Best Mac Pro SSD / HDD arrangement for Photo + Video Editing (8 bays, real mix of drives)

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by lewis_cooper, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. lewis_cooper macrumors newbie


    May 9, 2016
    London, UK
    Would love some experienced advice on this.

    I'm a photographer with very large Lightroom photo libraries and perform high-end retouching in Photoshop. I shoot most weekends and spend very little time deleting unwanted shots, needing to focus my available time on the selected shots.

    I want to get in to video editing. 1080p for now maybe 4k in the future. I'm still deciding between Final Cut Pro and Premiere but perhaps that's irrelevant for the question below? Either way, I'm going to need fast read/writes for a smooth editing experience. How fast, I don't have an experience to know so hopefully you can advise.

    The mac:
    Classic Mac Pro
    3.33 GHz 6-Core
    32 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 4095 MB
    6x SATA storage bays (4x slot loading + 2x extended from motherboard sitting in optical bay)
    1x PCIe SSD controller with 2 bays (Apricorn Velocity Duo X2)
    1x PCIe 4-port USB 3.0 card

    The available drives:
    - 960GB SSD
    - 480GB SSD
    - 240GB SSD
    - 240GB SSD
    - 1TB HDD 7200rpm
    - 1TB HDD 7200rpm

    3x 500gb LaCie USB 3.0 Externals
    2x 1TB LaCie USB 3.0 Externals
    1x 2TB LaCie USB 3.0 External

    Current arrangement:
    Startup disk
    - 240GB SSD
    (write: 110MB/s read 265MB/s)

    480GB Software RAID 0
    - 480GB SSD
    - 240GB SSD
    (write: 460MB/s read 520MB/s)

    Slow occasional access storage
    - 1TB HDD 7200rpm
    (write: 115MB/s read 155MB/s)

    Slow occasional access storage (large iTunes library etc.)
    - 1TB HDD 7200rpm
    (write: 120MB/s read 110MB/s)

    Sitting in LaCie USB 3.0 enclosure for light, shock resistant mobile storage
    - 960GB SSD
    (write: 245MB/s read 265MB/s)

    The question:
    How do I make the best and most sensible use of the storage space available?? As you can see I've got an awful lot of gigabytes available across drives of varying sizes. The Apricorn Velocity Duo card hasn't arrived but once it's here I'll have yet another 2 "bays" available and they'll be the fastest in the system.

    Should I RAID two SSDs off the Apricorn and use that as my startup disk?
    Or continue booting off a single SATA SSD and use 2x SSDs on the Apricorn as a super fast working space for the video media?

    I'd also like to make sure all drives are well backed up. Time Machine works well for me but I don't have a single drive to cover the sum of all internal drives.

    The possibilities are myriad and I'm at a loss as to where to start! Please help.
  2. ColdCase, Apr 23, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    What you have probably won't cut it. Video eats up way way more storage than photos and can be quite an investment. Lots of ways to skin the cat and I've tried a number of them. You need a fast drive for smooth editing (and boot) and RAIDing a number of rotational drives together may be cheap but not satisfying. The only reason to RAID, given your computer, would be if you need a larger volume than a singe drive can provide. I would try to avoid that.

    In general, use a small SSD for boot. Use larger SSD(s) for working media, large enough to store your current working video media and project library. I like 1TB SSDs and since I have a couple different currently working libraries I have a couple 1TB SSDs. Once I'm done with a project and its media, I move it off to massive rotational storage for archiving. I use 5 and 6TB WD red drives for backup and archiving, iTune libraries, Web Server files. If you are not keeping the video around, then you won't need massive drives for that.

    You will find good quality Samsung SSDs to be plenty fast enough for editing, no need to RAID them for speed.

    For backup I time machine the working SSD drives and boot SSD to a dedicated 4 or 5 TB WD Red drive and a network drive (belt and suspenders). I use CCC to backup the archive drives once a day. Since I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy I also use CC to backup the library SSDs to a rotational drive once a day, not that I don't trust TM, but sometimes finding something on a CC clone is faster.

    If a 1 or 2TB SSD is not big enough for your current working library, then you could RAID them into 2 or 4TB volumes.

    Where you fit all these drives is your choice. I have a couple Thunderbolt storage boxes (LaCie and OWC) where most of my drives reside. I don't think that is an option for you but on my 3,1 I use firewire and eSATA enclosures for backup and archiving. I wouldn't trust USB until there is no other choice. I have a few of those in use.

    Again, lots of ways to skin this cat and the best way may be more subjective than we like, especially if you have budget constraints. You can always start small, using what you have, and migrate to a more robust system once you determine you really want to be a video editor.

    Oh I use FCP because, well.. I like its media management. Your mileage may vary for other apps :)
  3. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    Assuming your SSDs are SATA 6, the Apricorn will speed up your read/writes dramatically — closer to 500MB/sec read/writes depending on your SSD.

    I agree with above about consolidating on fewer, larger SSDs and/or HDDs. If you have two SATA 6 slots available, put your boot SSD and primary working SSD in there.

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