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External HDD (or SSD) for Premiere CS6 and Lightroom
  • Hi guys!

    I'm looking for a new external harddrive. For some months I've been editing on Premiere CS6 using a Macbook Pro non Retina (you probably know the drill: i7 2.6 8Gb Ram and 750 Gb HDD). The footage is in 2.5" USB 3.0 Western Digital HDDs which I know is a suboptimal solution but I normally have all the HD footage (mostly GOP1 and GOP3 from a hacked GH2) on one track and playback is smooth 90% of the time. Since things are not always going to be that simple and Lightroom (which I also use profusely) would certain benefit from a faster harddrive I'm thinking about buying one. Caldigit has some solutions that are expensive but seem sturdy and reliable. I have my eyes on the AV Pro wich they sell on HDD and SDD flavors with USB3.0 and optional Firewire. They claim that with the UASP USB 3.0 protocol the SDD option can reach speeds of 430 Mb/s on new Macbook Pros and 200 Mb/s for the HDD option. There are a couple of reviews around the web that seem to confirm that. Normally manufacturer's speed claims are not reliable at all, so one can't never be sure. But, if we were to trust their speed claims, these are my questions:

    Do you think that the SSD option is overkill for my current setup? Should I be better spending the premium on more storage? (The 4TB HDD option costs more or less the same as the 256 SSD one.)

    Here's the product page:

    By the way, I live in Berlin so the fact that Caldigit has a European Store is a plus (the dreaded customs and whatnot). That's why I ignored some other nice options out there. Of course if you know of other offers here in Europe, they will be more than welcome!


  • 14 Replies sorted by
  • I use a eSATA card with HDD cradles so I can use just about any HDD format. I haven't tried SDDs, but I don't see why they would be any different. This article talks a bit about my setup:

  • Thanks a lot Douglas. I'll take a look at your setup.

  • Friend of mine rents avids (on macbook pros) out to the directing community where I live, and he uses e-sata cards with external raids as well.

  • When you work on a lot of projects, it's nice to be able to quickly swap drives. Also, there's not a lot of point in buying new Firewire or USB interfaces with every drive when bare drives are often $30 cheaper. Bare drives also seem to take up a LOT less space on the shelf! Someday thunderbolt may actually become an interface that people regularly use, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, eSATA runs at the same speed as an internal drive, which is plenty fast.

  • Thank you so much for the responses guys! The question that's still in the air though is: Would I really benefit by using an SSD instead of an HDD for GOP1 footage and RAW stills? Or in other words, how much transfer rate is it necessary for smooth playback in Premiere CS6 when dealing with 2 layers of 150Mb AVCHD footage?

    Right now, the 2.5 USB3.0 drives that I'm using reach around 45 Mbs on writing and 72 in reading and playback can be choppy sometimes.

  • Sounds like a low quality USB 3 adapter?

    I've got Seagate Backup Plus 1tb 2.5 drives and get 100+ read/write and can get over 200 with software RAID0 on two drives using my MBP13 using BlackMagics Drive Test

  • What about a good old Firewire 800 disk? I've been using a few with CS6 and any type of gh2 footage(intra included) no issues for me. If not, look for thunderbolt solutions, not cheap but lightning fast(if you are getting paid for what you do- it's worth the money;)

  • @PatrickGF @luxis Thanks guys for sharing your experiences. I'll probably buy a decent USB 3.0 HDD then. I guess you can always go SSD further down the road. Right know they might just be not worth it.

  • @atticusd macbookpro's(15" and 13") don't have usb 3, only usb2 and you would not benefit from the usb3 connection so go with the firewire800 and western digital. btw, stay away from plastic enclosure firewire800 Verbatim crap, learned this the hard way. The MBP 17" has ExpressCard/34 which could be used for ExpressCard/34 USB 3 card but i have no idea if it works ok(drivers, speed) or not.

  • @luxis Mid-2012 MacBook Pros have USB3 (last models before Retina) - is a great resource to check system specs.

    @atticusd I to use FireWire 800 drives but FW800 does have a max speed of 100megabytes per sec.

  • @PatrickGF really, they put a usb3 on mac? Incredible, the stingy bastards!;) mine is mid 2011 with stoneage usb2( 3 millimeters apart often cannot us bulkier usb things at the same time) So should maybe change to a 2012 to use the cheapo usb3 drives. Good to know this site.

    There ain't anything faster on board on MBP then thunderbolt(double the speed of usb3 if i am not wrong?) if you are willing to part with bigger stacks of cash. Seriously overpriced stuff.

    Here is (for fun) an interesting discussion about firewire and usb on macs:

    and a chart:

  • @PatrickGF @luxis Thanks a lot again for sharing your experiences. Nothing better than first hand user experiences to help you make a gear buying decision.

  • FW800 vs usb 1/2/3 is a long running debate. I've always been on the FW side but USB3 is defiantly faster, I am still not sure If that makes it better for editing I do. Would like to go with eSATA but then drive electrical power is a problem.

    As for first hand experience. I'm using the OWC Elite Mini with 2x WD Black 7200rpm drives as RAID1 with okay results (80ish Read/Write) over FW800. It was slower in RAID0 mode (60ish MBps) but really was interested in the safety of RAID1 anyway. It still feels bulky with my MBP 13 though. (also on BH and amazon I believe)

    Otherwise I like the Seagate GoFlex and Backup Plus drives, because they let you change/replace the interface with out damaging the drive. Allows for upgrading the connection or even going straight eSATA.
    and the Thunderbolt adapter is one of the cheapest and would work with any bare drive.

  • @PatrickGF Once again, thanks for all that info. I have an OWC Mercury Elite Mini Single Drive around. Even though it doesnt feet my editing needs any more, it's one sturdy little fella. Reliability is something as paramount as speed. Sometimes we just forget about it. It's a pity that OWC doesn't have more presence in Europe. I had to pay custom taxes every time I ordered from them but that's another story. Thanks again!