Last month was my birthday and saw the completion of another year on this green and blue planet that we call home. As a present to myself, I purchased a Blackmagic MultiDock 10g, which is something that I have wanted to get hold for many a year. In this short blog post, I give you a quick overview of what it is and provide some interesting speed test results.
There is one thing I think all fellow musicians will agree on, you can never have enough storage. Those sample libraries all sound very nice, but they consume a lot of disk space. Even some of the least hungry ones can consume anywhere from 10 - 40 gigabytes of disk space. For speedy access to these libraries, you will be wanting to run them from an SSD and these currently have limited capacity when compared to their mechanical HDD brethren. I briefly cover the reasons why you would want to run your sample libraries off an SSD in this article here.
When you start running out of space inside your PC to add drives, the only way to expand is by utilizing external storage. To maintain the speed you are looking at using USB3 or USB-C connections, unfortunately, USB2 just doesn't cut it and is not really a viable option. After much research, I decided to purchase a Blackmagic MultiDock 10g rackmount interface. This uses the USB-C connection and promises up to 10gb/sec read speed, which is way above what most SSD storage drives can provide and you should not run out of bandwidth any time soon.
Okay, enough of the overview time for some speed tests. To give you a comparison I have provided four-speed tests below. The first is from my internal M.2 drive and as expected this provides blindingly fast performance. The next internal test is from the SSD PCI-e card that houses two 1TB Crucial MX-500 drives and performs reasonably well. I should add here that due to the design of my PC case I am unable to house these drives in a conventional manner and attach them to the motherboard by SATA cables.
Samsung Evo 970 Plus m.2
The next two tests are the interesting ones as these are from the Blackmagic unit. You can see that running 4 drives or 2 drives on one cable does not provide much difference in terms of speed. The drives currently housed in this unit are 3 x Samsung 840evo drives and 1 x Samsung 850evo. The tests show that I am getting the same rated performance from these drives as though they were internal SATA connected drives.
Samsung 850 Evo with Two Bay switch engaged
Samsung 850 Evo with Four Bay switch engaged
For a more detailed overview of this dock I produced a brief video on my YouTube channel.
If you decide to follow my path and purchase one of these docks, there are a couple of things to be aware of. The first is that there are no connection leads within the box. All you get is the unit, no power lead and certainly, no USB-C leads. This is a shame considering the price you are paying for this unit and that not all USB-C leads are the same.
Yes, a USB-C cable is not necessarily going to provide you with USB-C type speeds so you will want to be careful when you make that purchase. I can recommend the following USB-C lead by Fasgear available from ye olde Amazon at a reasonable price. This is the lead I used to provide the speed tests that you can see in this post.
The question then remains, should you buy one. If you have a spare 19-inch rack space in your studio and wonder what to fill it with and you require more drive storage space, then go for it. Despite the initial issues regarding sourcing the right USB-C cable, I cannot recommend this unit enough. It runs whisper quiet and provides hot-swapping storage for your libraries. The problem you may have is finding somewhere that stocks these units as they do sell pretty quick.
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