Are file transfer speeds affected more by cores/cpu speeds or port speeds?

mikejtl

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Original poster
Apr 27, 2009
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I'm choosing between a 13" and 15" Macbook Pro (possibly a used pre-touch bar 15") and haven't been able to find answers to the following. But first, heres what I'll use it for. I work in video, I shoot a lot of interviews so the SD cards from my DSLR are always full at the end of a shoot. I usually download them and back them up to external drives on location so speed is important. No one wants to wait an hour to go home because the computer is too slow backing up the footage.

Will the quad cores of the 15" speed up this process significantly compared to the dual core 13" or is it more about having the fastest card reader / external drive on the fastest port, or both?

I assume the discreet GPU does not affect this process, but correct me if I am wrong there.

Occasionally I will do some editing in Premier, but not regularly, so the 13" should handle those needs fine; I think, please correct me there too if anyone has experience with Premier on the 13". I even debated the MacBook (for the portability factor) but I'm guessing Premier will actually be slow on that machine.

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.
 

techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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SD cards are slow, the fastest UHS cards can reach around 300Mbps. That is a limitation of the storage type, even if the reader were connected via USB3\3.1.

USB3\3.1 speeds can reach 5-10Gbps and SATA3 drives, around 6Gbps.

Unless the CPU is woefully inadequate, it doesn't seem like it would make much of a difference.
 

mikejtl

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Original poster
Apr 27, 2009
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Thanks for the response. Sounds like I should just try to invest in the fastest cards I can buy. Would writing to an SSD help or is the card too much of a bottle neck?
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Sep 26, 2017
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Open your System Monitor and watch your CPU History to see how much CPU use is involved with file transfer. Pretty much any modern CPU is not going to have a problem moving or copying files to another location as fast as the media allows, and you are really running into port/media limitations in this case.

The only time CPU cores will matter for you is when importing your content and do processing. Again, you could watch your CPU usage while doing those things. My personal opinion: if you can swing it, the quad core system will give you more flexibility and CPU power for the future. This is especially true considering 4K is becoming more common, and 8K is the next push.
 

techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Thanks for the response. Sounds like I should just try to invest in the fastest cards I can buy. Would writing to an SSD help or is the card too much of a bottle neck?
The card is the bottleneck, regardless of the target for your media. The least common denominator determines the speed of the task, in this case reading from the SD card. Writing to HDD or SSD, internal or not will in effect, not be any faster than the stream of data being pulled from the card.
 

mikejtl

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Original poster
Apr 27, 2009
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Thanks for all of your responses. They are extremely helpful, and pretty illuminating.
 

RobbieTT

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Apr 3, 2010
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I'm choosing between a 13" and 15" Macbook Pro (possibly a used pre-touch bar 15")...

No one wants to wait an hour to go home because the computer is too slow backing up the footage.
It is so helpful when someone posts their usage and the elements that they want to improve. It makes answering simple!

As you are considering an older machine take note of the standards supported by the SD card reader. As covered above, this and the cards are usually the bottleneck so make sure you have the speed you need.

Whilst my next suggestion is not part of your question but links to the 'waiting an hour' bit. There are some handheld battery powered SD card readers with built-in storage; some even have WiFi, screens etc. I have a colleague who keeps one of these on his belt or in a pocket. As soon as he fills a card he just loads it into the reader and it can be happily downloading his footage whilst he carries on doing his job. Finally transferring the content to his laptop at external SSD speeds takes next to no time.

It is an alternative workflow but it may work for you.

Random high-end example:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1437308-REG/gnarbox_gnar512v2_2_0_ssd_512gb_external.html