How to: make iMac faster

Discussion in 'iMac' started by matteusclement, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. matteusclement macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #1
    I do photo and video work.
    Need more speed with Final Cut Express and PS3.
    I use my ext. FW drive for a scratch disc.
    The 500 gig ext. is just storage fo music, movies etc.

    Am I better off using a different ext. drive?
    Should I use a FW800 drive? What's the story with the FW sata drives?

    And I know that a MACPRO would have been a better choice, but this was Free.
     
  2. techlover828 macrumors 68020

    techlover828

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    #2
    how'd you get it for free?

    maybe you could sell this on ebay and get a mac pro

    if not I'd go for a fw800 drive
     
  3. Muncher macrumors 65816

    Muncher

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #3
    Actually, if it hasn't been opened, selling on ebay is a good idea. Otherwise, FW800 is the way to go. The only other available option would be to put in low latency, matched, 2x2GB sticks of ram, but that's also pretty expensive.
     
  4. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #4
    It's been opened, for a while now. No dice on selling it. It was a replacement from my past warranty on an onld computer that went up in flames. So I got this instead of a PC and now there is no looking back.

    So yeah, I run her HARD all the time. I don't think theres not a moment that she isn't rendering, filtering, building, compiling and editting something.
    Photoshop, Final Cut and The whole PS3 creative suite run all the time.

    The FW 800 drive will only act to speed up the scratch disc though right? I ran xbench and it said that my internal drive was the fastest. Should I run my OS from the FW 800 drive and use the internal to write?

    The 4 gigs of ram would be great, but I will hold off. I have seen that it's not going to give me a HUGE boost. Right now I am looking at best buck for the speed boost in those two apps cause I use them the most.

    FW800 drives... what shapes and sizes and names do they come in?
     
  5. Leon Kowalski macrumors 6502a

    Leon Kowalski

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Gondwanaland Reunification Front HQ
    #5
    You didn't say what internal and external drives you're using -- or which iMac
    model. If it has a FW800 port, a fast drive in a FW800 enclosure will be nearly
    as fast as the internal drive, for large files -- or possibly faster, depending on
    the speed of the internal HD. For small files (under 5-10 MB +/-) the internal
    will probably be faster, due to the high "burst rate" of the internal SATA bus.

    They come in all sizes. Shapes are mostly rectangular, with rounded edges.

    I'd suggest buying the enclosure and drive separately -- especially if you're
    looking for maximum performance. Manufacturers of pre-assembled external
    drives seldom specify which drive they're using -- but it's a safe bet that it's
    not the fastest available. Most customers look only at GB and price.

    You definitely want an enclosure that uses SATA drives. EIDE drives are
    obsolete, and SATA wins on price, selection, availability, and performance.

    I'd recommend Icy Dock's USB/FW800 enclosure and a fast Seagate drive --
    from either the 7200.11 or the ES.2 product lines. Both types are available
    in 500GB, 750GB and 1TB models, and all models are spec'd for 105 MB/s
    sustained read/write speeds. That's slightly faster than FW800's maximum
    bandwidth, so the firewire bus and the operating system will be the limiting
    factors in performance -- not the drive.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817198006

    http://www.icydock.com/product/mb559ueb-1s.html

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148288

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148294

    There are many good FW800 enclosures, but the Icy Dock is the best one
    I've seen first-hand. I have 2, and they work flawlessly. The quick-swap
    slide-in drive trays are very handy -- and make assembly trivially easy.

    LK
     
  6. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #6
    get RAM, 4GB it is so cheap at the moment it's a no brainer.

    I use a FW800 drive as a video/photo/maya scratch, i do HDV editing and i have no lagging or skipping problems.
     
  7. kwfl macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    #7
    great performance of FW800 over FW400 and 4GB over 2GB. i like it.
     
  8. Brianstorm91 macrumors 65816

    Brianstorm91

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
  9. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #9
    HEY LEON:

    Since I have an iMAC and I can't place anything inside anymore, can I use a FW800 cable with that enclosure and drive or am i screwed?

    KWFL
    I have no lag, I just need faster rendering.
     
  10. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    #10
    Rendering uses your CPU the most, I dont see how a HDD will render anything faster, its rarely if ever the bottleneck. More ram will give a huge boost in any program using the scratch disk, especially Photoshop. If you work on extremely large files in Photoshop then ram is essential so you minimize the use of the scratch disk.

    If youre desperate then there are external RAID solutions so you can do RAID 0 and greatly improve write speed. But I dont think a HDD is going to help your problem much. You should max out your ram first.
     
  11. Leon Kowalski macrumors 6502a

    Leon Kowalski

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Gondwanaland Reunification Front HQ
    #11
    The enclosure comes with a FW800 cable. If you have a FW800 port,
    you're ready to rock n' roll. You didn't say which iMac you have. If it
    only has FW400 ports, the enclosure will still work (at FW400 speed),
    but you'll need a FW800-to-FW400 (9-pin to 6-pin) adapter cable:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16812189097

    BTW, Icy Dock also makes a (less expensive) USB/FW400 version of
    that enclosure -- US $45, if I remember correctly.

    BTW#2, I strongly agree with the recommendations to max out your RAM;
    that'll probably give you a much larger performance boost than a FW800
    external drive -- and it's CHEAP. Here's 4GB of Apple-specific RAM @ $87:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146701

    LK
     
  12. durija macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #12
    Max out the RAM for PhotoShop CS3. 2GB is the practical minimum someone should have installed to run it. I use an iMac at work with 2GB. My home iMac with 4GB is much faster and smoother running PhotoShop, especially when I have a few other apps going.
     
  13. atl27426 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    #13
    I will never understand people that buy into the myth that ram gives a system a speed boost. It doesn't. Ram only adds performance if your system actually needs it. If you are not paging out your system will never benefit from added ram. As an example I have 3 gigs of ram in my iMac I have yet to page out which means if I added another gig I would not see a performance boost.

    Also PS3 is a 32bit application which means it can not take advantage of 4 gigs for ram. Also the fact that total ram is shared and your GPU is 256megs that also means your OS can on not take advantage of 4 gigs of added ram. The OS and the applications would have to be true 64bit to take advantage of 4 gig or more.

    However I will agree that ram is cheap so adding a 2gig stick in the empty slot would work just fine. No reason to get rid of a perfectly good gig of ram to add 4 gigs.

    Not trying to be a jerk just trying to keep people from spending more then they need too. Adding a 2gig stick to the empty slot should handle the workload just fine. Also another way to check is to view the activity monitor, if you have any green showing that means added ram will do nothing for you.
     
  14. Muncher macrumors 65816

    Muncher

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #14
    OS X tries to use all the ram it can without paging out, and apps like CS3 really eat it up. Putting another stick of ram in and keeping the old one is good, so long as the imac recognizes it as close enough to the first stick to do dual channel. The best ram set up is to max it out at 4GB, and to use two new sticks of low latency ram. Although I agree with you, people here spend more on their computers than I've ever done. The OP wants to make his computer fast, so I'm telling him how to, he doesn't have to follow the advice given.
     
  15. Leon Kowalski macrumors 6502a

    Leon Kowalski

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Gondwanaland Reunification Front HQ
    #15
    Well, what you say about paging is almost true -- except that OS-X
    seems to be able to allocate large quantities of RAM for speculative
    I/O buffering and for caching inactive-but-recently-used executable
    images in "inactive" memory (shown in blue by Activity Monitor).

    As long as there's sufficient "idle" (green) and/or "inactive" (blue)
    memory when a new page must be fetched from disk, you'll avoid
    performance-robbing page-outs; however, if the required page is
    already cached in "inactive" memory, you'll also avoid a page-in.

    Also, completely independent of page-in/page-out considerations,
    a matched pair of memory sticks yields a 5%-ish improvement in
    overall system performance. So, even if you never use more than
    3GB, "wasting" $50 for 5% performance is a bargain -- compared
    to spending $250 for a CPU upgrade from 2.4 to 2.8 GHz, which
    yields no more than 10% improvement in overall performance.

    ...anyhoo, the OP asked for speed -- not economy,

    LK
     
  16. durija macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #16
    Regarding RAM, I know I am speaking about my personal anecdotal experience. But I am talking about two identical Intel iMacs, each beginning with the stock 1GB of RAM, and both had difficulty running PS CS3 – very slow to let go, hanging and even crashing the app. Put 2GB in one machine, and CS3 is now usable, although not spectacular. Put 4GB in the other, and it is a dream to use.

    I think the value of having more than enough RAM is often underrated. And the cost difference between 2GB and 4GB was only about $50. At that price, why not max it out? Wish my boss had listened to me!
     
  17. serega macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle
    #17
    Isn't external gigabit network drive will make faster access to files and run computer smoother? Is it faster then FW800?
     
  18. fluidedge macrumors 65816

    fluidedge

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    #18
    nope, FW800 is the fastest an imac can manage at the moment. eSATA would be quicker still but the iMac doesn't have that yet. Ethernet runs at something like 20MB/s which is fine for network storage, accessing jpegs and things, but not good enough for a scratch disk.
     
  19. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #19
    thanks Leon, all that newegg.com stuff looks like what I am looking for.

    This thread got a little out of control, but I guess I should have been a little more specific... i.e- saying which iMac I had.

    20" Aluminum
    2.0 ghz dual core 2 intel
    128mb video card
    250gig int. hdd.
    80gig ext. fw400 hdd (scratc)
    500gig ext usb2 hdd (storage)
    2 gigs ram (2x1gig sticks)

    It'd be SWEET if Durija could run XBench on those machines just to see the RAW numbers about 2x the ram. But I have neverquite found benches terribly practical for human based "run misc programs all the time".

    well I guess the obvious thing is more ram and ext. HDD, but I am still looking at best performance increase to $ ratio. So far, it seems like the ram will win out at $100 compared to $200+ for a ext. hdd.
     
  20. durija macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #20
    I would do that, if I had not discovered that I was WRONG. The machines are not identical at all in spec, so my test is useless after all. :eek:
    However, I am still a believer in RAM! :)
     
  21. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #21
    update to this

    A year later and a little wiser....

    So incase anyone ever has to go through this conundrum themselves, I'll let you know what the final verdit was.

    I upgraded the RAM to 4gigs, it helped with scrubbing in final cut.
    The photoshop filter were epicly faster.

    I looked at my activity monitor while I was rendering in FC and the answer was clear. 3 gigs of RAM max were used but the CPU's were FLOORED.

    So to those people who are wondering about what comp to have/buy, if you're just tipping your toes into the video world or doing photoshop world, a topped out iMac should do you just fine for years.
    Now that I have gotten into video editting more seriously, I HAVE to get a mac pro or else I might die if I have to wait for anymore rendering.

    Thanks for all your help!!
     
  22. Muncher macrumors 65816

    Muncher

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #22
    Ha, I knew RAM would help. Kudos on the faster machine, and if I were you, I'd wait until the new machines come out. Nehalem should put out some sizable performance increases.
     
  23. zmttoxics macrumors 65816

    zmttoxics

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    #23
    OR buy another cheaper mac to use while you wait for your render to finish. My home workstation consists of 3 computers (my 2 macs plus my gaming rig).
     
  24. isx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    #24
    You could crack her open and install a Solid State Drive. OS X will boot in about 9 seconds and every app will load a lot faster!

    If all you files are on an external drive just use the SSD for the OS and applications.

    As soon as SSD prices come down, I'm gonna chuck one in my baby!
     
  25. matteusclement thread starter macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #25
    solid state drives

    I have been told that SSD are really fast at reading but not so fast in the writting which is what rending is intensive on.
     

Share This Page