Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions
beachbumdave Forum Member • Posts: 77
Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

I will purchase a new Mac Mini with i7 processor for my Lightroom and Photoshop work.  My question is which is the best hard drive option given what Apple sells and what I could put together from MacSales.

Apple sells the i7 MacMini with 1T hard drive, 1T fusion drive, or 256GB SSD. Am I better off with a Fusion drive or buying the MacMini with 256G SSd and put the data on an external hard drive? My data files are getting pretty large since I bought the Nikon D800.  The advantage of buying the 256SSD from Apple and using an external hard drive are that (1) I get a 256GB SSD instead of the 128 GB SSD which is in the Fusion Drive and (2) I could get a 7200 RPM hard disk drive instead of the 5400 RPM hard disk drive that is part of the Fusion Drive. I'm not sure how important these details are for my Photoshop and Lightroom work?

There are probably an infinite number of possibilities with external drives and internal drives using the MacSales data doubler. Any advice appreciated.

David

Nikon D800 Samsung i7
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Doug R Senior Member • Posts: 1,471
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Your getting a MacMini so its obvious speed is not your first concern just get the fusion drive no need to complicate things.

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Doug

Adjuster Contributing Member • Posts: 966
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Here is what i would do (and did) to get the most flexibility:

Buy the 2.3 or 2.6 (if avail) i7 refurbished Mac mini. Or buy a new one with an educational or NAPP discount

Get the MacSales miniStack ($78 with no drive) and load it with a 7200rpm 3tb or whatever drive. Connect it with a usb3 cable. Get another miniStack for backup if you like.

Get a MacSales SSD (or whatever SSD you can find at a cheaper price with the SandForce controller). I got a real deal on one at Microcenter for a 240gb ssd. Put it in a FirmTek miniSwap/U3 drive and connect it to the Mac mini with a usb 3 cable. (Check out the bare feats review http://barefeats.com/hard168.html). Install the operating system and software on the SSD. According to what I have read, the external drive is as fast as the Apple internal SSD.

Load it with 16gb memory from MacSales.

Consider using the internal 1tb drive as a scratch disk.

Prepare to fly. This thing absolutely rocks. Now you have all the flexibility in the world to grow and you don't have to crack open the case to add a slow 2.5 hard drive.

Hope that this helps. I have been running this configuration for five months without a problem (knock on wood, read hard now).

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artdirectorringo Regular Member • Posts: 153
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

This is interesting. Do you know if the speed applies specifically to the firmtek enclosure, or would something from OWC with USB 3 also work? I need to look into this option. Thanks.

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OP beachbumdave Forum Member • Posts: 77
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Adjuster

This method relies on the SSD in the firmtek enclosure connected to the MacMini with USB3 being as fast as the Apple internal drive. My impression was that bus powered drives were slower than internal drives.  Is my impression incorrect and will the USB3 connected SSD be as fast as the Apple internal one?

David

fraserj1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,565
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Adjuster wrote:

Here is what i would do (and did) to get the most flexibility:

Buy the 2.3 or 2.6 (if avail) i7 refurbished Mac mini. Or buy a new one with an educational or NAPP discount

Or buy a brand new one from B&H for about the same price as an Apple refurb (including taxes).

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golf4food Regular Member • Posts: 268
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Get the Fusion Drive with the Fastest Mini i7!  The load it up with Ram yourself from Macsales.com.  Use an external USB3 drive for storage or a Thunderbolt drive if you find one that you like.  You will LOVE this machine!  Get the Fusion drive!

Kevin

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henryk1 Contributing Member • Posts: 971
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

I got the top-line 2.66 i7 mini with a 256gb SSD, and use three 2 TB Seagate USB 3.0 drives, one for files, one for straight backup and one for Time Machine backup. I keep some most-used files on the SSD. Works very well for me.

ekohn Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Using the SSD as the primary drive is the great for speed.  Being your doing photo work, you're going to need some space and probably some backup.

I'd probably go with the SSD and map my user director to a raided drive connected to the mini.

I'd prefer to use thunderbolt for the external vs USB3.

you'll find this will make booting and working fast.  Max memory of course.

OP beachbumdave Forum Member • Posts: 77
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

ekohn

Do I need to install the SSD internal to the MacMini or will it run just as fast external on a USB connection?  Its less trouble if I can leave it external.

David

Adjuster Contributing Member • Posts: 966
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Per Barefeats, the Firmtec drive uses a new, faster controller:

Per Barefeats: "Turns out that the newest, latest USB 3.0 bus powered notebook storage devices are as fast or faster than their Thunderbolt counterparts. How is this possible when Thunderbolt is rated at 10Gbps (theoretical) and USB 3.0 is rated at 5Gbps (theoretical)? Two reasons: a) no single 6Gbps SSD can go faster than about 500MB/s (or 5Gbps) and b) improved USB 3.0 controllers squeeze the full potential from USB 3.0."

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Adjuster Contributing Member • Posts: 966
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Doug R wrote:

Your getting a MacMini so its obvious speed is not your first concern just get the fusion drive no need to complicate things.

Check out the CPU speed on the new MacMini's. They are wicked fast except when using software that is GPU intensive, such as Final Cut Pro X or Photoshop or Premier Pro. No apparent problem with Aperture.

http://barefeats.com/imac12p1.html

http://barefeats.com/imac12p2.html

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Adjuster Contributing Member • Posts: 966
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

beachbumdave wrote:

ekohn

Do I need to install the SSD internal to the MacMini or will it run just as fast external on a USB connection?  Its less trouble if I can leave it external.

David

Please read my initial post. While I have cracked open a lot of Macs, the new ones are a pain to do so. I have found that the external SSD even with an old controller is fast enough. Now we have one that is as fast as a T-bolt drive. Good grief. What more do you need? Part of the problem is with specmanship, something I used to engage in a prior marketing life.

So one device is twenty percent faster than another to access a file. You will never notice it. Furthermore, if the slow one works faster than you can blink, who cares if the new one is twice as fast. I can't blink twice as fast, no matter how hard I try.

BTW. this is not a comment on your question. It is rather a comment on the whole speed issue.

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Adjuster Contributing Member • Posts: 966
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

ekohn wrote:

Using the SSD as the primary drive is the great for speed.  Being your doing photo work, you're going to need some space and probably some backup.

I'd probably go with the SSD and map my user director to a raided drive connected to the mini.

I'd prefer to use thunderbolt for the external vs USB3.

you'll find this will make booting and working fast.  Max memory of course.

Please read what Barefeats states. The Raid 0 usb3 drive beat the T-bolt drive on 3 of 4 tests!

http://barefeats.com/hard168.html

If you want to throw money away on a T-bolt drive, god bless. The economy needs more folks like you. Actually, I did it, so put me in the same boat. However, when the t-bolt drive gave me a problem and I replaced it with a usb2 drive, my Admin Ass't hardly noticed the difference. Probably because I was using a relatively slow 7200 hard drive. She is using only Word and Excel so speed is not an issue anyway.

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Doug R Senior Member • Posts: 1,471
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

Photoshop only uses the GPU for a few filters. OP has a mac mini and you link to 2 stories about Imacs? The Imacs have desktop cpu and the mac mini has low power laptop style cps not only do they run a slower clock but are do to the low power are designed to be about 10% slower clock for clock than the desktop cpu.

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Doug

OP beachbumdave Forum Member • Posts: 77
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

The Mini can be bought with a 2.6GHz i7 which is faster than the i5 processor on many configurations of the iMac and only 20% or so slower than the fastest 3.4 GHz i7 available on the 27 inch iMac.

The real issue is the lack of a video card in the Mac Mini. As pointed out photoshop only uses the video card for a few filters (not sure which ones).  However I believe that the Nik Software series (Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex) uses hardware acceleration from the video card.  I plan to buy the Nik software because of the special low price thats now available.

I wonder just how much I will miss the lack of a video card.

David

chris norlund
chris norlund New Member • Posts: 21
Re: Best Hard Drive Option for new MacMini

I havw two drives in my mac mini.  256ssd and 1tb hdd.  Its simple to install.  You can find videos on youtube or ifixit.

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Chris Norlund
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