Which Drive to choose in high spec Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Ruth Nicholls, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Ruth Nicholls macrumors newbie

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    Jan 19, 2015
    #1
    I am about to buy a new Mac Mini. I want to use it for high-end photo editing.

    I plan to have all my images on external drives, and just the OS and my image -editing programmes and Firefox on the Mac.

    I'm going to get one with the i7 processor, and 16GB RAM, and EITHER a 256GB SSD or a 1TB Fusion drive. That is my dilemma.

    I need to know which of those two choices is most reliable, and which is the fastest. So if anyone can help I shall be very pleased. Thanks.
     
  2. jamesdmc macrumors 6502

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    #2
    In that case, get the SSD.

    The SSD has no moving parts, so, in theory, it will be more reliable. And with its PCIe connection, it will be as fast as you need.
     
  3. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #3
    Get the SSD. While the Fusion drive may be quick, once you go beyond the SSD portion, you're still hitting a 2.5" 5200 RPM mechanical drive.

    Get an SSD.

    I bought the same machine (3.0GHz i7 w/ 16GB RAM and the 256GB SSD).
     
  4. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    For best performance and reliability, definitely the SSD.

    However, you will likely need external storage to store all those photos. That could be a quality external USB3 HDD.
     
  5. George Dawes macrumors 6502

    George Dawes

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    #5
    Originally Posted by Celerondon

    "As has been said dozens of times, the SSD component of a Fusion Drive (FD) is not a cache. Apple’s Fusion Drive is a sophisticated tiering system rather than a simple SSD cache.

    There is no “SSD cache” to fill up. Initially, the entire operating system (OS) and all writes are stored on the SSD component of the core storage logical volume. Rather than the small SSD cache of a Seagate Momentus or similar hybrid drive the FD SSD is sized to contain the entire OS and more. A much larger 128 GB SSD is standard with the factory configured FD.

    Although it sounds like advertising copy, a Fusion Drive really does emphasize the strengths of HD and SSD components while masking their weaknesses. Many users want or need more than 128 GB of internal storage in their computers. 5400-rpm drives are reliable and inexpensive but they are not among the fastest storage solutions. In use, a FD delivers performance like an SSD while providing a storage volume even greater than the HD component.

    Please scan these old links to confirm that the truth is out there. If you check the dates on the articles you may notice that this particular truth has been out there for a long time. I am not sure why this FD=caching misinformation persists, but the article titles and comments threads indicate that, like the FD, it has been around since October 2012.

    http://www.macrumors.com/2012/10/23/...-hybrid-drive/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2...ive-ssd-cache/

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6679/a...s-fusion-drive

    "

    Personally I'd go FD , pure SSD in a mini is overkill , save it for system that really takes advantage of it like a mac pro , the current mini is a bit of a weakling when it comes to pro apps
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    #6
    I agree with George Dawes above.

    The fusion drive in the 2014 Mini will be faster than the FD's in the 2012 models, because the
    PCI-e blade drive SSD itself is much faster.

    2014 FD will give you very pleasing speeds, PLUS, you'll have a total of 1.125gb of storage (128gb SSD + 1tb HDD) instead of 256gb.

    You may find the FD fast and large enough to use for your -primary- photo storage. Or, you could use the extra space to serve as an "internal backup" for some of your external storage...
     
  7. Ruth Nicholls thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 19, 2015
    #7
    Decision made

    Ok, after all this helpful input, and some other reading I've been doing, I've decided to go for the 500GB SSD, not the fusion drive.

    The main point that helped me to decide was the way that the fusion works, moving stuff about quite a lot, hence a lot of writing and re-writing, and the possibility of corruption/fragmentation, and something I read about programmes like Lightroom that rely on cataloguing, and need to know where things are.

    So an SSD with just the OS and the programmes (sorry, apps!) on it, and all my image stuff elsewhere seems to suit my workflow best. There may be some speed loss in reading from the external drives, but i'll cope with that until I can afford a thunderbolt drive.

    So thank you all very much!
     
  8. George Dawes macrumors 6502

    George Dawes

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    #8
    Good luck with that , I've got a 6tb Thunderbolt drive and as far as I can tell it's not much faster than the fusion drive on my 2014 mac mini.

    The whole SSD thing is starting to get seriously clouded imo.
     
  9. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #9
    I'd do as big of an SSD as you can afford (simply because having the extra space CAN be handy should you want to install additional software). Otherwise, maxing RAM out to 16GB is essential (seeing as you can't do that aftermarket) and the Core i7 is going to be handy for Hyperthreading (especially since you're not going to have four actual cores in these new minis).

    Looks like you're already on the right track.
     
  10. Ruth Nicholls thread starter macrumors newbie

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  11. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

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    #11
    Hmmm. 256gb SSD is usually enough for system and apps (assuming major files are external). Still, like you say, if you can afford it, the extra breathing room is nice.

    IMO the i7 in the mobile processors (which the mini has) is a bit of unnecessary extravagance; the i5s have turbo and hyperthreading too (unlike the desktop CPUs in the iMac).
     
  12. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #12
    I'm pretty sure that i5s don't have Hyperthreading, unless Intel reversed that for Haswell. I could be wrong. Would love to see details on it.

    (Also, how are ya man? Been a while!)
     
  13. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    The mobile i5s have HT, and have had it since at least Westmere. However, mobile i5 is limited to 2 cores.

    The desktop quad core i5 doesn't have HT, but the desktop dual core i5 does have HT.

    Anything different would be the exception, not the rule.
     
  14. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #14
    i5s have a maximum of 4 threads, regardless of core count.

    So i5s are either 2c/4t or 4c/4t.

    i7s have a maximum of 8 threads.

    So i7s are either 2c/4t or 4c/8t.
     
  15. mojolicious, Jan 20, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015

    mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #15
    Did some tidying up of my mini's 240GB SSD this evening, because it was down to the last 30GB free.

    The (Mavericks) System and Library are 6GB and 17GB respectively; the Applications folder is 24GB for Adobe CS 5.5 Master Collection, Final Cut Pro, iApps, MS Office, and a bunch of smaller stuff. So ignoring a 30GB Parallels disk image, my 'non user data' totals around 50GB.

    There are four user accounts on the mini, each of which uses/used 25-40GB of storage. My 25GB is vital – obviously! – but my wife and daughters are horribly ill-disciplined. Freed up 40GB by pointing iPhone backups to the internal HD (which was where all iTunes libraries are already located).

    Anyway... System and Library ≈23GB, a whole bunch of apps ≈24GB.

    If you go for a 256GB SSD you've got around 200GB to play with, if you run a tight ship.

    Were I in your position I might even give consideration to buying the Fusion option and then deFusing into the two component disks...
     
  16. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

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    #16
    Aha, yeah good. Too busy to post much these days though.

    Intel’s fourth-generation dual-core processors house the processor, L3 cache, Intel Iris Graphics and fast 1600MHz memory controller on a single chip. These processors feature Turbo Boost technology that automatically boosts the processor clock speed based on workload, giving you extra processing power when you need it. And Hyper-Threading technology allows two threads to run simultaneously on each core. This enables the processor to deliver a faster performance by spreading tasks more evenly across a greater number of cores.
    source
     
  17. George Dawes macrumors 6502

    George Dawes

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    #17
    Is the custom 3.0ghz i7 MUCH faster than the stock i5 2.8 ?

    More importantly will it be a lot hotter ???

    I think my 2011 2.7 i7 just gets hot a lot , never thought it was amazingly powerful at all , in hindsight maybe I should have plonked for the i5 standard one..
     
  18. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

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    #18
    You're totally right. Haswell mobile Dual-Core Core i5's have HyperThreading; all others do not. Weird. I guess I'm just so used to the notion of Core i5 lacking Hyperthreading where i3 and i7 have it (as that has more commonly been the case). Though, for the record, Apple's marketing with that stuff is sometimes sloppy, I had to do some Googling. But there you go.

    Well, don't be a stranger man!
     
  19. MiniMan$ macrumors newbie

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    Feb 4, 2015
    #19
    I've used Windows PCs since 1987. But now I'm switching to Mac and plan to buy a 2014 Mac Mini. I will use it almost exclusively to run Lightroom.

    1. OP: Can you please share where you were reading about the problems that Lightroom might have with Fusion drives? I really want to follow up on this issue before I make my purchase.

    2. If anyone reading this uses Lightroom with a Fusion drive please comment on your experience. Do you have any regrets about choosing the Fusion drive instead of buying an SSD-only version?

    3. Do any of you computer experts who don't use Lightroom have any "theoretical" analysis you could share?

    Thank you.
     
  20. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #20
    ...Not An Expert Yet!

    I use Canon's Digital Photo Professional, iMovie, Handbrake, iDVD, and assorted image editing software on my 2012 i7 with 8GB of RAM and a Fusion Drive (FD). The FD storage system works fine.

    See this post for details:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=20668912#post20668912
     
  21. Ruth Nicholls thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Re Lightroom

    I'm sorry, I don't know where I read about Lightroom. But what the writer said was that, as you know, LR creates thumbnails of all the images you import into it, and then you can go through your images and collect together images from several different folders or even from more than one drive, and for example make them into a Collection. so you will see them all in that Collection, even though they are actually scattered in several places in your storage discs. But LR knows where they are. However, if one gets moved, LR will flag it as missing until you re-locate it.

    So how the Fusion drive works is it writes active stuff, frequently accessed stuff, to the SSD, and then later, when that stuff is not being frequently accessed, it moves it, re-writes it, to the hard drive part of the fusion. So I believe from what I read, that LR would think it was missing as it had been moved. Whether it would be easy to point LR at it in its new place on the hard drive, I don't know. But I didn't want to risk having hassle of that kind, so I chose just SSD.

    Also, if the SSD part of the fusion drive fails, so does the hard drive part. I reckon that it is less of a tragedy to lose the operating system and stuff in Documents and emails, than to lose your images. Yes I do back things up, but there is always that time when you haven't..... !

    And finally, if you just have an SSD, you only need an external drive the same size (or a bit bigger is better) to use as Time Machine (That's what Apple calls its back-up system, works like dream). Of course you need external drives to keep your images on and back-ups of them.

    In this respect, the Mac mini only has 4 USB slots. You probably need one for a mouseor Wacom tablet, one for a keyboard unless it is wireless, one for Time Machine, one spare, for external drives. I found I needed to buy a hub too.

    Hope this helps. Sorry it's maybe a bit long-winded.
     
  22. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #22
    Naw, can't happen. Fusion Drive is supposed to be transparent in operation. The tiered storage system is handled by OS X. The original name for what we call an Operating System was Disk Operating System. The Core Storage module of OS X handles all of the where, when, and how much of data distribution. Did your author claim that an application such as Lightroom needed to be Fusion Drive aware? I don't think that any OS X programs need to be configured to take advantage of FD.

    Fusion Drives don't fail quite as you think. With a hardware failure, you loose all of your data but the remaining hardware is fine. You can replace the defective component and restore from backup. People are overthinking FD failures. FD data loss is similar to a failure in a RAID 0 system. Proper backup practices will ensure against serious data losses.

    In addition to the four USB 3.0 ports the mini has several high speed alternatives for external storage. Network, Thunderbolt, and AC wireless options can free up some of the USB ports. For instance, my Time Machine functions through a Gigabit ethernet connection rather than the USB 3.0 port.
     
  23. Ruth Nicholls thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    Thanks

    Well thanks for that. I hope it helps the person who asked me the question.

    Is the Ethernet method of running Time Machine expensive? What sort of a drive do you have to use as Time Machine?
     
  24. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Just added an OWC SSD to my 2012 i7 mini to make a fusion drive. Hugely improved the system speed. Once The drives are fused, OSX sees the FD as one volume. Even disk utility just lists it as "Internal Drive" type "logical volume group" so you and your software couldn't even tell the two apart if you wanted to.

    Aperture runs great and it uses thumbnails and index files too.

    I have an older time capsule for backup but I'm sure there are cheaper options.
     
  25. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #25
    No, connecting to storage through your home or small business network does not have to be expensive at all. The simplest solution has some small disadvantages and two massive positives. The Apple Time Capsule is a combination product that includes a high performance Gigabit+AC WiFi router and a hard disk drive (HDD). Quality and compatibility are the strong points of Time Capsule. It is designed to work with OS X and Time Machine. Period.

    LaCie, Synology, Seagate, and others offer Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions for prices that range from just over $100 to well over $1000. They are all way more flexible than Apple's Time Capsule but setup can be challenging. Many people even recycle old computers for NAS duty! I personally use a Seagate Goflex Home for Time Machine backups. I got it for a great price but setup was a bear. As I configured the Seagate unit, my Internet searches found plenty of conflicting information. There are lots of claims that my unit "won't work with Time Macihine". At first I had connection problems that were caused by password and access issues. Minor tweaks and the 2013 OS X Mavericks upgrade resolved most of the issues. Now with Yosemite, my Time Machine is as solid as Half Dome.
    Do your homework on this topic. After my experience with an Airport Extreme, I would choose the Time Capsule for ease of setup and reliable operation.
     

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