best hard drive configuration for photoshop?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ~Lukasdp, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. ~Lukasdp macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2007
    My 2.8 Quad core is in the mail. As I up grade the RAM over the next few months I'm curious as to your thoughts on the best possible hard drive configuration to get the best performance out of photoshop.
    In terms of scratch disks and boot drives, should PS be installed on the boot drive or not? separate from the scratch disk? how big should the scratch disk be? my files in PS never get bigger then 1gig, and I only have 1 or 2 open at a time. solid state drives sound fancy but I dont much care if PS takes 10 seconds or 1 second to load, I want it to run fast no open fast so I dont think I need to get into SS drives but I'm open to your thoughts!
    my macPro will come with a 1TB 7200 HD and I have a 1TB 7200 external connected Via Firewire 800, is this an option for the scratch disk or should that be internal?

  2. JulianBoolean macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    Hi Lucas,

    There's a lot of options available to you, it's really a matter of budget, intentions, usage etc.. hard to know where to start. But I can at least, dive right in, and do my best to help with some of your questions. :)

    Most users keep PS (and all the other apps) right on the boot disk with the OS.

    It's best to allocate your photoshop scratch to a dedicated drive, (or two or three) who's sole mission in life is to handle that laborious task. In terms of size needed for scratch, that depends which route you take and how the rest of your system is configured. There is no definitive answer or formula either way. It's best to test your ram usage, and scratch activity on a typical image, doing the typical things you do.

    If you go the SSD route, then budget will most likely be your deciding factor. There is a decent small volume 40GB SSD on the market for a hair over 100 dollars. At that price, use it for as long as it lasts, and throw it away with out much suffering. A high end retouching workstation will most likely use 2-3 SSDs for scratch.

    If you go mechanical drive(s) for scratch, then you'll probably end up with a 1TB drive. You'll see they aren't much more expensive than 750 or 500GB drives, but you'll pay a premium for the 2TB drives. The short answer is that the 1TB HD will most likely be more than you need, and you'll benefit greatly from partitioning, aka "short stroking" it, so that the scratch goes on the fastest part of the spin.

    There are benefits to putting your OS + Apps on an SSD, besides faster boot times, but if photoshop is your main squeeze, and you only have budget for 1 ssd, I'd make that ssd a scratch disk.

    Scratch on an external FW will work, I've done it myself in a pinch, but it's far from ideal in terms of speed/bandwidth. Since you already have it, it might be better suited as a back up drive, where speed is less an issue.

    Q: A quick drive around your website indicates you might be working as an independent professional?
    Q: What version are you running CS3, 4, 5?

  3. ~Lukasdp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2007
    thanks for the detailed answers! my main question was wether I should grab a 2nd hard drive before the tower gets here, but from the sounds of it I can add a 2nd drive as a scratch disk down the road as I upgrade the machine. Perfect!

    and yes Im a freelancing pro, now interested in getting into a retouching house either in Vancouver or Toronto. For now I work at VRX studios part time manually blending HDR architectural work and spend the rest of my week working for photographers who need hi end retouching work.
    Im using photoshop CS5.

    thanks again!
  4. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    If you check out, Lloyd Chambers has done a lot of research and testing on Photoshop performance.

    The takeaway on scratch for CS5 is it isn't nearly the issue it was on earlier versions due to the 64 bit memory addressing. Lloyd's recommendation is to put enough RAM in and don't sweat the scratch disk.

    I am putting 12 GB RAM in my 3.2 quad with a SSD for OS+apps. I am putting the scratch on a spare 7200 PRM drive and monitor how things run. Worst case I get one of the OWC 50 GB RE SSD's in the future.

    If I were you, I would put the OS+apps on the SSD, everything else on the HD and see what happens. I have several 1 & 2 TB drives, so I can spread things around a bit more.
  5. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    digiloyd is usually good but his recent stuff like SSD raid 0 boot partition scratch a bad idea ?
    his partitioned working raid 0 and bu on that raid 0 is really stupid ? strange he is usually good so his HDD setup I say avoid like the plague !!!!!
    basically any one disc failure in his system major hoses you !!!!!!

    Julian hit most the key things

    PS scratch on SSD is quickest but max your memory out first !
    even a 40 GB SSD for PS scratch then just allocate your second scratch as your next fastest HDD !!
    always have at least two drives checked incase one fills up if you work on large files !

    as mentioned CS5 and SL is a must to get speed :)

    I have a post production company for pro photographers :) we only work with pros not direct with clients since I am also a photographer who had a good rep to start with it was easier for me to break into the biz so to say :)
  6. JulianBoolean macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    Ya man, agreed. I think LLoyd puts a premium on the speed numbers, for the sake of speed numbers. He's a guy that tinkers, and tests, and God love him for that. But not a guy who grinds the retouching out 10 hours a day, and the way he configures his stuff shows that. My hunch is that working up to 1GB files, the OP will be hitting the scratch even with 32GB of ram, I certainly do.


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