5k Imac with Fusion or SSD + External SSD or Thunderbolt?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by looking4anotebo, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. looking4anotebo macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007
    Looking to get into editing 4k from my camera and I'm going to get a new 5K Imac with I7 and m395x but I keep going back and forth as to whether the 2TB Fusion or 512GB SSD would be better option. I would prefer the 2TB Fusion because it is cheaper and I also want to put a windows partition on the new Imac.

    I have read now that putting events and projects (FCPX) on an external drive is a good idea, what's the difference between something like a LaCie 1TB thunderbolt external drive and buying a 512GB Samsung EVO 850 and putting it in an enclosure besides the space disparity?
  2. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    How much video are you planning to capture and process?

    4K videos are huge. Checking a couple of my files:

    A 5 minute XAVC file 3840 x 2160 at 29.970 and 1536 kbps audio clocks in at 3.6 GB.
    A one minute H264 3840 x 2160 at 29.970 and 128 kbps audio clocks in at 884 MB

    I have a 1 TB SSD as my boot drive. Very short videos from just one trip to Japan total about 100 GB so using my internal drive for video storage isn't an option for me.

    With thunderbolt it's going to be the speed of the external disk which will likely be the limiting factor. A fast single hard disk runs about 150 MB/s. The LaCie specs for the 3 TB drive is 180 MB/s. SSD option goes to 1150 MB/s

    Larry Jordan did a review of the LaCie Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 2 raid drive in a raid 5 configuration. It ran 483.8 MB/s write 560.9 MB/s read. He feels this is fast enough for virtually all editing EXCEPT for uncompressed 4K and high bit-depth raw formats.

    Hopefully someone on these forums has experience with 4K on a single disk. If you are running multiple streams then you're likely going to need multiple disks in a RAID configuration.
  3. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    While you can play around with small amounts of 4k from a cell phone within 512GB or 2TB, there is little question you will need external storage if editing any significant amount of 4k material. Beyond the camera native files there are files for optimized media, proxy media, optical flow and rendering. It just takes a huge amount of space.

    I would definitely not recommend an external SSD for video editing. You don't need that level of I/O performance for editing H264 4k material, but you do need the space. You also need a backup drive sufficient for the internal and external main drive space.

    One of the least expensive high performance Thunderbolt RAID systems is the 4TB OWC Thunderbay 4, about $660: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB2IVT04.0S/

    Note the formatted capacity in RAID5 is less than 4TB. Even though you can format it for RAID5 it still should be backed up, so you'll need another drive for that.

    A 4TB G-Tech G-Raid is about $460 and has pretty good performance. However it's RAID0 so you would definitely need backups: http://www.amazon.com/G-Technology-...7236&sr=8-8&keywords=g-technology+4tb+g-drive

    A 2TB Fusion Drive iMac is OK and would work -- I do 4k video editing on both 3TB FD and 1TB SSD iMacs. However since you'll ultimately need external storage there's a good argument for getting the 512GB SSD.

    If you create a Windows Bootcamp partition that will work on a 2TB FD but it won't use the SSD so it will be just a plain HDD. If you don't absolutely need Bootcamp you can use Parallels which works very well.
  4. looking4anotebo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007

    I'm not a professional or anything. Probably just small projects, no more than 30 minutes of footage cut down to 3-4 minute projects. I use a Panasonic FZ-1000 and I am probably going to upgrade to a Samsung NX1.
  5. looking4anotebo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2007
    Thanks for all the great info. Those options are a little out of my price range but I will look at them. So a 512Gb ssd in an enclosure for $100 (around black friday) wouldn't be worth it to store just FCP projects and events? I would back it up regularly with an external WD 1TB drive. Do you notice a large difference between your 3TB Fusion and 1TB SSD systems?

    I don't need SSD performance on windows so that's good to know.
  6. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Well $100 is very inexpensive. The problem is it's not very big. 4k video can consume space faster than you'd first think because of the hidden work files. OTOH if you use the FCP X "leave files in place" import option, do not create proxy or optimized video and don't use AVCHD, it helps limit the size. AVCHD is unique because FCP X imports and transcodes it to the library and you don't have the "leave files in place" option.

    When doing 4k video editing, I don't notice a big difference due to I/O between the 3TB Fusion and and 1TB SSD iMacs. That is likely because most of my media is on external Thunderbolt arrays and most of the slow aspects are CPU and GPU, not I/O.

    If your maximum footage is 30 min from a single camera you could probably get by with less storage. If you like the 512GB external SSD that is OK. I don't think it will make a big difference in video editing performance, but it may have other advantages such as lower acoustic noise or better perceived reliability.

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