Best Scratch Disk Setup for i7 iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sammyman, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. sammyman macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #1
    What is the best way to setup a fast scratch disk for an iMac i7 27"? I am considering buying one of these, or maybe a Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is just so BIG! So I want to figure out a way to make the iMac work if possible for my needs. I need to install a 2TB drive and lots of RAm, and solve the scratch disk problem.

    What do you use?
     
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #2
    You need to share a bit more information. Specifically:
    • how much of that 2TB will you need to be "active" at one time,
    • how much of a factor is money/cost?

    Fastest is probably a RAID 0 made of fast(est) SSD drives. You could probably assemble a RAID 0 SSD to max out the speed of the OWC e-sata mod.

    If you don't want to the e-sata mod, you could aim for maxing out Firewire 800 speeds.

    Next fastest (and cheaper) would be a RAID 0 of fastest hard drives, probably of the 500Mb sizes (so 4 of them), or maybe more drives with smaller capacities. RPMs and speed of the RAID box might be the big factors here.

    A cheaper answer is a fast 2TB external, or 2 (disc) 1TB Raid 0 box, but there you are trading speed for cost.

    Post answers to the 2 questions above and you should get better feedback. If you have a budget max, that would guide the answers as well.
     
  3. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Each wedding my wife shoots is about 12-16gb. She usually only works on one wedding at a time. As far as the budget, Blake Friday is around the corner so I am hoping to get a good deal on a nice setup. The sky is the limit if the performance is amazing! I don't know how much a good scratch disk plays into the performance though so i should keep researching. Hopefully we can stay under $500...
     
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #4
    "Under $500" is a 2TB firewire 800, maybe as two 1TB drives in a raid 0, or maybe as four 500Mb drives in raid 0.

    On the other hand if she is only shooting 12-16Gb of video, you could go with a small, fast SSD for "scratch", then archive out rendered masters to external storage. You could probably buy a small SSD and a 2TB external, then use the SSD for "scratch" (per project), and store polished finished video on the external drive.

    You might burn through the SSD quickly using it in this way, but you could then replace it with a (future) faster & cheaper SSD when you do so.
     
  5. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    You mentioned video, but my wife only does photography. Does that make any difference?
     
  6. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #6
    Sorry,

    When I saw the focus of speed, big scratch disk and the "wedding shoot" I just assumed video editing. For photography, almost all of my feedback is irrelevant. You probably need big storage over speed, ideally with some kind of good backup option.

    4TB WD external might do the trick for big storage < $500. Or two 2TB externals with one acting as backup for the other. Or hook one up as a Time Machine backup. For $500, you might be able to get four 2TB externals if you really shop.

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  7. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #7
    No worries Darryl. Your comments were really interesting to me. I do still need to know how to setup a fast scratch disk, but I guess for photoshop. My guess is to get a smaller SSD in an external case? Would that be sufficient until I get into video editing and need a massive scratch disk?

    BTW, I do have a NAS with 8TB in RAID 5, but that will primarily be for backups and movies etc.

     
  8. JayX, Nov 9, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

    JayX macrumors member

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    #8
    edit: gonna move my question to a new thread as it might get complex.
     
  9. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #9
    OK, if you got the big storage (that raid 5 with 8TB), you've got both massive space AND redundancy covered.

    With that in mind- plus the fact that her max shoot is around 16GB, I'd simply buy 16GB of RAM, which will be faster than any external hardware storage solution, do my speed-demanding stuff in RAM, then export my final stuff to that 8TB of storage. Depending on your stock configuration, I don't know if a $500 budget will get you the rest of the RAM (to get to 16GB or not), but that seems the best way to go.

    Otherwise, with $500 you could go for speed only, against which 1 or maybe a couple of SSDs set up as raid would probably do the trick. I haven't seen specific numbers, but it should be possible to max out the read/write speed of the port with the right number of drives in a raid 0.

    Max speed would be to go e-sata (the OWC hardware hack on the iMac) http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/turnkey/iMac_2010_27/add_eSATA and then use the rest of your money for an e-sata RAID 0. For the RAID, you could go with very small (cheaper) SSDs so that you could array many of them. If her max shoot has been 16GB, you might aim for <10GB to 20GB drives if they're out there. You might also want to do some searches for RAID 0 SSDs to see if anyone has found the ideal combination to push e-sata and/or firewire 800 in a RAID 0 of small SSDs for this kind of application.

    However, now that you have shared you already have the big storage part of things covered, it looks like your best option would be to max out RAM for speed.
     
  10. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 21, 2005
    #10
    I actually purchased 2 x 4GB from OWC. I am not even sure if I can mix that combo with the 4GB it comes with? So I am hoping on using 12GB for the meantime, and then I will eventually get 16GB if it seems we need it.

    Can the iMacs run well on 12GB? 2 x 2 x 4 x4?
     
  11. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 603

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #11
    That is my (ram) setup (2 X 2 stock from Apple, and 2 X 4 from OWC) and yes, it (that 12GB of total ram) works very well.
     
  12. JayX macrumors member

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    Aug 31, 2007
    #12
    Yeah, that's the exact same combo I'm upgrading too as well. Makes sense to use the provided 4GB for that extra bit of boost.
     
  13. iDutchman macrumors 6502a

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    Amsterdam, NL
    #13
    I've got the exact same combo in my i7 2010 iMac. Works fantastic.
     

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