Thunderbolt external drive vs standard internal drive (HDD)

dgiglio3087

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 1, 2012
9
0
I'm looking at buying a new imac, I'm going to wait till the 16th for announcement but either way I'm curious how a thunderbolt connected external Harddrive compares vs a standard internally connected drive, like the one that comes in a imac? I would think that the thunderbolt external would be faster than the stock HDD that come in the iMacs. the reason I ask is because I want to buy the SSD Drive option but anything bigger than the smallest size is rediculouslyl priced. So I would buy the smallest SSD and since I need space to store my photos I thought I would buy a multi terabyte external thunderbolt device. Or would the fusion drive be a better choice for what I need? Thoughts? Thanks for any advice in advance
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,330
10,090
California
If you are just looking to increase external storage with a hard drive, even USB3 exceeds the mac transfer rate of standard hard drives you can buy. No need to pay extra for the faster TB interface, since a hard drive can't take advantage of it anyway.

I would just get whatever desktop USB3 external hard drive you like and not spend the money on the TB drive.

Yes, if you can afford it, the Fusion setup would be faster and easier to manage.
 

dgiglio3087

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 1, 2012
9
0
Excuse my ignorance but do iMacs have usb 3.0? I just wanna end up with a desktop Mac that I can use (without wanting to pull my hair out) for the next 3 years or so. I do a lot of photo editing,and I compose and edit time lapse video using 1000's of large raw files from a dslr camera. As well as a few other common computing tasks, such as web surfing, torrenting, document editing, and some. minor gaming (I think I would play more if ymy mac book pro didn't feel as though It were about to combust).
Do the SSD drives that come on the iMacs improve proformance enough to justify their high price? Also if you had to choose between getting the 27" iMac with the i7 processor with the standard 1TB HDD or the 27" with i5 processor with the 256GB SSD,for the purposes i listed above, which would you choose? I plan on maxing out the RAM, at a later date,but I'll buy it thru OWC. Also to hook up a DVI Monitor to a imac, all I have to do is buy an adaptor right?
Thanks in advance
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,330
10,090
California
Excuse my ignorance but do iMacs have usb 3.0? I just wanna end up with a desktop Mac that I can use (without wanting to pull my hair out) for the next 3 years or so. I do a lot of photo editing,and I compose and edit time lapse video using 1000's of large raw files from a dslr camera. As well as a few other common computing tasks, such as web surfing, torrenting, document editing, and some. minor gaming (I think I would play more if ymy mac book pro didn't feel as though It were about to combust).
Do the SSD drives that come on the iMacs improve proformance enough to justify their high price? Also if you had to choose between getting the 27" iMac with the i7 processor with the standard 1TB HDD or the 27" with i5 processor with the 256GB SSD,for the purposes i listed above, which would you choose? I plan on maxing out the RAM, at a later date,but I'll buy it thru OWC. Also to hook up a DVI Monitor to a imac, all I have to do is buy an adaptor right?
Thanks in advance
All the newest Macs have USB3.

Yes, SSDs really make a difference in day to day sage IMO. It is one of the upgrades you can really tell the difference when you have it.

Given your options, I would get the SSD model.

Just a suggestion, but you can get RAM much cheaper from somewhere like Crucial. OWC tends to be a bit overpriced.

Yes, Apple sells an adaptor that will plug in to the Thunderbolt port and convert it to DVI.
 

dgiglio3087

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 1, 2012
9
0
All the newest Macs have USB3.

Yes, SSDs really make a difference in day to day sage IMO. It is one of the upgrades you can really tell the difference when you have it.

Given your options, I would get the SSD model.

Just a suggestion, but you can get RAM much cheaper from somewhere like Crucial. OWC tends to be a bit overpriced.

Yes, Apple sells an adaptor that will plug in to the Thunderbolt port and convert it to DVI.
Hey thanks a lot I really appreciate it. I've always heard that the SSD really makes things move, but I wanted to double check before I drop 3 grand on a Mac. Thanks again
 

Vince1080

macrumors newbie
Oct 13, 2014
3
0
My Fusion - Confusion

If you are just looking to increase external storage with a hard drive, even USB3 exceeds the mac transfer rate of standard hard drives you can buy. No need to pay extra for the faster TB interface, since a hard drive can't take advantage of it anyway.

I would just get whatever desktop USB3 external hard drive you like and not spend the money on the TB drive.

Yes, if you can afford it, the Fusion setup would be faster and easier to manage.
Hi Weasleboy I am waiting for the Oct announcements hoping the iMacs come with the new retina display and one of the things I have been thinking about is wether to get the fusion drive OR just the 512 SSD from what I understand in the fusion drive there is a little bit of SSD and then the HDD I have been told that just having the SSD is quicker than the fusion drive do you also believe this because you suggested getting the Fusion drive. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
(and then of course I would use an external HDD for major storage.)
Thanks
Side-note: Long time reader first time poster so Weasleboy you busted my cherry so to speak.....;)
 
Last edited:

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,330
10,090
California
Hi Weasleboy I am waiting for the Oct announcements hoping the iMacs come with the new retina display and one of the things I have been thinking about is wether to get the fusion drive OR just the 512 SSD from what I understand in the fusion drive there is a little bit of SSD and then the HDD I have been told that just having the SSD is quicker than the fusion drive do you also believe this because you suggested getting the Fusion drive. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
(and then of course I would use an external HDD for major storage.)
Thanks
A SSD only will overall be faster than Fusion just because of how Fusion works.

What the Fusion is is a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive combined in the OS to look and act like one drive. What the OS tries to do is figure out what software/data you access the most and move that to the SSD part of the Fusion for fast access.

So let's say every morning you open Safari then Mail, then iPhoto to do some work. The Fusion drive would move those threes apps and their data to the SSD side of things and they would launch close to as fast as if you only had an SSD.

But now let's say you decide to open Photoshop and edit a 5GB photo, and you have not accessed Photoshop or that photo for weeks. So it would be very likely that app and data have been moved over to the hard drive part of the Fusion drive and they would have to be launched from there and would not launch as fast as from an SSD.

So it really depends on your usage pattern. You can see how in the first example the Fusion would be very close to as fast as a stand alone SSD, while in the second scenario not so much.

Sidetone- Long time reader first time poster so Weasleboy you busted my cherry so to speak.....;)
Hah... welcome to the forums! :)
 

Rockadile

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
454
183
I do a lot of photo editing,and I compose and edit time lapse video using 1000's of large raw files from a dslr camera.
Why don't you shoot in small JPEG? Speeds up the workflow & hard drive space for long time lapse video.

All the small JPEG file resolution on modern DSLR will be higher than 1080p.
 

dgiglio3087

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 1, 2012
9
0
Why don't you shoot in small JPEG? Speeds up the workflow & hard drive space for long time lapse video.

All the small JPEG file resolution on modern DSLR will be higher than 1080p.
Yeah i am aware of that. And in actuality whenever I do extremely long time lapse anything more than 300 pics or so I will usually go to JPEG. But there are times when I like having the editing power that u get with raw files. But yeah if your familiar with timelapse you know how many pictures it takes to make a 5 minute video.
 

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
5,236
586
Cascadia
Layman's recommendation:

Fusion Drive internal, gives you near-all-SSD speed, with decent capacity for things that don't need instant-access.

USB 3.0 external drive for if you need truly insane storage, and/or backup.

If using for professional/business, get TWO backup drives, and alternate them, locking one up in a fireproof safe and/or offsite when it's not in use.

I use a two-drive "toaster" USB dock, that I have four drives I rotate in and out. I use OS X's built-in RAID-1 capability. This is my Time Machine backup target drive. I used OS X Drive Utility to make a single RAID-1 volume from both drives that are plugged in. Then I back up to it. Once a week, I unmount the drive (eject it from the desktop,) turn it off, remove one disk, put it (in a static-safe container) in my safe, swap one from the safe back in, turn it on. That re-mounts the drive, where OS X tells me the RAID is corrupt and it needs to rebuild. I let it rebuild (takes a few hours.) Repeat every week, alternating which drive I replace to balance use/wear. Once a month-ish (sometimes as long as two months,) I swap with a fourth drive I keep offsite (a family member's house across town, in THEIR fireproof safe.)

Even if my house burns down, including my fireproof safe; I lose, at most, 2 month's data, not everything.
 
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