Mac Pro 2006 Overhaul - SSD Question

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Ibrin, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. Ibrin, Aug 28, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011

    Ibrin macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    I've been thinking of replacing my Mac Pro 1,1 with a new 27" iMac. For various reasons I've decided to just upgrade my current machine and live with it for a few more years.

    I'm going to get a Mac Mini and use it as a central hub slash media server for all the iPhones, iPad and AppleTVs. Moving the 250GB+ of media off the Mac Pro means that i don't need as much HDD space on the Mac Pro.

    I think I've got it all worked out, but do have a question about the HDD > SDD swap.

    HDD: I currently have the two factory 500GB drives in RAID0. Once I migrate off all the media from the box, I will have less than 100GB of data. I am planning to pick up a 240GB SDD from OWC. Is there any benefit from getting 2x 115GB drives and putting them in RAID0 as well? I know the speed would be theoretically faster, but would I notice it over the single SDD? Also, would I lose TRIM or garbage collection on the SDDs when I put them in RAID?

    These are the upgrades I am working on:

    CPU: Upgrade from X5150 to X5355. I just picked up a matched pair of X5355's on eBay for $250 (yay!)

    GPU: Going to swap my pair of Radeon 5770's for a single 5870. Moving from my 5x1 Portrait setup back to a 3x1 Landscape. Going to upgrade to Lion and FCPX after the upgrade. From what I've read, Lion isn't as multi-mon friendly, and FCPX looks like it will more friendly to a landscape setup (than the multi-window layout of FCPE).

    RAM: Upgrading from 8GB to 16GB via OCW. I was surprised to see that even iMovie was using almost all 8GB when exporting 720p home movies.

    Cost Analysis:
    CPUs: $250 (minus what I can sell the old ones for on eBay)
    GPU: $50 (looks like I can sell the the 2x 5770's for about the cost of a 5870)
    RAM: $225
    SDD: $400

    Overall, I don't think it's a bad upgrade for just under $1000. Certainly cheaper than the fully decked out 27" iMac I was looking at. And, will tide me over for a while longer and maybe wait until Ivy Bridge comes out on the Mac Pro front...
  2. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    AFAIK the MacPro has SATA-300 interfaces, so with just one SSD you'll come close to (if not exceed) the maximum throughput rate. A RAID-0 could bring a better writing speed (as SSD's often have lower writing than reading speeds), but you would pay for that with twice as high a risk of data loss - one SSD failing on RAID-0 and all data is gone.

    So it's not worth it IMHO.
  3. Ibrin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    Thanks for the input. What's the best way to migrate my data to the SSD? I'm still on SL. Should I boot from the SL install and pull my Time Machine backup from my Time Capsule? Or, is there some cloning utility that I should use?

    Can I install the SSD in bay three, clone it, and then move it into bay one (after pulling my current RAID-0 set)?
  4. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Usually there are two tools recommended for cloning: CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. I don't know if or how it would work with TimeMachine.

    You can install the SSD in any bay you want and you don't need to move it (i am running my MP with the SSD installed in the lower optical drive bay to keep all HD bays free for storage) - simply change the boot drive in system preferences to the SSD after cloning (whereever it is located). IIRC you could even have the cloning program do this for you.

    btw: Where does this often-found myth - that the boot drive needs to be in bay one - originate from? :confused:
  5. Ibrin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    Probably from old PC users like myself and building your own machines. Back in the days of PATA (and other formats before that), the boot drive had to be on the first controller, and had to be in the first position on the cable.

    I read some threads in other areas that said you shouldn't do video editing on an SSD as the reads/writes would bring a faster death to the SSD. I only do occasional video editing, and on small projects. Just family stuff, and stuff for the Widescreen Gaming Forum -

    Is there any reason not to do my video editing on the SSD? I really want to speed up those workflows (hence the upgrade).
  6. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Ah - thanks for clearing that up! :) I was already wondering (and coming from the Amiga myself i was simply not aware about that requirement on PC boxes).

    Good question. Basically there is some truth to it, because every SSD has only so many write cycles for each cell before they start to fail.

    Modern SSD's use wear-leveling to distribute write cycles evenly across the whole capacity, so in theory the lifespan should easily reach some (many) years. However - with video-editing you are really loading the device, so you could shorten the lifespan to a couple of months (as some have claimed).

    If i were in your situation, i'd probably get the SSD nevertheless (as it speeds up loading any plugins/modules as well), but have the scratch data on a separate Raid-0 ("Striping") made from magnetic drives. Especially video data could be quite fast on a Raid-0, as it usually consists of large streams of data, where raided magnetic harddrives come close to the performance of a SSD.

    If you insist on having the scratch data on SSD, you should probably not have your system data on the very same unit (though having 2 SSD's is still a little expensive these days) and watch the S.M.A.R.T. data closely for any significant increase of error counts or re-allocated blocks.

    In theory you could even build a Raid-0 from SSD's, but apart from the prohibitive price you would over-saturate your MP's SATA interface, thus not being able to utilize the full speed.

    Better put more Ram into the machine...
  7. Ibrin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    I currently have 2x 500GB drives in a RAID-0 in the box. I noticed a huge improvement when I went from having them as two separate drives to the striped set. I'll just keep those as the scratch disc. I'm assuming that FCPX allows you to set the location of the scratch disc.

    I'm already planning on going from 8GB > 16GB of RAM.
  8. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Have a Mercury Extreme in my Mac Pro and extremely pleased with it.

    One thing. When purchased OWC technicians were most insistent the drive have a clean install of your operating system and back up using Migration Assistant and not to clone to the drive.

    Also should you go with a Mercury Extreme, do not patch to enable TRIM as OWC drives have their own 'garbage removal' system and TRIM can really stuff that up.
  9. Ibrin, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011

    Ibrin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    So, I paid for Saturday shipping from OWC and got the SDD, RAM and Blu-Ray swap completed. Hardware wise, it was pretty easy. Software wise, it was time consuming.

    RAM went in without a hitch, as did the Blu-Ray. If you're interested in the Blu-Ray install, I posted some details in this thread.

    I followed the suggestion in this thread about installing the SDD and then doing a migration from an OS install. I still had Snow Leopard on the drive, and had that disc available, so I used that as my baseline. A couple of issues I came across:
    • After the initial install of Snow Leopard, some of my programs wouldn't work and the icons were covered with the "circle and a slash" logo. Attempting to load it gave a message that 10.6.6 was the minimum version, and my SL install was still at 10.6.0. These were all apps I had loaded from the App Store.
    • Even after doing all the updates, the app icons in the dock still had the "circle and a slash". The icons Finder were fine. I removed the items from the dock and re-added. They were fine after that.
    • Prior to the migration, I had wiped by Time Capsule and made clean backups of all my machines. I had consolidated all the photos/music/media/movies from my Mac Pro and my wife's MacBook to a new Mac Mini.
    • After the SL migration to the SDD and installing Lion, I had thought the Time Machine backup would only be incremental with the Lion install. However, it performed an entirely new backup. I'm guessing this was due to the fact that I gave my boot drive had a new name. To fix this, I changed back to the old RAID-0 HDD boot drive and manually deleted the backup from within Time Machine, using the "gear" menu in Finder. Deleting a 60GB TM backup takes *FOREVER*.

    A day's worth of install and migration, and HOLY COW an SDD is fast. It really is just amazing over an HDD. I can boot Lion and have it auto-launch Mail, Firefox (with six pinned tabs), Evernote, Adium, Lime IRC, Tweeteck and Skype in far less time than it took to simply load Snow Leopard before. I can already tell I'll be upgrading my gaming PC with SSD before long.

    After migrating everything to the Mac Mini, I had right at 61GB of OS/Apps/Data left. I decided to just get the 6G 120GB SSD from OWC. Only $4 more than the 3G 115GB. Saving the $600 over 2x 240GB SDD almost paid for the Mac Mini.

    My procs should be in this week, as will my thermal paste from NewEgg and a pair of Samsung F3 1TB Spinpoints. The original Hitachi drives are just hella loud, and even though they are 7200rpm the 500GB is spread across five platters. The Samsung drives have 1TB across two platters so the areal density is roughly 5x and has a 32MB buffer, so they should be damn fast in a RAID-0 for FCPX scratch. And they only cost $100/pair with discounts. I'm sure there are now faster drives out there, but Bit-Tech rated them the fastest drive they had ever tested back in Oct/2009.

    I've decided to just sell one 5770, and wait until Apple (hopefully) releases a Radeon 6950 upgrade option. I'll then trade the 2nd 5770 for the 6950. Considering that it only uses 2x 6-pin power and has 2GB VRAM, that should be about perfect.

    Here's to getting a few more years out of a five year old machine...

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