USB 3.0 – Thunderbolt – SSD – HDD

Quo Vadis ?!
Technology is progressing fast and makes musicians rethink their gear regularly.
To upgrade or not to upgrade – that’s the question.

Many are sad about the loss of Firewire-connections in the latest Mac’s.
However, USB 3.0. and Thunderbolt are more delicious than some people might expect.

While USB 2.0 speed is max 480Mb/s, USB 3.0 can reach max 5Gb/s bandwidth rate (10x faster than USB 2.0) – fullduplex!

Thunderbolt bandwidth rate is up to 20 Gb/s.
Don’t let yourself be fooled by rumors about “bandwidth of 10Gb/s”. Thunderbold has 2 channels – that makes 10Gb/s per channel – in total: 20Gb/s

So, should be interesting to compare USB vs Thunderbolt and external storage devices SSD vs HDD.

HDD with various connections

Benchmark test done with Aja System Test (freeware)

  • Firewire800: rather ridiculous scores.
  • Thunderbolt and USB 3.0: almost on a par.
  • Thunderbolt wit HDD seems to be a bit weaker in performance…
  • Winner: the combination of USB 3.0. with HDD (7200rpm! ) is the perfect solution.

SSD with various connections

Benchmark test done with Aja System Test (freeware)

  • Firewire800: again, not worth to mention at all.
  • USB 3.0: definately benefits from the faster bandwidth rate .
  • Winner: Thunderbolt & SSD is the match winner in every aspect of the benchmark test.

Quite impressive benchmark scores, eh ?

Either you go with USB 3.0 / HDD, 7200rpm or you choose to set up your system with Thunderbolt / SSD.
Prices for SSD are still quite high at the moment. Also, additional components like Thunderbolt cable (in comparison, USB 3.0. cables are rather ridiculously cheap).
So, USB 3.0. & HDD might be interesting for most musicians.

This should help to set up your system. I’d suggest to set up drives like this:

  • first drive: OS, DAW, apps…
  • second drive: samples (important check if your samples are loaded into RAM or streamed from drive – find the info in the manual..yes, RTFM!)
  • third drive: project files and all files associated with the project.
  • fourth drive: backup (!)

Keep in mind…

  • don’t use “eco”drives
  • never partition your harddrives
  • never let drives “sleep”

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