Pay for 512GB SSD or external 1TB SSD? Photo editing workflow.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by helix21, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. helix21 macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Buying a 2019 iMac - I am getting the 256GB SSD upgrade. I cost of going from 256 -> 512GB is £160. I can buy a thunderbolt 3 SSD on amazon for £90 for 512GB, and £160 for 1TB.

    One big thing I want to do with this iMac is a lot of photo editing utilising Photos app (which I understand can all be stored externally) and a fair amount of video editing.

    I don't mind spending the £160 to go 512GB internal if it is far superior, but the way I see it I may get more bang for my buck using an external USB-C SDD?
  2. mikzn macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2013
    I would not buy a Mac of any kind without 512g storage minimum - that is without considering Photo storage and management. Video is even more reason to go with the 512g - IMHO
  3. adamk77, Apr 18, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019

    adamk77 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2008
    Are you sure it's a Thunderbolt 3 SSD and not USB 3.1 Gen 2? If it's USB 3.1 Gen 2, you'll only get around 500-550 MB/s from it. The internal ones are about 4x faster. I have the 1TB Samsung X5 which is a Thunderbolt 3 SSD and I paid $500 USD for it. The speed is similar to the internal.
  4. zhouyd1990 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2019
    I am also buying one iMac for photography. I choose 512 GB SSD.

    The SSD Apple uses in iMac is Samsung's PCIe NVMe SSD. The retail price for 512 GB is about 200$, so it is not that ripping-off and it is definitely having an edge over external SSD.

    I think it is worth throwing extra 200$ to get the 512 GB to save the hassle on those external storage configuration.

    Another point is that your iMac resale value would be hurt if you go with 256 GB. Few people would like to consider such configuration combo. It means your iMac is hard to resell once you want to upgrade.

    Honestly speaking, I think if you want to consider cost-effective so serious, you probably should not get an iMac since you have already paid a huge chunk of brand premium to Apple.
  5. casperes1996 macrumors 68040


    Jan 26, 2014
    Horsens, Denmark

    The SSDs may be substantially slower, sure, but so is the price difference. Beyond a certain point storage speed-boosts grow increasingly diminishing in terms of percieved difference. The photo workflow would likely be percievably identical, and the video workflow would depende heavily on codec and other software variance. But splitting system and work data also nets a performance benefit for video, especially in certain apps like Premiere (less so in Final Cut and DaVinci). If your storage is fast enough anyway it doesn't really matter, but if the NLE is trying to use the storage for operations intermediate system operations having two drives could net parallel operations.

    In the end, it's a cost-benefit evaluation, not a clear cut answer. The internal SSD is undoubtably faster than what the OP has considered externally, but also carries a heftier price, and if the faster drive nets no real world benefit, more storage for less is a good deal
  6. adamk77 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2008
    Excellent point.

    The answer I was attemtping to provide was in response to the question that OP posed about whether the internal SSD is far superior than the external SSD (if it's USB 3.1). The answer is objectively yes.

    If you conflate this with the particulars of OP's use case and work flow, then it becomes a bit more murky.

    I try to answer these questions as if it was being asked by a loved family member. I would tell them to get the internal SSD.
  7. mrvo macrumors member

    Nov 16, 2018
    512GB NVME internal for apps, catalogs & 1:1 previews, and 4TB 2.5" SSD externally in JBOD (well my enclosure is dual bay).
  8. mikey8811 macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2019
    I am in similar shoes as the OP. I can only afford a 256 Gb SSD upcharge. However, I do not do video or photo editing.

    Why is 512 Gb minimum optimal for just OS and apps? I ask because I calculated on my current usage that this takes up about 120 Gb at best.

  9. colinsky macrumors member


    Apr 3, 2009
    Larger SSDs are faster and more durable. I'm still very happy with my late 2015 27" with 256GB, which was all I could afford at the time. Now I have three 1TB external SSDs on USB 3. I can boot from any of them; the internal boots in 29 seconds and the externals in 55 seconds.
    I do Photoshop, desktop publishing, web production, a very little video.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
  11. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2009
    Wouldn’t this be roughly the price as the enclosure and nvme ssd, and give you better performance if you have a TB 3 port?
  12. waldo647 macrumors newbie


    Oct 1, 2014
    Tucson, Arizona
    I've been using the 256gb SSD in my iMac for the past 5 years, mostly for photography, and most of that Lightroom. I will *definitely* upgrade this 512gb in my new one, soon.

    Two reasons: it's been painful keeping enough free space for the Adobe scratch disks (deleting previews more than I'd have preferred), and I've had to offload everything that wasn't nailed down (to the internal drive) to an external drive. I've recently begun using Photoshop, Nik Collection, and Lumenzia, with Topaz Studios coming soon. I do think the 512gb will be fine for my new one. Plus multiple external drives, of course.

    Also, to save money, I'll get the 8GB memory RAM, and then do the 32gb upgrade for about the same price as Apple's from 8->16 price delta — per the video here on MacRumors.

    One question: is there an adapter for the FW 800 drives with the new USB-C's? These drives will need replacing soon, but I'd rather run them to the end. (I keep backups using Backblaze & Time Machine) TIA
  13. zhouyd1990 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2019
    There is Apple official FW to thunderbolt 3 adapter and I think there are few in aftermarket. I would agree on RAM. That is really the place Apple rips you off.
  14. mikzn macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2013
    Mostly because 256g is just not enough for an internal SSD IMHO - I keep my drive at least 30% free and prefer it to be considerably less than "70% used" to make it more efficient and allow space for the drive to work properly - keeping a 256g drive at less than "70% used" ends up at around 180g of storage

    Mojave install seems to take about 80g for the 10.4 system ( at least for me)

    My User library folder ( users < library) is currently 95g - that is from iPhone / iPad back ups, outlook / mail data files, and other software that stores data in the user library folder - this will vary depending on each persons use (and applications) but it's safe to say over the life of the computer it will grow and require a significant amount of space for application support and data - all for data that is stored in an invisible directory (out of sight = out of mind)

    Cloud Sync and Storage - iCloud drive, drop box, One Drive and such all need space for storing some files locally, if not all the files on each cloud service

    Local Media Storage - I don't store any media files on my internal SSD - but if there is any need to store locally any music, videos, pictures and other documents such as PDF's - this might be a consideration and calculated into the equation?

    There are other reasons like adding / upgrading a MAC storage is getting more and more difficult if not impossible for everyday users, and selling a MAC with a low amount of storage will not have as much value. So when buying SSD storage and RAM / memory it is best to err on the high side if possible at least IMHO
  15. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    dcp wrote:
    "Wouldn’t this be roughly the price as the enclosure and nvme ssd, and give you better performance if you have a TB 3 port?"

    I reckon it would amount to about HALF the cost, or even less.
  16. mikey8811 macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2019
    That seems like quite a lot. the website says 18.5 Gb if upgrading from Yosemite or earlier.

    If anyone with one of the 2019 iMac's would care to chime in, how much space does Mojave itself take up?
  17. dcpmark macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2009
    But would be limited to 10Gbps instead of 40Gbps, no?

    Still, your solution would probably be fast enough....can you give me a recommendation for that lower cost NVME SSD that would fit into your enclosure and also work with Mac? Thanks!
  18. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    Only on the internet is that true. Buy what works for you, ignore noise like that.
  19. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
  20. Glockworkorange macrumors 68000


    Feb 10, 2015
    Chicago, Illinois

    You can always hang drives off it if needed, either TB 3 SSD or just USB 3. There is no way to duplicate the internal SSD speed on one of the newer iMacs.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 20, 2019 ---
    That's an interesting looking enclosure.
  21. helix21 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2009
    Thanks everyone for your view, they have been really useful to read.

    In the end, I have decided that since I am already spending £1700 on this machine, it only makes sense to also go for the 512GB internal SSD. This computer is an investment for a while, and I think I will regret not getting the upgrade more later on.
  22. waloshin macrumors 68040


    Oct 9, 2008
    With USB 3.1 Gen 2 and NVME you can get close to 1000 MB/s if SATA is not part of the controller.

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21 April 18, 2019