Holiday storage gifts for creative pros

Creative professionals are different from you and me: their productivity depends on fast storage - and lots of it. Here's how to make their life better with storage.

Creative professionals are different from you and me: their productivity depends on fast storage - and lots of it. Here's how to make their life better with storage.

We'll start with the CPU because that's where you get maximum bang for the buck. Then we'll move out the storage chain.

Whether it's music, photos or video, creative professionals need a lot of storage. A single high-quality music track can chew up 20 GB of capacity. Raw photos - the preferred professional format - average about a megabyte per megapixel. HD video can use 1 GB per minute or more.

That's a lot of storage. Let's start at the CPU and work our way out the storage chain.

DRAM The minimum DRAM for any professional today - notebook or desktop - is 4 GB. DRAM costs ≈$30/GB these days and it makes almost any operation go faster.

For video more is better. Even editing packages that are limited to addressing 4 GB - like Apple's Final Cut - benefit from additional DRAM because the OS and other programs need memory too. 8 GB is a reasonable capacity for video.

Fast drives SSDs improve boot and application startup times, but they aren't much better than disks for large files. Disk drives offer a lot more capacity for a lot less money and they handle large files well.

For notebook users the Seagate's Momentus XT combines the benefits of an SSD - faster startups - with the capacity of a disk. It will perk up any notebook computer.

Desktop users will love the new 600 GB WD Velociraptor. This is the only 10,000 RPM SATA drive and it speeds up every I/O. Pop one into a 2 year old desktop and you'll notice the difference right away.

3 TB drives are also making their way to market. Because the bits are more tightly packed together, these drives read and write data faster than smaller drives. Not as dramatic as at 10,000 RPM drive, but definitely a help.

Stocking stuffers The good news is that most proprietary and costly flash card formats are fading out in favor of SD and CF cards. SanDisk's Extreme and Extreme Pro cards and Lexar's Professional line are well-reviewed and widely used by professionals.

Lexar's USB UDMA CF and SD card reader is fast and reliable. There is also a FireWire 800 version that is even faster for Mac users and FW 800-equipped Wintel machines.

The Storage Bits take Pros have an unending need for speed. Lucky for us, storage keeps getting faster.

Comments welcome, of course.

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