PC, hard disk/ssd setup

Hi all,
I have been working with Cubase for several years but so far had installed Cubase as well as all my VST plugins and libraries on the same hard drive. As I am buying a new computer right now (Dell XPS 8900 with i7, 32 GB) I would like to set up my system in the best possible way. The new desktop computer has an internal 256 GB SSD as well as a 2 TB 7200 rpm hard drive. Additionally, I have bought a Samsung Portable SSD T1 (USB 3.0) with 1 TB.
As I own a substantial amount of plugins and larger orchestral libraries I was wondering what the optimal way is to set up the system… I believe the new Dell has windows preinstalled on the hdd, not the SSD. Questions:

  1. should I download Cubase on the internal SSD?
  2. how about the plugins/libraries? Initially, I didn’t plan to buy a new PC (that’s why I bought the external Samsung SSD), but my older one broke down. Should I install the plugins/libraries on the internal HDD or the external SSD? Maybe this is a stupid question, but would the HDD be quicker being internal vs. external, or is the SSD quicker even being external and connected via USB 3.0? Anything else to consider in the setup using several hard disk drives?
  3. should I save projects on the third drive or can it be on the same as the libs?
  4. Do I need to start from scratch and download/install all my plugins (30+) once more or can I copy from my old hard drive somehow?

Thanks for your support.

1 - Put the os and programs on the internal ssd. The best benefit to get from an ssd is the quick boot and opening of programs. You should be able to run many many audio tracks on a regular 7200 rpm disk without any problems.

2 - Put project/audio files on the internal 7200 disk.

3 - Put sample library on the usb3 ssd.

You might be able to switch 2 and 3 without any problems - depends on how intensely you use sample libraries.


Hi Tom,
Thanks a lot, very much appreciated!

I’d buy another big internal SSD for the sample libraries - I wouldn’t have anything on an external disk unless I had to. The hardware access path to externally attached data is much longer and more likely to cause real time audio issues from stalled interrupts. Unless money is tight just load the box up with internal SSDs. They are silent - consume less energy (meaning the power supply may run cooler and quieter) and the internal SATA interface will be more responsive latency wise. Absolute transfer speed is not that relevant to DAWs, latency is. Unless you wanted to take sample libraries around with you I cannot fathom why you’d want to burden your DAW with external disk access over USB.

Trade your external SSD to someone for an internal version. Many small electronics shops will be glad to help you in this trade

YOU will benefit by instant loads on your sound libraries. It is not a loss to you… its actually a GAIN … usage wise.

OTHER option is to search for “teardown” guides for your external SSD. SOME standard SATA units can be removed from the case and used internally. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS UNLESS YOU ARE QUITE SKILLED.

Late to the party on this thread but to confirm it’s better to use an SSD for samples instead of the actual projects and audio if I only have one SSD? I already have an SSD running my OS.

Is writing audio to an SSD not any better than to a SATA HDD?


Not “better” or “worse” as such, it’s just that 7200rpm HDDs have been more than ample in terms of performance for many, many tracks of audio for years now. You can of course record to an SSD but you would be wasting the performance of the SSD, because even the busiest audio project is only going to use a fraction of the bandwidth available (typically ~500MBytes/s).

It depends upon the numbers of audio tracks vs samplers.

Also, for lowest latencies, you never want to be running any data channel anywhere near maximum capacity. See my SoundsOnline post about this.