Raid or Graphic's card more beneficial on a budget?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by macguy93, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. macguy93 macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012
    Hello Everyone,

    In order to speed up my work flow i want to add the option of adding a Raid set up or adding a graphics card for video editing and Adobe after effects. I know both are pretty much a necessity, but at the moment im on a tight budget and i can only afford one of the options..

    For a Raid Set up, I was thinking of buying 2 SAMSUNG 840 Series 250GB Drives. (I would keep the rest of my media that im not editing on another drive, so 250GB should be enough room) How much faster will a SSD raid configuration add to my system?

    However, for the graphics card, I don't know what i can get for around $400 that would really benefit my system. (currently i have the ATI 5770) I might just wait for the Nvidia Quadro 4000 to come down in price.

    What do you guys think?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. i make movies macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2007
    Need more details.

    Current MacPro specs.
    Main software you plan to use.
  3. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    If you feel like you spend too much time rendering FX then a card would be better. But not the Quadro. Maybe a GTX 680, or a 690 with an additional $50 PSU.

    If you feel like most of your time is spent loading, saving, shuttling, setting in and out points, and so on like that then the RAID would better assist. You want high throughput tho so you kinda need a SATA III RAID card which run around $150 or so. You could go smaller SSDs and get the RAID card - I mean how many projects do you do that would fill up two 128GB drives? If it's anything like me you could probably do 3 or 4 projects on them before you needed to move them off to your large storage drive(s).
  4. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012
    Thanks for your responses guys!

    The current machine im running is a 2012 mac pro:
    12-core @2.4GHz
    40GB Ram
    120GB SSD (Boot drive, Applications)
    1TB Media Drive
    ATI 5770 Graphics Card

    My main work is done in; Premiere pro CS6 and adobe after effects CS6. Occasionally i do some work in Cinema 4D, but not too often.

    My main issue overall is laggyness (slow performance) within the programs its self. beachball occurs here and there, my main goal is to just work with a faster/ smoother workflow.
  5. Tesselator, Apr 1, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Hard to say, Again, when do you experience this legginess? When rendering FX or when scrubbing, loading, saving, and so forth?

    It sounds like it's probably the card but...

    If you can't seem to tell when or what is causing the legginess you can benchmark your drives with the Blackmagic benchmarker and then monitor the drive I/O during an edit session. If the edit session is requiring the same as the max rate blackmagic says you have during the laggy times then it's more then likely the drives.

  6. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    It is doubtful you need to RAID SSDs. You should try a single SSD first. ( Store active working project there or its "scratch" space of temporary/intermediate files. )

    Depending how old the 120GB SSD is that could be a candidate to swap out for the 240GB SSD ( and leave space empty on the drive. If trying to fill the SSD up to the brim that is a mistake. Since sounds like you are trying to store two OS/App bundles on a single 120GB is kind of small if have bulky application libraries. )

    Are you corralling After Effects to just 12 threads? If not that too is an issue. If it tries to go 24 way and wants 2GB per thread, you don't have enough.

    As far as video cards, no deeply demonstrated need for additional power supplies to pushing into a corner of configurations. There are some unrealized aspects that are still stuck on CUDA but CS6 has more OpenCL support ...... however.....

    This doesn't sound like a GPU problem at all. Too little RAM or slow storage I/O ( e.g. "File open" will tap all the disks... if HDD sluggish for some reason it gets into the mix of the response time. )

    You should profile you system in activity monitor to see what shows up when these occur. It could even be some flakey utility program that periodically just pops up and doesn't something if it is just a periodic gremlin beachball.

    Find the cause ( root of the problem) and then solve it. Otherwise it is far more so just an exercise in spending money. That isn't necessarily going to bring a solution.
  7. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012
    Thanks you for your helpful advice.

    I am using an OCZ Vertex 3 drive, Yes i do have if filled up a bit too much.... (only 13GB remaining on the drive, Could that be a culprit for a tendency to be slow?) If i went out an bought a 240GB SSD, do you think that would be better to put my OS/Applications on, while using the OCZ for scratch/Media that im currently working on?

    Also, i should mention, I have apple ram mixed with OWC Ram. I have 4 8GB sticks of OWC with 4 sticks of 2GB factory ram. I heard from some people that might be an issue, but i do have the sticks in the recommended order and OWC said it shouldn't be an issue, However i dont know for sure

    Yes, I do have it set up to utilize 12 cores with 2GB set to each. I also have 30GB set to after effects, while allowing 10GB to background. (I will have to double check on this, but i believe this is how i have it set up.
  8. GP-SE macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2013
    Buy a Samsung 840 250GB for the main drive, and use the OCZ for a scratch disk like you said. 12GB free space is slowing you down, SSD's need a bit of free space to perform. Also mixing the RAM shouldn't be an issue, as long as they're both ECC and operating at the same speed (1066 or 1333)

    If you can find a cheap used AMD HD 7950 I would get that flash EFI on it and you'd be good.
  9. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012
    Thanks for your reply!

    Will i see a night and day difference in overall system performance by adding 100GB+ of free space on the main OS/Applications drive?

    I know it may sound obvious, but i want to end this issue once and for all and know before buying.

    Again thanks for your suggestion!
  10. polyethyleneguy macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I've been looking for a solution myself and have tried both a Nvidia 680 and dual Samsung SSD's in a RAID 0. The video card didn't make much of a difference at all. While the SSD's made a world of difference. I would recommend putting the two SSD's in a RAID 0 because you are operating on SATA II, which limits you to a maximum of 375MB/s per drive. If you set them in RAID 0, your total read speed will be closer to 500MB/s. The other solution would be to purchase a SATA III card (like this one:

    I use two 256GB Samsung 830's, giving me a total of 512GB for my current projects/events.


    SSD slow down with multiple writes (5GB of data a day, for 5 years), not by how full they get.

    A very full SSD may suffer from re-write problems, but TRIM should take care of cleaning the drive up after deletes.

    But to resolve this issue, only use 80-85% of the total drive space. Leave the other 15-20% unallocated, unformatted. This is called over-provisioning.

    Since SSDs in RAID 0 are TRIM unsupported, that's what I had to do to 'em, and NEVER had a problem.
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    It is a candidate. If you don't give the Sandforce garbage collector room to work it could result in highly uneven latencies. That could spook the OS routines and cause hiccups.

    If trying to "make up" for filling to be brim by turning on some TRIM hack that too can be a significant contributor. TRIM is crutch that drive doesn't necessarily want to use.

    No. An extremely above average ratio of compressed media files isn't going to make that specific drive happy. More typical files like programs and normal user files is what the drive is geared for.

    If you have empty storage bays you could consider getting another 120GB SSD and just migrating Windows to a completely separate drive that just isn't mounted at all when in OS X. If scratch working set would fit in ~100GB could carve out a slice of the 240 for Windows and move it there (or the OS X there if don't have windows partition cloner.)

    I presume this is


    per CPU package, then it is pretty balanced. If it were all 8's on one CPU package and all 4's on another that could be an minor issue.

    If you are trying to manually allocate every last drop of RAM, then that is likely a contributing source of your problems. You can allocate a subset of the total memory to AE and associated background processes, but all of it is a bad idea. Like the SSD the OS(and some of its associated programs/processes ) needs some room to do its job.

    If the beachballs are largely in the transition to or transition between the AE and other apps that further would support fixed "optimization" as not really being optimal.
  12. GP-SE macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2013
    Not sure about night and day, but when my SSD had 9gb free my computer was slow, I upgraded to a Samsung 840 PRO and I noticed a big difference. Also make sure you install the latest firmware once you get the new SSD, also update the firmware to the latest on your OCZ
  13. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012

    A raid 0 is the configuration im leaning towards, however im on a tight budget, so 2 SSD's in the hard drive bays will have to work for now and should be plenty fast for my current workflow.

    Another thing i should point out. I keep my media on the 1Tb drive that is also in my computer, but that drive is practically full. (130BG remaining) When i first received my mac Pro i migrated EVERYTHING from my previous iMac. Theres even a user on that account so i can boot into it. But since it was from my iMac it has several years on crap on it When ever i even boot into that drive (which is rarely) the drive is slow upon start up to begin with and just slow in general.. Could that be a cause to my issue while being on the SSD or could that slow the media down in Premiere pro (After effects, FCP etc.) because its digging through that slow/messy drive?

    I may just take off some unnecessary files/programs on my current SSD to clear it up to 30Gb or so free. For some reason i try to keep trim enabled, but it keeps turning off.. Is that due to system updates that turn it back off?
  14. GP-SE macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2013
    yes updates will disable trim, use this method to re-enable:

    Also be sure your SSD has the latest firmware, there are often fixes\performance improvements that aren't mentioned in release notes
  15. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012

    What if i just bought the Samsung 830 series 240GB as OS/Applications and grabbed another OCZ vertex 3 120GB for raid 0 with my existing OCZ drive? Or is that not worth making a raid set up with the OCZ drives (not the best drives in the world) Or am i just better off keeping the OCZ as my original primary drive and just buying 2 830 series?

    What is the difference between Samsung 840 PRO and the Samsung 830?


    I will certainly give that a shot! thanks for the find, i did use "trim enabler" you think that could very well be a contributor to my performance?

    BTW, are those commands just as easy as Copy and pasting into terminal one at a time? I'm not familiar when it comes to terminal
  16. i make movies macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2007
    If you're on a tight budget, don't buy anything, period. Trust me, you will save money in the long run if you ***BUY IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME***.

    An SSD Raid **inside the MacPro** is a waste of money.

    A 2-drive RAID-0 won't do much inside the MacPro because SATA2. You would need at least a RAID controller.

    I bought 4 of these...

    to make a 12 TB RAID0. I use a program called SoftRaid that makes the RAID and I get 500 MB/s read/write speeds.

    And for a graphics card, I think buying a GTX570 flashed from MacVidCards ebay store is the way to go. It's still the best CUDA card. it goes for 550.
  17. GP-SE macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2013
    uninstall "trim enabler" first
    then just copy and paste in terminal

    if you can find a Samsung 830 then go for it, it's a good SSD.
    840 PRO series is the fastest SSD on the market currently, and very reliable, if you search Google you can find benchmarks for the 830\840\840PRO.

    I would suggest:
    256GB Samsung 840 PRO - Main\OS
    then use your existing OCZ as a scratch disk

    if you still aren't happy, then buy another OCZ and RAID 0 it with your current OCZ.
  18. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012

    very good point you make, i agree 100%. However, if i just buy the samsung 840 Pro for my os/apps for now that could at least hold me over until i can buy another SSD and the controller from OWC.

    Heres my options, Which would you suggest:

    1.) OCZ 120GB as OS/Apps With RAID 0 2X samsung 830 series (120 or 256GB idk yet) with 1TB scratch. (later down the road buy the controller)

    2.) Samsung 840 Pro 256GB as OS/APPS and use the OCZ 120GB as my scratch (then later down the road buy a second OCZ and configure it to raid 0 and potentially buy the controller)
  19. i make movies macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2007
    Go with 2, but when it comes time to upgrade, really weight your options. 4 spinning drives in a software RAID are *plenty* fast (even with SATA2) and will be even faster with a raid controller.
  20. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012
    The real-time performance bump from having a high data throughput RAID is a huge benefit. Stacked effects can play real-time and you get more "tracks" in real-time with a faster RAID vs. single drive HDD. But you're not going to see huge benefits over a standard SSD unless you make the jump to something like a fiber RAID, or a PCIe solution like an HDPro (750MB/s or higher on the newest units).

    If you're editing H.264 footage, it taxes your system. It's why many people still convert their footage to another format before editing. A graphics card that Adobe can work with DOES help, but the balance of the overall system is important. If you can find a PC variant card that works for your monitor setup, that may be the best recommendation for price. The GTX 570 is still considered the "leader" for video editing work (PPro/AE), but the 670/680 is easier to find these days. They'll help with Mercury Playback Engine a bit and can add additional real-time performance. Check the threads about these.

    Would absolutely suggest at minimum to use a dedicated SSD for your media drive. You don't want your media to reside on a slow drive - that's where you'll see bottlenecks the most. Even a single drive SSD can meet (or exceed) the performance of many RAID-0 and RAID-1 HDD solutions. Just be sure to backup to another drive if you go that route. There's could also be an argument to be made that using an HDD for your system drive and the SSD for your media drive could be a better setup IF cost is an issue - all depends on how much actual editing you're doing, rather than effects work...
  21. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012


    Thanks for your reply!

    I think I am going to just stick to buying the Samsung 840 pro 256GB SSD as my os/apps drive. Then I will use my (crappy) OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD for my scratch. (Do you think that drive will be okay as a media drive?)

    If I understand correctly its not worth making a raid from 2 SSD's yet if I'm not using a controller? I will be constrained to 3gb/s in the hard drive bays where as a pci/e card will maximize my speeds to 6gb/s? However, how would my performance compare to a single SSD drive for media compared to media on 2 drive raid set up in hard drive bays (3gb/s)?
  22. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012

    I'd switch those around. You want your FASTEST drive as the media drive and I think that's probably the Samsung 840 Pro. Check the specs of both.
  23. macguy93, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013

    macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012
    That makes sense. However, if my OS/APP SSD is not running up to its full potential (only 13gb remaining) will that still affect the overall system performance when I have my media on the Samsung 840 pro?

    I do plan on cleaning up that drive, I just haven't had time to. I suggest the only way to see how fast my OCZ is running is to run the black magic benchmark?

    ***Thought i should add, Just as a test i put some footage on my current SSD (OCZ Vertex 3 that im using as my OS/APP drive, which has 13gb remaining) and i still noticed some lag in premiere pro while playing back the footage.. it was jumpy and glitchy at some parts. Any reason this was? Although, this footage was shot with GoPro Hero 3 in 1920X1080, but the footage was in .M4P
  24. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012
    Really comes down to a few things:

    SSDs need free space in order to be most efficient and have a long life. General rule of thumb is buy 2x larger than you need for a system drive. For a media drive, expect the possible overall "life" to be shorter if an SSD due to the massive read/write and backup your data often. You probably want TRIM enabled to handle garbage collection on both drives.

    Yes, your system drive needs to be fast, but as long as it's faster than an HDD, that's not your bottleneck. Traditional HDD load programs slower than an SSD, but once they're open, in real-world experience they run fairly similarly unless you're executing a lot of scripts, actions, processes that rely on code to be driven (PS actions are one example). Also depends on what files are constantly being accessed, where your cache databases reside, and the overall balance of GPU/CPU/RAM to really sort out any bottlenecks.

    PPro playback issues can depend on buffering, effects, frame rates, data read/write speeds (constant, not burst) and a whole mess of factors. MP4 doesn't help the issue as it's highly compressed and taxes the CPU to playback properly - again, it's why many still convert these files to edit with. Suggest you mess with 1/2 and 1/4 resolution playback and see if that initially improves the issue for real-time performance.

    Can also look into PCIe adapters for the SSD media drive, if you have any ports free. This would maximize performance from the 840 Pro in your machine.
  25. macguy93 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2012

    Just a quick question I should ask. Do you think (even though its a 12-core) my low clock speed (2.4ghz) can just be the issue?? I originally had a 6-core Mac Pro @3.33GHz but sent it back for this machine thinking I was getting a faster system.. Was my decision making process wrong?

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