Old 06-01-2019, 03:42 PM   #1
fred garvin
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Default SSDs for DAWs

So based on some very helpful advice I got in this thread:
https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=221352
I just bought a new laptop, arriving Wed. It has a 2 TB platter HDD. EVERYONE says I MUST get a SSD due to a HUGE perfomance increase. I believe them!

Any ideas on how to best do this?

My new lappy seems to support NVM, maybe even M2, I just saw some dude on YT install one in what seems to be my model (Dell 5770) in literally less than 5 minutes.

I only have one drive bay, plus the NVM/M2 slot. Should I keep the platter HDD at all? Lots of people seem to be full SSD. But last I heard SSDs had write cycle issues both as to sustained write performance and eventual failures, so you wanted to use SSD for the OS and critical installs, and have a platter HDD available for general mass storage and everyday I/O. Is this no longer the case?

What should I expect to pay? There seems to be a crazy wide range of units and pricing out there. I'd like to end up with no less than 1 TB total storage and spend no more than $200.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-01-2019, 03:57 PM   #2
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Be clear on what performance increase means. I have plain old hard drives here that play 150 tracks with no problem and record 24 at the same time. I think the audio interface is most important for low latency. SSD will load quicker and render quicker though.
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:03 PM   #3
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^^^ What CoachZ said.

You want to look at it from an overall system point of view, not just focusing on a single component.

You didn't specify in your post, but if this new laptop is coming from one of the big manufactures, it's probably going to come with a lot of pre-installed software on it. If that's the case, one of the first things you're going to need to do is remove all that bloat. A lot of that stuff runs in the background and takes up computing resources.

Optimize what you have first, then you can start looking around for upgrades. To CoachZ's point about the interface, if you already have a good interface, then great, but if not, chances are money spent on a good interface will give you a bigger bang for your buck than money spent on a hard drive.

Good Luck
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:19 PM   #4
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Also run latencymon to check for bottlenecks

https://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

12g ram from 6gb has been my best upgrade

Last edited by Coachz; 06-01-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:44 PM   #5
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Thanks gents. My performance goals are modest and should be well handled as it's literally twice the machine my old one is in the major specs. I'm currently happy with my interface which sounds good, has very playable latency and has never had a failure or problem of any kind. I don't expect that to change but we'll see and reevaluate if needed. I do disable and remove bloatware as needed. Latencymon looks awesome, thanks!

Any thoughts on SSDs? Did you guys try them and weren't impressed? Consensus elsewhere seems to be that it's a huge improvement.
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:56 PM   #6
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Lots of people here love the ssds. If you have the funds to spend on one you won't be sorry as it's another positive performance Improvement
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Old 06-02-2019, 01:33 AM   #7
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You could also get a USB enclosure for your HDD and use it for extra storage/backup! No need to discard t.

dB
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Old 06-02-2019, 03:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Bob View Post
You could also get a USB enclosure for your HDD and use it for extra storage/backup! No need to discard t.

dB
I just ordered one of these for backups.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:32 AM   #9
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The SSD is literally the one significant system performance increase in the last 10 years whereas CPU speeds (on the high end machines) have plateaued. The HDD was the biggest bottleneck in the system.

Was the HDD a showstopper? No. And yes, you can still run projects with 100's of tracks from one.

Make your system drive a SSD. Everything else will get fast and instantaneous while you're serving that audio. You WILL notice the ability to seek instantly around the project no matter how many edits you're doing and with 96k audio and all that.

If you want mad storage on that laptop, I think someone makes a 4TB 2.5" HDD nowadays. (Continue to stay away from Seagate though.) You could put in whatever size SSD you need and want to spend on and then a large HDD for a data drive.
However, since you can get a 1TB SSD for $150 now, you might just want to keep it simple and just install that if that covers it. (If you do have a M.2 bay machine, those SSD's are going to be a little more expensive.)

There's no more risk with SSD's either. Some people like to run wild with worry because they heard the failure scenario can be more instantaneous vs HDD. They each have their fragile points. HDD's more so actually. If you don't back up your drives with clones... you know, why not just delete all your data right now and get it over with right?
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
The SSD is literally the one significant system performance increase in the last 10 years whereas CPU speeds (on the high end machines) have plateaued. The HDD was the biggest bottleneck in the system.

Was the HDD a showstopper? No. And yes, you can still run projects with 100's of tracks from one.

Make your system drive a SSD. Everything else will get fast and instantaneous while you're serving that audio. You WILL notice the ability to seek instantly around the project no matter how many edits you're doing and with 96k audio and all that.

If you want mad storage on that laptop, I think someone makes a 4TB 2.5" HDD nowadays. (Continue to stay away from Seagate though.) You could put in whatever size SSD you need and want to spend on and then a large HDD for a data drive.
However, since you can get a 1TB SSD for $150 now, you might just want to keep it simple and just install that if that covers it. (If you do have a M.2 bay machine, those SSD's are going to be a little more expensive.)

There's no more risk with SSD's either. Some people like to run wild with worry because they heard the failure scenario can be more instantaneous vs HDD. They each have their fragile points. HDD's more so actually. If you don't back up your drives with clones... you know, why not just delete all your data right now and get it over with right?
For me RAM was my biggest bottleneck. Going from 6GB to 12GB changed my performance and all I have is plain old sata hard drives. Going SSD and staying at 6GB would have been no bueno.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:42 AM   #11
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For me RAM was my biggest bottleneck. Going from 6GB to 12GB changed my performance and all I have is plain old sata hard drives. Going SSD and staying at 6GB would have been no bueno.
Well yeah, all the pieces have to be in place!
That fast engine isn't going to do anything without gas in the tank (for the shitty car analogy).

You need both!

Are you a sample player?

I still see big mixing projects with 300 tracks and all that using 4GB ram.
On the other hand, I can leave a project with some crashy Soundtoys plugins open overnight and see 30GB of ram in use the next morning from the memory leaks!

Not sure what my point is beyond ripping on Soundtoys programming...

I'd put at least 8GB in a machine nowadays.
16GB if you're doing anything ram intensive. (Like browsing the internet has become apparently. I catch Firefox churning through 12GB ram every now and then!)


With a SSD, you'll get used to snappy response with everything and no matter how much multitasking you do. Again, seeking in the arrange window in a Reaper project. Try to go back to a machine running off a HDD after just a week and you WILL notice! It's not just the 3.7 second boot time.

Heh, and if you do run out of ram, paging will be faster. /s

Last edited by serr; 06-02-2019 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:52 AM   #12
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yup. my hd boot time averages about 3 or 4 minutes before I'm ready to go and the drives have quit whirring like crazy. I like to run samples for sure and it was page swap city at 6gb. I wish sleep/hibernate mode worked on my computer but it keeps waking up on it's own despite me trying to turn off everything related.
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Old 06-02-2019, 09:49 AM   #13
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I just upgraded from a 480gb sata SSD to a 1tb nvme SSD. Boot time, from button press to usable desktop, went from about 45 seconds to about 30. I-6700, 16 GB RAM.

Boot time on my prior hardware was in the 6-7 minute range, although it was DDR2/socket 775 era. Still, any SSD makes an excellent improvement that you'll never want to go back on after you get it.

Cloning from the sata drive to the nvme drive was a bit of a pain, involving some errors that required googling and command line entries that I had to read off my phone. If you have bloatware, you may want to consider a clean install rather than a clone. Thats a different post.

Regarding durability, if that is a concern, you'll likely want a drive that uses TLC, or triple level cell, flash. The write cycles on these drives is good enough for 95 percent of users.

I believe HP has a TLC 1tb nvme for about $200.

I got one of the new Intel 660p drives that uses quad level cell flash, and it has 1/3 or maybe 1/2 the durability of the TLC drives. The main tradeoff is that it was <$120 including tax. I plan to upgrade again before it gets close to its limits.
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:19 PM   #14
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@Coachz: Yah, I'm really looking forward to 16 GB RAM. Had 8 and although it was within the rec of the software I want to run (Soundtank 3) it was indeed no bueno. Never heard of 12, how does that work? You have 3 slots?

That drive station looks pretty sweet for $30.

@serr: Yah, you're full SSD, right, and obviously you take this stuff seriously. I had heard about the SSD/HDD thing some time ago, like when 128 GB units went for hundreds lol. It makes sense SSDs would have improved. But I thought I should ask. That being said, I think I am going to do the SSD/HDD at least to get things up and running, evaluate from there. M2s are actually crazy cheap it seems, unless I'm missing something, have the wrong one or whatever. Like here's a 500GB Crucial for $66:
https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-500GB...search&sr=8-22
But I'ma wait and get the machine and physically and visually confirm what I need. Like I see there's two incompatible formats, 1 notch and 2. Don't wanna ass-ume anything lol.

@reason: Oh, so there are different levels. I'm starting to feel more confident about that though, even this cheap one has a 5 year warranty, and I see in the comments someone asking about write issues to which they reply that you can write 200 TB to it which is >100 GB every day for 5 years. According to them. Which I realize a heavy user could exceed but I think it'd work for me.

Thanks guys! Good good stuff.
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:41 PM   #15
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yes, 3 + 3 slots on Gigabyte_GA-X58A-UD7 mb

https://www.ascendtech.us/mmASC/Imag...x58aud7top.jpg
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:45 AM   #16
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Just an FYI.... I am using three, 1-TB SSD with my WinXP for music and they are doing just fine. All are SeaGates. And yes, they will work with XP, even though they say in writing that they won't....
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Old 06-03-2019, 10:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred garvin View Post
@Coachz: Yah, I'm really looking forward to 16 GB RAM. Had 8 and although it was within the rec of the software I want to run (Soundtank 3) it was indeed no bueno. Never heard of 12, how does that work? You have 3 slots?

That drive station looks pretty sweet for $30.

@serr: Yah, you're full SSD, right, and obviously you take this stuff seriously. I had heard about the SSD/HDD thing some time ago, like when 128 GB units went for hundreds lol. It makes sense SSDs would have improved. But I thought I should ask. That being said, I think I am going to do the SSD/HDD at least to get things up and running, evaluate from there. M2s are actually crazy cheap it seems, unless I'm missing something, have the wrong one or whatever. Like here's a 500GB Crucial for $66:
https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-500GB...search&sr=8-22
But I'ma wait and get the machine and physically and visually confirm what I need. Like I see there's two incompatible formats, 1 notch and 2. Don't wanna ass-ume anything lol.

@reason: Oh, so there are different levels. I'm starting to feel more confident about that though, even this cheap one has a 5 year warranty, and I see in the comments someone asking about write issues to which they reply that you can write 200 TB to it which is >100 GB every day for 5 years. According to them. Which I realize a heavy user could exceed but I think it'd work for me.

Thanks guys! Good good stuff.
That Crucial drive is also QLC, same as the Intel. Anandtech has a good review:
https://www.anandtech.com/show/13512...1tb-ssd-review
I literally found out about it the day after my Intel arrived; for an extra $10 I'd have gotten it instead due to the extra ram, but oh well.

TLC and QLC refer to the way the cells are used - QLC requires more voltage to write a value, which damages the cell over time. This causes lower durability and slower writes as compared to TLC, but allows for higher density.

If you're concerned about durability, I'd go with a TLC drive. Depending on who you believe, the HP EX950 is rated for either 650TBW (Anandtech) or 1400TBW (Amazon), and 0.36 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) compared to the Crucial's 200TBW and 0.1 DWPD.
https://www.amazon.com/HP-EX950-Inte...dp/B07MZDXQ6C/
https://www.anandtech.com/show/13818...50-m2-nvme-ssd

One note: M.2 refers to the physical form factor of the drive, NOT the connection type. That will be either NVME or SATA. The latter has slower throughput, although practically speaking, not significantly so.

If I were you I'd probably format the existing 2TB drive after getting your SSD up and running and use it for storage on the machine. Another option, as someone pointed out, would be to get an external case for it, which would also allow you to use it as a target when cloning your SSD for backup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordonDavid
Just an FYI.... I am using three, 1-TB SSD with my WinXP for music and they are doing just fine. All are SeaGates. And yes, they will work with XP, even though they say in writing that they won't....
My understanding is that XP doesn't have the logic necessary to do wear-leveling, so it's possible that certain portions of the drive will go bad before others, depending on the firmware of the drive. Glad to hear you're experience is good, but it's not necessarily automatic or universal.
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Old 06-03-2019, 11:22 AM   #18
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That Crucial drive is also QLC, same as the Intel. Anandtech has a good review:
https://www.anandtech.com/show/13512...1tb-ssd-review
I literally found out about it the day after my Intel arrived; for an extra $10 I'd have gotten it instead due to the extra ram, but oh well.

TLC and QLC refer to the way the cells are used - QLC requires more voltage to write a value, which damages the cell over time. This causes lower durability and slower writes as compared to TLC, but allows for higher density.

If you're concerned about durability, I'd go with a TLC drive. Depending on who you believe, the HP EX950 is rated for either 650TBW (Anandtech) or 1400TBW (Amazon), and 0.36 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) compared to the Crucial's 200TBW and 0.1 DWPD.
https://www.amazon.com/HP-EX950-Inte...dp/B07MZDXQ6C/
https://www.anandtech.com/show/13818...50-m2-nvme-ssd

One note: M.2 refers to the physical form factor of the drive, NOT the connection type. That will be either NVME or SATA. The latter has slower throughput, although practically speaking, not significantly so.

If I were you I'd probably format the existing 2TB drive after getting your SSD up and running and use it for storage on the machine. Another option, as someone pointed out, would be to get an external case for it, which would also allow you to use it as a target when cloning your SSD for backup.
I saw that HP! Started looking for TLC after you mentioned that. Seems like it might be worth the extra $20. That's probably exactly what I'll do with that 2TB. Yah, I wasn't ever gonna just throw it away lol, I'll definitely find a use for it one way or another. Thanks man!
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Old 06-03-2019, 10:05 PM   #19
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Folks,
SSDs are the way to go from now on for everything.
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:20 AM   #20
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Folks,
SSDs are the way to go from now on for everything.
What about for archiving? Don't old style hard drives have longer retention?
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:00 AM   #21
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@serr: Yah, you're full SSD, right, and obviously you take this stuff seriously. I had heard about the SSD/HDD thing some time ago, like when 128 GB units went for hundreds lol. It makes sense SSDs would have improved. But I thought I should ask. That being said, I think I am going to do the SSD/HDD at least to get things up and running, evaluate from there. M2s are actually crazy cheap it seems, unless I'm missing something, have the wrong one or whatever. Like here's a 500GB Crucial for $66:
https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-500GB...search&sr=8-22
But I'ma wait and get the machine and physically and visually confirm what I need. Like I see there's two incompatible formats, 1 notch and 2. Don't wanna ass-ume anything lol.
Both actually.
I use SSDs for the system drives and the high performance audio workspace on the Mac Pro.
I have 2TB and 4TB HDDs for data drives.
I still have a SSD and a 1TB HDD in my Macbook Pro too.

You can certainly run a lot of projects off the HDD without a hitch. Again though, if you are working on a projects with many edits and a few hundred tracks, you'll get little GUI pauses if you try to go wild seeking all over (plunking the play head around quickly). It's just 100% full speed zero lag with a SSD.

Back when I first started running live sound with Reaper with a late 2008 2.8GHz C2D laptop, a SSD was required to let me simultaneously record all the multitrack to files. An HDD would have been too much of a bottleneck in the system.

M.2 are coming down in price like everything else it looks like.
Haven't had the opportunity to switch and honestly, both SATA2 and SATA3 are fast enough bus speeds with SATA SSDs that it's a moot point in my systems currently. Not a bottleneck. And the newer Apple machines that use M.2 are disposable garbage so...

There ARE some "in-between" M.2-like formats to watch out for too! And this includes some Apple machines. I don't have a complete list of all the in-between ones in front of me. That would be a cool post if someone has notes on that!

I remember a forum post a while ago from a Dell user that discovered their M.2 slot was proprietary and either not compatible with standard M.2 or it was something like couldn't boot from it unless they hacked their EFI firmware.

Spend a minute looking things up for your machine!
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