Windows speed, Win apps and external HDD solutions

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by LowVoltage, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. LowVoltage macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #1
    I am planning on replacing my Mac Pro 3,1 (Early 2008) with one of the Haswell iMacs, and part of the setup will include a Bootcamp partition for Windows. Among other decisions I have to make (such as the ever-problematic i5 or i7 and which GPU) is how I'm going to allot space for Windows.

    I'm pretty much set on getting the 1TB Fusion drive and plan on having an external HDD for large media files and general backup. As I said, I also want to have at least a small partition for Windows. As I understand it, an unaltered Fusion drive will only ever allow you to use the SSD portion for OSX, or essentially, "the Mac" side of the computer. The natural scheme for a Bootcamp partition would mean placing windows on a part of the HDD portion of the Fusion drive. I've read about people separating the two portions of the Fusion drive into their respective parts, but I'm not sure I want to do that.

    My main concern is that I would see a performance hit on the Windows side because it's being stuck with the slower 5400rpm HDD. Windows would get none of the advantages OSX sees with the SSD/HDD combination.

    Presently, I see my options as the following:
    • Parition the iMac drive normally; OSX gets most of the Fusion drive and Windows gets a parition of the physical HDD with enough space for all its apps
    • Partition the iMac drive normally like above, except Windows gets a partition only large enough for the OS itself and some extra space for swap and scratch files plus updates; all applications would go on an external 7200rpm drive
    • Leave the Fusion drive alone for OSX and try one of the Thunderbolt / USB3.0 external HDD solutions people have reportedly used for Windows (8.1)

    The first option is basically me doing nothing special and trying not to worry about whether or not I could have done something differently. It's also the cheapest option.

    The second option would mean getting a second external HDD, but Windows programs would benefit from the faster drive while the Windows partition is left to its own devices. I even considered getting one of the SSD/HDD hybrid drives for this very solution, but that's not necessarily what I'll do.

    I don't even know if the third option is a possibility, plus it would mean a lot more money. I've read several threads both here on Macrumors and on Apple.com's forums about people using either external SSDs via Thunderbolt or HDDs via USB3.0 with Windows 8.1 (I'm not sure if it has to be the .1 update, though). I know an external SSD with enough capacity for everything I want to do with Windows isn't in my budget. There are a couple Thunderbolt external drives out there, but they are pricey. OWC sells what looks like a nice USB3.0 enclosure, and I could get it with drives pre-installed or separately buy whatever brand/type of drive I want and install them. And because it accommodates two drives it would mean having to use only one port on the iMac.

    I have issues with the third option which probably have more to do with my own nervousnous (?) about the concept. It seems to me that Mac Pro users like myself who can't afford or justify the costs of the nMP and forced to go with the iMac would be rejoicing at an external HDD solution for Windows. I don't see enough people shouting from the rooftops, "This is the way to go!" While I've read several accounts of people using some kind of external device for Windows on the iMac, I can't help but wonder: Can the iMac's ports handle that kind of regular, heavy use of data for an OS? I'm not making any kind of statement based on expertise, it's just a thought. I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to hardware failure. To boot, the idea of having more hardware I have to rely on because I use it, and not simply for backup like my only-occasionally used Time Machine drive, makes me more nervous about failure.

    Now, I know some of you will simply tell me to get the SSD-only upgrade for the iMac. It would require a whole other paragraph, but let's just say the storage capacity I'm expecting to need would require the larger SSD upgrades which simply aren't in my budget.

    So, does anybody have any thoughts on one of these setups? As I said before, there are still options related to what model I want to buy I have to figure out. Depending on those choices my budget may already be near its limit. Having to decide on the screen size is nerve wracking as it is!
     
  2. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
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    #2
    Windows speed, Win apps and external HDD solutions

    As a 3,1 user I would leave it a year before thinking about changing it. The tower can have significant upgrades and if you post this in the Mac Pro forum wait for the answers. SSD upgrades for both OSX and bootcamp, sata 3 for both OS, video cards, used ram upgrades with only thunderbolt lacking.

    Unless you need the haswell CPU specifically for its extra CPU instructions for video and VM I would upgrade the 3,1 and save for the Mac Pro 7,1
     
  3. LowVoltage thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #3
    Thanks for the tip, but the 3,1 is going to a student who will use the potential of the machine to his benefit. I, on the other hand, want to slim things down and use less power. The iMac would be mostly for page layout and Photoshop operations. I still need the Windows functionality, unfortunately, which leads me to my present situation.
     
  4. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Sagittarius A*
    #4
    That's a tough choice. Slimming down I would go for the 27 imac with the upgradeable ram, bigger screen and SSD only but not the maximum size as they are too dear. Plus running Windows on a hard drive, in fact any spinning disk with any OS is something I would not tolerate nowadays myself. Use thunderbolt external (s) such as one from the Promise Pegasus Range or one of the Western Digital TB solutions. Buy a dual drive you can have one HFS+ and the other NTFS for data.
     

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