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Optimal disk configuration: looking for feedback on these five potential configs...

Apr 19, 2012 10:44 AM

In designing an i7-2600K desktop solely for Lightroom, I am looking at five possible storage configurations:


1) Everything on a 2TB 7200 rpm SATA 6Gb/s HDD w/ 64MB cache


2) OS on small HDD, LR catalog, previews and Camera Raw cache on 2TB HDD (keeping OS separate would aid in portability in regards to backup / restore)


3) OS on small HDD, LR catalog, previews and CR cache on 64GB Crucial M4 SSD, and negatives on 2TB HDD


4) OS on 64GB M4 SSD, LR catalog, previews and CR cache on 2nd 64GB M4 SSD, and all negatives on 2TB HDD (again, portability)


5) OS AND LR catalog & previews all on a 128GB M4 SSD while using the aforementioned 2TB HDD for negatives (wouldn't #4 be a better solution?)


(sidenote: should I consider any sort of software RAID configuration?)


Right now I'm running a 1.3GB .lrcat file referencing 89,000 RAW files (previews total 47GB, CR cache currently at 2GB) off a slower 5400 rpm external 2.5" USB 2.0 drive. The computer is a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro w/ 4GB RAM. While I have zero gripes with the time it takes to import, render, etc, I am having MAJOR issues with slow thumbnail loading. For example, I will frequently have to wait ten minutes upon starting up LR in order to view a thumbnail grid display of even two hundred thumbnails. The time has come to do something about this. I've done tests with new catalogs of, say, only five hundred RAW files, all running locally off the internal 250GB HDD (also 5400rpm), and the results aren't all THAT much better, maybe 15% at most. So I think it's time to step up to a desktop with 7200rpm drives and perhaps even some sort of SSD configuration. Ultimately I'm trying to discern whether or not to spend the $80 or $160 on SSD(s). $160 saved is, well, $160 saved. Also still debating on i5 vs i7 processor, but at least I am firm on 16GB RAM and no video card!

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    Apr 19, 2012 12:06 PM   in reply to DFD08

    I run three discs.  I decided not to get a SSD on cost grounds but if I had, I'd configure thus:


    SSD - Operating system and programmes ( I use a 500 Gb HDD)

    LR cat and backups on second 500 Gb HDD

    Pictures and other document files on a 2 Tb HDD


    This helps guard agains disc failure although, of course, everything is also backed p on an external HDD as well.


    If you are getting a separate GPU, there is no need to go for the i7-2600K. The non-K version is fine. The K version has slightly improved graphics and the ability to overclock, which I am not interested in. Otherwise the performance is identical.

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    Apr 19, 2012 5:24 PM   in reply to DFD08
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    Apr 19, 2012 10:38 PM   in reply to EricBier

    I just recently changed my hardware:


    -Sony Vaio Quad Core i7 ( 2 years old with 500GB HDD and nvidia Geforce GT330M)

    -8 GB RAM ( is the maximum)

    -Removed the DVD drive and added an 1TB HDD (only data, images etc.)

    -Replaced the 500GB HDD by an 128 GB SSD (system, software, ACR cache, LR catalogue,settings etc.)

    -24'' display


    Currently there is 50GB free space on the SSD, the ACR is set to a max. of 30GB, my catalogue has about 70k images.


    I'm very happy with the boost of performance now. Plus I'm able to carry the majority of my images with me. Before I had to move images to an external HDD due to a lack of disk space.


    Running LR 4.1RC and not having that big trouble others reporting with performance. Feels almost like LR3.6 that I had running under this configuration before switching to 4.0 and then 4.1


    The above mentioned article helped me to decide how to setup my system and is worth to be read!




    PS: Not running a raid. I have a bunch of external HDDs, that I'm able to switch on and off from within Win 7, where I store my backups and  where my archive resides. Was thinking of whether to buy a Mac Powerbook or a PC back then and the double price of the Mac with similar hardware made me decide to buy the Vaio. Reading about bugs and performance issues in the forums I feel that the Mac users are more threatened at the moment...

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    Apr 20, 2012 10:59 AM   in reply to DFD08

    DFD08 wrote:


    Thanks for the reply! How's speed and performance (especially in thumbnail display and loading) and how large is your catalog? Do you regret not getting an SSD?


    Yes, disk failure is why I'd like to separate OS from everything else, including user data.


    No video card, actually, hence the 2600K (or the i5-2500K, only a $50 savings...). Not interested in overclocking.

    I find it pretty quick but as I've never used a SSD I don't know what I am missing!  I have 20,000 photos in my catalogue. 


    The advantge of the i-7 processor is four cores/8 threads against 2 cores/4 threads and I believe that speeds up Photoshop and possibly LR too.  Certainly some of my Photoshop actions now render immediately whereas I used to wait a few seconds on my previous computer, which was no slouch.

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    Apr 20, 2012 12:03 PM   in reply to C-OW

    How do you configure Windows so as to be able to switch externally connected drives on or off?  Haven't run into that before.

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    Apr 20, 2012 4:03 PM   in reply to Steve House

    Hi Steve,


    hope I can put that in proper English...




    I was sick of the five 3,5" external HDDs on my desk. One had a switch on the back, the other had no switch so I had to plug and unplug the cord. That's because I'm convinced that a drive for backups is ought to be running only when needed. The other time it should be disconnected from power. I don't think that Raids are sufficient for backups as some say.


    So I bought this relay card and stacked the HDDs in an old, unused PC housing, connected it's power supply to the relay card and hooked up the HDD's power cords to the relay.The card comes with a software/GUI for Windows that enables you to switch the relay individually on and off. As the card has only a serial connector I got this adapter to connect it to an USB Port of my notebook.


    I have to admit that the card software is not very user friendly:




    So I asked a colleague of mine to write a little VB code that makes it easier to use:




    Waiting for him to complete the software ;-)




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