firewire or internal HDD

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Chunk Style, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Chunk Style macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2011
    #1
    So, I'd like to pull the trigger on a new iMac. My thinking was that I would go with the SSD/2 TB HDD option. I can get all my system files, applications, docs etc on the SSD, and the HDD would be set aside for my iTunes library (currently around 750GB).

    But I was thinking. I already have a FW800 2TB external drive that I could use for the media, and then simply get the SSD option. I just don't know how much lag would be introduced by using the external firewire option vs an internal HDD.

    Any thoughts/insight?
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #2
    No lag at all. I frequently play movies/music from an external drive via FW800, with zero performance issues.
     
  3. ascNYC macrumors member

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    Jul 15, 2010
    #3
    External FW 800 works great!

    I have and use a 3TB MyBook via FireWire 800 and agree that it performs great. I used it for both my iTunes (25K songs) and Aperture (5K photos) libraries.

    One other option to consider would be to order the SSD and 2TB HDD and use your external HDD for backups (time machine) and less used files. You could put your system and other critical files on the SSD and the large libraries on the 2TB internal

    If you go with the Apple SSD I'm pretty sure your only option is a 250GB. Sounds like that would not allow you to fit everything on the SSD.

    Andrew
     
  4. eggfoam macrumors member

    eggfoam

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    Jun 21, 2011
    #4
    The only issue I had when I used a Firewire external drive for my iTunes library was that it would spin down (sleep) after a while and then take a couple seconds to come back up when I tried to play a track.

    There's a system preference for this under Energy Saver: Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible. It's on by default, I believe, but you can turn it off if you run into this lag and it bothers you. I didn't mind because it meant my external drive wasn't spinning 24/7.
     
  5. Chunk Style thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2011
    #5
    This was my concern, really. So if I tell the System Prefs not to put disks to sleep, this will apply to external drives as well?
     
  6. eggfoam, Jun 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011

    eggfoam macrumors member

    eggfoam

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    Jun 21, 2011
    #6
    I believe so, though I suppose it's possible that some drive controllers in the external enclosure could make up their own minds about such things. You might be able to do some research on which controllers are good citizens about this, but then you might end up having to buy another drive if yours doesn't obey the system settings.

    There is an app called SpindownHD that's included with the Xcode developer toolkit. You can use it to set a time interval for spinning down disks. I have only Xcode 3, but it appears that it's still part of the new Xcode 4 ($5 on the Mac App Store). My version does not allow you to select which disks to spin down or not, but perhaps this would allow you to customize the delay so that it rarely or never spins down while you're actively using the machine. On the other hand, if your external drive controller isn't honoring Mac OS X's instructions about when to sleep anyway, this might not make any difference.
     
  7. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia
    #7
    FW800 is a slower connection than the internal SATA connection. However, a single HDD is most likely not going to be able to saturate the FW800 connection anyway. FW may become a bottleneck if you have multiple disks in a stripe set, but it won't be for a single drive.

    in any case, even USB2 is fast enough for streaming media, so as Library storage your external will be fine.

    Still, I would personally spring for at least the 1TB internal drive in addition to the SSD. It's not that big of a price difference (granted it's more than I would pay for my own 1TB drive), but I don't think you can add it later and I think I would regret not having it later. No real reason for that, especially with Thunderbolt devices finally starting to show up (WAY WAY faster than FW800).
     
  8. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #8
    This.

    and a 750 gigs in iTunes? Hopefully thats a lot of movies? Or a lof of uncompressed stuff?

    My buddy likes to brag about his giant iTunes library as well -- but I dont think he ever listens to more than a few gigs of it regularly
     
  9. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #9
    This is exactly why splitting my library made sense. I have music I listen to infrequently, but I still want it for times when I do. Some I keep for historic purposes. Moving those to an external drive frees up space on the internal for music I listen to frequently. It would take me a long time to listen to it all!
     
  10. eggfoam macrumors member

    eggfoam

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    Jun 21, 2011
    #10
    Yes, an external HDD via USB2 or FW800 is plenty fast enough for media playback. (The answer would be different if you were planning to *edit* video on one of these.)

    But I don't think there's any particular benefit to getting an internal HD with the SSD if you're looking to save a few bucks and use the external HDD you already have. This is a desktop computer, so you're not going to be plugging and unplugging the drive like you would with a laptop. Back when I had only a laptop, I used to keep my iTunes library on an external drive, and then I had no music when I was on the go. That's annoying. In the OP's case, it wouldn't be.

    The only wild card here is backup. Do you have another external drive or some other system for backup? If not, perhaps it's better to get the internal HDD and use it for your library; then you can use your external HDD to back everything up. Again, though, if money is a consideration, you could get the iMac with SSD only and then use two external drives, one for media and one for backup. An external drive, even if you are buying a second one new, can probably be had for a bit less than what Apple charges for the internal one.
     
  11. Chunk Style thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2011
    #11

    Sorry. I wasn't trying to brag about my library, just putting my question into context. The library is about half video and half music ripped into Apple Lossless.

    I would end-up daisy chaining a second external drive for Time Machine. At that point, the cost of adding an internal drive becomes almost a wash...

    I was really hoping that someone would announce a Thunderbolt drive that I could use for my library, but it seems that (at present) they're either going to be really small or really big capacities. Nothing in the 1TB - 2TB range. I guess that's because there is no performance benefit to connecting a traditional HD via TB as compared to Firewire, right?
     
  12. eggfoam macrumors member

    eggfoam

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    Jun 21, 2011
    #12
    Especially for playback, you just don't need that much speed. Not to say it wouldn't be nice, but I wouldn't pay any extra money for it. Faster modern drives (e.g., WD Caviar Black) have transfer rates in the ballpark of 100MB/sec, which is the theoretical maximum of FW800 and faster than the theoretical maximum of USB2. In practice, both interfaces will be slower even in ideal circumstances due to protocol overhead. So a fast-ish HDD will be hamstrung a little bit by FW800, and a bit more by USB2, but probably not enough to matter, especially for your purposes. The maximum bitrate of 1080p Blu-Ray content is 48Mbit/sec, or 6MB/sec, so even if you're playing back high-quality HD content, you have nothing to worry about.

    The only benefit you'd see from Thunderbolt would be faster transfers TO the disk when you're copying your library over, and that's a one-time deal. (And even that would much more likely be limited by the speed of the disk you're copying FROM.)
     
  13. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    So have you just split the media locations, or have you actually created additional libraries?
     
  14. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #14
    One library, two media locations.
     
  15. Chunk Style thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2011
    #15
    How do you do that?
     

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