Using an External Hard Drive

ninjaslim

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
96
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I'm about to purchase a base Mac Mini 2011 and was wondering about the hard drive. The 5400 RPM hard drive doesn't seem to suit my needs, and I was wondering if using an external 7200 RPM firewire drive would be better for faster data access? Would I be able to use it as a boot drive and keep the 500GB internal as storage?
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,961
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For small, non-sequential reads and writes, it would help (simply because those won't need large amounts of bandwidth and the 7200 rpm drive will seek faster), but for just about everything else the Firewire port will bottleneck. Frankly the seek times just aren't great enough to over come the bandwidth limitation of firewire. With that said, some have added external SSD drives to their Mini's which has made some difference. In the end, you are better off with internal drives or Thunderbolt if you want high bandwidth connections.
 

ninjaslim

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
96
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The reason why I'm asking is because I do a good amount of Final Cut Pro X work, and I don't want it to be sluggish due to low-speed hard drive.
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,961
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The reason why I'm asking is because I do a good amount of Final Cut Pro X work, and I don't want it to be sluggish due to low-speed hard drive.
Then you really need to skip all mechanical drives and go with an internal SSD with an external drive for storage.
 

ninjaslim

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
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I understand that, but really I don't have much funds for that. Will there be a noticeable difference between 5400 and 7200 RPM drives? Also, how better will FCPX run with the AMD Radeon 6630M as opposed to the Intel HD 3000?
 

philipma1957

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
6,307
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Howell, New Jersey
I understand that, but really I don't have much funds for that. Will there be a noticeable difference between 5400 and 7200 RPM drives? Also, how better will FCPX run with the AMD Radeon 6630M as opposed to the Intel HD 3000?
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/MEQMH0GBK/

this with two of the same hdds in raid0 is faster then the internal 5400 rpm. so if you have two of the same 7200rpm hdds on hand this will speed you up.


It needs just the fw800 wire to run.

I can't answer if the gpu will help you.
 
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ninjaslim

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 27, 2010
96
0
Thanks so much, I might just purchase that. Now, I need to decide between the Intel HD 3000 and the Radeon 6630M.
 

alexreich

macrumors 6502a
Jan 26, 2011
624
1
For the work you've mentioned you need to buy a solid-state drive to put OS and applications, and put the files you don't need instantaneously at a another location like a server, external HDD, etc. I recommend OWC (macsales.com) for that. You need the Radeon graphics as well. The Intel graphics share memory with your RAM, which is rather...crappy. The ideal machine for you would be a Mac Mini with an SSD, Radeon graphics, and a respectable amount of RAM. Say... 8GB. I usually recommend maxing out your RAM to all forum-goers, but 16GB of RAM (2x8GB) for the 2011 Mini is $500. You can get 8GB RAM for your machine for around $50.
 
Last edited:

MJL

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2011
845
1
An external 7200 rpm drive is not going to be faster than an internal 5400 rpm drive.
An external SSD using the USB 2.0 port (limited to approx 30 Mb) boots faster than the internal 5400 rpm drive. See my remarks / measurements in the SSD thread in the Macbook Pro forum.

I am running exclusively Windows on the internal HDD and have OS X on both a Newertech Raid 1 enclosure and the SSD USB 2.0 enclosure. I know Raid 1 is not optimum for writing but the test results shown speak for themselves.

An empty Newertech Maximus Mini is US $ 89 and if you would add two SSD disks in there (RAID1) then it will run rings around the internal HDD. You will not have noise and potential failure of the drive does not worry you at all. (SSD are no more reliable than a mechanical HDD in spite of the hype) You do not needs the most expensive drive; I've seen test results that it makes hardly any difference at all between the fastest and slowest SSD when opening / closing a program. A couple of 40 - 60 Gb SATA II SSD should be sufficient (depending on how many prgrams you want to load up there). Ofcourse things may change when you want to use it for video rendering or something like that where you are streaming lots of data in which case you'll want an internal SSD.

A couple of things though: the Intel SSD in a USB enclosure is not recognised by the Intel SSD toolbox 3.01 so do not rely on TRIM but rely on GC (Garbage Collection) instead. OS X does not want to be installed on an external SSD / HDD: you'll have to install it on an internal SSD/ HDD using the GUID partitioning, do an Time Machine backup and then do a restore from the Time Machine onto the external SSD/HDD.

The restored OS X will work fine on both MBR and GUID partitioned HDD/SSD.
 
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