Should I get an SSD hard drive for editing?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by oxband, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. oxband macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2009
    I have a MBP pro. It's a 17 inch from 2009 with 8GB of RAM and a 3.06 Ghz processor and I'm running Os X 10.7.5. For film editing, I use FCP 7.

    I do feel like the computer is starting to show it's age. It's definitely not as fast as it used to be. This is the primary computer I use for editing. This is partly because I've been doing so much travel late but that will end in March.

    I'm thinking about ways to make my experience faster. I'm considering swapping out my hard drive for an SSD hard drive. The other option would be to buy a desktop computer that I could keep in my apartment. Thoughts on whether or not it's worth it to get an SSD drive for my computer?

    One other caveat: I'm considering switching to FCP X once I'm settled into an apartment in March. I dont know if that should impact my answer.

    Thanks in advance. These forums are always so essential to me!
  2. cgk.emu macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2012

    If you want real speed a desktop setup with multiple drives is the way to go. One drive for importing, another for conversion (you can't really edit off of and save to the same disk, it slows it WAY down or will cause FCPX to crash...I convert all my videos to Apple Pro Res 422 using MPEG stream clip, FCPX likes that format). Another drive for FCP's media folders and another for a scratch disk. On top of that an external RAID for backups. I do have an SSD I use in my Mac Pro just for FCP to reside on, it made a bit of a difference, though it still has to wait for items to load from the spinning drives

    Edit: I have 6 internal drives in my Mac Pro. Replaced both optical drives with an adapter from OWC. BTW, I like FCPX more than 7, FWIW.
  3. oxband thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2009
  4. Justin L Franks macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2013
    More RAM might be the answer.

    Open up Activity Monitor when you are rendering and take a look at Page outs (under the System Memory tab). If that number is increasing then you have a bottleneck there, and a RAM upgrade will help.

    SSD's make a big difference too, so ideally you can upgrade both. But if money is really tight and you have a memory-based bottleneck, a cheap RAM upgrade to 8 GB or 16 GB will help.
  5. Chad3eleven macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2012
    Having too many drives isnt a good route either. This may stress out the on board controller, because it has to point to several different locations.

    At my former job we edited on FCP7 on maxed out Mac Pro towers, and our storage was an array connected via Fiber. We found we had issues and errors if the autosave vault (and waveforms) were pointed to the fiber drives.. So we kept those on a local partition on the computer, and kept all media and renders up on the fiber (in the same project folders, so if a project was opened in another suite all renders came with the media)

    An SSD for your main drive (applications) is a good start. My current rig has a 256gb SSD and things rip. More ram may help too but FCP 7 is 32 bit, meaning at max it can use approx. 3.5 gbs of ram.. but having more ram in the entire computer will help, as FCP7 can use 3.5gbs, leaving the rest for the OS, and secondary applications.

    Where do you store your media? Like the above post, you should NOT have media on the same drive as your application. Yes it will run, but not optimally. Your best bet is to use an attached drive or raid of drives via firewire 800 for your media. USB can work but it doesnt handle streams of video as well as firewire.

    You can also get an expansion card with eSata for your MacBook and hook a drive via that.. That will greatly expand your read/write while editing.
  6. nateo200, Oct 29, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013

    nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Well it seams your fastest I/O ports are going to be FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet (although thats another story), unless you have a PCI external card slot. SSD will definitely help speed although I would get a FireWire 800 external to edit off of. SSD was a much more noticable upgrade over a RAM upgrade for me. Your machine seams sort of limiting with the fast I/O ports though and you might want to pick up an old Mac Pro or new Mac Pro or even iMac, I/O ports with high speed buy more future use.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it I don't think the 2009 MBP's can go over 8gigs...what kind of processor do you have? Clock speed doesn't mean much if its a Core 2 Duo at 3.06GHz and we all think its an might be able to go to 16GB's but not sure.
  7. gobsmacked macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    Longer term - switch to a desktop. Bigger, better, faster, and shiny and new!

    To clear up some of the other posts - 8 GB of RAM is the max for your laptop, it's a Core2Duo and likely has a 500 GB hard drive at 5400 RPM unless you did a build to order and changed that to a 7200 RPM drive.

    Changing over to an SSD will markedly speed things up. You can also buy brackets that allow you to remove the optical drive and put your old hard drive in its place. I put one of these in my MBP and it's great.
    If I were doing the conversion today I would get either a 750 GB or 1 TB Samsung Evo. (Actually, I would probably get two 1 TB Evos if I could afford it, more space is always better in my case) Assuming you haven't changed your original drive any size SSD of 512 GB or larger will allow you to work exactly as you are now - the only change being the speed up. Keep a minimum of 25% free space on the SSD to avoid slowdowns. (Anandtech has an article explaining this)
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    People used to have to have a different disk drive for media files. But with SSD you can put everything on one drive. With a spinning disk placing everything on one drive cause the read/write heads to seek to much. The problem was "head contention" It takes a bit of time to move the heads and while moving they can't read or write.

    This problem goes away with SSD as there is nothing that moves. The old advice was good for spinning drives

    You have two options, one is to swap out the hard drive for an SSD and save the old HD for backups.

    Of buy a very fast external drive but how to connect it? You have to use fire wire and this is really not fast enough. Better I think to just go with one big interal SSD.

    I assume you are already maxed out on RAM and have installed all the will fit
  9. lighthouse_man macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2005
    SSD is going to make a huge difference overall. I'm not sure how much in FCP X, but your computer will boot, launch apps and respond much faster.

    You should definitely consider removing your optical drive and using the OWC data doubler as you'll be able to install up to 1 terabyte albeit 5400 additional internal drive. Just make sure the interface can handle the sata speed (probably 3Gb/s). I'm certain the 6Gb/s won't work on your model. Don't throw the Superdrive though in case you'll need to install Windows through bootcamp as the installation CD won't boot from an external (on your machine) and you'll have to swap the doubler and the superdrive for the installation.

    I'm also sure you already maxed out your RAM and can no longer upgrade it on your system, but check anyway.
  10. Giuly, Nov 2, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    Given that the RAM is maxed out already, an SSD will help. Even if the Mac still runs out of RAM, access to the SSD is still faster than a hard drive.

    Add a SanDisk Ultra Plus of a capacity of your choice and it should remain useable for at least one more round.

    Also, upgrade to Mavericks because it utilizes the RAM more efficiently. It's free y'all, after all.
  11. Unami, Nov 2, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    SSD speeds up your computer a little bit (in a use-case, where you spend hours of working in just your NLE), but does not do a lot for editing (except for multicam clips with about more than 4 hd streams, or working with uncompressed video, where a lot of bandwith is required - but in both cases you'll run into storage problems pretty soon anyway - even with a 1tb ssd).

    i've had a lot of beachballing while editing on a new mbp with a ssd this summer - the boot-up process was pretty fast and fcpx started very fast (despite, by the end of my working period, there were about 50 events / projects on it). other than that, editing was not noticeably faster than on a computer with a harddrive - but in comparison i get a lot less beachballing on my desktop where the media resides on a seperate drive.

    imho, your best bet for upgrading your laptop would be to replace your hd with an ssd and your disc drive with a as big and as fast as possible hd.

    having said that - i still use my 2009 13inch mbp for editing sometimes, but then i use proxy-clips. if i were in your position, i'd safe up for a desktop instead, get a fw800 drive for the mbp and use proxy-editing.
  12. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    I have a 2008 MacBook Pro 17".

    I just bough an internal ssd drive and 6GB of ram. They will be here next week.

    My MBP was fine until I updated the system to snow leopard. Not is super slow. So much that the temperature of the board is getting hot like hell.

    My recommendation is to do the ssd upgrade. You will need to have your actual hard drive as an external unit any way.

    Do not install FCX, come on! that software is a big industry failure. Get Adobe Premiere instead. I am a program manager/ project manager. Every company that has problems in production have FCX install it, I made them delete them and instal FCP 7 and they start production as a rocket. The other editors are using Premiere.

    In my house I have a 27" iMac, I have my old 2006 Mac Pro fully upgraded with several terabites of internal hard drives. I have it connected as a server via Ethernet only. It has only the power cable and ethernet cable and I control it via desktop monitor. I used it for rendering as well for Cinema 4D, so I can have the iMac free.

    Anyway ssd drives are good, they will improve your speed big time and your 17" even I wouldn't use it a as a primary computer, still has a lot of life. Just do not install the latest OS, you do not need it.
  13. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    At this point FCP X and the decision to use it is very much a personal decision given the latest updates put it on par if not better than the latests NLE's. I think like 90% of peoples complaints of "missing features" as of 10.0.6 or 10.0.3 is just people not understanding the layout which is very very simple and very very fast once you get used to it...idk about you but I'm an extremely visual person and the ugly layout of FCP 7 or even Premiere is a turn off...sure I know how to use Premiere Pro or After Effects but its not my preferred software and I've found I've been using Motion more so than After Effects except where I only have plugins in After Effects (I don't even have Premiere on my rMBP anymore). Again its a personal decison and its probably a bad idea to get into another "OMG FCP X SUCKZZZ LOL FCP 7 AND PREMIERE RULE" argument.

    Not trying to be a fan boy but some of you video people are rigid in your ways (and rightfully so! I hate changing at the risk of not being able to adapt fast enough but I force myself to).
    This. Data doubler / OptiBay is a great solution. I got a generic Optibay for something like <$20. I'd go ahead and get a >128GB SSD and a 750GB or 1TB hard drive. I don't believe they make 1TB 7200 drives but you'll have to weigh whether speed is important for your second drive...personally I would go with a 750 at 7200RPM's and just get an externall 1TB that is fast. Optical drives are still very much important so an external encloser for your current internal one or better yet a new external drive is nice...I use an external Blu-ray drive and it works great.
  14. oxband thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2009
    Wow. This was great.

    A few questions:

    1 - My media is indeed on a separate drive, a FW 800 drive. My stuff is not heavy on effects so the FW 800 tends to be good enough. If I have a SSD, do I still need the media I'm editing on a separate drive?

    2 - Will an expansion card with eSata be that much faster than Firewire 800? I've never considered it before.

    3 - If I switch out the optical drive, what will that do? Will that impact the graphics on the computer? If I swap it out for my hard drive i have now, does that mean I'll have my 500GB hard drive AND the SSD drive? That's a lot of memory (that's not a bad thing.....)!

    4 - I'm thinknig I'll hold onto the computer, get the SSD and still invest in a used MacPro to use as my regular editing station. But this was, with the SSD, I can use my MBP for a few more years as a computer I can edit with on the road. Although I'm looking forward to one day getting a smaller one. These 17" babies are heavy! Does this make sense to do this plan? I think so. Just double checking.

    Thanks again!
  15. nateo200, Nov 4, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013

    nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Read the bold
  16. gdeusthewhizkid macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2008
    I have the same issue. I have a 2009 13 inch mac pro. I upgraded it to a 750 gig hybrid drive and 8 gigs of ram. It still lights my activity monitor up. Im thankful that these guys on this forum are getting rid of great machines for the latest and greatest. I got a 2006 mac pro for cheap and upgraded the hard drive and os myself. I also changed the video card and man did it make a great difference on my editing on FCPx. So much faster than my laptop even for a 2006 machine. I would suggesting getting a used mac pro if you can.. The price of these ssds are the price of a good mac pro now. I suggest getting later than 2008 tho...
  17. oxband thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2009
    Huh. i hadn't thought of that. so you're suggesting a used Mac Pro, post 2008, and I can just change the hard drive, ram, and video card? I hadnt thought of that.....but that makes a lot of sense.....
  18. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Yup. 2008 and over is neccessary though or you'll hit limits with RAM, interfaces, etc. that are just no fun....even the 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro's require some work arounds in allot of aspects but its still worth it IMO, just be mindful of the future.

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