View Full Version : Hard drives & Photoshop performance

03-20-2006, 07:43 PM
I currently have 2 SATA drives (the newer one is 7200 rpm, I'm not sure about the boot drive) and 2 Fireware 400 drives. All of these drives are way too full. I have another 2 SATA drives that are 7200 rpm on the way. So I'll need to reorganize my photos, backups and scratch disk when I receive the new drives.

The FW drives are 400 & 120 GBs, the boot disk is 160 GB, all the other SATA drives are 250 GBs.

There's a full things I have questions about:
1) Is there a way to check the speed of my boot drive in the system (OS X 10.4.5)?
2) Should Photoshop have a dedicated scratch disk? I have 1 GB of RAM, and often work with fairly large PSD files.
3) Any recommendations in general about where to put what? I'm thinking the Firewire drives would be better as backup drives, with the SATA drives for the live data. I'm not sure about the scratch disk.

03-21-2006, 05:59 AM
If your boot drive is a stock SATA drive then it is 7200 rpm. SATA are ALL 7200rpm or better. The Western Digital Raptor is SATA and 10,000rpm. The Raptor never shipped in any Mac though, if you have one someone must have added it in. An easy way to tell on the raptor is they are only available in 36gig, 74gig, and 150gig. If your boot drive is any size other than these then you have a 7200rpm drive.

Having said that... even among 7200rpm SATA drives there are some that are faster than others. Hitachi is the current favorite around here.

XBench (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/16231) (free) and QuickBench (not free) are 2 benchmarking tools to test and compare the speed of hard drives

SATA will be almost twice as fast as a Firewire 400 drive so yeah use those firewire drives for backup. Do your work on SATA.

I know almost nothing about photoshop so I'll shutup now :D and let others who know more take over

03-21-2006, 06:14 AM
All of your drives are going to be 7200. I assume you have a G5? might want to add the "hardware info" to your "User Profile" sig so we can see at a glance.

CS2: max out your RAM to whatever your budget $$ and Mac will allow. 4GB would be a good "sweet spot." - check out the Photoshop FAQ, Guide etc.

Seeing you have already ordered drives, not sure what to say or recommend, but in general, WD Raptors for boot drive and for scratch (or boot/scratch) such as the 74 or 150GB model ($150-330). Or 300-500GB drives (ATA for FW, SATA for internal or external).

I would want to replace the boot drive you have, 160GB, with something faster and better. Never let a backup/data drive get beyond 80% full. And keep just OS/apps on boot drive.

There is a whole discussion of optimizing your storage, keeping data and even /Users on 2nd drive.

03-21-2006, 08:15 AM
This is very helpful. Yes, I have a G5, the first model with the single processor. Looks like the next hardware step should be more RAM, once I deal with my disk space issue.
I'll check the other forums to try to figure out how much scratch disk space I need - I'm not sure on that point.

03-21-2006, 08:29 AM
You can only have a max of 4GB RAM. And either a 1.6 or 1.8SP G5. Any PCI based drive is going to max out at 75MB/sec.

You are sort of 'boxed in" on upgrades and performance. A dual G5 w/ PCI -X would be much more useful in the end. Even if that means selling this one.

Apple Specials has great buys, was selling G5 1.8SP for $1049 .

G5 2.0DP PCI-X $1449 (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6024002/wo/oLTwyUW8yDqL2w54l8S0FMZOpWL/

It isn't just how much space you need, it is that you need a fast drive that isn't doing a lot of other things as well. Find the fastest 7.2k boot drive and use that for OS and scratch. Or WD Raptor (but maybe not the 150GB drive as those may not work - check the FAQ for SATA drives and Raptor, or the "ULtimate Boot Drive" FAQ).

03-21-2006, 09:17 AM
Thanks, I didn't know about the specials. Are the most important features dual processors and PCI-X? Does it make sense to upgrade now or wait for the Intel-based systems? I'm not sure when they're coming out.

03-21-2006, 09:40 AM
I wouldn't want to wait 12-18 months. Some people are hoping for annoucements and first Intel towers this fall, while I feel PPC they have now, well, a lot of members are thrilled with the latest G5s - they are just what a Mac workstation should be.

Still not sure if you have a 1.6 or 1.8, but Apple had a 1.8 'briefly" in SP. Otherwise, if 1.6, then I would not hesitate to trade up now.

And depending on which G5 you went or look for (2.0DP being the lowest you want) there is no reason you would be wanting or needing to buy again for awhile.

Right now, Apple has a LOT of G5s in the Specials section, more than I have ever seen in quite a long while. I would see what you can afford.

Otherwise, you are looking at $412 to upgrade to 4GB RAM and see if you can shuffle your files around and get the most out of what you have. Or decide to take the plunge and 2.0DP - 2.7DP system.

DP = dual processor
MP = multi-processor
DC = Dual Core
G5 Quad = Dual Core x dual processor

The new G5s use Dual Core, use PCI Express rther than PCI or PCI-X and support 8-16GB RAM (8 x 2).

03-21-2006, 10:37 AM
I have to admit that I do a lot of Photoshop batch processing and waste a lot of time waiting for the computer. This is not a good thing. But I'm not sure what influences batch processing speed the most. Is it CPU speed, hard drive speed, or the amount of RAM? (or all three?) The batch processes read and write files and run photoshop actions. Will I see a lot of difference by getting the fastest possible CPU speed that I can manage to afford, or would getting up to 2.0 GHz DP be enough?

03-21-2006, 10:59 AM
Running Tiger with less than 1.5GB on a G5 is taking a big hit in performance, and running CS/CS2 in that environment only makes it worse, along with drives that don't have adequate or optiminal free space.

Take a look at www.barefeats.com comparison of SP vs MP actions on various G5s, from 2.0 up to Quad. Those graphs are helpful. I would hope we have something or other sites with benchmarks (we have a lot of expertise but showing it in a GUI chart helps a lot, rather than a table of numbers).


After getting as much cpu processing as possible, next step would be memory. With 4GB being enough for some, and diminishing returns as you get up to 8GB and beyond (but one forum member is shooting for 10-12GB in his Quad, and is on his third G5 I think by now, to handle his Photoshop work flow).

Also, looking at Xbench scores, I see dual-core G5 2.0s are doing nicely and better than the older single core DP 2.0s.

Dual Core systems have better SATA support so you can use WD Raptor 10K 150GB for boot drive, scratch etc. You can use PCI Expess video, PCIe RAID and SATA or SCSI controllers, too.

03-21-2006, 11:06 AM
A couple of examples of better choices than 2.0DP if you are interested:

Refurbished Power Mac G5 Dual 2.3GHz SuperDrive (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6284000/wo/3k3PruSRZjKV3hlEjY92tut9Ph6/
250GB Serial ATA
16x SuperDrive (double-layer)
Three PCI Slots
ATI Radeon 9600
Original price: $2,499.00
Your price: $1,999.00

Refurbished Power Mac G5 DUAL 2.5GHz/ (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6284000/wo/3k3PruSRZjKV3hlEjY92tut9Ph6/
8x SuperDrive/
Original price: $2,999.00
Your price: $2,049.00

Refurbished Power Mac G5 Dual 2.7GHz SuperDrive (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6284000/wo/3k3PruSRZjKV3hlEjY92tut9Ph6/
250GB Serial ATA
16x SuperDrive (double-layer)
Three PCI Slots
ATI Radeon 9650
Original price: $2,999.00
Your price: $2,149.00

Refurbished Power Mac G5 Dual 2.3GHz (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6284000/wo/3k3PruSRZjKV3hlEjY92tut9Ph6/
Dual-core 2.3GHz PowerPC G5 processor
1.15GHz frontside bus per processor
1MB L2 cache per core
512MB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-4200)
250GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive (double-layer)
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 with 256MB GDDR SDRAM
Original price: $2,499.00
Your price: $2,149.00

Refurbished Power Mac G5 Quad 2.5GHz (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/6284000/wo/3k3PruSRZjKV3hlEjY92tut9Ph6/
Two dual-core 2.5GHz PowerPC G5 processors
1.25GHz frontside bus per processor
1MB L2 cache per core
512MB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-4200)
250GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive (double-layer)
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 with 256MB GDDR SDRAM
Original price: $3,299.00
Your price: $2,799.00

03-21-2006, 12:32 PM
Photoshop FAQ (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19792)
Photoshop Bench Test (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20218)
Photoshop Test Results (Discussion) (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19741)
Photoshop + Quad G5 (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21813)

There is additional benefit to installing 8GB RAM instead of 6GB- and with your large file sizes, I would consider installing 12GB or more- especially if you generate large scratch files in your work. CS2 will use that extra installed RAM above 4GB to cache scratch disk data in RAM before writing it to disk.

I don't yet have PshopTest comparison data for the Quad above 4.5GB installed RAM, but I would assume a similar result when we did this with the G5 Dual 2GHz PCI and the G5 Dual 2.7GHz PCI computers. With 8GB installed RAM you could watch in Activity Monitor how all 8GB was used when larger files were tested.
Quad and 12GB RAM (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showpost.php?p=96041&postcount=2)