I am working on a new dedicated Windows based PC lightroom/photoshop workstation build. What is the best drive config for optimal performance? Would you put an M.2 SSD for the OS and applications, a separate M.2 SSD for the lightroom catalogs and photoshop scratch (or two M.2 SSDs in a RAID 0), and then a high capacity standard HD for image file storage?
Due to the size of my image archive (~6TB and growing), it's not feasible (cost wise) for me to store my image archive files on M.2 SSDs. How much of a bottleneck is storing my working files on a HD; does it negate the performance benefit of the faster OS and catalog/scratch drives?
I have the catalogue on a (M.2) SSD but the pictures on a Raid 0 HD. That costs me half of my disk space, but keeps me secure against (single) disk failure. One SSD for the system and Lightroom should be enough.
Alternatively, instead of a Raid you could use a backup system doing regular data mirroring on the second disk. That's probably more flexible.
I have added 64Gb as this is a new system and my old one with 32Gb ran out of memory from time to time. The performance boost against my 2014 system (upgraded in between) comes from the advances in technology as I did not take over a single hardware asset. So all my subsystems are performing better. But I feel it especially with LrC which is starting instantaneously. The old system really had some pauses during the start of LrC.
ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer
I'd skip RAID and instead make sure you have a solid backup regime. Safer and more flexible.
I have a similar sized archive, rapidly approaching 10 TB. Storing all your images on spinning drives is no problem, it doesn't impact general system speed. In any case you don't really have a choice.
The Photoshop scratch disk is of special importance, and this is where NVMe (PCIe M.2) really shines. These drives are so fast that the scratch disk is no longer the bottleneck it once was, and the amount of installed RAM is a lot less important. In practical terms, RAM is mostly a cache for the scratch disk's main memory, and as long as you have a decent amount like 32GB you'll be fine.
With SSDs, you get equally good performance whether you put the scratch disk on the system drive or a separate drive. It doesn't really matter like it did with spinning drives. Just make sure you have enough space! A 1 TB system drive should be minimum if you have the scratch disk there.
I've split it up, so I have a second NVMe for primary Photoshop scratch, Lightroom catalog and caches, ACR cache and Bridge cache. That's mostly for convenience. Lightroom performs really well with this setup, but I'm sure it would run equally well with the catalog on the system drive.