Model A1224 / Mid 2007 and Early 2008 / 2, 2.4, or 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor

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Is it worth putting an SSD in the optical slot?

I am trying to work out whether it is worth putting an SSD into the optical bay of my '08 iMac (EMC2133). I have read the related questions about how to do this but my question is whether it is worth it?

My intention is to give my Mac a relatively inexpensive upgrade to speed my Photoshop work. Therefore, I am looking at pushing the RAM to 6GB (only realised through iFixIt that I could do that - thanks!), replace the internal HDD (320Gb) with a 3Tb one and replace the optical drive with a small-ish SSD, which will be used for my editing applications, the scratch disk for Photoshop and for my current projects. I may boot from it if there is space.

I read in a related article that because the PATA connection to the optical drive is only UATA/66, this dramatically reduces the speed of the SSD. I understand that the advantage of SSDs is more about random access than sequential. So... is this limitation so bad that it isn't worth installing an SSD in this way?

Grateful for any views, especially from anyone who has done it.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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Are you planning on doing a lot of Photoshop or other heavy I/O tasks? You may want to save your pennies and get a newer system (even used) which has two/three SATA ports. Then doing what you outlined.

If you're not doing that much Photoshop and are happy to stay with your current system. I would up the HD for sure. Don't forget the SATA I/O in this system is only 3.0Gb/s SATA II. Your new HD will need to be set for SATA II (likely a SATA III drive). Up the RAM to the max 2 - 2GB modules (matched set) for a total of 4Gb.

As to the optical drive leave it as is. Instead get an external FireWire 800 case and put your SSD into it. This I/O will be faster than the PATA interface (even with the FW I/O translation).

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I replaced the HDD with a 3Tb Barracuda, which is working great. I also upped the memory to 6Gb, which has also worked well when running Lightroom and Photoshop.

I also now have an SSD running in an external enclosure on FW800. I hoped this would be quicker than the HDD (old HDD benchmarked at ~50Mb/s) but it doesn't seem to give any advantage in my new set up. The new HDD runs at ~180Mb/s while the SSD comes in about 65Mb/s. I appreciate that the max speed of FW800 is 100MB/s. I cloned the HDD to the SDD to compare boot times. The HDD boots in around 25 secs, the SDD takes 50 secs. Is there any advantage of the SSD's random access, maybe Photoshop scratch disk, or will the HDD @ 180Mb/s still be better?

I guess I wasn't expecting such an advantage from the new HDD so that's good but I seem to now have an expensive but pointless SSD! Would it run more quickly than this over PATA/66 using the optical slot?

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Sorry no, the PATA speed is slower. You now have the best you can do with the limits of this systems hardware. Thats why I was pressing the HD and memory change out first.

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Many thanks Dan; I appreciate the advice. I'll have a play with using the SSD for the Photoshop scratch disk and see if the random access advantages outweigh the faster interface to the HDD.

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I wouldn't recommend doing an SSD on a PATA connection. It wouldn't be much faster than a regular hard drive.

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No, much worse! review your PATA, SATA & FireWire I/O standards to see the differences SATA is the fastest, FireWire 800 is next and PATA is the slowest.

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markstoter will be eternally grateful.
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