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Question NVMe drive for Lightroom/Photoshop use, noticable difference between top tier drives?

rGiskard

Junior Member
Aug 22, 2021
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I'm upgrading a 2019 iMac 5K and had the opportunity to pick up a barely used 1TB SN750 dirt cheap, but in researching the drive I've discovered that when it comes to low queue depth performance, especially with small files, benchmarks make it's relative performance look like molasses in the dead of winter. Now I'm wondering if I should use the SN750 in an older computer and buy something else for the iMac.

I've narrowed my choices down to three 1TB NVMe drives which are confirmed compatible with my iMac:

  • Adata XPG SX8200 Pro (w/SM2262ENG controller)
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus
  • WD Black SN750

Expected workloads: Lightroom and Photoshop, with a possibility of some light video editing in the future.
Hardware: I9-9900k 8 core w/HT and DDR4-2666 RAM.

Would I be able to notice a difference between any of these drives when using Lightroom and Photoshop? If the difference is as big as the synthetic benchmarks suggest then the answer is easy, but in my experience real world differences are rarely so stark.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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It won't be a huge difference. Here's a thread where they are discussing, along with addressing the SN750 in post #6: https://linustechtips.com/topic/1291193-ssd-considerations-for-a-photographer-heavy-lightroom-photoshop-use/

I will say, forget the Adata drive as an option. They swapped in inferior components with disclosure after their original drive was reviewed. You won't know what hardware configuration you will get.

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/adata-xpg-sx8200-pro-controller-change
 
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coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
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As someone who's using PS as my main tool at work for more than a decade, my performance strategy has always been to invest in RAM & CPU first and storage speed second (except for my first HDD > SSD upgrade, that was a freakin' revolution). Over the years I used 840 Evo, 840 Pro, 850 Pro, 860 Evo, a Plextor NMVE drive, two Adata XPG S11 Pro (same hardware as 8200 Pro) and today I'm running on a 980 Pro and one of the Adata S11 (the one with better NAND obviously :D ). With the exception of the 840 Evo which I had to replace with 860 Evo due to performance degradation (early TLC tech problems), all my SSD upgrades or sidegrades were mostly done to increase capacity and/or to equip new systems. The only reason I'm now running with 980 Pro as main drive is I needed a capacity expansion and I stumbled upon a really great deal. (the "Pro" part was essentially for free)

Even with memory intensive projects (print, hi-res, multiple layers and adjustments, as much history states as I could afford) I came to the realization over the years that I'm very likely to hit a CPU ST limit rather than a storage speed limit when the project is big enough to no longer fit comfortably in RAM. In fact, as I increased my total RAM as well, I'm more consistently hitting the limits of the software rather than any particular hardware component (lots of single threaded bottlenecks, at least in my type of workloads).

Conclusion? The SN750 should be fine, if you're in doubt then... double your RAM :smilingimp: One other thing you can do is to add another fast drive in your system, Photoshop supports working with multiple scratch disks, and you may squeeze more performance by having your temp files on a different drive than the one hosting your large files and/or system virtual memory. (although I assume this isn't really an easy option for you on the iMac, maybe not viable at all).
 

rGiskard

Junior Member
Aug 22, 2021
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0
6
Thanks everyone, sounds like I've been overthinking this one. I have added a second SSD on the SATA bus so that should give me a few more options.

I hadn't seen the linustechtips discussion, thanks for that link.
 

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