Why SSD in my new Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Langdonboom, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Langdonboom macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #1
    Okay, I am a professional video editor who uses his Mac with Final Cut Pro and Motion (for now, FCP 7, not FCPX) for HD video editing and up until now I've been using a 5 year old G5 2.0 Ghz Power PC.

    I have to upgrade to an Intel machine for a new gig and so I've decided to get the 6-core 3.33Ghz Westmere, thanks to all the "Sweet spot" reading I've been doing.

    BUT my final question is -- do I want to get the SSD, and if so do I want the Apple factory Toshiba 512 SSD or do I want to go through the hassle of upgrading to something like an OWC SSD for a few dollars savings and possibly some kind of improvement in quality?

    I have no idea what a real-world improvement in speed will look like especially if I'm mostly using the SSD as my boot/start-up/applications drive and still using FW800 external drives for my media.

    Can anybody break this down and let me know why I'd want to get something other than the SATA drives or the Apple (Toshiba) SSD if my intention is to use it as the start-up drive and not just a media/scratch disc? Thanks!
     
  2. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #2
    Apples SSD's are not good performers. At least the ones in Macbook Pros. My OWC pretty much doubled it's bandwidth and my machines all have 3.0Gb SATA vs. the anemic performance on Apples 6Gb/s 2011 links. Apple barely broke 165MB's on Aja test. So I'd pass and go 3rd party. At least you can pick choose what suits your needs AND you still get a decent 1TB HDD for your storage.
     
  3. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #3
    Hello,

    SSDs for professionals = how's your budget? If you put your OS on a small SSD (something like 80GB or 120GB), and everything else on regular HDs, you'll get a very obvious speed up in your overall interface. Everything will snap on screen in the Finder, apps will "launch" faster and your overall Mac experience will be greatly enhanced through hard-to-qualify differences.

    On the other hand, if you don't put your work files on the SSD (usually because the SSDs are too small), you won't get any real benefit in terms of performance (i.e. your workflow won't go noticeably faster). If you can buy a big enough SSD for your work files, then you'll see a huge improvement for video work.

    SSDs reliability, these days, is more a question of reputation than actual testing. The consensus seems to be that Intel is the most reliable, followed by OWC and Samsung. Yet, these are just reputation based: I wouldn't hesitate to buy a SandForce based SSD (like OCZ, Micron) if I saw a great deal.

    Loa
     
  4. Langdonboom thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #4
    Can you (or anybody) be more specific in terms of what that "performance" looks like - especially compared to the SATA 1TB drive that I'd otherwise be getting? Specifically in the Mac Pro - what am I not getting with the Toshiba/Apple drive that I would with the OWC or another drive?
     
  5. Langdonboom thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #5
    Thank you for this. So I seem to hear you saying -- if my plan would be to just upgrade the one start-up drive to the SSD, mostly what I'd benefit from it is start-up times being faster, and application/window load times will be shorter.

    To me this doesn't seem like a great savings seeing as I start-up once a day and keep the thing on and applications open for hours and hours at a time, and so I'd basically be saving time once a day, for a few seconds, and possibly a few times a day as I open new finder windows, etc....

    At the moment I'm finding this hard to justify an additional 1,000 dollars (or even the few hundred something for an OWC) especially since I'm using a FW800 drive for most of my media.

    Seem like a reasonable conclusion, or am I still missing something?

    As of now, I think my plan will be to just get the 1TB internal SATA drive for my boot/system drive, and revisit SSDs in the future.
     
  6. wonderspark macrumors 68040

    wonderspark

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    Oregon
    #6
    I agree that an SSD as an OS drive doesn't do as much for a video editing system as more RAM would, for example. I sometimes consider adding one to my system as a scratch disk, but for that I'm using three 1TB drives in RAID0 and getting 315MB/sec read&write speeds, which works fine. Maybe if one of those drives kicks the bucket, I'll use SSDs.

    I think your $1000 would be best spent on RAM instead.
     
  7. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #7
    For starters HDD = 12ms seek times, SSD = 0.1ms seek times.
    Bandwidth is easily doubled. 100MB/s for HDD, 250MB/s for SSD.
    4k and 256k blocks are even faster.
    Go to some HW sites like guru3d, anandtech and arstechinica. Very in depth info.
     
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Vancouver, BC
    #8
    Using SSD's can make an enormous difference in performance... 10 to 100x better. It's so good that once you've used a system with an SSD, you can't go back. It's perhaps not surprising that the only ones who dismiss SSD's as not important, are those who have never used one (they don't know what they're missing)

    But it does require a somewhat different strategy.

    There are essentiall two ways to make use of SSD's while keeping costs reasonable...

    (1) OS/Applications only: with this strategy, you store all your media and data on mechanical disks. You gain performance improvements in boot times, system updates, app installation, app startup, and general OS related tasks.

    (2) OS/Applications/Project/Scratch: with this strategy, you store only the media and data required for your active project on the SSD. When a project is complete, you archive it to mechanical disks. You need an SSD (or multiple SSDs in RAID0) of sufficient capacity to store your OS/Apps (30-40GB?), your active project (varies based on your work), and scratch space. I'd be very surprised if a 512GB drive was not enough capacity to manage all of this for almost everyone. Of course, it may mean moving media back and forth from your mechanical storage to your SSD more often as you need it or not. And the smaller you size your SSD, the more media juggling you may have to do. The benefits are a significant performance boost to any disk related activity throughout your entire workflow.

    If I were you, I would look at option #2 above... what storage would you need to manage your active project work? Can you manage it all with a 512GB drive? What about a 300 or 240GB drive? When you know the answer to this, the only questions is, can you afford the SSD you need? If so, there's absolutely no reason not to go for it. And if you can't afford the SSD you need for #2, it's almost certainly worth the small cost of buying a smaller SSD for option #1.

    NOT buying an SSD is NOT an option. :p :D
     
  9. Langdonboom thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #9
    okay, so this is pretty much what I was thinking -- but seriously, does a decrese from 12ms to .1 ms really amount to something I'm going to notice on a human scale?

    Granting that maybe it is -- and agreeing that NOT buying SSD is NOT an option -- am I best off going with the 512 Toshiba that Apple offers or do you suggest as some others have that I go with the 1TB SATA to start with and then replace that with an OWC (or whatever you suggest) SSD after the fact and implement your plan #2? (Yes 500 GBs should be plenty for any single ongoing project - but is it okay to use the same SSD for my OS as for a scratch disc)?

    Thanks so much for the response!
     
  10. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

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    Nov 6, 2006
    #10
    Suck it and see.

    Buy a used SSD on Ebay and then sell if you don't like it.
     
  11. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    Québec
    #11
    Hello,

    VirtualRain: didn't you just take my answer and put more words to explain it? :-D

    As for the uselessness of a SSD as boot, it seems to change everything, seems to speed up your computer no end. I would never go back to a mac without a SSD as boot. But if you take out your stopwatch and compare (in a set-up where your personal data is on a mechanical drive), you won't see any difference in actual application performance. I agree that boot time and app launch time are not a big deal. Yet SSD as boot makes a huge difference nevertheless; that's why I said it was hard to qualify. Spending cash for a SSD for your data *will* make a big difference in video work.

    As far as brand choice goes, as I said it's based on reputation alone, as SSDs are too young a technology. Haven't heard much about Toshiba, and would check the price to make sure Apple didn't charge you a premium. If that's the case, go for a small 120-160GB SSD for your OS. If I had to buy a new SSD today, I'd go with Intel again (I have a 80GB Intel G2 as boot, and love it).


    If you have the funds, get yourself a 500GB SSD for data, and use the OS disc for scratch.

    Also, people make a huge deal about SSD longevity, but as long as you keep a healthy portion of the drive empty, your SSD will probably outlive your Mac.

    Loa
     
  12. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #12
    You will notice a difference... no doubt about it.

    As for what SSD is the best option for you... I'd say the best option is the one you are most comfortable with. You can get a faster, cheaper SSD through OWC or another vendor, than what Apple provides, but it will require you to clone your operating system over to it. If this seems like too much trouble for you, and is an inhibitor to getting an SSD, then by all means get the Apple option.

    However, if you are comfortable with cloning your system drive over to an aftermarket SSD, you will get better performance per dollar. The OWC drives are top performers and come from a reputable Mac specialized vendor, while the Samsung 470, the Intel 320, and the Crucial M4 are all highly recommended by folks here based on offering great reliability, performance, and price.
     
  13. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Aug 10, 2010
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    Poole, England
    #13
    A SSD is about 85% faster than a HDD in typical use on average.

    Source: tomshardware
     
  14. Langdonboom thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #14
    From what I can tell this is within my skill-set -- my only question at this point is that does this cloning method leave anything out? That is -- I don't need to "reinstall" any software in the applications folder, or anything in the library in this operation? I suppose "clone" means just that but I wonder if it makes sense to do this cloning before I install new software and/or migrate my stuff over from my old PowerPC that this computer will be replacing, or is it something that I can do at any point just as easily once I've got the new computer up and running?

    Perhaps better for another thread, but at this point I'm leaning towards doing this once I have the budget, which means using the 1TB SATA drive for a while first, and then going to SSD. Any problems anyone can forsee using this method?
     
  15. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #15
    I would do a fresh install of Mac OS on your Intel Mac Pro, just to make sure you're using all the correct files. Also, a fresh start never hurt, especially after a few years of upgrades.

    Yep, you decide when to do it. Cloning is simply to copy an entire partition (or hard drive) to another partition or hard drive. Simple as that. Apps like Carbon Copy Cloner have excellent track records for this type of job.

    Well, all of the early adopters of SSDs have done exactly that. The method is simple. Use your Mac Pro with the 1TB drive until you're ready to upgrade to the SSD. Plug the SSD in your Mac Pro and use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the OS part of your hard drive (everything except your own data) to the SSD. Reboot using the SSD as start-up volume.

    That's it!

    Loa
     
  16. wonderspark macrumors 68040

    wonderspark

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    Oregon
    #16
    I don't have any SSDs, but I don't dismiss them, either. I mentioned that I sometimes consider getting one for scratch or OS/programs, but I decided that in my case, there is better value to be had elsewhere.

    For example, the last movie I edited was 500GB or so in raw movie files, to which I added about a terabyte of special effects and such. The whole movie, including all exports, fits on a 2TB external drive as an archive, which was $99. The point here is that having 2TB of space on SSD is pricey.

    Now, I've done something different, based on my needs. I just built a 12TB RAID3 array in an 8-bay external enclosure. Sustained data transfer rates (using 16GB files for the test) are about 700+MB/second... much faster than an SSD for sure, and I have the protection of parity. I need the space and security for working on multiple projects that constitute my only source of income, but what would 12TB of space at 700MB/sec cost in SSDs? Mine was under $3000. I use my three old Apple drives in software RAID0 as a scratch disk for 3TB at 315MB/second, which sorta seems free since they came with the Mac when I bought it, but the point is that I have better than SSD speeds everywhere except my OS/program disk. Since the system never crashes (perhaps thanks to lots of RAM) I don't worry about boot-up times. They are 30-90 seconds or so, depending on what drives I'm also mounting.

    I think SSDs are great, but I also think there's something to be said for the power of mechanical disks when properly implemented. 12TB would cost over $20,000 in SSDs instead of $2800 in mechanical disks that yield higher data transfer rates. If you only need to produce short, simple projects then it can make sense. The OP stated he's a professional video editor, using HD footage, so it stands to reason that the OP may need more space than what SSDs can offer, unless money is no object. :)

    I'll get into SSDs someday, just not yet. They get cheaper all the time!

    ----------

    I have a 1TB LaCie external drive as my primary clone drive. I use SuperDuper to clone it on occasion. Plugs into Firewire or eSATA port (I added an eSATA card to the Mac Pro) and makes a bootable clone of my main OS drive in an hour or two. Should the OS drive die, I can replace it (maybe with an SSD, haha!) and boot up the external, then copy the clone to the new OS drive with ease, no "reinstalling" any software.

    So the answer is to clone AFTER you install everything first.
     
  17. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #17
    an SSD for a boot drive will make everything feel faster...but that doesn't necessarily make you more productive. you'll have to use with your applications as scratch or whatever for any worthwhile benefits.

    as far as reliability goes, it is more than just reputation. all SandForce-2200 drives (including the newest OWC SSDs) have been having issues. Intel, Samsung, and Toshiba controllers have the least, followed by Micron (aka Crucial) and older controllers, like Indilinx or SF-1200.

    whatever solution you choose, SATA II and eSATA are limited to ~300 MB/s. Mac Pros still don't support SATA III, and there are still no ThunderBolt addon cards available. the only way around this is some sort of connection directly through PCIe, which I'm not familiar with.

    so depending on what your project size is, an HDD RAID might be a better choice than SSDs...and even if you decide to go with SSDs, chasing the fastest might be pointless because 1) the fastest drives are the least reliable, and 2) you can't take advantage of all that speed anyway.

    edit: it just occurred to me that you work with incompressible data, so you'd want to avoid SF-2200 drives anyway. that includes the newest drives from OWC and OCZ.
     
  18. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

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    #18
    When posts talk of reliability what do they mean?
     
  19. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #19
    Loa
     
  20. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

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    #20
    Yes but I mean what does reliability mean.

    Just not funtioning, errors or speed decrease or ????
     
  21. Langdonboom thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 22, 2011
    #21
    Thanks for this perspective! You are right on all counts for me. I do see an SSD OS/temp media drive on my future but for now I will concentrate on building a bigger mechanical Raid.

    which esata card do you recommend for the mac pro? Which do you use? I'm still in fw800 and I bet it's slowing me down. Thanks!
     
  22. roblin macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2007
    #22
    trust us, when you have used a ssd for a while and use a normal disc again you notice the difference. it's the best money spent on upgrading a comp right now.
     
  23. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #23
    Just about everything that can slow/stop you down.

    Speed decrease can be dealt with using good GC (garbage collection) on recent drives, or by activating TRIM on older drives that don't have GC.

    Apart from speed, there are bugs and regular failures that can occur just like on everything electronic.

    Which drive is the "safest", who knows? But don't let that scare you: we mostly hear about horror stories, and rarely about "well, everything just worked". :)

    Loa
     
  24. wonderspark macrumors 68040

    wonderspark

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    #24
    I've got a $50 Newer Technology 6G eSATA from OWC. Cheap and effective, fast throughput!
     
  25. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #25
    reliability as in if the drive causes to the computer to freeze, or it fails entirely.

    a disproportionate number of these freezes and failures are on SF-2200 drives, and it's been reproduced, just not consistently. right now people are working on reproducing it consistently so OCZ and others know exactly what to fix...so far they've just been releasing a bunch of firmware updates more or less hoping that it'll get fixed.

    Anandtech has documented some these issues.
     

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