Esata expresse card use and scratchdisks

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by george.dye, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. george.dye macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2008
    I read diglloyd's MP review, and wound up reading for three hours about MBP usage with scratch disks. I have used Photoshop for 5 years, and I have never heard of this.

    I understand the process basically, and correct me if I am wrong. Photoshop opens a file, and needs space or "room" on your hard drive(s) to work. With a scratch disk you use a second totally empty drive as this "empty" space or "room". This speeds up photoshop usage with larger files.

    I will be buying a MBP in august ish of this year for school. (Graphic design major). I am quite familiar with computers, building them and what not, but this process is very new to me. What setup do you need for this?

    I want great performance, on a decent budget. After reading some very great articles from Digloyd I have learned quite a bit. However I am unsure about the process.I think you just need a MBP with fast internal hdd, 6 or 8 gb of ram, an esata card for the express slot, and 1-2 "fast drives".

    This setup will be used at my desk, and then unplugged for me to tote my laptop around for work and class.

    Edit: Machine will be used for photoshop, illustrator, frequent dvd ripping (like 3-10 a week). Also a lot of generic things; internet, itunes and the like.

    1. Is this setup correct?
    2. Do you use desktop or laptop drives?
    3. Is size important with the drives?
    4. If desktop 7200 or 10000 rpm?
    5. Or solid state?
    6. What do you use for a scratch disk?
    7. Also 4gb 6gb or 8gb? I would think more is better for ram, but I may see diminishing returns with 6 or 8 having to buy a 4gb dimm of ddr3:eek:

    Any roadblocks or benefits of this setups would be greatly appreciated as well.
  2. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    I do not know how to properly configure photoshop to do what you just described, however what you are saying makes perfect sense.
    I would recommend you though, the internal drive of your computer to be an SSD and the external (if money is not a problem) to be a 2TB raid 0 drive with eSATA and of course you will need also a expresscard eSATA adaptor
    4GB of ram should be enough for you, specially since only the 17" MBP supports 8GB (and with 6GB you lose the dual channel so overall wont be improvement over 4GB with dual channel)

    Overall this would be my purshase:
    15" entry level MBP (with 128GB ssd from apple, or if you feel comfortable doing it yourself and you do it since its cheaper) + later upgrade to 4GB (for about $50 or less by then)
    2TB external eSATA drive (e.g. WD drive) for about $200 (a bit pricey but you still getting 10GB/$ which is the cheapest you can get, not to mention that with raid0 and eSATA that baby will fly.
    eSATA expresscard $15
    overall price ($1999-$200(student discount)+$200(external drive)+$255(SSD)+$50(4GB ram)+$15(eSATA expresscard) ~= $2520
  3. NickM macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2009
    Buy through eBay and you can probably save another $500-700. I know I did :)
  4. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    My bad. Though still taxes xD
    Maybe but for a $2500 system i'd prefer to buy directly from apple just in case for warranties and everything, though indeed I would buy apple care from ebay and save $200.
  5. Patriks7 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2008
    1. If it's heavy photoshop and illustrator, then try to get the best you can afford.
    2. Laptop of course (unless you wanna make a hole in your laptop) or unless you're talking external?
    3. Well generally, the bigger the better.
    4. See 2.
    5. I would suggest solid state if you have the $$.
    6. Sorry, no idea what that is :p
    7. Depends which MBP you're talking about. If 17", then 8GB might be best for the stuff you're doing (of course if you have the $$ right now)
  6. NickM macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2009
    Ahhh taxes... yeah, you were closer. Taxes suck. ;)
    What about using Apple Care for Macs that were bought through eBay?
    How does that work? Would I be able to get it for mine? I hope so...
  7. percival504 macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    If you're not moving your external enclosure

    use desktop drives -- sequential speed is important for what you're doing, so long at the Samsung Spinpoint F1 or, better, Velociraptors.

    In any event, even though the PCI x1 bus has a 250 MB/s throughput, any Jmicron or Silicon Image esata expresscard/34 has a throughput that is limited to approximately 140 MBs (see this article: I've used all three and I can verify that the JMicron and Silicon Image cards have significantly less throughput than the Marvell card. So now, despite the exhorbitant price, I use the Marvell based card and it caps out at 200. I did not see a difference in IOPS, though.
  8. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    I would not recommend velociraptors, for the price of 1 velociraptor he can get the 2TB raid 0 array configuration with eSATA output which will outperform the velociraptor, also I had some experince with the previous generation (which failed within the year) is extremely noisy and the performance over an lower rpm but higher density was hardly noticeable. Oh... also the vibration is awful!
  9. percival504 macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    Velociraptors probably aren't ideal

    I don't know enough to say whether two 7200 RPMs (like the Spinpoint) would outperform a single Velociraptor -- I was thinking 2 Velociraptors in a RAID 0 array. They would be quite noisy and hot though. But I don't think it matters either way -- 99.9% (I'm assuming that JMicron 3xx and Silicon Image 31xx chips are in 99.9% of the esata expresscards out there) of the cards out there are limited to 140 MB/s. From my experience with eSATA expresscard/34(s) and the above drives in eSATA enclosures, 2 good 7200 RPM drives (I do love the Caviar Black and it is extremely fast and a very good multi-tasker) or 1 or 2 Velociraptors will more than saturate the bandwidth limitation of those cards. The only difference then (outside of the nuisances like noise, heat and vibration) is random access and IOPs -- where the Velociraptor seems to win quite handily (?). In my experience, there was a noticeable difference between a single V-Raptor and a single Caviar Black in sequential transfers. YMMV.

    Anyway its fun to see so much interest and learn so much in what seemed a quite esoteric area 4 months ago when I started my own adventure into the world of eSATA and RAID (at least to someone like me who doesn't spend enough time on the 'net) . I've tried just about everything it seems... right now I'm using an Addonics 4 disk array (4 x 2.5" in an external enclosure with a hardware port multiplier) and its pretty fast, but big and on the outside of what's actually "portable". But I drag it to the office everyday b/c I refuse to put a virtual machine (even if I could) on my 32GB X25-E boot drive.
  10. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    Do you realize what you are proposing? 2x Raptors + raid enclosure with eSATA port will cost no less than $500 (possibly getting to the $600++ after taxes or shipping if they apply) while he can get something like this for little over $200 which will offer similar performance (if not better due to much higher data density, I have seen regular 7200rpm seagate disk outperform WD raptors in benchmarks) will offer three times more storage, less noise, less vibration, he wont be needing to deal with the making of the setup and is more reliable (WD raptor fail more often, just imagine 2 in raid 0 that would be like a time bomb)
  11. george.dye thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Photoshop allows you to configure your scratchdisks, I believe osx does also, but I only have windows currently:mad:.

    Two 1tb or 1.5tb drives will be better choices, the velociraptor is too expensive for the minimal boosts in performance. One could argue, a larger 7200 drive i.e. 1tb 1.5tb could be faster due to having higher data density.

    Plus the 1/1.5tb drives are sooooo cheap. Price isn't too much of an issue. With the internal drive, is size a huge issue when using a scratch disc? Must I have the largest/fastest hdd? Or could I just use an 80 or 128 ssd?

    Digloyd has some very interesting articles about platters and outer/inner partitions in regards to size.

    Also- the inner drive has the OS and applications and photoshop in an unpartitioned drive, and the scratchdiscs are essentially blank?
  12. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    I mantain my opinion that for you the best choice is to get a (relatively) small internal SSD (the smaller you could possibly use, to keep price down, i'd say 80~128 is a good range) and get an external 2TB (2x1TB in raid 0) drive with eSATA and offcourse the adaptor.
    Unless price is definitively not an issue, in that case take a look at Mac Pros :D
  13. george.dye thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Price isn't that much of an issue, but price is enough of an issue to keep me from buying a MP and a MBP. So I want all the performance I can get out of the machine.

    Is raid 0 striped? I can never remember the different raids. Do the two external discs serve solely as scratch discs? Do they also store data as well?
  14. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    raid 0 = two drives are combined into 1 larger drive, when you write something into the config, half the data writes into one drive, other half into the other, that way reducing the bottleneck that forms when trying to retrieve (or write) data from an HDD (tough your chances of losing data doubles since 2 HDDs have 2x more chances of failing and once 1 fail the data is lost)
    I do think that you can use the drives for something else than just scratch drive, though i really do not know.
  15. george.dye thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2008
    I haven't found an research to promote or negate either way. If it is only used as a scratch disk, couldn't you just use two smaller drives?
  16. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    obviously you could, but i think you can use them for something else than just scratch disk.
  17. percival504 macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2009
    First said Velociraptors, not Raptors, do you know the difference?

    Second - A "Fantom G-Force Megadisk..." or whatever outperforming 2 striped Velociraptors? Have you ever actually used or tested either yourself? Non-sense. Can, or do, you read posts before posting your comments/ responses? You seem quite the contrarian... In any event -- what are you talking about... what, someone else's benchmarks? WTF? What's your real world experience w/ any of these drives, if any? I'm not talking about what I read; I'm talking about what I know because I used it/them. And are Raptors even sold anymore?

    Do I realize what I'm proposing? I say again my boot drive = X25-E ($430.00); data = 4 x WD Scorpio Black 320 GB ($400.00) in a 4 disk hardware multiplier/hardware RAID array ($200.00) via a Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro (Marvell chip) expresscard/34 ($279.00) = $1,309.00. My computer is used for productive purposes all day, everyday (though I'd rather spend all day everyday contesting everyone's posts), so I can afford it and, in fact, its a great investment -- well, at least for those of us whose time is given a value.

  18. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    I never said it was going to be better, I just said that for the money was better choice with the possibility of being better:
    check this so you can see by yourself how the velociraptor wins some test and loses other.
    the thing is the option you are proposing cost at least $600 (that was my guess, then you said $1,300 which is even worse) and offers 1,2TB? while my proposition offers 2TB and the settings are enough to fulfill his needs. I do not know the drive I linked, I just provided the information so he can see what I was talking about. Clearly if he is OK with wasting $1,300 he could go for what you are offering but I doubt he will.

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