Thunderbolt, FW800, or USB3 Scratch Disk?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Ifti, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Scratch disks for FCPX.
    I'm considering a SSD scratch disk, but not sure on interface.
    Currently use a WD My Passport Studio 2TB via FW800, which works fine, but is slightly slower with larger projects.

    Obviously Thunderbolt is the best of the bunch, but cost is high.

    If I stuck with a HDD and not a SSD for now, I would choose between USB3 or FW800. The bottleneck would be the HDD when using USB3, but is the Interface when using FW800.

    USB3 is much faster then FW800, but USB3 sends data in packets, so its better for data storage etc, whereas FW800 sends data in a stream, which is better for video editing etc - is this correct?

    In which case would a FW800 drive be better then USB3 for editing, if using a HDD for a scratch disk?

    I'm considering a WD My Passport 2TB USB3 drive, as cost is low in comparison, but I'm not sure if USB3 would be good for editing?

    I'm beginning to think the ideal solution would be to crack open a Buffalo Ministation Thunderbolt 500GB drive (cheapest one) and replace it with a SSD, so I can just use Thunderbolt instead?!! Although this is more then twice the cost of a USB3 drive.....
  2. daybreak macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    Sorry cant help you on your dilemma but something caught my eye with the word Buffalo hard drive. I would do some research as i know some people who are not happy with this product for MAC.
  3. mjsanders5uk macrumors regular

    May 11, 2009
    I use G tech RAID drives with ESATA interface's via the Lacie Thunderbolt to ESATA hub.

    The drives are still cheaper than thunderbolt, and the hub about £140. Its way faster than FW800 but not as fast as Thunderbolt native drives.

    The jury is still out on using USB 3 as a scratch disk for video media. The burst speed is OK but sustained isn't great. Make sure you use a stripped RAID as that makes a lot of difference.
  4. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    My setup includes a 1TB FW800 G-Drive.

    A lot of people state that using a RAID is better, and recently I bought a LaCie 240GB Thunderbolt SSD RAID...I tested both drives, and while the LaCie was much faster at loading projects and stuff, it didn't render or encode video any faster whatsoever. I tested it with multiple projects, and both drives took about the same time to render/export. However, I spoke to some people on MacRumors about this, and they concluded that since I have 16GB RAM, my computer has enough time to place stuff onto the RAM and render from there rather than constantly access the drive. So perhaps someone with 4GB RAM won't be able to use a slower drive in the way that I seem to be able to.

    Personally I recommend getting a FW800 G-Drive or G-RAID. Don't go with USB3, you're correct on that.

    Why from G-Tech? I don't know...a lot of other people recommend G-Tech, and my G-Drive has lasted maybe 3 years without any faults. And why not LaCie? Because the LaCie drive I bought (And tested), the fan was extremely loud...I was so disappointed with that drive, my first Thunderbolt accessory (Minus the Thunderbolt to FW800 adapter) and LaCie stick the loudest fan on it. It was not a bearable drive to just copy files to, let alone trying to get to work with video editing. LaCie shouldn't be selling a drive like that, I've 'blacklisted' them until further notice just because of that drive...

    Anyway. That WD Passport drive, I can't seem to find the disk speed, but considering it's bus-powered, I wouldn't be too surprised if it's 5400rpm, which isn't ideal for video editing. You're better off getting one that's powered via the mains which can go at 7200rpm minimum.

    So, to conclude, I'd go with the G-Drive. You're definitely paying a premium, but a lot of people recommend them, and you're unlikely to see professionals that don't have G-Drives stacked up on their desks. Get a used G-Drive that's in good condition to cut costs.
  5. TStanding macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2012
    I agree with this. While FW800 and Thunderbolt have been pretty rock solid in our testing, USB3 is not really ready for prime time. We have experienced problems with USB3 like: 1). disks not showing up on the bus when the Mac is first started up or when it's rebooted, even when connected directly to the Mac, 2). USB3 devices being connected at USB2 speeds and 3). devices disappearing when another USB device is disconnected. I think USB3 is great for thumb drives, scanners and keyboards but I wouldn't use it for primary storage.

    Tim Standing
  6. Ifti thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Thank you for your response. I will certainly look into the GDrive.
    Rendering is more CPU and GPU intensive (GPU if your softer supports its use) so makes sense it not using the drives much - probably only to save the rendered footage as its being rendered etc. I also have 16GB of RSM so should be Ok there, but am looking to pick up a max spec rMBP in the next refresh to the extra srcene space over my 13" as well.

    I'm pretty sure the WD My Passport Studio uses a 5400rpm drive to be honest.
    What kind of speeds are you achieving with the G-Drive?
  7. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    ~60MBps write, ~80MBps read.
  8. Ifti thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010

    That's about what I get with my current passport drive though?
    Is that due to the FW800 bottleneck?
  9. Siderz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2012
    Are you using that Blackmagic Speed Test?

    I just tried it with my bus-powered G-Drive mini (Which I think runs at 5400rpm when bus-powered, but can go 7200rpm when mains powered) and got exactly the same speeds :confused:

    Well, this is about as far as my knowledge goes when it comes to hard drives.

    I can't find the cache of the WD that you have, but the G-Drive has a 64MB cache, which is pretty high and has some effect on the I/O speeds. I also know that there's a ratio of cache:storage capacity, so a 1TB drive with 64MB cache should work better than a 2TB drive with 64MB cache.
  10. Ifti thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Yes, BlackMagic using either a 3 or 2GB file test.
  11. righteye, Apr 5, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013

    righteye macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    I have not used FCPX but out of interest i looked up scratch disks for FCPX as i was thinking along the lines of a Photoshop scratch which would need to very fast do be of any use ( thats why i bought a Mac Pro for internal scratch SSD but now have more than enough RAM to cope).
    I discovered this info on the Apple forums, its probably worth a read as from what i can make out you can not assign a scratch disk to FCPX.
    I could be mistaken in my understanding, but thought i would post link incase it was of use.

    I also have a G Tech eSATA Raid drive that i have been very happy with.
    My favourite drive which i use with my Macbook Pro (with sonnet Tech express card but with later MBPs one could get Thunderbolt to express card adapter)is the Sonnet Tech F2
    it gives good capacity 1.5 TB of storage can be bus powered (firewire) is small and quiet.

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