SSD or 10K RPM HDD as Mac Pro boot drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jpramas, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. jpramas macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi all,

    Just got a new Mac Pro 2.8 Ghz quad core. Want to speed up performance before I start using it since I couldn't afford a faster configuration, and read many forum threads here and elsewhere to figure out the best ways to do that.

    More RAM is a given; so I'll be starting with 16GB of RAM (and fear not, I'm not buying it from Apple; so it's under $200).

    In addition, there seems to be general agreement that using an SDD as a boot drive instead of an HDD seems to be a great thing to do to speed up a Mac Pro (or any computer). However, looking over the options for SATA III SDDs at the price point I can afford (around $250), I note that they are a) only 120 GB, which seems too small, and b) unstable - as many of the top brands have firmware problems and problems with speed degradation over time. Though I am gratified to see that someone has created a patch to allow TRIM to function on Snow Leopard (and Lion to, I believe) - which will help.

    To get to my question, while researching SSDs, I saw benchmark tests on cnet that compare the current SSD models with the Western Digital Velociraptor 10K rpm HDD. And the Velociraptor seems to compare favorably with the lower end of SATA III SDDs.

    I'm thinking that HDDs are a stable legacy technology - which is good. Plus, and this is key, at my price point, I can get a 600 GB Velociraptor. Which would be plenty of space for storing my system and fistfuls of large photo and video editing applications for the life of the machine. And I wouldn't have to worry about running out of space on my boot drive as I would with a smaller SSD.

    So what do you all think ... a 120 GB SSD like a OCZ Vertex 3 or Intel 510, a cheapish but slower 240 GB SSD like the Crucial M4 ($399, if I want to push my budget), or the WD Velociraptor 600 GB HDD (or equivalent)?

    All responses appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Jason
     
  2. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #2
    Raptors are not even close to SSD in speed.
    550MB/s Read/ write for SSD SATAIII
    135MB/s Read/ write for Raptor 600GB.

    7.2ms response time for raptor vs. 0.1ms response for SSD.

    If it compares at all it is because the SSD's in question sucked. I have the 600GB velociraptor. It was way slower than a SSD boot and HDD for storage setup.
     
  3. al2o3cr macrumors regular

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    Oct 14, 2009
    #3
    It's really dependent on what you're doing with the drive - for an OS drive, a fair bit of the speedup is less about raw transfer rate than about eliminating seek time. For instance, here's some data:

    http://www.overclock.net/ssd/674524-intel-ssd-vs-wd-velociraptor-raid.html

    Note that, for instance, 4KB random reads are significantly faster (8MB/s vs <1MB/s) for the SSDs. In this scenario, the mechanical drive spends most of its time waiting for the head to move to the right spot rather than transferring data.
     
  4. jpramas, Aug 15, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011

    jpramas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Points taken. Thanks much, folks.

    So, what do people think? OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB? Or an Intel 510?

    Or something else in that price range?
     
  5. cragmr macrumors member

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    #5
  6. Zerozal macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I'm currently using a 300GB Velociraptor as my boot/app drive. However, I made that decision 2 1/2 years ago when I bought my MP, and was heavily dependent on price and the fact that, in my opinion at the time, SSDs weren't quite ready for prime time.

    I have no complaints and don't regret my decision at all--my Velociraptor has been 100% reliable. However, things have changed and technology moves on. If I were buying a new MP today, it would be SSD all the way. I haven't been keeping up 100% with SSD tech, but I'd lean toward the OCZ Vertex.

    Now, we just need Apple to update to the bus to SATA III....
     
  7. Demigod Mac macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Got an OWC Mercury Extreme in my Mac Pro and can not imagine ever going back to a standard hard drive.
     
  8. jpramas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    hmm ... so to clarify, the current Mac Pro's don't support SATA III?

    if so, should I get a larger SATA II drive (240 GB) - and get more space for the buck at 3 mbps?

    or go ahead and get a 120 GB SATA III drive - even though Mac Pro's apparently can't make full use of their power?
     
  9. highdefw macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2009
    #9
    Go for a larger SATA II. I can vouch for OWC.
     
  10. Ravich macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Uh, which SSDs are capable of this?
     
  11. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

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    #11
    Some of the OCZ series are up there for reads, ~3xx MB/sec for writes.

    More than enough for any casual user.

    But SSD > WD Raptor any day of the week.

    (Has a 300GB WD Veloci for bootcamp).
     
  12. fr4c macrumors 65816

    fr4c

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  13. jpramas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    ok, but people agree that I can go SATA 2 rather than SATA 3 - since Mac Pro doesn't support the latter - right?

    if so the older 240 GB OCZ Agility 2 looks decent ... at $339 on Amazon ...
     
  14. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

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    #14
    To be honest, you won't be able to tell the difference between them above a certain point.

    I'd be very surprised if you could tell the difference between a Intel X25-M 160Gb G2 or a SATAIII drive.

    Personally I'd buy Intel, but that's just me.
     
  15. jpramas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Would you go with the Intel 320? It seems a touch faster than the X25-M and both are highly rated.
     
  16. fr4c macrumors 65816

    fr4c

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    #16
    I have the Intel 320 and it's been flawless. That or you can go with the older 3G OWC drives.
     
  17. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    #17
    I have both SSD and Veloc 10K. SSD wins, not even close.
     
  18. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #18
    A slow SSD is about 85% faster than a mechanical hard drive, whereas a fast SSD is about 88% faster than a mechanical HDD. I am glad to see there are people on these forums that understand this.

    ----------

    The intel 320 is the update to the x25.
     
  19. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

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    #19
    Yes, it's the update to the X25-M G2.

    I'd find a cheap 160Gb G2 personally.
     
  20. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I with everyone else that an SSD is the way to go. I'd like to address the OP's other concern - capacity.

    It's a boot drive. You only need to install the OS and Applications on it. You will still have the original HDD that you can use for your /Users home directory, or just as a volume to move things to when you are finished actively working with them. A small SSD + a Large HDD seems to be the way that new computers are being designed, so much so that manufacturers (I think Intel included) are starting to announce smaller cheaper SSDs specifically to act as Boot devices.

    You can use symlinks to map locations that are physically located on the HDD so that they appear as if they were on the boot drive if you prefer to have everything appear to be in it's default location...
     
  21. apeden macrumors member

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    Jul 21, 2011
    #21
    I am in the same boat as you man, just got a MP5.1 3.33 6core today. I upgraded to 16gb of ram and I bought the 10krpm drive instead of a solid state. The price is much cheeper then a soild state drive, yes the soild state drive is much faster but you really cant tell to much from using it. The numbers show that it is a lot faster but when you use the two you cant really tell the difference. I got a 300gb one for about $135, more space then a soild state drive and a lot less money. I only use it to boot and for my app.s Mabye one day I will upgrade to a SSD but I thought about it and I didnt think I needed to spend the extra cash on a SSD. A good bit of people say that the SSDs have been failing, and once they go bad you can not get your info off them. If your HDD goes bad, there are ways to get your stuff off of it.
     
  22. getz76 macrumors 6502a

    getz76

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    #22
    You would notice a huge difference with an SSD, especially in starting applications like Photoshop, Pro Tools, Reason, Final Cut.

    The Velociraptor design is a bit dated at this point, with some 7,200rpm drives (like the Samsung F3 1tB drive) can actually come close to matching its performance on sequential read/write (good for large files).
     
  23. jpramas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    And the winner is: the Intel 320 160 GB for $294 (plus $7 for the 3.5" converter kit).

    you all have been great ... I really appreciate all the good advice you gave me at speed ...

    I'll chime in later this week and let you know how everything's working ...

    and to the poster in my situation who went with the hard drive ... I know, I went around about that too, but it's clear that an SSD (even a SATA 2) will stomp on a 10K rpm drive ... and since I'm investing in this machine for the next 4-5 years (my old iMac is now 4.5 years old and still just fine - though terribly terribly slow), spending an extra $150 is also an investment ... regarding the SSD crashing, it's going to be used as a boot disk as has been discussed ... the applications on it will be backed up on my RAID 1 along with everything else ... and since I won't be storing active or archived files on it, there's much less worry ... if it crashes, I'll get it replaced if it's under warranty or go "d'oh!" and buy another one if it's out of warranty ... anyhow the Intel SSD's do have a good reliability record, and that's why I went with one when all was said and done ... besides, I've had a number of HDDs fail on me over the years, and buying an HDD is no guarantee of reliability ... they're just somewhat less likely to fail than SDDs, and only if one buys a good HDD ... anyhow, nuff said ...
     
  24. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    #24
    If you don't mind sharing, where did you pick this up at?
     

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