Hard drive choices for 2009 Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ncomensoli, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. ncomensoli macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    Hi All

    Long time reader, first time poster. Just ascertaining some opinions for hard drives to go into my newish mac pro. Am using the mac for audio work (eg pro tools, film score composition etc) as well as some light photo editing.

    My ideas are
    SSD for boot/apps (60GB) - looking at OCZ Vertex or Vertex Turbo, couldnt be arsed witing for the intels to drop in price
    Stock 640GB - home directory
    2x Caviar Blacks - one for recording/playback/projects, the other for sample libraries
    Caviar Green 2TB - real-time backup of important data

    Ihave a few spare drives that can act as bootable system clones...

    Any other suggestions??

  2. ncomensoli thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
  3. Zerozal macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2009
    Well, hard drive configurations can be personal based on your intended use. What you suggest sounds like it will work fine for you. Best I can do is explain how I have mine set up.

    I use my MP mostly for photo editing via Lightroom. Here's my config:
    Bay 1: 300GB 10,000 rpm Velociraptor for boot (OS) and applications.
    Bay 2 & 3: 2 1TB drives in a RAID 0 stripe for my data (music, photos, documents, etc)
    Bay 4: the "stock" 640GB drive has a BootCamp partition for Win7 as well as a TM Backup partition (which I will have to upgrade to a larger hd eventually).

    I also maintain 2 additional external drives that both contain a full backup of the RAID 0 array.

    This works very well for me. YMMV.
  4. gugucom macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    I would not recommend a 64 GB SSD and personally would not use anything but 2nd Gen Intel. They are simply so much better that you will regret making a short time decision against them. Here in Europe they are available again.

    I would go to 80 or 160 GB as a system/apps drive. In the MP4,1 you can neatly fit the SSD into the optical bay and you do not even need an adaptor or use one of your 3,5" sleds. Taping the SSD with double sided sticky tape or velcro will do. The combined SATA/power cable in the ODD bay fits the SSD or a HDD equally.

    If you have no need for Windows you can use two bays with 2 TB drives in RAID0 for Data and another two also in RAID0 for backup.

    By the time you run out of space drives have probably grown to 4 TB and you can upgrade easily to even more internal space.
  5. forester54 macrumors member


    Oct 5, 2009
    not to intrude on your thread but what do you guys think of a velociraptor drive for OS/Apps drive? I have a regular 250GB drive for it right now but wondering if performance would greatly increase by making that my main drive instead
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I concur, especially on the SSD aspect. I'd even recommend going for the 160GB for a single drive solution, as even the 80GB models are being outgrown. OS/application installs are getting really big, and fast.

    And placing the data on mechanical is the way to go as well. RAID is an option, and recommended for the software listed. OP: just make sure you have a proper backup system in place, as it's not if things go wrong, but when. Seriously. If the array is online long enough, it will fail.

    It would outperform what you have now, especially for random access use. SSD is even faster at it. But you can get really decent performance from a newer, large capacity drive as well (say 1TB+), and it's cheaper than a VR (even the 150GB model). Random access isn't going to be as good as the VR (SATA based drives). But if you stick to the outer tracks, you get the fastest sustained throughputs (applicable to any mechanical drive btw).

    I'm not sure if you want break-neck performance (or just an improvement over what you have), capacity requirements,... Such details could help direct you to a solution. ;)
  7. ncomensoli thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    Thanks for the replies guys

    I was (and guess I still am) considering RAID 0 for my recording needs however have read that Pro Tools get finiky about it, especially software RAID. That being said I have seen other DAW software not even care. To address nanofrogs question, I m after a balance of capacity and performance, hence the caviar blacks for important stuff.

    With SSD's, I threw in the suggestion of the Vertex based on the latest findings by anandtech which proposed that they were a good lower cost alternative to the Intels. I know the intels are good, and I want one, but trying to find one that hasnt had its price gouged is a little tricky. From my knowledge, there arent too many in australia at all, so will need to source from OS.

    As far as backups go, is it worth utilising a PCI eSATA card and hook up a backup solution from there? I would only really want to backup home directory stuff (itunes library, iphoto stuff like that) and pro tools projects (in case of corrupted session files). Everything else I could make clones or just manual copies at regular intervals when needed. Perhaps with this I could run a RAID 1+0 setup internally is Pro Tools lets me...

    As an aside, has anyone used the WD Caviar Green drives in RAID 0 before?

  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    A mechanical based stripe set is the least expensive means you can improve throughputs for your usage. A set of Caviar Blacks done on the logic board would work, and be fine for data storage (primary), and it seems a set of 3 would be the minimum that you'd need. A fourth would be better. I'll address backups further on, and has a bearing as to what you can fit in the internals of the MP.

    Audio applications are essentially random access, and SSD is the better way to go from other members that have done it claim. It does make sense, and reading from an SSD uses it in the fashion it excels at. Reads, particularly random in this case.

    Understandable. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure on the reliability of the Vertex drives (from another thread; worth searching, and not just MR), and the Intel's do seem to be better in this area as well (not just performance). If you place the backups externally, you can even make a 2 drive stripe set of SSD's, that would make sure you have the capacity needed for OS & applications. It could even be less expensive to do it, given the price fluctuations of Intel drives (if you decide to use them). But the performance/capacity gains of this, are effective no matter what drives are used.

    You can place the backups externally via an eSATA card. This also frees up additional space for SSD's if you go this route.

    What I would recommend, if you do go with SSD's, is two things:
    1. Run them off a SATA card
    2. Place them in the empty optical bay

    This would leave you all 4 HDD bays for RAID, even if you only start out with a 3 disk stripe set. It makes it much easier to add a fourth member at a later time if need be.

    So the card you'd want needs to have both internal SATA and eSATA ports, and boot OS X (EFI boot support). This is a problem, as it's not as easy as you'd hope, or inexpensive. But it is possible.

    Highpoint makes a bootable eSATA card for Mac, but it doesn't have internal ports. It's not cheap either, at $230USD IIRC (offered at OWC).

    The others are true hardware RAID cards. This also gives you a single card solution as you can hook up an eSATA bracket that you attach to the card. Specifically if you use the ARC-1210 (least expensive 4 port SATA RAID card that boots OS X I'm aware of). Areca is a decent company as well. It can have problems with EFI32, but that's not an issue for you as it's an '09 (uses EFI64 :D). Please note it's an x8 lane card, so though you can use it in a x4 lane slot (slots 3 & 4), it would possibly bottleneck you if you do (specifically with simultaneous access for SSD & eSATA backup drives). So slot 2 is a better choice to avoid it. Any of the hardware RAID cards (has a processor and cache on it) would fall into this.

    It also allows you to avoid the ICH10R bottleneck in the X58 chipset (660MB/s max throughput which is Intel's fault).

    You could also use 2 separate cards, but even if you find them both (internal SATA that boots) + eSATA (easy and inexpensive), it may not work out cost wise. The hardware RAID cards actually have an advantage here, depending on the specific model. To lower the costs, you'd have to go for a 4 or 8 port model.

    Personally, I'd recommend an 8 port, as they allow you to expand for future growth, have faster processors, and possibly additional features (depends on vendor & model). This helps you for adding not only additional drive for capacity, but perhaps even offer you array types that otherwise wouldn't be available (specifically 50/60; nested parity array type). The ARC-1220 would suffice here, and it and it's smaller cousin are SATA ports. So the eSATA bracket and SSD drives are very easy to connect (no MiniSAS cables to deal with). :D

    Sorry this might be confusing, but what you want isn't so simple, given what Apple has done this time around and lack of 3rd party hardware. Especially bootable SATA on a Mac.

    I do hope it helps :), as I'm trying to keep you from making a mistep. They tend to be rather expensive with RAID (restocking fees, return shipping, and time lost).
  9. gugucom macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    nanofrog will allways recommend a RAID card! :D:D:D

    In this case I think it is over kill though. I have the Arc1210 and use it only because I need several SSDs due to running Bootcamp in addition to OS X. RAID cards will cause you longer start up and shut down times.

    You also have the opportunity to do all your backups internally unless you are concerned with a strike of desaster that fries all your internal drives. That would probably also kill your attached external enclosured drives.

    So IMHO KISS is the right strategy and cheaper in the end as well.
  10. ncomensoli thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2009
    Thanks guys, very helpful suggestions

    I had a bit of a think earlier and did a bit of research. Came up with this:
    Intel SSD (at some point) using spare ODD port
    3x Caviar Black in Raid 0 for home directory (photos, music, sample libraries)
    1x Caviar Black as a project recording/playback drive for Pro Tools et al...

    For backup, primary solution will be a OWC Mercury Qx2 running off an eSata card (like the Sonnet??) of which will be populated with Caviar Greens of either the 1TB or 1.5TB variety, running in RAID 10. Will use various other disks as clones, manual backups etc

    I think this would give me good speed, capacity and redundancy until at least my needs change dramatically. BY the next time i go through this, the storage landscape will probably have changed substantially.

    Final thoughts?
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Actually, not always. I was looking for a single SATA card that had both internal and external ports that would be able to boot EFI. So far, I've not been able to find one. :(

    So that leaves a 2 card solution. Unfortunately, what's available has issues. The one that can boot EFI, is eSATA only. The inexpensive internal SATA cards have had issues in '09's (SIL3132 based cards IIRC), and AFAIK, haven't yet gotten a fix.

    Assuming the fix has been done, it's $250USD for both cards ($230 for the Highpoint, $20 or so for the internal SIL based SATA), + whatever cables that aren't included and shipping. But it does consume 2 slots. Always a compromise... :p

    The other issue with the '09 ncomensoli could run into (or anyone else looking at something similar), is the limited throughput capable on the ICH10R in that machine (hits the wall at 660MB/s). It would be at the limit with current drive speeds for 4x mechanical (figure 400MB/s for the set) and 1x SSD (~250MB/s on it's own). This wouldn't necessarily be an issue if the mechanical drives aren't in a RAID array, but that's not the intended purpose (simultaneous access).

    At best, a 3 disk set and an SSD running simultaneously would work, and leave the 4th mechanical disk unaccessed as often as possible to avoid throttling in the ICH10R. Say as a backup/archival disk for example. Used when the speed issue isn't critical.

    Keep in mind, I'm accustomed to thinking in terms of throughputs, and what the limits are. Throttling sucks, and if you reach it during normal use, you usually do notice it.

    It would allow the use of SSD/s internally that can be booted off of, and can even have an eSATA bracket attached. It gives a single card solution, and even adds some performance benefit. Then there's the additional flexibility.

    It's not the ideal cost solution, but the use of commonly available cards won't work. They can't handle EFI, and may not even have drivers for a Mac. Proprietary EFI.... damn you Apple. :eek: :p

    I like KISS when at all possible. :) But it's not so simple in this instance. :(

    The ICH10R is throttled, and from what I've gathered, there are more drives than the MP can handle anyway. So there's going to be some drive/s mounted externally. That means a card, and can help alleviate the bandwidth issues for the 6 internal SATA ports in the MP (logic board).

    So the RAID drives will go on the internal ports (avoids the necessity of the Maxupgrades adapter to use it with a RAID card, which isn't cheap). That puts either the SSD/s or backup drives externally. The fourth internal HDD can be added to the array or used for archival purposes.

    Personally, with an external backup, it would be better to go ahead and place it in the array IMO, as the extra speed (assuming the ports are balanced properly; i.e. keeping the SSD/s off the ICH10R) would be an improvement, as well as increase the capacity.

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