SSD vs HDD for Zbrush/Photoshop

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  02 February 2010
SSD vs HDD for Zbrush/Photoshop

I am looking at options to updating my system and as such have been doing a little research on ssd drives. I was wondering what peoples experience with them in regards to programs such as photoshop and zbrush. It seems most of what I have read; people expouse the virtues of boot and reboot times. Although nice its of little import to me. Saving files and opening files can be important as they can get big and time consuming to open but what I am really interestd in is if there is a noticable performance increase in such applications that often write to disk while working in them.

Also, what of stability. Are standard hdds such as velociraptors the better option for security of data alone? Having a stable computer is certainly important to me.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by Dagda : 02 February 2010 at 07:51 PM.
  02 February 2010
Money would be better spent on more memory and/or faster processor(s). SSD's are faster but they aren't that much faster to justify the unreasonable cost in my opinion. Cheers!
  02 February 2010
ssds can crash too and you could lose all your info(we had the info backed up), we had that happen at our office. there was a bug that caused this to occur.
Heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept were toiling upwards in the night.
  02 February 2010
SSDs are stable and reliable, but they require a load of tedious configurations and maintenance to keep the speed and longevity. It also depends on the SSD and it's memory controller. Really, though, you don't need an SSD unless you want tens of MB of files opened in a flash. When the file is open, it is written into memory, and that's where it stays until you save.

I'd invest more into processor and RAM. More RAM at higher speeds (as supported by your mobo) is the way to go.
Maya user since 2009. I teach Maya -> SourceSDK and create models for SFM.

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  02 February 2010
SSDs don't have any noticable speed advantage in any 3D application. Load and save times have only a marginal impact on rendertimes and workflow so the improvement SSDs bring here doesn't realy factor in.
Processor speed has a so much higher impact that it's way more cost effective to invest in a slightly faster CPU to see a much higher improvement than with a SSD.
As for reliability, there are two different types of SSD, SLC and MLC. MLC is what you get if you take the cheap ones, SLC make up the fast ones. SLC is also much more longlived than MLC. However SLC drives are a lot more expensive than MLC and are only worth it in high end servers where top speed and highest reliability realy count. Using them in a workstation is like burning money for the fun of it.
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The views expressed on this post are my personal opinions and do not represent the views of my employer.
  02 February 2010
The general path data takes is:

HDD to RAM to Application (CPU).

Buying an SSD allows you to take this path:

SSD to RAM to Application (CPU).

So yes it would load to RAM much faster, but thats where the gain in performance stops. The Application speed depends on your CPU. To avoid having to take the path from HDD to RAM multiple times while you work, depends on the amount of RAM installed. Personally, I don't yet see a reason to spend $200+ on an SSD, when that same amount of money can nab me 8GB DDR3 RAM. A GTX 260 with 216 stream processors can be bought for the same money. Add $100 and I'd nab a Core i7 920, overclock it and see true performance gains.

The option is ultimately yours to take, but I would put the SSD very low on the priority list of what to get. Even just holding onto that $200 for now sounds like a better idea.
  02 February 2010
Don´t expect a hugh impact.
Photoshop will benefit of an faster Harddisk, but you need to make some adjustments in the PS settings for that.

The CPU, RAM and graphics card should be as fast as possible first, then you can worry about a faster Harddisk.

For Photoshop make sure your gfx card supports OpenGL.
If you use Win XP 64bit and and your gfx card is not allowed for OpenGL then you might want to check oout this site:

There is a script ( to enable OpenGL settings in PS CS4 under XP 64bit OS.
  02 February 2010
i'm no tech guy but from what I've read SSD's are good for boot drives where one only reads data from, thus speeding up boot and application load times, but not so for AV/ RAID / work drives with lots of I/O writes. Apart from the marginal speed advantage over normal HDDs, frequently writing/ deleting files on a SSD causes much faster deterioration than it would on a normal HDD, it has something to do with the way bits are stored on the solid state drives.
  02 February 2010
I have a Vertex 120GB as my system disk and it's amazing for fast/multiple application launches and stuff like that. It's especially good for OS X since SSDs are very fast for random access and OS X applications are actually folders (bundles) of many files. This was a design choice so that you wouldn't get Unix library collisions, you can have multiple binaries/languages/etc in one app but it causes a performance hit for HDDs.

But I keep all my work on a RAID array since the throughput for large files is not as fast as it is with a cheaper HDD RAID.
  02 February 2010
Thankyou for all the responses. I will be taking the advice of all who posted here and put ssd drives on the back burner for a while.

Thx again
  02 February 2010
SSD's are good for loading times etc. As it only will speed up read/write operations on the HD.

For example, all your programs including windows will load a lot faster.
Which isnt 'that' important if you ask me...

And if you dont have sufficient RAM your system will start to swap, which also goes fast on a SSD, but it will also kill it relatively fast.

Just buy more RAM and/or even a new CPU if your current one is getting old/slow.
  05 May 2010
Is there a way to know how much of a program has been loaded onto RAM? The one little thing I disliked about old programs was when you were about to perform a operation and you could hear the HDD whinning and spinning up as everything on your PC waited for it.

I don't notice it anymore these days, as I guess most programs load everything it can onto RAM beforehand. Plus I've switched to a RAID 0 setup just to have bigger throughput to work with.

I'm also wondering if its worth buying an SSD just for overall system "comfort".
  05 May 2010
SSDs are way faster as system disks but not for storing work. You're better off with an HD RAID for that and it will also be faster for a Photoshop swap disk. This is what I do.

But yes, SSDs are WAY faster as system disks due to their quick random access. I have an OCZ Vertex in my Mac Pro and it made my 7200RPM laptop drive feel so incredibly, painfully slow that I had to get one for the MacBook Pro too. Huge, huge upgrade, even over a desktop drive. Not cheap but worth it.

Last edited by cgbeige : 05 May 2010 at 03:37 PM.
  05 May 2010
I upgraded my boot drive to the Intel X25-M G2, and honestly this is one of the upgrades where I can really "feel" the increase in speed in regular tasks. I guess it may be because the computer seems snappier when opening and closing applications.

But this is not something quantifiable for me as I don't go around measuring times to boot up or opening applications. When it comes to actual performance increase in the actual work done, especially rendering, a better upgrade would be CPU and RAM. Always get the fastest processor you can afford.
  05 May 2010
And now that you can get a 32gb ssd drive for 80$, its not that much of a stretch to get better boot performance. If you have cash to spend, get one just for the kick of it!

Just be sure you get one that support TRIM.
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