Using Thunderbolt with 7200rpm drives worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by BJB Productions, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. BJB Productions macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    This is going to be a novice question so forgive my ignorance.
    I'm looking at purchasing The TB Elite Pro Dual

    My one question that I haven't been able to find an answer to is this: is there really any benefit in purchasing the TB version when I'm only going to be using it with 7200rpm drives? Will there be a speed increase vs say, Firewire 800? Does Firewire 800 still bottleneck what 7200rpm drives are capable of?

  2. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Yes (to both). FW maxes out hard drive data transfers at about 80MB/s+, Thunderbolt can go 1200MB/s+. Modern mechanical hard drives can perform at 150MB/s+. I have 2 mechanical hard drives in RAID 0 that give me 300MB/s+ performance over Thunderbolt interface.
  3. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    One advantage would be if you eventually get some TB mac in the future and don't want to spend another $30 on an adaptor. If the price difference is quite a bit, then there may be value in the FW800! The advantage to FW800 is if you need to use it with old macs, so I see it as modernize or stay with something that works with computers from 2003.
  4. jger77 macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2014
    the Fraser Valley
    USB 3 should suffice.

    Inside the enclosure, (G-Tech, LaCie, Seagate etc), if this is a single external HDD, there is still a single SATA II or III interface, with read/write speeds of 3-6 gb/s, USB 3 has a bus speed of 5gb/s, and is widely available and external discs are relatively cheap. TB doubles10 gb/s, and TB 2 doubles again 20 gb/s the bus speed, but a single mechanical HDD neither read nor write quickly enough to benefit substantially from being attached to a TB bus. RAID arrays on the other hand will have multiple disc interfaces with multiple discs and therefore could potentially fully uses the capacity a TB or TB 2 bus.
  5. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I have both. A 4TB Pegasus R4 ( Thunderbolt) and a single 7200 Sata 111 Seagate which backs it up.

    You do notice the speed differences when copying files, the R4 is of course faster, but I use the USB3 Seagate for media streaming and it's plenty quick. I've even used a WD green (5400) for the same duties and that worked okay as well. The USB 3 solution is if course way cheaper, but I'm planning on upgrading the R4 to an 8TB unit...Have put my 4X1TB drives which are still under warranty up for sale.
  6. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'll try to explain my situation a little more so maybe you could give me some more advice.

    I am a photographer and filmmaker. I have about 2TB worth of data currently and will be creating more soon. My goals are:

    1. To have redundancy of all my files.

    2. Have a working drive which is fast enough to edit 2K footage off of and work with 1000s of RAW files at a time.

    3. Do this for the most cost effective way but also (most importantly) make sure that I do not create a system that is outdated. (So no FW800) In a year or so I'll have a new workstation and I don't want to have to overhaul my data asset management again.

    My current idea: was to have a working RAID TB drive which I would keep all my current projects on. Once I have finished a project, I would then transfer it to a HDD for archival purposes. That HDD would then be mirrored to a separate HDD for backup purposes.
    Screenshot 2014-03-18 15.44.47.png

    Any thoughts? Not a huge fan of cloud backup even though it's cheap. My bandwidth has a hard time handling that much upload - it takes forever.
  7. ColdCase, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Several here use a similar work flow, a high performance TB RAID as working storage. Move projects off to less expensive USB drives for archive. Have a backup of everything. Your diagram is a flow, not a electrical connection.

    You should include backup method for that working RAID unless you can afford to loose your working storage and somehow rebuild it later. RAID, although offering high performance and fault tolerant storage, is not the same as a backup. I use CCC to backup my working storage to mirrored storage (USB3), but I have less than 4TB of working files. If you need more working storage, it gets more complicated. Some pro apps may do this for you (backup the working files).
  8. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks. So if I need to back up my working drive, is there much benefit in having a working drive be a RAID? Forgive my ignorance.. Always learning.
  9. chrisn123 macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2011
    Since all (new) Macs with TB also have USB3, the real Q is whether paying more for a TB drive is worth it versus USB3. Answer: only is it is an SSD.

    On the issue of RAID and backups, recall that RAID5 (for instance) is not a backup solution, it is a high availability solution. Most people would go cheap on the backup solution (big slow 4TB drives, for instance).

    If you're on a budget, a common compromise is to run RAID0 for maximum performance on you big media files, but keep offline copies on backup disks. If you need fairly high performance, there is a BIG price step up between a simple RAID0 (two striped drives) and a RAID solution that will match the performance but add fault tolerance. Generally you need to either double the number of drives and run RAID1 (mirrored), so 4 drives instead of two, or get a fast hardware raid controller and buy (at least) three drives to run RAID5.
  10. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks for mentioning the RAID modes. I totally forgot about that. So my only real reasoning for originally thinking of getting a RAID was to just keep my working drive solution tidy so I didn't need two drives for my working drives. I would just set my working drive to RAID1 for redundancy. I can't afford a 4 bay RAID, so I'll just have to live with a slower speed.

    I could get this since it has USB 3. My current machine does not have USB 3, so my only option would be to get an expensive hub to take advantage of the USB3 speed.
  11. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    Dual 7200rpm HDDs in RAID0 config can go fairly fast, through Thunderbolt where the max threshold is much higher, we are talking about 200-300MB/s sequential writes, which is close to SATA2 SSDs. With the currently available 3.5" HDDs out there you can create a 4+4TB stripe, so if capacity is a primary concern then this is the way to go for now.

    That said, a TB enclosure for dual 2.5" SATA slots or even PCIe is a longer term investment. You can stuff in two 1GB SSDs in there, even at RAID1 we have okay capacity, and you can swap out bigger disks later when they get cheaper, and repurpose the old SSDs elsewhere. The performance you gain here is much more dramatic than and kind of HDD setup you can get.

    Also I was in a similar situation as yours before, in that I only had Macs thats had USB2/FW800/TB. I do own USB3 capable machines now, but at that time the logical choice was to choose Thunderbolt to fully utilise the top I/O speed available to the machine, and to keep future compatibility. My other FW800 drives purchased at similar time frame are limited to older machines now, the TB-FW dongle adaptor solution works but its a hassle, and extra cost.
  12. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    So any thoughts on if I was to get a RAID enclosure with 2 7200rpm HDDs inside, how will USB 3 preform vs TB? TB is over double the cost...

    What about getting an eSATA RAID and then purchasing a Thunberbolt hub from LaCie instead to keep costs down?

    Some options:
    (USB 3)
    (eSATA w/ LaCie Hub)

    Or, USB3 RAID w/ Belkin TB hub:
  13. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    Option 1: you don't have USB3 now, so this is limited to FW800 then? I would rule this out.

    Option 2 is what I would choose, budget aside this is a sound investment and future proof, and you can fully utilise the TB speed even in your current machines now.

    Option 3 is way too complicated, it only makes sense if you already own other eSATA devices that you wish to plug into your Mac through TB.

    Option 4 is solution, and if you can find other use for the TB dock then it may make the most sense. In fact you may even plug 2 or 3 cheap USB externals in there, run a 12TB software RAID0 strip for cheap.

    (*** I must stress that I do not have first hand experience with all these setups. In my work we just use LaCie Thunderbolt 5 bays running JBOD / software RAID 0 for primary disks. At home I personally use a single WD Thunderbolt Duo also on RAID 0)
  14. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks. Most likely I'll go with option 2 and just get a bunch of USB3 drives for backups.
  15. BJB Productions thread starter macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    Just to update this thread for anyone who may read this in the future: I ended up with the following solution due to my constrained budget:
    - A few 1TB and 2TB drives for archive
    - 4TB drive for backup
    - 500gb bus-powered drive (I already had this) for working drive
    - Backblaze

    Screenshot 2014-04-22 10.30.11.png

    It's certainly not the slickest setup ever but it works and I have redundancy of my data. I had to sacrifice speed (for now) until I get a machine with USB3. Thunderbolt was just too pricey. All the drives I purchased from OWC all have USB3 so they'll be hopefully future proof for now.


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