Mac Pro 3,1 - SSD vs. 10K RPM HDD

BigYellow

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 19, 2006
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Canada
I was going to pick up a 128GB SSD for my 8-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro. I use it mainly for gaming via BootCamp, and I'm trying to remove bottlenecks without blowing $500-600 on a new GPU. I just bumped my RAM from 2GB to 6GB, and I thought SSD would be the next logical step after posting on these forums last month.

That said, would I see a big difference going with a 120/128GB SSD (I'm looking at a Crucial M4, a Corsair Neutron/Neutron GTX, Samsung 840, or Intel SSD520 or 340), as opposed to a 150-250GB WD VelociRaptor?

I would be partitioning it as a 70/30 split BootCamp/10.7, so I'm not sure if I'm better off taking the larger capacity 10K HDD and having more of my apps/games on the same disk (although I would likely create a separate Win7 Partition for games/apps/data to keep the boot partition clean).

Thoughts?


Thanks!!
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68030
Feb 10, 2008
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Your OS will be noticeably responsive residing on the SSD, not so much for apps except for startup from scratch... but that is like a one time thing. If your photo and video libraries are on the SSD, those apps will also be more responsive... but that may need more capacity than your willing to add. Those apps that use cache, setting those to reside on SSD will result in better response.

If it as me I'd look at a 256GB SSD or both a 256GB SSD and a rotational drive for the big items.
 

SDAVE

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Jun 16, 2007
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HDD's are the past.

SSD's are very affordable, go SSD and you'll see a HUGE jump.

I would get the 250GB Samsung 840 (Not the pro) and you'll be fine. Also you can get a Velo x2 PCIe card to take full advantage of SATA III.

Also you will be fine with getting an HDD just for storing game data, etc. Keep the apps on the SSD. Any recent HDD's that are above 2GB nowadays can easily do above 100MB/sec, which is more than enough for games.

I have 2x 80GB SSD's as RAID 0 for Mac OS X, 2 x 512GB Crucial M4 for editing (on Velo x2) and my 4 bays are filled with hard drives that are used to store local data and mirror drives.
 

Tesselator

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Jan 9, 2008
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HDD's are the past.
I see that remark every once in awhile around here. Of course it's totally untrue. It also doesn't make any sense at all. Why people say that is probably what, just trolling, team rooting (they have one so nothing else is any good), or just ignorance that no one has ever called them on? <shrug> I dunno why people say stuff like that but it's kind of annoying to read. It's about the same thing as PC users telling Mac owners to "Get a REAL machine!" or visa-versa.
 

SDAVE

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Jun 16, 2007
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I see that remark every once in awhile around here. Of course it's totally untrue. It also doesn't make any sense at all. Why people say that is probably what, just trolling, team rooting (they have one so nothing else is any good), or just ignorance that no one has ever called them on? <shrug> I dunno why people say stuff like that but it's kind of annoying to read. It's about the same thing as PC users telling Mac owners to "Get a REAL machine!" or visa-versa.
You know exactly what I meant.

SSD's are very affordable as OS drives. For storage and large data, HDD's, obviously, are a better choice. 4TB drives are $150 now. They are not going to get you SSD speeds, unless you RAID 0 four of them.

If you are not running a large network for shared storage and don't require that much space, you can get away with small SSD's and a hard drive or two for storage purposes.

If I have over 2,000 posts here, why would I be "trolling"? I've given plenty of good advice here. The "T" word gets thrown around way too often around here.

Also how does PC vs. Mac debate coincide with this thread? You are a particular breed of a self-serving member here. Your posts annoy more people than you can imagine, but that goes without saying.

I do appreciate that you are following my posts, though. Makes me feel special. English may be your second language, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. The way you construct your sentences made me realize that you probably had a hard time deciphering a few very basic sentences that were posted above your post.

*shrug*
 

Tesselator

macrumors 601
Jan 9, 2008
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You know exactly what I meant.
I didn't actually, no. I used to think that common sense could be applied to most of the remarks that didn't seem to readily make sense but my last few months reading here have cured me of that notion.


SSD's are very affordable as OS drives. For storage and large data, HDD's, obviously, are a better choice. 4TB drives are $150 now. They are not going to get you SSD speeds, unless you RAID 0 four of them.
Just two fast drives will do it. No need for 4. At three it's faster than any SSD on the market today.

Actually hybrid SSHD or Apple Fusion drives are far superior to SSDs. So one could and probably actually should say that "SSD's are the past!" and SSHDs are the present and future. I mean if one were interested in being correct at all.


If you are not running a large network for shared storage and don't require that much space, you can get away with small SSD's and a hard drive or two for storage purposes.
I dunno bout that chief... My System drive is 520GB if I include applications. My data drives are over 8TB full and I'm not running any kind of network let alone a large one. I'm just a retired content creator slash artist. Heck my iTunes/Music folder (on the data drive) alone is 220GB. My image folder containing only about 18 months of hobby photography (also located on the data drive) is 1.08 TB. and so on.


If I have over 2,000 posts here, why would I be "trolling"? I've given plenty of good advice here. The "T" word gets thrown around way too often around here.
Ya, I didn't mean you specifically. Just people in general who talk like that.


Also how does PC vs. Mac debate coincide with this thread?
To this thread? It doesn't. But it's the same kind of non-sensical rhetoric as your remark - so it fits in that way.


You are a particular breed of a self-serving member here. Your posts annoy more people than you can imagine, but that goes without saying.
Personal attacks? Really? :rolleyes:

Hehehe, too funny. :p
 

applegeek897

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2011
131
1
Go with the SSD, don't forget though that because you have SATA 2 and not SATA 3 you can not take advantage of new, faster SSD speeds but they will still work fine.

Something like the Apricorn Velocity Solo X2 would be a great option to get full speed.

I have 4 160GB enterprise WD VelociRaptors in Raid 0 and one advantage is the storage i get about 550GB of storage, with about 550MB/S Read and Write and is far more cost effective then a 512GB SSD, because I have chosen this option I have had to put my other 2 hard drives in my optical drive bays and loose the optical drive but I never used it anyway.
 

SDAVE

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Jun 16, 2007
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Boring reply, yet again, Tesselator. No one's reading your "retort."

Get some sleep, you sound tired.
 

applegeek897

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2011
131
1
I have 2x 80GB SSD's as RAID 0 for Mac OS X, 2 x 512GB Crucial M4 for editing (on Velo x2) and my 4 bays are filled with hard drives that are used to store local data and mirror drives.
If you have 2 Velo x2's can you have 2 drives in raid 0?
 

SDAVE

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Jun 16, 2007
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If you have 2 Velo x2's can you have 2 drives in raid 0?
Yeah, you definitely can. Haven't tried it, though. I only have one Velo X2.

I currently have them as separate drives on one card and receive maximum throughput for each port.

Check out the screenshot below, running the (not so) accurate BM Test from the same card, same model SSD's. They're both a bit slower in the read area because they're almost full, but when I first got them they were hitting the max speeds.
 

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SDAVE

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If you have 2 Velo x2's can you have 2 drives in raid 0?
Also if I remember correctly, only the slot above the 1st PCIe (after the graphics card) is PCIe 2.0 on the 3,1 Mac Pro and any subsequence PCIe slots are PCIe 1.1. So you might have issues with trying to use 2x Velo's, but I remember someone here did that and had no issues. However, not sure if they were doing a RAID. One of these days I will try raiding the two M4's on the single Velo X2 when I'm done with a certain project and will report back and post results. :)

I haven't really had any problems with the other slot, though. I have a USB 3.0 controller on the slot above the Velo x2 and a BlackMagic Intensity Pro above that. No issues whatsoever. Also USB 3.0 external drives are solidly fast (they're just backup 4TB Seagate drives...about 160MB/sec for R/W)...I would assume since they're PCIe 1.1, I might not get the full 5Gbps from USB 3.0, but from the system profiler, it is stating full 5Gbps on the PCIe 1.1 slot.

It's still pretty awesome that I was able to use the latest SATAIII and USB 3.0 on a machine thats almost 6 years old. Obviously I kind of started to feel the lag on the Mac Pro at home since my work computer is a 2010.

But these machines are still beasts and get the job done. A few simple upgrades like an SSD, a decent graphics card (I went to the ATI 5770 after my nVidia 8800GT died on me) and at least 16GB of RAM will make it kick.
 
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Inconsequential

macrumors 68000
Sep 12, 2007
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Just two fast drives will do it. No need for 4. At three it's faster than any SSD on the market today.
Sequentially, yes. In day to day tasks, random access tasks? Not a chance.


Actually hybrid SSHD or Apple Fusion drives are far superior to SSDs. So one could and probably actually should say that "SSD's are the past!" and SSHDs are the present and future. I mean if one were interested in being correct at all.

The bottom line is all three products (Pure SSD, SSHDs and HDDs) have there target sector.

SSDs: Maximum random access performance for Apps, Caches, Games, OS.
SSHD: Combination of random access performance and capacity in minimum of space.
HDD: Maximum capacity per £/$.

At the end of the day maximum performance in 99% of tasks is a SSD.

Whilst SSHDs and HDDs will almost certainly merge, pure SSDs for performance won't dissapear before the next generation of storage tech comes along...
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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I was going to pick up a 128GB SSD for my 8-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro. I use it mainly for gaming via BootCamp, ...

That said, would I see a big difference going with a 120/128GB SSD ...

I would be partitioning it as a 70/30 split BootCamp/10.7, so I'm not sure if ...
I'd say that 36GB is kind of small for a OS/Apps drive ( 30% of 120GB). Unless this is just some spartan and relatively unused OS X OS/Apps install, that will likely prove limiting over the long term.


[/quote]
the larger capacity 10K HDD and having more of my apps/games on the same disk (although I would likely create a separate Win7 Partition for games/apps/data to keep the boot partition clean). [/quote]

Partitioning a HDD and then mounting and actively accessing two or more of those partitions ( e.g. games & apps ) is a flawed idea. The partitions are actually likely for more disk head travel since they actively segment the files into different locations on the drive platters. It is pragmatically built-in drive fragmentation.

Buying two 7500 RPM drives would be a better idea than one 10K HDD of double capacity.


I would get the 250GB Samsung 840 (Not the pro) and you'll be fine......
I'd avoid the 840. First generation TLC ( triple bit storage) flash implementation are probably prudent to skip unless utilization is going to be extremely mainstream and budget is tight.

The partitioning of a relatively small SSD I don't think is mainstream usage. If the OS X partition lays unused 98% of the time then those TLC cells won't be reallocated for wear leveling if that primarily driven by deletions ( probably is. ). That would force more wear onto a narrower section of the drive. It won't die a short term catastrophic death, but also not likely not going to see manufacturer expected lifetime either.


If the garbage collection could work on the whole drive then that would be far more mainstream usage. Normal usage isn't a problem.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6459/samsung-ssd-840-testing-the-endurance-of-tlc-nand

But generally if trying to do something abnormal, it is more prudent to avoid 1st gen technology.
 

Tesselator

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Jan 9, 2008
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Sequentially, yes. In day to day tasks, random access tasks? Not a chance.
Depends on filesize. Up to about 128KBytes you're right. At 128K to 512K file sizes the RAID catches up and is relatively the same. With files of or larger than 1MB the RAID0 is actually faster (Random Read and Write). At least that how my drives profile. A 3-drive RAID0 is about the same as the SSD from 64KBytes on and at 1MB trounces the SSD.

Of course the inverse is also true. The breakdown (on my system) is like:
  • 512Bytes to 16KBytes: SSD = 100x to 60x (faster than 2-drive RAID0)
  • 16KBytes to 128KBytes: SSD = 60x to 2x (faster than 2-drive RAID0)
  • 128KByte to 512KByte: SSD = 2x to 1.5x (almost same as 2-drive RAID0)
This is testing against a VERY VERY fast brand new mSATA SSD drive. It probably equalizes a little sooner with the average SSD and sooner yet with one that's been in use for a few months.


The bottom line is all three products (Pure SSD, SSHDs and HDDs) have there target sector.

SSDs: Maximum random access performance for Apps, Caches, Games, OS.
SSHD: Combination of random access performance and capacity in minimum of space.
HDD: Maximum capacity per £/$.
Seems like a reasonable opinion, I can agree with that. )


At the end of the day maximum performance in 99% of tasks is a SSD.
I don't agree with this at all! Not even close. For about 10% of common tasks (10% of your time spent as a user) the SSD will kick butt! For about 75% of common tasks they are the same - even the same between a single HDD and an SSD (no RAID). There's just not any actual noticeable difference most of the time. And of course the remaining 15% of common tasks the SSD usually isn't large enough to even do at all. [and I'm being extremely generous with the 10%... it may actually be more like 0.1%]

If you don't believe me try it. Get a stopwatch, load photoshop, find and locate (with purpose and intent like normal) 5 images to edit and print. Edit them and print them. Do that once for the SSD and once for the HDD. Your times will be relatively the same with sometimes the HDD being faster and sometimes the SSD being faster - just depending if you sipped your coffee or not. It's not like an SSD speeds up your processor or anything. ;) Even for boot up, system start, and application start ups (somewhat general tasks) the SSD is not even 1.5x faster than a 2-drive RAID0.

So yeah using an SSD gives a person a cheap thrill about 3 to 5 times a day for about 5 seconds (each thrill). Past that performance is generally about the same. As human beans capable of noticing change more than detecting that which does not change, we may feel that SSDs are oh so awesome but truth be told you're paying a lot and sacrificing a lot with an SSD which doesn't really do as much as you might want to think.


Whilst SSHDs and HDDs will almost certainly merge, pure SSDs for performance won't dissapear before the next generation of storage tech comes along...
Pure speculation of course. :) My guess will be that SSD, System RAM, and HDD technologies will all merge together within the next 10 years. The entire RAM/Storage subsystem will be a plug-n-play black box about the same as a current SSD but maybe with a fan or something. :) My bet is that SSD drives will be essentially obsolete before that time. They almost are now with the advent of SSHD. ;)
 
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derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
4,060
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Pure SSD is 'best'. These arguments are hilarious.
Just not 'best' on your wallet. Defining 'best' would go a long way. Most users 'best' is Fusion drives with 240GB+ SSD. Which means not Apple's solution but homebrew. Anything under 128GB SSD is a waste of time and should be left off any of the 'best' lists regardless of storage size which is all it would be 'best' at. Too many streaming and hard use limitations. Of which pure SSD has none of so it remains the unchallenged fastest but if fastest is not best we are going to argue.
 

Tesselator

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Jan 9, 2008
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...but if fastest is not best we are going to argue.
But part of the argument is that when comparing to a simple low cost RAID0 SSD is not the fastest. ;)

I have to agree with you tho that hybrid SSHDs are probably "the best" to the largest segment of users. Now just to inform them of what Hybrid drives are. ;) My bet is that less than 20% of those shopping for a drive even know what they are yet.
 

TheEasterBunny

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2013
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Delaware
My thoughts on this go more like, the SSHD is a cheap alternative to SSD.

In the beginning of SSD's they were not very cost effective (cost per GB), enter SSHD/Fusion drives or setups. This being more cost effective for the end user.

I don't think it is anything more than a stop gap. Once SSD's get cheap enough, people will forget about rotational drives altogether. Keep in mind SSD's also use less power, and don't need to be "spun down" to conserve. They are also infinitely quieter.

Currently they do have some draw backs, but in a very short time those draw backs have become fewer and fewer.

I'm sure something else will come along soon enough to replace them, but for the time being they are a better choice for most of us interested in perking our experience up a bit.
 

Inconsequential

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Sep 12, 2007
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I'm not convinced tessaltor that any two HDD array (even with velociraptors) can for everything most people do can beat a single SSD in terms of overall performance.
 

Tesselator

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Jan 9, 2008
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I'm not convinced tessaltor that any two HDD array (even with velociraptors) can for everything most people do can beat a single SSD in terms of overall performance.
Yeah, you're right, not "everything". It just depends what they do most. You know, the "usage profile" we're always talking about here. For what I do (edit RAW photos, sort them, display them, generate thumbnails the first-time every-time the window is opened (till reboot), edit 1080p and 720p video, game a lot, read sort and generate thumbs of PDF, watch movies, research surf on the web (politics, culture, how-to's, tech specs), back up my stuff, record live hi-fi sounds, sort and play iTunes, and so on) it's either as fast or faster than an SSD. Surfing might be a tad slower actually.

If I were doing DB coding, web-page creation, application development, music composition & scoring, and other things that required a near constant stream of small (< 32KBytes) files then the SSD would be faster. But really only when I was doing such I/O about half the time or more would i be able to justify it. Right, I mean the typical seems to me to be: Load the app (same), load the project or 1000's of small files (10sec on SSD or 20sec on RAID0), and then spend the next hour or two editing. So the total savings in that case with an SSD is 10sec. per hour? Oky-doky :p Maybe when the prices are the same as rotational media I might go for that. <shrug>
 

flynz4

macrumors 68040
Aug 9, 2009
3,125
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Portland, OR
For large sequential access... it just doesn't matter. HDD vs SSD is "close enough"... and the performance delta just converges as you move to RAID with multiple spindles. Even with single spindle drives... the MB/s difference between HDD and SSD is only a few times different.

SSD's shine for IOPS... and this is what makes a computer "feel" fast... and there is no way that any combination of HDDs can come close to an SSD. HDDs IOPS are limited by "Seek time + 1/2 revolution". So irrespective of how fast you spin the drive... you are only solving part of the latency (which is what dominates the IOPS performance). An infinitely fast HDD (in RPM) would still only be a bit faster than a slow drive with the same seek time. Seek time is harder to fix. Short Stroking (or sometimes called zoning) can help... throwing away most of the drive capacity and using just a few outer tracks. Also... deep command queues can help if you sort the accesses based on track location (minimizing the distance to move the heads)... but that works better in server type applications where there are many independent tasks running. It tends to have lower impact on consumer devices which are more single threaded.

The net result... is that your IOPS in a consumer HDD is likely to be about 200 or so. Maybe with a tailwind... you might get 300... and maybe enterprise class HDDs with short stroking and deep command queues might get 400. RAID does not help IOPS... only bandwidth.

By contrast... consumer SSDs might give you 5,000 to 50,000 IOPS... and enterprise SSDs might deliver 0.5M IOPS. The difference between HDDs and SSDs is staggering.

I started by saying that IOPS is what makes your computer "feel fast". However, I would argue that it does not just do that for "a few seconds here and there" as a previous poster mentioned. I think that it completely changes the feel of the computer... and just plain makes it feel responsive all the time. Even though it may technically only be a "few seconds here and there"... the difference in feel is stunning.

I like to compare it to how two different cars might feel. A 1961 VW Beetle and a Tesla Roadster might have "similar" top speeds (certainly within a factor of 2 or 3)... But the Tesla high torque will deliver 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, where as the VW beetle 0-60 could be measured with a sundial. Two completely different experiences.

/Jim
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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Depends on filesize. Up to about 128KBytes you're right. At 128K to 512K file sizes the RAID catches up and is relatively the same. With files of or larger than 1MB the RAID0 is actually faster (Random Read and Write).
File size has nothing to do with random access. In fact placing constraints on where the data is being retrieved by putting a bound on it inside of a file boundary makes the access *less* than random. Random disk access would be across the whole storage area. If not doing that then making the accesses more sequential; hence not random.


Of course the inverse is also true. The breakdown (on my system) is like:
  • 512Bytes to 16KBytes: SSD = 100x to 60x (faster than 2-drive RAID0)
  • 16KBytes to 128KBytes: SSD = 60x to 2x (faster than 2-drive RAID0)
  • 128KByte to 512KByte: SSD = 2x to 1.5x (almost same as 2-drive RAID0)
This is testing against a VERY VERY fast brand new mSATA SSD drive.
A fundamentally flawed experiment to test random access. If want to test random access with fixed size files then would have 10-20 concurrent access going on to different files. Smaller files crank up the concurrency proportionally.

All the above is doing to creating more and more of a set of sequential accesses so they rates even out. You are making the accesses more sequential and they tend to even out with big enough caches and splitting the IOPs over multiple HDDs.


Likewise for the experiments where all of the data access is being limited to what can be directly driven by a single human and human speeds. Yeah there isn't much of overall different because huge blocks of the wall clock time is same relatively "slow as molasses on a -20F January day" human.
 

BigYellow

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 19, 2006
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0
Canada
Alright, so there's been a lot of back and forth on this, but after reading everyone's replies (and thank you everyone for the varied input)... I'm spending probably 80-90% of the time with this machine gaming in Win7 64bit via BootCamp. I have a 2012 MBA that I use for most of my day-to-day surfing, email, etc.

Am I better off:

1. Buying a 120GB SSD and partitioning it for Mac/Win boot disks?

2. Waiting to save a few extra bucks and buy a 240GB SSD and doing the same?

3. Buying a 120GB SSD and using it solely for BootCamp?

4. Buying a VelociRaptor or some kind of Fusion/SSHD in a larger capacity for a similar price and partitioning that for the two OS's?


Thanks!!
 

Tesselator

macrumors 601
Jan 9, 2008
4,601
4
Japan
Alright, so there's been a lot of back and forth on this, but after reading everyone's replies (and thank you everyone for the varied input)... I'm spending probably 80-90% of the time with this machine gaming in Win7 64bit via BootCamp. I have a 2012 MBA that I use for most of my day-to-day surfing, email, etc.

Am I better off:

1. Buying a 120GB SSD and partitioning it for Mac/Win boot disks?

2. Waiting to save a few extra bucks and buy a 240GB SSD and doing the same?

3. Buying a 120GB SSD and using it solely for BootCamp?

4. Buying a VelociRaptor or some kind of Fusion/SSHD in a larger capacity for a similar price and partitioning that for the two OS's?


Thanks!!
Probably #4 times two would be optimal.

Seeing as you're talking about 128GB SSDs I'll assume you're not rich. The SSHD units from Seagate are like $100 a pop and are 750GB. If it were me I would buy two. One for OS X and one for the Windows installation. After a few days of using the system like that this will deliver SSD speeds everywhere it actually counts and provide you with about 150MB/s or more for the app and app-data that's larger and not accessed so often - and, allow you enough space to install all the games and apps without worrying too much about space constraints.

You could even RAID0 the two together and then partition that if you wanted super-speed small-file random I/O and a hefty 300MB/s or more for the bigger less often accessed stuff.

There was some discussion here in another thread which seemed to indicate that unlike the mentioned Seagate, an Apple Fusion setup won't work with a Windows partition or BootCamp.

Currently VelociRaptor drives are a wasted consideration. They're small, hot, and expensive. The Seagate 3TB Barracuda for example, specs out about the same, runs way cooler, is less than half the price, and of course it is 3TB instead of only one.



deconstruct60 is a rather pedantic and semantically inclined poster. Unless you don't already understand that file-size is critical in measuring the random I/O throughput of a device for example, you can just ignore all that and not be any worse off for it. He gets a lot of stuff wrong on a regular basis too - like in this case confusing the results of a test with the actual test itself and incorrectly assuming details which weren't mentioned at all. Typically and as above, he formulates an entire non-sensical rebuttal based on those mistaken or wrong assumptions which I call straw-man arguments. :p He just loves doing it even after a number of us have pointed it out to him. I'm not sure why, it's all good, sometimes there's some interesting little factoids mixed in with it, whatever... :)
 
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