Best SSD for Lightroom and Phototoshop – How to Read JPG and RAW files Faster

“Lost time is never found again” – Benjamin Franklin

As a photographer, I need a fast computer in order to process and edit my photos in Photoshop and Lightroom, especially when I shoot RAW. These files are at least 25MB each and when I have about 2000 photos to edit, I must have great processing power.

4 Essential Computer Elements for Editing

In a recent photoshoot event, I had to edit all the files on my laptop because I was away from home. My laptop is a MacBook Pro Retina 13” with 8GB of memory.

To be able to edit a big amount of images (especially RAW) you need enough processing power the following computer parts give you:

  • CPU
  • RAM / memory
  • Graphics Card
  • SSD storage or PCIe flash drive

Choosing between SSD and PCIe

The newest MacBook Pros with Retina display, iMacs, Windows Ultrabooks or ALL-In-One PCs have PCIe flash storage drives.

You can install both SSD drives and PCIe flash drives in main desktop PCs (2017 – 2018). The newest motherboards already have M.2 slots for PCIe flash drives but even if they don’t, you can buy an adapter.

SSD drives have speeds up to 10 times faster than regular Hard Disk Drives (or HDD). The drawback here is the capacity.

  • 2TB HDD cost = $80
  • 500GB SSD cost = $120
  • 500GB SSD PCIe cost = $160

In desktop computers you have the option to run your operating system and main programs on an SSD (fast speeds) and use an HDD (more space) to store your photos, videos, documents and big amount of data.

The main difference between SSD and PCIe is speed. Newest PCIe SSD flash drives can be pretty fast!

My SSD flash drive on my MacBook Pro has 256GB of storage and I am looking to upgrade it to 1TB, not only for the extra space but the extra speed the new flash drive will produce!

Flash Storage Benefits and Insane Speeds

The new flash drive SSDs (NVMe PCIe M.2 cards) like the Samsung Pro 970 has write/read speeds of up to 3500MB/s! That’s 5 times faster than my pre-installed Apple flash drive which can produce (approx. 700MB/s) so I consider this a serious upgrade!

You can definitely buy the Samsung 970 Pro and install it on your PC (if your motherboard supports PCIe M.2 2880 SSD drives – check your m/board specs and info) but it’s more complicated if you want to install it on your MacBook Pro! Read my findings below to know why.

My Thorough Research and Findings for MacBook Users

In everything I do or I want to buy, I love to research and learn every detail of what I am looking for. So I start researching by looking up information in forums, questions and answers, comments, information at quora.com, YouTube, ask local store dealers, professionals and other experts to exchange knowledge and share opinions.

So, in my research, I have found that Apple doesn’t use M.2 connectors for its SSDs (which are the most popular and the most compatible for PC users). So, it’s not that easy to just buy and install a new flash SSD drive on your MacBook Pro. Here are my findings:

  • OWC is a popular company that actually provides upgrade kits specifically for MacBook Pros (tested with a 5 year warranty) (These PCIe drives are not M.2 type)
  • OWC Aura Pro X is a flash drive (240GB, 480GB, 1TB and 2TB of capacity) for MacBook Pros with write speed up to 1066MB/s and read speed up to 1352Mb/s (not as fast as the Samsung 970 Pro but still better than Apple’s MacBook Pro pre-installed SSD).
  • Transend is another great brand that provides fast flash drives for MacBook users (MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina).
  • Apple uses different connectivity pins for its laptops, so basically any M.2 PCIe- based flash SSD drive won’t fit in your MacBook Pro except if you buy a third-party connector (a professional in my local store didn’t recommend it).

You can buy other M.2 PCIe flash SSD drives like Transend, Samsung or maybe Western Digital to use but have in mind the following:

  1. You must buy a third-party M.2 adapter/connector specifically for MacBook Pro laptops.
  2. Your MacBook should run MacOS High Sierra in order for them to work properly.
  3. Third-party hardware are not tested specifically for any of the MacBook Pro models so you’re buying them on your own risk.

Positives

PC Desktop owners can enjoy high write/read speed rates of up to 3500MB/s if they upgrade.

MacBook users can upgrade to OWC and Transcend without any adapters or to other brands like Samsung or WD by using third party M.2 Adapters.

Editing photos and videos becomes more fun! You eliminate import and export time as you enjoy blazing fast editing speeds!

Negatives

Besides OWC offering 5 year warranty on all their SSD drives, reviews from customers who purchased their products on Amazon are not so happy. In some models, they complain about low performance, software instability, overheating and other issues. You may read the reviews here.

On the other hand, the OWC regular SSDs receive a pretty high rating and are recommended from most of its users/customers. You can see the ratings here.

More M.2 PCIe Info and Speed Tests

The following video is showing the previous Samsung model (960 Pro) but it has enough information about the M.2 SSD drives for you to understand the advantages and the benefits.

Adobe Photoshop 2017cc Speed Test

Image resource: HardwareCanucks

Adobe Premier Pro 2017 cc Speed Test

Image resource: HardwareCanucks

Where to Buy SSDs with High Transfer Rates?

Amazon.com is a great place to buy the PCIe Flash SSD drives. You can also get an extra protection plan by Amazon!

Top Rated SSDs

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB

WD Blue 3D NAND 500GB

Crucial MX500 500GB

OWC Mercury Electra 500GB

Top Rated PCIe M.2 Flash SSDs (HIGH SPEED – UP TO 3500MB/s)

Samsung 970 Pro 512GB (fastest in the world)

WD Black 512GB

Corsair Force Series MP500 480GB

Kingston Digital SA1000M8 480GB

Top Rated PCIe for MacBook Air and Macbook Pro Retina

Transcend 480GB

OWC Aura Pro X 480GB

Summary

I firmly believe that upgrading to a high speed PCIe SSD flash drive will give you extra power to edit your photos and videos faster than ever before! Make sure you buy the right product for your PC or Mac!

Did you like this article? If yes, please share the knowledge and leave a comment to let us know your thoughts!

 

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