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priddye
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Question about Photoshop scratch disk and specific setup

May 19, 2013 6:01 AM

Tags: #windows_7 #pc #scratch #ssd #scratch_disk #photoshop_cs6

Hi Folks

 

Thanks for the help in advance.

 

I'm a novice and need help finding a solution to a new PC Build. (Windows 7 Pro 64bit with Photoshop CS6)

 

I only recently found out about having a scratch disk dedicated for photoshop (very novice i know ), and was wondering if a 120-128GB SSD would be enough? (Please bear in mind I can't fit large SSD raid configs to my budget, plus I live in New Zealand, so prices are higher for SSD at the moment). 

 

I only edit single camera RAW files at a time around 25mb per file, with no large amount of layers and very rarely do large images i.e. Panorama etc.  I have searched the forums but could not find a concrete answer.

 

My setup was originally meant for a HTPC (I don't intend to overclock), but I will also be using it for light photography projects. Specs below:

 

CPU: Intel i7 3770

Mobo: Asrock B75 Pro3-M (or Asus P8H77m Pro, depending on budget)

16gb Ram (maybe bump up to 32gb later)

120-128gb SSD for OS and apps

120-128gb SSD scratch disk

2 TB HDD for storage

 

If anyone knows, the motherboards I've listed have 3x Sata3 ports, Asrock has one Intel chip and two Asmedia controlled Sata3 ports, while Asus has 2x Intel controlled and 1x Marvell controlled Sata3 port.  If I went with the Asrock, would it be okay to connect the OS/Apps SSD to the intel controlled sata3 port and have the scratch disk and storage HDD to the Asmedia sata3 ports?

 

And one more novice question, when I begin to edit my images, is it best to transfer my photos from memory card to storage HDD then work from there? Or would it be quicker opening images direct from a USB 3.0 card reader / USB 3.0 external hard drive?

 

Thanks again everyone, really appreciate it

 
Replies
  • Noel Carboni
    23,478 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 19, 2013 6:13 AM   in reply to priddye

    First off, you're doing the right thing by planning to use SSD storage for scratch.  SSD performance is so much better than HDD performance that going into a condition where you're swapping RAM to disk isn't the kiss of death for productivity.

     

    Some thoughts...

     

    It's certainly possible to get Photoshop to use more than 128GB of scratch space.

     

    That said, Photoshop can be configured to use multiple drives.  It will go to the second one after filling the first.  So you could configure Photoshop to use the scratch SSD first, then the HDD second, and most of the time (when not working on gargantuan documents) you'll enjoy the best performance.

    Something to think about, though...  If you are putting in 2 SSDs anyway, why not combine them into one 256GB volume and use it for everything?  That will enhance the performance of everything.

    And I don't mean to spend your money for you, but 256GB SSDs are not SO much more expensive that you couldn't double that to 2 x 256GB SSDs and virtually never have to worry about having enough storage.  The difference in price would be about $200 overall.  Put off buying and take the time to save that additional $200 - you'll get years of better productivity for it.  A single 128GB OS volume is practically too small for a system that's used for serious work.

    -Noel
     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,478 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 19, 2013 8:43 AM   in reply to priddye

    Most 3rd party SATA3 controllers (especially the inexpensive ones) use a limited number of PCIe lanes (often just one), meaning you can't get the full SATA3 speed anyway, and on top of that they often use poor controller chips that can't actually keep up with SSD speeds.  Most SSD experts feel that using the motherboard Intel-controlled SATA2 ports gives you far better performance.  The Intel RST drivers, even if not used for RAID, are very efficient.

     

    That said, there are better high speed controllers...  I run a HighPoint 2720SGL "RocketRAID" PCIe controller that uses 8 lanes.  It's very quick and the drivers are absolutely stable.  I haven't had even one problem in over a year of hard use.

     

    I have 4 x 480GB SSDs in RAID 0, by the way, making up a huge C: volume, so I have some experience with what I've been suggesting.  The kind of I/O throughput SSDs give, especially when multiple SSDs are ganged together in RAID 0, kicks your computing experience up to a whole new level.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,478 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 19, 2013 2:55 PM   in reply to priddye

    Yes, you could use one 256GB SSD in place of the two 128s, but you could possibly run into trouble if you fill the remaining free space with scratch files from Photoshop.  Photoshop itself would switch over to using the secondary drive, but C: would be full, and the rest of the system would be in trouble.  Windows does not like trying to run with a full system drive - all kinds of things go wrong.

     

    It seems that the only really good way to have Photoshop use the system volume SSD for scratch is to have more storage space on tap, so you don't chance filling your system drive.  I run with about 900 GB free normally, and I don't think I've ever seen Photoshop use as much as 300 GB for scratch, even when stitching gargantuan panoramas.

     

    Maybe you should just create a 256 GB C: drive now, and use it for everything BUT Photoshop scratch.  Point Photoshop scratch at your HDD.  Then at some point in the future you could add a second SSD for use as scratch or with which to build an array.  I fear that if you try to run your system on a 128GB system volume you'll run into ongoing trouble.  128GB is just too tight, and when people start doing things like moving temp files and swap files and whatnot to other drives they tend to see a lot of unexpected trouble.

     

    By the way, virtually all modern motherboards support the creation of RAID arrays via the Intel chipset right on board.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,478 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 19, 2013 5:48 PM   in reply to priddye

    priddye wrote:

     


    Just to clarify, if/when I get one 256gb SSD for my main C: drive, I can load the OS/Apps and store some data for the time being (until I get another SSD) and use the 2TB HDD for scratch disk only?

     

    Yes, that's what I meant.  You could try putting Photoshop scratch on C: at least temporarily, and watch your free space carefully.  If you don't work on big documents or set your history states to be very large, it might be workable.  But be careful.  The safe "set it and forget it" configuration is to make your HDD the one and only Photoshop scratch drive.

     

     

    When I do get around to getting the second 256gb, I will look at installing the two SSD's in RAID configuration.  If i were to do this, can I load the OS/Apps to the RAID SSD's as well as using them for scratch disks and have the 2TB HDD for storage? I hope that makes sense.

     

    Sounds about right; with 512GB on tap you should be able to run just about everything from C:, as long as you don't keep your entire photo library on there.  Realistically, on a big system that's got a lot of apps installed and has been used for some time, Windows and your apps may end up consuming 100 to 150 GB, so that would still leave you a lot of breathing room.

     

    Keep in mind that what you describe may require 3rd party re-partitioning software and/or backup and restoral, or a complete reinstallation of Windows and everything (usually the latter is what is recommended when moving up to a RAID system volume).

     

    By the way, SSDs stay in best working order if you overprovision - i.e., maintain a fair amount of free space.  The internal controllers need the free space to keep the data organized well and maintain top performance.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Noel Carboni
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    Dec 23, 2006
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    May 19, 2013 10:25 PM   in reply to priddye

    You're welcome.  I'd love to hear back when you've got it all together.  You are building a machine with performance the likes of which very few people have ever experienced, I promise.

     

    -Noel

     
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