Tag: USB 3.0

Areca Moment – High Performance External Storage Options Review for iMac & Macbook Pro – USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, RAID, eSATA

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

 

A few months back, we put a new 27″ iMac (late 2012) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 model into service at the studio. Duties would include tethered capture with Phase One digital backs & Canon DSLR’s as well as various post production tasks – Photoshop, Video Editing, Lightroom, etc.

The computer came with a 3 TB internal SATA hard drive. My hope was that with the addition of USB 3.0 ports and Thunderbolt we would have plenty of reasonably priced options to choose from for some additional storage needs. Well, that was easier said/thunk than done.

Pretty simple if you want to grab one or two external 3 or 4 TB USB 3.0 hard drives from Western Digital, G-Tech, Seagate, Hitachi, etc.  The problem comes when you realize you don’t want to use up all of your USB 3.0 ports on a few drives and or you want to get a serious performance boost. Nice to have at least one port free for connecting flash card readers, monitor calibrators, tethered capture, wacom tablet, etc. There are of course the Thunderbolt ports, but even thought they’ve been around for over 2 years, there is still a pretty weak selection to choose from. And most are still quite expensive compared to a similar drive in a USB 3 package.

Speaking of a lack of ports on the new iMac, it’s real pretty and all but I would have rather it been an inch or two thicker and have a few more ports. Actually it needs to be thick enough to have room so you have 2 owner accessible hard drive bays. Maybe one 3.5″ and one 2.5″, at least 2 or 3 more USB 3.0 ports and 1 eSATA port. I know it looks thin and cool, but the reality is it’s going to be parked against a wall 90% of the time and by the time you plug in 4 or 5 things back there it looks messy. Sure it looks awesome in the product photos with no cables :)

 

Business End

Business End

 

I know some of you are thinking, why didn’t you just go buy a Mac Pro? A few reasons. Though they just announced a new one, it hasn’t had a refresh in a long long time. And as of late 2012 there was no Mac Pro with USB 3.0 ports and they are more expensive. For this machine whose primary purpose is an image capture station…a fully loaded Mac Pro seemed like overkill. Plus, on a big shoot its much easier to bring the iMac along. I will comment on the new Mac Pro announced today in the future.

Ideally at a minimum, this machine would have a separate reasonably fast volume for each of the following: OS, scratch, working files (stills and movies), Time Machine and a swapper backup drive bay. The following are a few options tested.

 

 MacGurus Burly 4 Bay Hot Swap Firewire 800 enclosure 

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

 

I’ve had this Burly enclosure collecting dust for the last couple years, worked fine when the only option was FW800. Never had any problems with it other than the fact that it was slow ~ 80 MB/sec read & write. I checked out MacGurus website and spoke to them on the phone. They recommended to swap out the FW800 bridge for a “MGBurly UPM Upgrade kit  Burly USB 3.0 and eSATA upgrade kit = Lycom USB3/eSATA port multiplier to up to 5 drives for $115”

 

MacGurus Burly Box rear

MacGurus Burly Box rear

 

This would allow a single USB 3.0 cable to connect to 4 drives and probably achieve around 250 – 300 MB/sec read write speeds for all drives combined. Not too bad, especially considering the cost. I asked them if there were any issues…they said no :)  I ordered it, installed it. Seemed to work ok, but over the next couple of weeks we were having issues with multiple drives randomly ejecting, dismounting, etc. I have since contacted MacGurus and explained my problem, they replied and said it appeared to be a common issue (hmmm…not what I was told when I bought it). He said there was a fix using an app called Keep Drive Spinning. Having to run an app to keep my drives from ejecting makes me want to vomit. Even if it works and is simple. No thanks. MacGurus should probably put that disclaimer on their website product page. Thank you time vampire #1, next…

 

Promise Technology Pegasus R6 – RAID Storage with Thunderbolt

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

 

Enter the Pegasus R6 w/ Thunderbolt. Its a 6 Bay enclosure with (6) 1 TB SATA drives installed. If I remember correctly these are what Apple waved around when they announced Thunderbolt, showing you what would be offered. I should of just bit the bullet from the get go and went this route, so I thought. I noticed newegg.com had some factory refurbished / reconditioned units with warranty which would save a few hundred dollars. Normally I would stay away from refurbs, but I thought in this case I would make an exception. I don’t have the best luck buying new, so why not try refurbs? Maybe the factory has taken a better look and ensured this one works correctly before sending it out again? ;)

Showed up and looked nice. As always I read the instructions, check firmware, current software, updates, etc. I could write a short story about what it was doing but don’t want to take all day. In short, it seemed possessed. Throwing multiple error lights, telling me it was overheating, etc.  Spent hours trying to make it right…gave up and sent it back.

Another one shows up a week later. This time totally different issues. The box itself seemed OK, but 2 of the 6 drives they shipped with it were reported as bad by the Pegasus display and utility. FWIW, tried it on two different thunderbolt computers with 10.8.2 and 10.8.3. Wow what a huge waste, to think those units leave the Promise Tech facility after being “fixed/inspected?”  Stinks. Time vampire #2, next up the solution…


New 27″ Imac Ordered

Should be here in about 3 weeks, will let you know how it goes. Ended up upgrading to 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 processor because it allows hyper-threading. Will upgrade RAM later through another vendor like OWC.

Will test and see if using the Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 adapter will allow tethered capture with Phase One Medium Format Digital Back and Capture One 6 & 7. USB 3.0 will be nice. Still waiting for more Thunderbolt drive enclosure options.

– Jordan


New Imac – Christmas Comes Early – Shipping Now!

The new redesigned Imac’s are now shipping…well at least the 21.5″ models. 27″ will follow in December.

From the Apple Store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With powerful processors, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt…the new Imac’s are decent alternatives to the aging and expensive Mac Pro towers.  I will probably hold out for the 27″ 3.2 GHz model.  I’m looking at the setup below. Will get 32GB of RAM from somewhere like OWC later. Maxing out the video card sounds like a good idea at only $150, been doing more and more video editing lately.  Go here for more info.


Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt 1 TB Portable Drive – Review

 

After purchasing the new Macbook Pro Retina 15″ laptop I realized you cannot boot the computer from an external portable firewire 800 or USB 3.0 device in an emergency.

Pre – Retina display Mac’s would allow it. Which was nice because if you were out on location or traveling and had the internal hard drive fail you could connect your bootable portable clone and be back in business in no time.

I tried it with some existing portable FW800 drives and the Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter but it won’t work. USB 3.0 drives are a no go too. So had to purchase the overpriced (for now at least) Thunderbolt option. There aren’t a whole lot of portable bus powered options yet. I believe Lacie, Seagate and Buffalo are the only ones for now.  I Paid $199 on Amazon for the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt 1 TB model.

It has Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 port options and came with both cables. Nice to see they didn’t make you pay extra for the Thunderbolt cable. Construction seems decent, cable is nice and short.

Performance wasn’t mind blowing since it is a 2.5″ conventional hard drive, read and write times of around 110 MB/sec were achieved using QuickBench. Fine for a backup drive I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And by the way, programs like Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! are great for making bootable backups.

 

The following is from the Buffalo website:

MiniStation Thunderbolt offers easy plug and play USB and Thunderbolt storage featuring the revolutionary Thunderbolt technology for unparalleled transfer speeds and a USB port for universal connectivity. With speeds up to 10 Gbps, the MiniStation Thunderbolt portable hard drive offers speeds 2X FASTER than USB 3.0, giving you the fastest portable storage interface ever. Perfect as a PC* or Mac portable hard drive, the MiniStation Thunderbolt portable hard drive offers the latest and fastest connection interfaces available.

  • Thunderbolt Hard Drive Technology
  • Interface Speeds up to 10 Gbps*
  • USB 3.0 Connectivity
  • Plug-and-Play
  • Pre-formatted for Mac®

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