SSD internal drive for apps and system? files, HDD external for everything else?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by slipper, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. slipper macrumors 68000


    Nov 19, 2003
    With the prices of older model SSD's dropping, the idea of upgrading to a small SSD (with an external FW800 HDD for everything else) has crossed my mind. I currently use a Mac Mini for everything, HTPC, Photoshop, iMovie, web surfing. I know the SSD would overall increase the system response, but what about large tasks like iMovie rendering or Photoshop? Will the FW800, would it perform slower than before or faster? I guess my main question is would it make sense to do this? Thanks!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    iMovie rendering is totally up to the CPU, SSD won't speed that up. Photoshop performance may improve a little, especially if you have little RAM as swapping to an SSD is much faster than swapping to an HD. 2.5" 5400rpm drives are actually slower than what FW800 can provide so if you're using a a high-ish capacity 3.5" with FW800, it might actually be faster than what your former internal drive was.

    Hard drives are the biggest bottleneck in today's computers so upgrading to an SSD does make sense as long as you are fine with the price tag.
  3. Dave H macrumors 6502

    Dave H

    Mar 2, 2008
    If you have enough RAM installed, you could create a small RAM Disk and set it as the first scratch disk.
    If more current versions of Photoshop work like the ancient one I have, it will load some "invisible" files onto the first scratch disk for fast access. If Photoshop give an error about running out of space on the RAM disk, make the RAM disk bigger until you don't get the error. FWIW, in Photoshop Elements 2, 64MB is enough.
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm pretty sure that RAM disks have only resulted in a speed improvement in Photoshop in extreme cases unless you go WAY back, and I'm guessing that if the OP is thinking about buying an SSD they're not using that old of a version.

    In CS4 or earlier, PS could only address 3.5GB at most (it was 32 bit), so if you have more than 4GB of RAM, you could speed things up somewhat by giving it the extra RAM as a scratch disk. CS5 is 64-bit (unless you're forcing it to run as 32-bit), and can address preposterous amounts of memory, so in all likelihood you're actually going to slow it down by trying to use a RAM disk for scratch.

    That said, a decent SSD is definitely going to make a better scratch disk than all but the most extreme RAID0 arrays. A cheap SSD can have very low write rates, so might not be quite so much of an advantage.

    So the bottom line for the original question is, it depends on what you're doing. As said, an iMovie render (or any other CPU-limited activity, which is pretty much EVERYTHING to do with video postprocessing) won't benefit at all from an SSD. PS, it will depend--if you're working with VERY large files, and/or have a lot of history states that you use, AND you don't have all that much RAM, then yes, it'll speed things up somewhat. If you haven't already maxed your RAM out, though, you're almost guaranteed to get more PS bang for your buck by getting more RAM before an SSD, at least if you're using CS5.

    SSDs in general have the most effect on large numbers of random file accesses--launching applications, booting the system, databases, and, to a lesser extent, PS scratch disk stuff. They essentially make your computer "feel" much faster in terms of the delay between a click and something happening, but I'd say the majority of the really time-consuming "gruntwork" things, outside database searches, that people do are CPU-limited more than disk access limited.

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