but there were a lot of things I liked, such as the high quality drives inside and I found a good deal that was comparable to most USB 3.0 options I found.

    Now to figure out which files to store where. My initial thought is:

    SSD will contain Apps, Documents, and some smaller backup files (mostly app settings, nothing big).

    The external HDD will contain Music, Movies, Pictures, and Work files.

    Does it make sense to individually move each of these to the external, or should I try to move my entire user folder?
     
  22. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #22
    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Between my iMac and my external SSD I have 2TB of SSD storage. Apps, Dropbox, etc., are on the iMac. Current projects are on the external SSD. I have another smaller external SSD for my iTunes library. Obviously, video is the the big storage user and I am very quick to move projects that I have completed to archival drives. If I need to work on a project that I have moved over to my archival drives, big LaCie, I will copy it over to my external SSD for that time that I need to work on it. FWIW - I currently have 3 current video projects, two cameras, external audio, all over an hour, that I am working on. I am hoping that in the near future there will be affordable, ~$1,000.00 2 - 3TB external SSDs.

    Photos are stored either in Dropbox for LR/PS or family pics in Photos/iCloud that I share with my wife (former Aperture user).
     
  23. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #23
    I would not move your entire user file. FWIW - I would organize your work folder so that you can move around discrete projects without moving all of your work files.
     
  24. AdiosVista thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 10, 2008
    #24
    Thanks very much for the replies. The more I research, the more I agree on not moving the Home folder. It seems the other common solution is to use symlinks to move mac's special folders like Pictures, Movies, etc. It looks doable but my gut tells me that any solution requiring terminal editing of system files is more complex than needed. Am I overlooking a simpler solution to moving all my Photos, Lightroom, and Final Cut Pro files to the external?
     

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