Which is better: scratch on boot drive, or a slow dedicated drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Weepul, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. Weepul macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    Here's another speculative question for if/when I get a Mac Pro:

    I don't forsee myself needing the multiple terrabytes of storage most of you guys seem to have :p, since I'm still doing OK with just the stock 250GB that came with my G5 Quad + an external 120GB. I'll probably get a 750GB drive for boot, apps, and most files (leaning toward SpinPoint F1 750; the new 640GB WD also seems enticing).

    So, here's my Q: which would be a better setup for apps like Photoshop as well as the OS (I've read you can relocate the swap file?), performance-wise (both in terms of app speed, and keeping the OS from hanging on a busy disk) - using the slow stock 320GB as a more dedicated scratch disk (possibly just a partition on it, with other partitions for Windows), or using the free space on the faster, but non-dedicated, boot and storage disk?

    For that matter, would there be a better setup than a single large drive for OS, apps, and storage? I don't need to store the Library of Congress. :rolleyes: I'd entertain RAID 0, as long as it doesn't tax the CPUs too much since my primary use for a computer's horsepower is 3D rendering. Cost does matter - even if it'd give the best file performance I don't need 4x1TB RAID. I'd like to spend less than $300 on drives.
  2. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    you can get 2x WD 640gb or 2x Samsung 750gb drives for less than $300.

    Then you could have a large/fast drive for the OS and a dedicated one for scratch. You'd just use the stock drive for Windows/archival.
  3. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    What kind of applications do you run besides Photoshop?
  4. Weepul thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    True, but then again, that would give me much more space than I'd really make use of...getting another large drive just because it's faster seems like such a waste.

    In terms of productivity, LightWave 3D, sometimes Canon DPP (for RAW processing). Some day I'll probably get around to learning Adobe AE, Maya, and who knows what the future will hold too. ;) Other than that, your usual Finder/Safari/chat/games/music, all of which of course I hope would see none of the beachballs they do presently when I'm downloading/accessing my giant "store stuff in here" folder's icon view/running out of RAM. :D ("Only" 2.5 GB in my comp at present, and with non-Mac Pro RAM prices so low, the only excuse I have for not upgrading now is that I might be getting a new comp.)
  5. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    Does this even matter nowadays? Sure back in the day when we had PIIIs with PC100 RAM and ATA100 hdds, yeh. But now? When you have 8 cores and 10 Gigs or RAM and a SATA drive, does it really make a difference?
  6. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    yes, it does. Hard drives are usually the slowest part of a given computer system. They are the bottleneck point. Anything you can do to speed up access when you're reading and writing to a hard drive will improve your computing experience in general everyday terms.

    If you unload your photoshop scratch disc duties to a separate hard drive, you will basically double the available bandwidth. in practice this doesn't mean anything close to a doubling of speed, but it DOES mean that if you're a multi-tasker, you won't spend as much time waiting around for things to happen.

    But as for the best configuration....with only 2 drives, I would just make sure that your image files and your scratch location are different. Once photoshop (or any other app) is loaded into memory, it doesn't really call on the application's hard drive location very often—that's all sitting in your memory, unless you start paging and photoshop is left in the background for a while...then its irrelevant.

    There is something to be said for keeping applications and the OS on a single drive and all of your content, documents, etc on the second drive. If you need to erase the boot drive for some reason, then the content remains unaffected.

    I have had my mac pro for 2 weeks at home and already I've had to wipe out the boot drive because the catalog B tree was corrupt and could not be repaired, whatever that means.

    All my documents were safely stored away on a separate disk, completely unaffected by that situation.

    In that case, I would recommend using your current boot drive as your boot/scratch drive and storing your documents, images, video on the new, larger, faster drive.

    It may take your apps 1-2 seconds longer to open up initially, but your psd files and 3d files will open faster...I'm guessing you probably work with more than 1 file between when you launch an application and when you quit it...

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