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Author Topic: Another SSD Question....How big do I need for my Boot Drive?  (Read 6203 times)
BradSmith
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« on: October 20, 2010, 07:35:36 PM »
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I too have read Lloyd Chamber's info on improving Mac Performance and am considering a small SSD for my boot disk.  I have a question about what size I need.   

On my Mac, the SSD boot drive would hold these folders:  System 5 Gb; Library 10Gb; Applications 10Gb and my User Home folder 14Gb (not including music, docs, mail, desktop and movies which I'd move to a Data Disk).     Call that a total of 40Gb.

Since all my future data will go to the data drive, and I'd never add THAT many applications in the future,  could I reasonable get by with a 60Gb SSD?

I'd have separate internal scratch and data drives and an external firewire or eSATA drive for TimeMachine local backups.   Also, remotely stored data and boot drive backups.

Thanks
Brad
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Schewe
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 10:30:57 PM »
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Since the boot drive is also the default page drive for the OS, you need to factor that in. Can't tell you what the page overhead would be on your system, but leaving only 20 gigs would be slim. Also remember that everything on your desktop will also be on that drive. So...bigger will be better. I would consider 2x your 40gig expectation...so 60 would be small'ish.
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 11:20:44 PM »
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There is also the age old advice that a hard drive reaches peak performance up to 50% capacity, and drops off proportionally after.. SSD's raise that figure to 70% from my experience.

There are also other programs using spaces of the SSD like Schewe already mentioned, from the page files to caches in LR and CS5.. sure you can designate them to other drives, but why would you want to when the performance gains are huge and the cost of going with a larger SSD comparatively small?  Think in terms of what functions/programs would benefit a lot from a SSD, what would benefit some, and what would benefit a little.. add them up and then decide.  Personally I'd guess in your case a 128g would probably serve you well.

I'm also of the mindset that a SSD is a relatively significant purchase, so I look at how I'll use it 'after' its current task when it's been replaced by a newer faster badder SSD.. perhaps in a notebook?  And if so, is 60g's going to be enough for your notebook use?

I waited to go to SSD's until they reached a minimum size I could live with in my notebook.. my personal size was 256g.  Once I experienced the performance increase I didn't want to wait, I ordered the same drives for my notebooks.  One of the notebooks had two internal drive slots, so I put a value line Intel 40g in one as a boot/program/os drive, and a 500gb hybrid in the other.. love that combination.  But I tend to load my notebooks for specific uses, while with my workstation I load everything.  With everything loaded.. and it's a lot.. I use about 120gb's on my boot drive and that includes 10gb of Outlook files.  This leaves 120gb free to use as a page, caches, etc.. works very well.
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BradSmith
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 10:01:33 PM »
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Jeff and Steve,
Thanks for your advice.  Guess I'd better look at a larger size.

Brad
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dafrank
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2010, 01:10:40 AM »
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Brad-

I am a long-time pro photographer and digital retoucher, use a PC and had a new custom-built unit made for me last January. It has four drives, two identical SSD's, with one for the boot (C) drive and one for a virgin scratch disk. The other two are very large conventional hard drives for data. The SSDs that I used are the Intel Generation 2 160GB drives. They have worked flawlessly with absolutely no problems at all, through very heavy and sustained use, making Photoshop CS5 run like a rabbit with my two giant Schnoodles chasing its tail. My builder says that these drives have proved the most consistantly reliable (most important) and fast performers of all the SSDs they have tested, and they test a lot; they build mostly for crazy rich bleeding-edge gamers. They are amazingly fast and, of course, totally silent - something you have to use a while to appreciate. And, eee gads, starting up Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit this quickly is, while not mind blowingly fast, still pretty darn amazing. I'd certainly recommend the Intels, and I think they may now have 250GB versions, but I'm not positive. Check it out.

I hope this helps.

Also, just to adjust your expectations a little, there are very few, perhaps not any, SSD's that are actually more than a tiny bit faster on some tasks than a large fast high-end conventional hard drive in actual use, so don't expect a miraculous data read/write speed increase over, lets say, a 2GB WD Black Caviar drive. Drive latency on an SSD is exceptional, of course, but once those big hard drive platters start spinning, they can spin off their data very, very quickly. However, the best SSDs are at least as fast, dead silent, should be far more reliable and longlasting, plus give off almost no heat. Big advantages. Only real disadvantage: money.

Good luck,
David
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2010, 09:58:35 AM »
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"My builder says that these drives have proved the most consistantly reliable (most important) and fast performers of all the SSDs they have tested,"

They are indeed reliable.. they have a great reputation.  But they are far from the fastest.

"Also, just to adjust your expectations a little, there are very few, perhaps not any, SSD's that are actually more than a tiny bit faster on some tasks than a large fast high-end conventional hard drive in actual use, so don't expect a miraculous data read/write speed increase over, lets say, a 2GB WD Black Caviar drive. "

Yes, they are 'more' than a tiny bit faster.  They're hugely faster.  Providing they're properly configured.

AS SSD Benchmark, one of the top three benchmarking utilities used by review sites reveals some interesting results.  It runs a set amount of routines and data on each test, and then documents various measurements.   On a recent (last two months) 2tb Western Digital Caviar it takes the test 221 minutes to run.  The exact same routines and data on my Crucial C300 SSD (256g version) takes 92 seconds.  The WDC drive scores a total of 23 points.  The best 7200rpm laptop drive scores about 2.  My C300 Crucial scores 630.. and when not as loaded as it is now it scored 672.  See the attached results for both the C300 SSD and WD Caviar complete data scores.


Traditionally, for most people, the bottleneck in their systems is the disk drive.  We're used to waiting on the drive.  With a quality SSD we hurdle that bottleneck and approach new ones we've never thought much about before.  Usually, after disks comes ram, then CPU, then video card (ability to render in a certain time), and then bus.  Even monitors can become bottlenecks.  I find monitors with hardware LUT's faster than more common monitors.

If a system with a SSD, assuming it's properly configured, doesn't feel that much faster than with a hard drive.. the first place to look is ram.  Both the amount, speed, and configuration.  The difference between common DDR3 1366 and DDR32333 is huge.  Once we load our images and begin processing them, then the drive means every little.  Because they're now in ram.  However, the speed and config of the ram becomes vital.  And so does the ability of the video card to render a screen and the bus to transfer the data of the entire system.

Solve one bottleneck, then identify the next.  Solve it, there's another.  It never ends.  But you can do quite a lot with the apparent speed/feel of processing images with ram.  If you render video then video cards become a huge factor.

Anyway.. with a SSD you should feel a huge difference, in disk intensive tasks, over any mechanical hard drive out there.  If not, there is a lot you can do in other areas to improve performance.  The hard part is knowing which part of which task is using the disks, video card, ram, etc.. the most.  They're always being used, but weighted differently depending on task. 

It's a lot of fun to go through this process, a bit frustrating at times, and it can be expensive.  Overclocking enters into things too to get the most out of ram and the cpu, but also the bus speeds.
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kikashi
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2010, 10:23:19 AM »
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Since the boot drive is also the default page drive for the OS, you need to factor that in. Can't tell you what the page overhead would be on your system, but leaving only 20 gigs would be slim. Also remember that everything on your desktop will also be on that drive. So...bigger will be better. I would consider 2x your 40gig expectation...so 60 would be small'ish.
While not presuming to disagree with "bigger is better", I'd point out that it is pretty easy to move your home folder (and hence your desktop) to a different drive.

Jeremy
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tived
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2010, 10:55:19 AM »
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You could select your boot in your finder and press Apple+I and that should give you an idea of how much is used on your current drive.

How much headroom you want on your SSD drive is up to you, but somewhere between 30-50% of free space would be handy.

On the speed side of things, well, its not like it will suddenly take off and make your computer hover over the floor, but you should notice a good increase. I have upgraded a few Macpro's with SSD's and its like its gotten a new pair of legs to run with. but I would add two disks, one for your OS/apps and one for scratch disk/temp disk. Now there are those who would prefer to use an array of standard fast disks, given that most image files are larger, but since you are a bit limited in Hard drive cradle space on a Macpro, I would go with the SSD. However, should you choose to go down the conventional way, then a set of four disks would be a nice little array in RAID-0, which in turn could be formated to only use for first 15-30% of their space (e.g. the outer space on the disk platters, where the disk spins faster, it all adds up :-) ), obviously a hardware raid card would be the preferred option here.

High performance does come at a price ;-)

best of luck

Henrik
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