Save Some $$$ for those SSDs

Just bought a new machine: GTX 1070, 32G RAM, i7 6800k, SSDs etc.I have three drives, two SSDs and one mechanical. I have a folder on my SSD  that is also duplicated on the HD. I tested the machine when I got home and it was flying. Couple days later, I was working on one of the clips in that same folder, and the computer was ridiculously slower. I couldn't understand why it was so slow all of a sudden, until I realized that that clip (with the same name) was on the duplicate folder on the HD. 
Moral of this story: don't neglect those SSDs, they might be the most important part in the whole machine. People are always asking about graphic cards in this forum, and a good graphics card will undoubtedly make a big difference, but the SSDs make a HUGE difference. I had always heard that everywhere (including in this forum) but I'd never thought the improvement would be so dramatic. 
So my recommendation: when building a new machine, prioritize the SSDs.


  • Do you have a HDD in RAID with an SSD? You're killing performance that way, as it would run at the slowest disk speed in the chain, which is the HDD.

    If you just copied the folder, then fair enough. 

    This depends on what you're working with, if your files don't exceed a HDD's speed, then I don't see how an SSD would make a difference in HitFilm, I'm only using a HDD though.

    Apart from the access times I can't think of anything that would make HitFilm feel more responsive, care to share a video of the difference between the two, as well as a Mediainfo report of one of the files you're using?

  • @CNK (Stop changing your name, Kevin! ) HDD performance can be highly variable depending on how fragmented it is, how large the file is (larger files will read/write faster--assuming a defragged drive--than smaller files, believe it or not), etc, etc, etc.

    That said, a modern HDD is probably ok for any single video file up to 4K DNxHR, but, if you're reading multiple video files then the hard drive's read head has to physically keep moving around to different parts of the platter. This will start slowing things down. If you're rendering to disk and you've got a complicated shot where Hitfilm has to think for several seconds on each frame, then the HDD isn't doing a sustained write and keeps parking the head. This is (again) going to slow things down a lot. Let's pretend we're writing out a 1080p  image sequence 10 seconds long at 24 fps. After each frame is written, the head is parked. Let's say it takes a mere 10ms for the head to move into position (a good accurate average for current drives). Over 240 frames this adds 24,00 ms (2.4 seconds) to the render time of the project. And that's just additional time where the drive isn't doing anything!. Now, because each frame is about 2-3 MB these are short files (so not a sustained write). A Hard Drive might advertise a 120MB/s write speed, but that's for long sustained files. For a PNG sequence, try... 50MB/s. SSDs are closer to 500MB/s (or more!). So it might take 1/25th of a second for the HDD to write the file and 1/250th of a second for the SDD.

    I'm not even going to get into delays if the HDD has spun down the platter rotation. Which it probably has if we're writing PNGs from a file where Hitfilm is thinking for more than a few seconds each frame.

    And the SSD isn't moving a physical head and/or spinning up/down a drive, so I'm OVERESTIMATING the HDD speed, if anything.

    Also, these numbers assume a single video stream in the project with effects on it. Let's assume we're reading and writing to and from the same drive. We're rendering to the same drive the source footage is on.... Now add in that seek time each time the HDD needs to grab part of a different video source, then move back to the rendered file... Ok, let's use four source video clips in a heavy composite and a render file. That's five total files with a 15ms delay each time the HDD switches between files. 75ms per frame. 240 frames. Yeah, that's only 18 seconds, but other factors I haven't gotten into add more slowdown, and, of course, the SSD is faster at the actual writing.

    This all very very quickly adds up a lot more time for working with the HDD.

    That seek time (each time the head has to move to a new location), more than the drive's (theoretical) throughput is what really makes the SSD blazing fast.

    The above is from memory and oversimplified and I probably got some details wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the tech-ninjas (Aladdin, Norman and Stargazer) came along with corrections, but, point is, it's probably save to say that in real-world use an SSD is often at least 10 times faster than a single drive. RAIDS change this a bit, but there's still seek time latency to deal with, although spreading the read/write load across platters can help.

    edited September 2016

     Yep thats a feature that I found. Who is Kevin? XD

    Are consumer SSDs enough when saving time in the long run? A faster drive would write that 2 MB file even faster...

    Speaking of SSDs, my new PC is going to have nothing but SSDs and it is going to be connected to a router which has got a NAS connected to it with 2x 4 TB drives in RAID 1. 

    I have big plans for my long term storage and backup system. 

  • Yeah, even a consumer SSD is going to save time in the long AND short run. My estimate above were based on consumer SSDs.

    Incidentally, my current laptop--I'm adding a 1TB SSD as an active project drive and replacing a 1TB HDD with a 4TB HDD. The 4TB drive is "Library" and will hold stock elements--SFX, Graphics, Stock Video, etc. But, when I'm using a stock element it will be copied to the Project drive. Right now having the HDD as a combo library/project drive is the one weak link in  this beast.

  • I forgot to mention, the tracking wasn't done in HF, it was done in Ae. HF does everything faster than Ae so I used Ae for the tests. I used HF in some tests but was with 3D models (with Ambient oclusion, Casts Shadows, etc. turned on )and after 5 3D models on the composite shot, and a background HD video playing in the background it hadn't even started to lag. Amazing!

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