Hi, folks. OK, so my 2009 iMac has been retired into light duty and I grabbed a 2011 Mac Mini to tide me over until the 2012 iMac is released. (For reasons not at issue here, I am able to repurpose the Mini for a family member afterward.) What I need to learn is whether a combination of SSD+HDD and Thunderbolt storage will perform the way I need it to, when I buy the eventual iMac. Because if so, I think I might as well buy the TB storage now and get things working with it. Here are the parameters: 1. The usage of the Mac 80%+ of the time is as a media server to two AppleTV3 devices in the home, for my wife and kids and occasionally even me. The rest of the time I use it for personal surfing, photo editing, video editing, writing, and video encoding. 2. My collection of movies/video, mainly blu-ray rips of ~5GB each and DVD rips of ~1GB each, plus half a terabyte or so of music video, is about 5.5TB total. All of this needs to be servable to the AppleTV, meaning it has to be in the iTunes library. 3. For other reasons not at issue here, iTunes has to "manage my files." This means that I don't get to separate out my music from my movies within iTunes. I tried to do this setting my media drive to an external 3TB USB2 drive, and OMG it was s-l-o-w to do ANYTHING in iTunes, even renaming a song. So at present my workflow is a kludge, keeping music in iTunes and using Rivet to serve media off external drives to an Xbox 360. The Xbox is going away once I make the upgrade. Rivet is a real resource hog. 4. I would prefer, but not exclusively pick, a solution that I can implement right now with the 2011 Mini and continue with the 2012 iMac. My initial thought was: order the 2012 iMac with an SSD plus the largest HDD they offer, likely still 2TB knowing Apple, and use the SSD for the OS and apps and the HDD for the user directories. Then get a Thunderbolt RAID and set the iTunes media directory onto that. The RAID can start at like 6GB for the LaCie ones, and I can actually scale up if needed. I don't mind having additional external boxes in the equation because my desk abuts a hardware cabinet that can conceal while feeding cabling. However, there are things I don't know: - Is Thunderbolt fast enough do this or will I be in agony every time I try to do library polishing in iTunes? How does the speed of Thunderbolt compare to the speed of an internal SATA drive? - Am I creating a bottleneck somewhere for media serving versus my normal usage, where someone in another room won't be able to watch a BR rip smoothly because I'm encoding video over here? - I see a Promise TB RAID for $2500 and a LaCie TB RAID for $750 -- why is double the capacity more than triple the price? What is it about the Promise drive that I don't know, that would suggest that I get one? - And what if I got the cheaper $600 LaCie TB RAID and ripped the drives out, resold them, and installed a pair of 4TB drives? - Finally, if I am building this for long-term use, should I bite the bullet and by WD Black drives for everything, swapping out whatever is already there? I heard something about a temperature pinout in the iMac drives that makes this impossible... or is it? Surely I could use Blacks in whatever RAID enclosure I bought right? I do not mind in the slightest using my existing external 3TB USB3/USB2 drives as purely backup media once I have a solution in place, so a pure mirrored RAID is not a dealbreaker, but it would be nice. I could probably prune enough deadwood out of the media collection to use an 8TB RAID of 4+4 with 4TB of usable space. Like I said, my concern is: What don't I know that could make this plan not work and then I've spent a bunch of money I can't recoup? EDIT: I just noticed there is a Promise TB 4-bay RAID too? See this is what I mean! Someone out there has to know more about this stuff than me. What if I bought the 4-banger for $1150 and resold the four 1TB SATA drives and slapped in four 3TB/4TB drives? Seems like that would be awesome right? Or is there something about this that will make it too slow/too clunky/not good for storing an OS-managed iTunes library? OK that was a mouthful and well beyond the bounds of TL;DR. If you got this far I want to thank you just for reading it. Any advice or suggestions (or warnings!) you have to offer are gratefully requested.