USB 3 or Thunderbolt for Photo Editing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Razeus, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Razeus macrumors 601

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #1
    I'm moving my files to an external and will get a 7200RPM external (G-Drive or Lacie). Since it's a 7200RPM drive, is USB 3 throwing data around fast enough?

    Would the drive perform faster with a Thunderbolt connection? I'm wondering since the 7200RPM drive is the bottleneck if USB is has fast as it's going to get.
     
  2. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Yes, USB3 is definitely fast enough for a regular HDD.

    You wouldn't notice a difference with thunderbolt as both can transfer data far faster than the 7200RPM drive can read or write.
     
  3. Razeus thread starter macrumors 601

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    #3
    Got it. You just saved me $100 by going with USB 3.0.
     
  4. Photoshopper macrumors regular

    Photoshopper

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    Idaho
    #4
    Would that be true if the drive(s) were set up as RAID 0?
    I was considering this OWC TB drive for my nMP when I get it.
     
  5. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #5
    Why not edit on the internal drive and use the external for backup. What's your current backup solution?
     
  6. Photoshopper macrumors regular

    Photoshopper

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    #6
    Don't want to get into my backup strategy at the moment.

    I only want to use the internal SSD for system and apps, and keep all data on the externals. I create/edit multiple large (300MB+) PS files with 150+ layers.
     
  7. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    It's a case of finding the weakest link in the chain - the flow of information can only be as fast as the slowest element involved. In most cases the bottleneck is either the sata controller or the drive speed itself.

    Assuming that caddy uses a sata3 controller then you might start to see some speed benefits by using thunderbolt for a raid0 setup. However, if it uses a sata2 controller then you'll see no difference in speed between USB3 & TB because the controller is your bottleneck - it cannot keep up with USB3, nevermind thunderbolt.

    If you put two SSD drives in a Raid0 configuration (using a sata3 controller) then you'd notice the difference between USB3 & TB because the drives would be able to work at their fastest potential speeds.

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    To be honest, considering the size & speed of the new Mac Pro's internal SSD, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of it for files of that size. An external raid0 configuration won't come close to the speed of the Pro's internal SSD & the drive should have enough space to allow you plenty of working files on there. ONce the job is complete, flatten the PSD & archive to a slower drive.
     
  9. Photoshopper macrumors regular

    Photoshopper

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    #9
    You'll have to forgive my lack of tech knowledge, esp. for someone who earns a living at what I do.

    Here's a point of confusion for me: If the image file is on an external HDD, but the PS app is on the SSD, when you open and work on the file, which drive are you utilizing?

    My Pictures folder contains over 23,000 "items" (very large to very small). I'm constantly accessing a large number, from all over, and create dozens of versions of each job I work on, along with thousands of reference files. I can't be moving each image to the SSD to work on it, then moving it back when I'm done-- I'm never "done", it seems--there are always revisions. If designating the SSD as a scratch disc would be advantageous, I'm all over that.

    FWIW, my backup plan will be multiple, and sound, as it is now.
     
  10. Razeus thread starter macrumors 601

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    #10
    Is it possible to buy 2 external hard drives (I assume bare) and put them in a 2-bay enclosure and have OS X configure a RAID 0 for them?
     
  11. Bear macrumors G3

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    #11
    It is possible. But do remember that if any drive in a RAID 0 set fails you will need to restore your data from a backup.
     
  12. Zeiss macrumors member

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    Australia
    #12
    Don't flatten the psd, archive the layered version, but yes crazy not to have your working files on the fastest drive possible.
     
  13. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Like drive speed, I think this really comes down to "slowest link in the chain" again. You're absolutely right about wanting a fast scratch disk, but personally I'd probably buy an external thunderbolt SSD specifically for that purpose. You'll also want to make sure your ram is maxed out.

    In the example you posed, you're using both drives. Your apps will be on the internal SSD, so photoshop will open in a flash. But once the app is running, the things that really matter are how how much ram you have (and obviously the speed of your scratch disk if you're short on ram), and how quickly you can open & close files / images.

    Like you, I'm generally working with PSD files in the 200-600MB range. By far the slowest part of working on files this size is saving them again after editing. For this, the speed of the drive you're saving to is what's important - if that's a slow external HDD then it's gonna take a long time before you can open the next one (and opening them will take longer too). If you're saving to your internal SSD then big files will open & save faster so your productivity goes up :)

    I don't know what you do, so it's hard to suggest workflow options. Zeiss says not to flatten the PSD (post#12), and it sounds like this might be best in your scenario (where you need to update the file regularly). Personally, I shoot weddings, so once the job is delivered there is no reason to keep the PSD. I just flatten the PSD to a full res JPEG & archive that alongside the original raw.

    I think so, but I don't know much about OSX software raid tbh. You can buy caddies that are specifically designed for creating a raid array though. Just be sure you buy one that has a fast controller if speed is your goal. And as Bear said above - remember that a raid0 array is twice as likely to die as a single HDD, so regular backups are a necessity.

    Oh - and glad I could help save some cash on the drive ;)
     
  14. Photoshopper macrumors regular

    Photoshopper

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    #14
    Thanks Swordio, that does clear things up a bit.
    Saving to the internal is not an option, so it looks like I'm gonna go for that RAID 0 with HDD's, even though I know it won't come close to filling up that TB pipe, and get as much RAM as we can.

    Razeus, sorry for 'jacking your thread... :eek:
     
  15. Razeus thread starter macrumors 601

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #15
    Being that it's a 7200rpm drive I just wanted to be sure the Thunderbolt wasn't faster even though it streams data and USB does it in bursts. If I was a video guy, it be thunderbolt all the way.
     
  16. Badrottie Suspended

    Badrottie

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    May 8, 2011
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    Los Angeles
    #16
    USB 3.0 external HDD is not very faster because I get beach ball at times when I opened FCPX! :apple:
     

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