Mac Mini with external SSD for photo/video editing

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Gherkin, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Gherkin macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
    I'm thinking of getting the base Mini w/ 128 GB SSD (for OS and apps) and buying an external 1 TB SSD for all my files.

    My main uses for the Mini would be editing photos in Lightroom (~25 MB RAW files) and I've been doing some light video editing with 1080p files (though my camera is 4K capable and may go down that path in the future). I also do some light Photoshop and inDesign work.

    I'm looking at this external Samsung 1 TB SSD for $228...

    The price is GREAT. But is this drive more for storage and not actively working on my files?

    I'm guessing this external drive would be slower than a Mini with 1 TB internal SSD, but would that even be noticeable with my use (photo/video editing)?
  2. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Most SSDs are 500-600. The internal drive looks to be over 3000. For occasional saving files at the start and end of a session, 500 is fine. For continuous swaps, 1500 is a good minimum. A fast external (Samsung x5) is over 2000.
  3. Gherkin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
    --- Post Merged, Nov 1, 2018 ---
    hmmm thanks.

    x5 looks nice but it's around 3x as expensive. I'm wondering if with my pretty modest workflow if I'd even really notice the difference? I'm reading through the reviews of the T5 I posted and lots of people saying they are storing and editing video/photos with the T5 and it's fast.
  4. kensic macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2013
    this is my experience, i have been editing photo/video for about 3 years. i have about 4-5 Tb of data. (will go up as time goes by)

    so i store my data on a spin disk. and my main (OS) drive is an ssd (for this case will be the hella fast flash drive) big enough (my standard is atleast 250gb).

    so when i work on a project (and 150 gig of data on a project is alot) , i actually move everything from the spin disk to the main drive. for speed/processing/ect

    then when im done with the project, everything goes back to spin disk for storage.

    i dont have money to spend money on ssd just storing data, thats just not smart.
  5. Gherkin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 9, 2004
    Yes I would still plan on having a traditional HDD for back-up. I currently have two 2 TB platter drives I back stuff up on right now.

    The plan would be to use this Samsung T5 as my main work computer's active drive for storing/editing photos (and sometimes video). The internal SSD on the Mac Mini would just be used for OS/apps. External platter drives used for back-up/storage when T5 gets full (typically with my photography I can keep around a year's worth of photos on 1 TB then I transfer photos off to back up at the end of the year).
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I have the previous version of that Samsung SSD (the T3) and use it as a boot drive for my 2012 quad-core Mini. I use that machine exclusively with Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X and it is very fast working with files much larger than yours.

    Of course "fast" is subjective, and I don't know what you expect. Here's what I get, you would probably do better with the T5 on a 2018 Mini with USB-C. This is, of course, nowhere near as fast as the internal SSD. Is it fast enough? I don't know, you would have to decide whether the difference justifies Apple's outrageous SSD price. :)

    BTW, that does look like a good price, I think I paid close to twice as much for my 1TB T3 a couple years ago.

  7. mjoshi123 macrumors 6502


    Apr 14, 2010
    well I do use Sandisk SSD drive which is 512GB connected using USB 3 to my imac 2015 - 5K and it works just fine. I don't see much difference in Lightroom performance with that setup.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 1, 2018 ---
    Also keep in mind with Blackfriday just around corner this Samsung T5 SSD will have some sale prices too. If you can wait, that would be better idea.
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    CPU, GPU, volume and access speed to volume along with RAM. Those are the numbers that for the most part matter with respect to the computer part of the equation.

    When it comes to Lightroom, you can subtract the GPU as being "important." This leaves CPU, drive space and RAM. These are all things you can adjust with the Mac Mini to meet your needs. When it comes time to any video or 3D this is where some might argue that, depending on the application, the onboard Intel video chipset is lacking.

    From your own statements, I think you are on one path that should be reasonably successful. Be aware, the Lightroom may not be as problematic but the other items may require some waiting and more. If I were in you shoes -

    I might get a fast quad, 256 internal SSD, 16 or 32 gigs RAM. I want to have the rest of the money spent OUTSIDE of the Mini to finish up the system. You may find later that an external video solution will be a benefit down the line. For me, the money is better spent on more RAM than moving to more cores on the CPU to finalize the Mini.

    Beyond the Mini - External SSD, Back up to a NAS or similar, later a possible revisit for an external graphic card AND making sure I am consistent where a quality monitor is used with soft calibration (typical profiling with a meter tool) or go to hard calibration (typical to Eizo, NEC etc. with a meter tool). The monitor part of all of this does matter not just for accuracy but consistency. I have used Minis with NEC Spectraview for Photoshop work. Though my work included lots of edits, most work was very limited where colour space was concerned (colour correction and photo image restoration along with retouch). Both Minis were quads and i7 if you are curious and both had their drives swapped out for SSD and maxed RAM.

    FYI - As some may mention the Samsung T3 and T5 are interesting options along with other SSD choices for external drives. If you plan to buy an internal SSD and put it in an enclosure, just make sure the enclosure is identified as UASP so that it can deliver true USB3.1 usage. Unless you are going to RAID, no reason to jump over to Thunderbolt.
  9. waloshin macrumors 68040


    Oct 9, 2008
    You should be filming in 4K and downsizing to 1080P for a higher quality, sharper 1080P output.
  10. mjoshi123 macrumors 6502


    Apr 14, 2010
    I'd not give any extra $$$ to Apple apart from their base i5 system which comes with 256GB SSD + 8GB RAM. I'd buy my RAM later and add to the box (assuming RAM is user upgradeable, as per quite a few websites showing that way).
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    I'd suggest a 256gb -internal- SSD (instead of 128).
    Over time, that 128gb may become "too constrained", size-wise.

    With 256, you'll have room to move your "working projects" to the internal SSD for it's (GREAT) speed advantage.

    When done, just "move them back" to the external storage.
  12. teohyc macrumors regular


    May 24, 2007
    I use a Mac Pro 2013 connected to two external SSDs. One's a Thunderbolt connection and the other's USB 3.

    I've edited hundreds of 4K 25FPS videos without speed issues.

    One thing to note is if you use Final Cut Pro, your Final Cut project file size will grow very fast. It's not a problem if you're going to install Mac OS in your external SSD and run everything through that.

    But if you are going to have Final Cut on the Mac Min's 128GB SSD. You will run out of internal space very fast.

    My Mac Pro 2013 is definitely slower than the 2018 Mac Mini. You will definitely have no problems with photo/video editing regardless of which model you get.
  13. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I never suggested buying RAM from Apple but merely talking about the contents of the device so by all means (as many of us do when possible) by third party RAM.
  14. F-Train, Nov 4, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018

    F-Train macrumors 65816

    Apr 22, 2015
    NYC & Newfoundland
    In September/early October, the Samsung 512GB was on sale for US$100. Might or might not also be on sale later this month. Personally, I'd be watching to see whether Samsung offers a discount on the 1TB or 2TB, which it has not thus far.
  15. teohyc macrumors regular


    May 24, 2007
    Even if there is no discounts for the external 1TB or 2TB, they are still worth the money because you can continue to use them when you upgrade your computer in the future.

    I bought a 1TB at its high price when it first came out, and because of that, I don't have to pay for external storage again, until that 1TB drive physically breaks down.

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14 November 1, 2018