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Which should be your fastest drive: OS, Project or Sample? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 27th August 2015
Here for the gear

Which should be your fastest drive: OS, Project or Sample?

Hey everyone (first post on GS, but been reading for many years).

As the title says, When doing big productions using lots of VI's and Sample Libraries, which should be your fastest hard drive: The OS/Boot Drive, Your Project drive or the Drive with all your sample libraries? If you could give an order from fastest to slowest would be better. Right now I'm thinking it should be OS 1st, followed by sample library and then project drive...or project drive in 2nd place if doing a session with a ton of audio tracks and not as much sample based stuff.

I'm getting a classic Mac Pro 4,1 (12 core @ 3.33 Ghz), and plan to do the following upgrades:

48 GB (3x16 GB) 1333mhz RAM
2 x Samsung SM951 blade SSD (256 GB each) with individual Lycom PCIe adapters
1 or 2 Samsung 850 EVO SSD
1 or 2 large HDD for backups
Nvidia GTX 970 Mac verison (more for the gamer in me

The reason I ask the question is I can see several ways of configuring my drives and I'm trying to determine the setup that provides optimal speed where I need it. Based on research here and on other forums, I should get the following real world transfer rates under the following configurations:

2 x SM951 in RAID 0 (slot 2+3): ~2200 Mbps
1 x SM951 (slot 3): ~1400 Mbps
1 x SM951 (slot 2): supposedly slower than slot 3, not sure of actual speeds
1 x 850 EVO in drive bay: 300 - 500 Mbps

Based on this, I'm considering the following 2 configurations for my DAW:

Configuration #1
SM951 in slot 3: OS Drive
SM951 in slot 2: Sample Library or Project Drive
850 EVO: Sample Library or Project Drive


Configuration #2
2 x SM951 in RAID 0: OS Drive
850 EVO: Project Drive
850 EVO: Sample Library

Any thoughts on which configuration is better for optimal performance? Please note: for anyone worried about the RAID 0 setup, I plan to clone the OS Drive often to an equally sized SSD to avoid downtime should 1 drive fail.
Old 28th August 2015
Lives for gear
project drive should be fastest since that's where all the action happens
Old 28th August 2015
Here for the gear

Thanks for responding! Is that the consensus among everyone else?
Old 28th August 2015
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
I'd say project drive too.
I have everything (except large sample libraries) on my SSD, and the the biggest advantage is speed/smoothness in playback within the project.
Though having the OS on the SSD is nice too.
Old 4th September 2015
Here for the gear

Thanks for the replies...project drive it is. What would be the next highest priority for speed: OS or Samples?

My incoming mac pro 5,1 will be loaded up with at least 64 GB of RAM (aiming for 96 GB later on), so I'm assuming most, if not all samples could all be loaded into this situation would it make more sense to have a faster OS drive than sample drive(s)?
Old 4th September 2015
Lives for gear
I'm going to be a contrarian here.

I have my OS and apps on an SSD, my VSTi's and VST's on another (they load much faster), and my projects on a WD Black which is plenty for a recording drive. If I only had one SSD I'd start with my OS/apps drive but could see a reason to use it for your sample drive if you use tons of them per project. Not sure it's necessary with 64G RAM. But it has the added advantage of loading very fast if you're just browsing them.

Something to keep in mind is that writing to an SSD is what wears it out. Sample drives are mostly read, project drives are mostly write. OS drives are both, but I suspect more read than write. Makes for better drive performance if a drive doesn't have to split duties.

That all being said, once you have your OS on an SSD you'll never go back.
Old 4th September 2015
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
Definitely OS over samples.
I also read about some tests done on SSD's regarding writing and longevity.
They can write a crazy amount of data before failing. Petabytes!
Old 4th September 2015
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sardi's Avatar

Hands down the OS drive will make the most apparent difference. VERY fast boot times, app launch times etc.

Depending on what your recording/track count (you haven't specified) a 7200RPM drive will be more than enough. Lots of people have been tracking to them for years without issues.

But, if you can afford it, SSD for everything is nice.
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