Question FireCuda/SSHD for OS?

subterminal303

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Howdy folks!

Is the 3.5" 2TB FireCuda a good drive for an OS + media storage? If so, is it worth almost double the price of a regular 7200RPM Barracuda that has a much larger cache? Yes, I know SSDs are optimal for normal computer setups, but I don't think it is practical in my case.

I came across an old desktop computer (i5 ~2nd gen, 8GB RAM, 1 SATA3/3 SATA2 ports) that I am going to repurpose as a PleX media server for my house. All of the video files are 1080p and it will only be streaming to one TV at a time, so the specs don't have to be too crazy. I don't want to spend much money on this, and I believe the limited SATA ports are best used for large storage drives of my movies + music.
 

Satan-IR

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I personally wouldn't spend that much on a single 2TB drive with a little SSD capacity (a fancy cache) for that purpose.

You can get two regular 2TBs and RAID them for higher performance. Although I think the regular SATA throughput plus a 7200 RPM drive is enough for streaming 1080p to a single TV.

If not a RAID you'd have double the archiving capacity, however, that depends on how limited those "limited SATA ports" really are.
 
Hey OP. First off, thanks for considering Seagate, regardless of which route you determine is the best fit for your needs in the end! How the FireCuda works is that it has an SSD cache on which the drive intuitively places the data you're accessing most frequently as you use the drive more and more, and then has a conventional spinning capacity for the rest of your data. So the benefit would be that the OS would likely be in the SSD cache, but the media being served up via Plex would likely behave much like a traditional hard drive.
 

subterminal303

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First off, thanks for considering Seagate
I know it's essentially luck of the draw, but I've always seemed to have good luck with you guys (Seagate) drives whereas I've had quite a bit of issues with other manufacturers. So thanks for that.

Plus, I guess I kinda owe Seagate... I used to work as a skydive instructor next to a Seagate plant. On occasion, random issues such as wind would cause me to land on Seagate's property, which always led to a few gentlemen promptly escorting me off. They didn't find it amusing when I once asked for the tour...
 
Few will choose RAID 0 with spinners anymore for home use...as even a single SATA SSD rivals the read speeds of 4-5 hard drives in RAID 0 anyway.

I pretty much relegate the spinning drives for storage needs that exceed 2 TB....
 

popatim

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IMO, raid 0 to stream over a network or just to a tv is useless. If you want more space just get a bigger drive to begin with.

I would suggest a small SSD for the OS and a regular HDD for your data.
You even save money over getting a firecuda which would be a waste in this setup since it only caches frequently used files; how often are you going to stream the same show all this time so that it gets cached? I imagine never unless you have toddler in the house <grin>

Hmm. That gets me wondering if Firecuda needs to spin up the drive even if the file is in cache. Not worth buying one to test for that though. LoL
 

subterminal303

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I would suggest a small SSD for the OS and a regular HDD for your data.
I can potentially use a SSD if I get large HDDs (8TB+) to make up for the SSD. However, my question is if those large of HDDs are fairly reliable these days. The last time I had to look into large HDDs (years ago) they were considered not as reliable because of the extra platters, etc.

Edit to add: Is an SSD even going to make that big of a difference for streaming stuff once the server is up and running for my light load?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
SSD (250GB) for the OS and applications, and whatever size HDD you need for all that other data.
A FireCuda is not much faster in that use than a standard HDD.

Once the system is running, the cache of the FireCuda is of no use. Whatever video you're about to stream to some other device is not in the cache space, and is read at regular HDD speed.
 
SSHDs are a very niche product.

Pros:
  • As fast as a (small) SSD on cached content
  • That's it
Cons (compared to a SSD)
  • Writes are as slow as a HDD
  • Reads for uncached content are as slow as a HDD
  • SSD cache is typically only 8-16 GB, so will only get you about 200-300 MB/s sequential read speeds. However...
  • Large sequential files (e.g. movies) don't really benefit from a cache this small compared to a HDD (about 100-150 MB/s), so these large files aren't cached. The cache is used almost exclusively for small files.
  • HDDs absolutely suck at reading small files (around 1 MB/s), so the SSD cache really helps IF the small files are cached. It'll make your OS boot nearly as quickly as a full SSD, but that's about it.
  • WD SSHDs have an annoyingly short head parking timeout, which will make your OS stutter if used as a system drive. I know you said you're looking at the Seagate, I'm just throwing that in in case someone in the future searching for SSHDs runs across this.
Basically, aside from making your OS boot up faster, I'd say SSHDs are only a marginal improvement over a HDD. I only recommend them if you've got an older laptop which can take a single 2.5" drive, AND you need large capacity (like 2-4 TB), AND you want small file speeds faster than a HDD. If you meet those narrow requirements, then I recommend a SSHD.

- If your system can take multiple drives, a SSD + HDD is always preferable to a SSHD.

- If your system can take only a single drive and you don't need the large capacity (or can't afford it), then a plain SSD is preferable.

- If your system can take only a single drive and you need capacity but don't really care about boot speed or program startup speed, then a HDD is usually preferable. I suppose if the SSHD only costs $20-$30 more, might as well go for it.

In your particular case, a 5400 RPM HDD is fine for streaming, even multiple simultaneous streams. Even the 7200 RPM drive you've specified is overkill.
  • A decent 1080p encode is about 5 Mbps (0.6 MB/s), and a modern 5400 RPM HDD can usually hit 100 MB/s sequential read speeds. Even a raw Blu-Ray rip (about 35 Mbps) will come nowhere close to taxing a modern HDD.
  • As a Plex server is going to be left on 24/7, the faster OS boot speed of a SSHD is pointless.
  • And since you're not running any apps (besides Plex), the cache will pretty much never be used.
So just go with HDDs. If you want, you can find some used 32GB or 64GB SSDs on eBay. Use that as your boot drive, and install Plex for Linux. Use HDDs for the media.
 

Satan-IR

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That's an interesting idea if I need the speed. Let me ask this: do larger capacity drives still carry a higher risk of failure? Or have they improved in those regards?

Not really, they are pretty much the same as smaller capacity drives as far as MTBF is concerned.

Personal experience the largest drives I had were two 4TB ones one WD and one Seagare both of which worked OK for nearly two years and then I gave them to a friend last year and he's not mentioned anything about them failing or having problems. That's almost 3 years.

You mentioned limited SATA ports. If the nuber of ports allow you can get a single large HDD (4TB or larger) and a smaller SSD for the OS and streaming software. As I said before you'd be OK with throughput speed of a SATA HDD for streaming to a TV. This all depends on your budget though, to get a SSD + HDD or a just single larger HDD etc.
 

drivinfast247

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I have a dedicated PC for Plex server dutys. I have one 2tb HDD(Seagate Barracuda), 1 4tb HDD(WD Red)and the OS is installed on a NVMe. I can stream multiple 4k sources not to mention 1080p is nothing compared to 4k. I have ZERO issues with waiting for movies to buffer or load. It'll do this while hosting an Insurgency server without issues.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
One thing...I would NOT put the OS and applications on the same physical drive as all your content.
If you ever want to reinstall or change to a different OS, or change to a different drive, it will be much easier if the OS lives on its own drive.

So, for me, that would absolutely negate a single 2TB FireCuda or whatever.
 

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