The best hard drive setup in a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Peterjk, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Peterjk macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2009
    I run ProTools - audio recording and mixing software - and need fast hard drives, but my two 640 GB WDC drives have been a bit flacky lately, so I decided to let them "retire".

    My new setup (to arrive any day now) are two 1TB Samsung SATA's and one 480 OWC Extreme SSD disk.

    Do you agree, that I would get the most responsive system, by installing the OS X and VI sampels and VI instruments on the SSD and then format to the two 1TB with two partitions on each. The first (ones) to function as work drive and the second (ones) to function as a placeholder for older finished projects. This way I used the SSD for the system, the fastest part of the SATAs for current projects and the slowest part of the disk for long term storage.

    Agree? Or did I misunderstood something?

    BTW I am running fairly large mixing sessions 120 tracks of sometimes 4 hours audio. Also running songwriting sessions with fewer tracks (in the 80s) but with loads of VI's.

    Mac Pro 2 x 2.26 Ghz (early 2009) 12 GB ram.

    Any comments or suggestions are extremely welcome....

    Kind Regards
  2. toastosx macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
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    I have a 8 core Mac pro 2009 2.26 with 48gb of ram.
    I use two 100gb OWC SSD raid-0 formatted. I then partion a half of that as a scratch disk. All software and OS goes on main boot partion one.
    I use the lower optical bay for one if the SSDs. Then raid-0 3 X 2TB WD BLACK drives into one big fast drive and partion a small chunk for addition scratch. All media files go on this big internal raid.
    I have no problems pushing 3D animations and video editing/compositing with this setup. Read/write speeds are fast on both SSD and standard hard drives.
  3. BusyBoxSt7 macrumors newbie

    Feb 15, 2012

    If you are running 120 track session (especially if at 96K ?), you would see a much larger boost in performance and lessening of error messages (i would imagine) by placing your current project(s) on the SSD because those things can read incredibly fast. Most of the "your CPU is pooping out" error messages in PT are actually because your CPU can't get the files off the hard drive fast enough... You can load a huge project in PT off an SSD and probably barely hit between 5-10% in the PT disk usage meter.

  4. bkpr, Feb 16, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012

    bkpr macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Lloyd Chambers has a good article on this. Find it here.
    His website is an incredible resource for setting up a Mac Pro for performance.

    Following his advice, I've just set up my Mac as follows:

    2x 120GB SSDs in RAID0, partitioned into 120GB OS install, 120GB scratch.
    3x 3TB Hitachi drives in RAID0, partitioned into:
    - 2TB Data stripe (3x 666GB RAID0) for all working files and iTunes library.
    - 3x 120GB partitions for 3x rolling internal OS backups
    - 3x 2TB partions, one for internal Time Machine, two spare volumes

    So far so good.

    Working with (saving with) Photoshop and Lightroom is really fast.
    Boot time after the grey Apple appears is only 5–7 seconds, however the time before the grey Apple appears (plain grey screen) seems to take a long time 30+ seconds. I understand this is due to my complicated drive RAIDing and partitioning (but I could be wrong).

    EDIT: I don't think it's the drive setup causing this pause on the grey screen. I removed my 3x 3TB drives and left only the install volume. Still has the pause. This warrants further investigation on another thread.

    EDIT: Turns out the delay is being caused by the Ethernet port 1. I swapped the Ethernet cable into the second port and all is fine, no hang on the grey screen for 30+ seconds. :)
  5. WLX macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2011
    I never post on MacRumors (in fact I made an account for the purpose). You probably already know this, but your setup cannot tolerate a disk failure. If either of your SSDs go, or if any of the Hitachi drives go, then you will lose all the data on that RAID.

    Although your setup may be excellent for your needs (and I hope, backed up appropriately), it's important to mention in these kind of threads that what is best for one person is seldom best for everyone else.

    Threads come up quite often on here about how to set up your disk configuration. With disk prices as they are it's a bad time to buy hardware full stop!

    OP: As prices settle down more, consider adding another SSD to your setup for current work*– this will be miles faster than any HDD setup, including striping. You don't even need to buy an SSD that's built for speed – go for reliability. The Samsung drives could then be put into RAID-1 to give you a mirrored long-term storage location. Of course – this depends on how much storage you need to reserve for current projects.

    Your current proposal splits current and finished work across both drives. This will increase performance, but you must remember that if either Samsung fails, you will lose everything. Think about things from the other angle. For example, do you really need older work to have the performance of RAID-0?

    *I understand SSDs are expensive and for that 480GB OWC SSD you probably spent a pretty penny. I think your experience of that drive, however, will quickly show you how valuable SSDs really are. The Intel 520 series of SSDs has just come out which means that the very reliable and well reviewed 510 series may go down in price significantly –*consider picking one up.
  6. bkpr macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Hey. Yes, I have a couple of external drives for Data backup.

    In terms of internal backups, the Data volume is made up from three partitions, one on each of the Hitachi drives, RAIDed together. If one of the Hitachis dies, I will loose the RAIDed Data volume (which I have external backups of), but two of the three OS backups will be safe (there is one partition on each Hitachi drive).

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