Question New photo editing build recommendations

Oscar Richard

Jul 22, 2012
Processor: I5 11600k
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2X16GB) DDR4 320M
SSD: WD_BLACK 500GB SN770 NVMe Internal Gaming SSD Solid State Drive

Finally upgrading frommy I7 3770
This is what I have so far, as well as a couple of 7200 HDD for storage

Obviously I need a case, cooler, PSU (these are not my concerns)

If I put windows, Photoshop,Lightroom on the NVMe that I have
What would be my best option for a ' work disk' ? Where I would put raw photos to edit
Can I put another NVMe disk with this motherboard?
or just a regular SSD?

This is primarily a photo editing build,no gaming
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Retired Mod
Are you looking to upgrade the whole platform (As in, do you already have the 11600k and that motherboard?) or are you just asking what additional upgrades to the platform you have now, would make sense, from the viewpoint of a person who does almost strictly photo editing on the machine?

As to the work disk question, either a regular SSD or an NVME M.2 PCIe SSD would work well. You really don't want to use a HDD as your primary "working" disk because performance is going to be seriously limited by comparison.
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Data sheet storage specs for that motherboard below.

Looks like port M2_1 can accept SATA or NVMe and port M2_2 is NVMe only?

Your WD SN770 has a Gen 4 interface and would reach max speeds only in M2_1. If you did that, you couldn't then use an M.2 SATA drive in M2_2. It would have to be an NVMe. Likely you'd choose an NVMe with a Gen 3 interface since M2_2 doesn't support Gen 4.

Or just leave M2_2 empty and use a standard 2.5 inch SATA drive for your second SSD.

Or accept somewhat lower performance on the WD SN770 by putting it in M2_2 and then using M2_1 for another NVMe or another SATA.

Not a lot of real world difference in the choices. But you've already bought the WD SN770. Given that, I'd probably put it in M2_1 and at least consider not using M2_2 at all. Do you have any strong urge to avoid cables?

Other things might come into play....budget, cooling setup, heatsinks, cables, how much you worry about heat, allegiance to benchmarks, etc.

6x SATA 6Gb/s ports (From B560 chipset)
2x M.2 slot (Key M)
M2_1 slot
Supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 for 11th Gen Intel® CPU (From CPU)
Supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4 for 10th Gen Intel® CPU (From B560 chipset)
Supports up to SATA 6Gb/s (From B560 Chipset)1
Supports 2242/ 2260/ 2280/ 22110 storage devices
M2_2 slot2 (from B560 chipset)
Supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4
Supports 2242/ 2260/ 2280 storage devices
Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready1
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology for Intel Core™ processors

SATA2 will be unavailable when installing M.2 SATA SSD in the M2_1 slot.
Before using Intel® Optane™ memory modules, please ensure that you have updated the drivers and BIOS to the latest version from MSI website.


You might want to read this article on photoshop hardware recommendations from Puget systems:

What storage configuration works best in Photoshop?

While you could get by with just a single drive, we recommend at least a two drive configuration depending on your budget and desired performance level:

  1. Primary Drive - OS/Software (SSD/NVMe) - Includes your operating system and the base Photoshop installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but you can also upgrade to a faster NVMe drive for a small performance benefit.
  2. Secondary Drive - Project Files (Platter/SSD/M.2 NVMe) - If possible, it is a good idea to keep your photos and catalogs on a secondary drive. For most users even a platter drive should be more than fast enough, although a SSD tends to be snappier and will often smooth out your workflow.
  3. Optional Tertiary Drive - Scratch Drive (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - Most of the time, having your scratch files on your primary SSD should be just fine, but if your work involves heavy use of the scratch space, it may be beneficial to have a dedicated drive just for those files.
Your motherboard supports 2 m.2 devices and 6 sata ports(1/2 of those may be disabled with a fast m.2 pcie gen4 device.

All ssd devices will perform similarly in random I/O.
The pcie devices will have faster sequential performance if you will be reading large sequential files.
Today, m.2 ssd cost per gb is similar to sata ssd devices so you might want to use a m.2 in the second m.2 slot.