Forums > Photography Talk > Photoshop and computer performance

Photographer

Fred McKie

Posts: 46

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Hi

I've been running Elements 9 on my computer and it struggles considerably at times, particularly if I open too many files (quite large, from Canon 5D Mk III shooting RAW). I have the full version of PS on order (CS6) and am wondering if it would be beneficial to upgrade components of my computer - if so, what would make the biggest difference? Is upgrading worthwhile or smarter to just buy a new computer. All opinions appreciated.

Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Many thanks!

Fred

Dec 08 12 03:52 pm Link

Photographer

The Effective Image

Posts: 3950

Lansing, Michigan, US

Vista? Maybe just an OS upgrade is in order... WIN 7 or 8.

I have a laptop that came with Vista... It gathered dust for years! I hated Vista. It did not play well with many of my older applications.

Just my opinion.

Dec 08 12 04:23 pm Link

Photographer

MountAnnanImages

Posts: 46

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

PS is memory-intensive. Upgrading your computer's RAM will definitely help.

Frank

Dec 08 12 04:34 pm Link

Photographer

Hugh Alison

Posts: 2123

Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

Worthwhile improvements:

64bit OS with 8GB RAM - Win 7 is much better than Vista
SSD for your OS drive - you'll notice the improvement in responsiveness.


You can go a lot further, but you can upgrade the above for a reasonable cost, and it'll make a big difference.

Dec 08 12 04:39 pm Link

Photographer

Anthony-Ray

Posts: 388

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

I might not be telling you anything you don't already know, but software (by default) doesn't use all of the memory that your system has free. You can usually increase performance by allowing it to use more.

In Ps, it's under Edit-->Preferences-->Performance.

Then just bump up the amount of ram that you want it to use.

Additionally, any logical component you upgrade can increase performance in different ways. (depending on the task)

Dec 08 12 04:44 pm Link

Photographer

M Pandolfo Photography

Posts: 12116

Tampa, Florida, US

1. Ditch Vista for Windows 7
2. Upgrade RAM to 8gb

1 is essential. Vista was a short-lived and terrible OS that never played well with others.

2 would be a great help. Especially since the cost of 4gb of RAM is so low ($50?)

Dec 08 12 04:53 pm Link

Photographer

Kaouthia

Posts: 3152

Lancaster, England, United Kingdom

Fred McKie wrote:
Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Biggest bonus is going to be RAM, as others have mentioned.  But, that also means going up to a 64Bit OS.

I have Vista 64 on this machine, which I built up nearly 5 years ago (at the time 1080p video editing was the focus).  8GB RAM, quad core 2.5Ghz processor, and it still runs plenty fast for Photoshop, even with 105MP medium format film scans (unless I start adding a whole bunch of layers and smart objects).

Dec 08 12 04:58 pm Link

Photographer

rfordphotos

Posts: 5043

Antioch, California, US

we need a bit more info to be able to give solid advice.

however, ___IF____ your processor is relatively capable, then:

Photoshop likes RAM. With your 32 bit operating system, you are maxed out at ~4gb, actually a little less. Nothing you can do about that until you move to a 64bit operating system.

Windows just released Win8, so there is still only a limited amount of user experience available. Mixed reviews so far, as is typical for new releases of Windows.

Windows 7 is available, and there is a good user base out there (me among them) who report solid performance.

#1
My advice, assuming your hardware is compatible with Win7, would be to upgrade to Win7 Professional, 64bit.

#2
Then, again depending on your specific hardware, upgrade to either 8 or 12 gb of RAM. Up to a limit, more RAM is better, too much can be a waste.

Be sure that you have PLENTY of hard drive storage available.
Be sure that your operating system has plenty of room.
Set up a separate scratch disk for Photoshop, hopefully on its own drive.

SSD's will speed things up, but really are not needed, unless you are asking for the absolute peak performance.

CS6 will use the processor on your video card (if it is supported), for some operations, taking the load off the system CPU. This is more important (IMHO) for video processing, but can be useful for stills as well. Adobe has a list of supported video cards on their web site, not all are.

Good luck!

Dec 08 12 05:01 pm Link

Photographer

Kool Koncepts

Posts: 905

Saint Louis, Michigan, US

Fred McKie wrote:
Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Kaouthia wrote:
Biggest bonus is going to be RAM, as others have mentioned.  But, that also means going up to a 64Bit OS.

I have Vista 64 on this machine, which I built up nearly 5 years ago.  8GB RAM, quad core 2.5Ghz processor, and it still runs plenty fast for Photoshop, even with 105MP medium format film scans. smile

As Kaouthia so wisely pointed out, the important part I have put in bold, otherwise you are wasting time, effort and money!

Dec 08 12 05:01 pm Link

Photographer

kitty_empire

Posts: 864

Brighton, England, United Kingdom

+1 on the solid state hard drive. After I put mine in it's like a new PC. Boots in seconds (not minutes) and all the delays from hard disk caching (from PS and Avid) are just gone.

Dec 08 12 05:04 pm Link

Photographer

Leonard Gee Photography

Posts: 16689

Sacramento, California, US

There is no way to tell. There are many reasons why a certain computer runs slow:

1. Low memory
2. Slow, full disk
3. Lots of memory use from other applications
4. Slow processor

I have an old production duo core computer that runs 32 bit vista and 4MB ram at 3 Ghz. I will process multiple 1 gig 6-8 layer photoshop files without any problems.

However, it doesn't run many unnecessary services, no automatic updates and only windows defender. It's a pretty clean running machine with a 600G velociraptor boot drive and a 7.5k data drive.

Dec 08 12 05:05 pm Link

Photographer

Aaron Lewis Photography

Posts: 5083

Catskill, New York, US

Photoshop likes RAM. If you're working with multiple large images at least 8GB is in order. I prefer 16GB.

Get a fast disk if for nothing else, use it for swap. At least 7200 RPM preferable 10,000 or SSD. I use a 10,000 RPM 72GB Velociraptor for swap.

CS6 is fully multi core and 64 bit aware. Upgrade to a 64 bit OS and for god sakes get rid of Vista no matter what other choices you make.

Dec 08 12 05:31 pm Link

Photographer

Instinct Images

Posts: 22736

San Diego, California, US

To reiterate what others have said and add a few points:

1) More RAM is better. But to use more RAM you MUST upgrade to a 64-bit OS such as Windows 7. If you decide to go that route I recommend a complete fresh install instead of just upgrading over the existing Windows installation.

2) More RAM is better. If you're opening multiple RAW files from a 5D Mark III then I'd suggest at least 12GB if not 16GB. I don't think more than that is necessary unless you're really doing some heavy editing with lots of layers. At minimum I'd go with 8GB - RAM is cheap these days.

3) Install a Solid State Drive (SSD). The price has come down to the point where they are very affordable. I recommend checking techbargains.com to see the current deals.

4) Install a second drive to use as a Photoshop scratch disk.

Lots of great info on tuning your system for maximum performance in Photoshop:

http://help.adobe.com/en_US/photoshop/c … 748aa.html

http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/opt … 4-cs5.html

http://blogs.adobe.com/crawlspace/2012/ … mance.html

Dec 08 12 05:55 pm Link

Photographer

Fred McKie

Posts: 46

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Wow, thank you very much everyone, some great responses! Plenty of food for thought ... will definitely hunt around for Windows 7 and sons more RAM plus maybe an SSD I think.

Dec 08 12 07:20 pm Link

Photographer

AVD AlphaDuctions

Posts: 10590

Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Fred McKie wrote:
Wow, thank you very much everyone, some great responses! Plenty of food for thought ... will definitely hunt around for Windows 7 and sons more RAM plus maybe an SSD I think.

at the same time look for clearances at the relevant retail chains. Here it would be Best Buy or Staples.  No clue what it would be down under.  The chains use automated pricing algorithms and 'clear' out stuff that is 6 months old (or less) that is not moving as fast or has been replaced by a newer model.  When you compare the price of Windows 7 retail and RAM and an SSD you might find you get it all 'free' with a clearance unit. the clearance units are all current kit, so the processor isnt shabby at all.

Dec 08 12 07:56 pm Link

Photographer

Paul AI

Posts: 1046

Shawnee, Oklahoma, US

I am opening RAWs from a D800 and have had no problems at all with 8GB RAM on a Win7 system.

Dec 08 12 07:59 pm Link

Photographer

Rob Photosby

Posts: 3235

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I have 13Gb of ram and have no difficulty having PS, Lightroom, web browser, and various other programs running concurrently.

I also have four hard drives in my tower and boot from the SSD when I want a bit more speed out of PS or Lightroom (a 120Gb Kingston or Sandisk SSD can be had around $100).

Dec 09 12 12:56 am Link

Photographer

sublime LightWorks

Posts: 6065

Atlanta, Georgia, US

For those recommending moving to a 64 bit OS, given the OP's current system it would also be wise to verify his CPU can run 64 bit. It could well be a 32 bit processor and it won't run 64 bit.

I recently discovered a couple of old Dell laptops I have (610's) and was giving to someone for their kids to use will not run 64 bit OS due to the processor.

Dec 09 12 04:50 am Link

Photographer

Veit Photo

Posts: 667

London, England, United Kingdom

sublime LightWorks wrote:
For those recommending moving to a 64 bit OS, given the OP's current system it would also be wise to verify his CPU can run 64 bit. It could well be a 32 bit processor and it won't run 64 bit.

I recently discovered a couple of old Dell laptops I have (610's) and was giving to someone for their kids to use will not run 64 bit OS due to the processor.

You would be hard pushed to find a current CPU that was 32-bit.

Dec 09 12 04:55 am Link

Photographer

Veit Photo

Posts: 667

London, England, United Kingdom

Fred McKie wrote:
Hi

I've been running Elements 9 on my computer and it struggles considerably at times, particularly if I open too many files (quite large, from Canon 5D Mk III shooting RAW). I have the full version of PS on order (CS6) and am wondering if it would be beneficial to upgrade components of my computer - if so, what would make the biggest difference? Is upgrading worthwhile or smarter to just buy a new computer. All opinions appreciated.

Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Many thanks!

Fred

I run CS5 and use the same camera. My PC was 6Gb 64-bit on an 8-core i7 CPU.
Pretty decent spec.
And yet saving files could take around 5 minutes per photo. And forget about having several images open at the same time!
Now I maxed out the board with 24Gb and I get more like good performance. It's pretty sweet.
From my experience I wouldn't even think about upgrading to CS6. Adobe is notorious for outlandish bloatware. I can't think of software that has more inefficient code and such a bizarre mix of unevenly upgraded modules (radial blur - WTF is that 1986 design ?!).
But we're not here to bitch about Adobe.
The bottom line is that you will need to put in some serious money into a machine that will run CS6 well.
Do it on Windows 7 or 8 64-bit and upagrade in stages. Start with less RAM. You can usually sell it again on eBay to make room for more.

Dec 09 12 05:02 am Link

Photographer

Gary Melton

Posts: 6417

Dallas, Texas, US

When's the last time you defragged your hard disk?  You'd be amazed at how much a fragmented hard drive will slow everything down!

Dec 09 12 05:03 am Link

Retoucher

Pictus

Posts: 1098

Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Puran defrag is one of the best free http://www.puransoftware.com/Puran-Defrag.html

Dec 09 12 05:13 am Link

Photographer

Odin Photo

Posts: 1459

Salt Lake City, Utah, US

Hey Fred,
If you're running vista, you've probably had the system for a while. I'd say just make the jump and get a new system. You can upgrade your old system, but you will be limited on the speed of ram and cpu you can install because of the dated motherboard. Oddly enough old ram typically costs more than new ram anyway and you old components are closer than they've ever been to failing..

You can head to www.Newegg.com and build yourself a real screamin' demon for less than $1000. 

Good luck whatever path you decide to take.

Dec 09 12 05:31 am Link

Photographer

sublime LightWorks

Posts: 6065

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Veit Photo wrote:
You would be hard pushed to find a current CPU that was 32-bit.

The OP did not say how old his system was and based on the statement he's running Vista, you might want to think about your Posting.  You should note that many systems still had 32 bit CPUs just 6 years ago. Do some research and read his initial posting before making your statements.

For example, the Pentium 4 is a 32 bit processor.

Dec 09 12 03:47 pm Link

Photographer

Image Magik

Posts: 1068

New Orleans, Louisiana, US

Fred McKie wrote:
Hi

I've been running Elements 9 on my computer and it struggles considerably at times, particularly if I open too many files (quite large, from Canon 5D Mk III shooting RAW). I have the full version of PS on order (CS6) and am wondering if it would be beneficial to upgrade components of my computer - if so, what would make the biggest difference? Is upgrading worthwhile or smarter to just buy a new computer. All opinions appreciated.

Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Many thanks!

Fred

If you increase your ram it will help but you'll also have to upgrade your os to a 64 bit system to fully use it. Your processor also matters. And your hard drive. And your video card... Etc.
In my experience editing Canon 5d3 raw files in photoshop if you want to go fast you need a modern quad core computer.

Dec 09 12 04:04 pm Link

Photographer

Yingwah Productions

Posts: 1344

New York, New York, US

Veit Photo wrote:

I run CS5 and use the same camera. My PC was 6Gb 64-bit on an 8-core i7 CPU.
Pretty decent spec.
And yet saving files could take around 5 minutes per photo. And forget about having several images open at the same time!
Now I maxed out the board with 24Gb and I get more like good performance. It's pretty sweet.
From my experience I wouldn't even think about upgrading to CS6. Adobe is notorious for outlandish bloatware. I can't think of software that has more inefficient code and such a bizarre mix of unevenly upgraded modules (radial blur - WTF is that 1986 design ?!).
But we're not here to bitch about Adobe.
The bottom line is that you will need to put in some serious money into a machine that will run CS6 well.
Do it on Windows 7 or 8 64-bit and upagrade in stages. Start with less RAM. You can usually sell it again on eBay to make room for more.

I run a dual core 3.2ghz 12GB of ram. I have a D800 and cs6 runs fine on it. I've retouched medium format files on it for years.

Minimum spec for photoshop isn't all that great. Mainly get the fastest clock speed and stuff buncha RAM in it. Having 8 cores won't do much because photoshop is mostly sequential processes, little is done in parallel. Maybe if you do alot of batching.

Dec 10 12 12:15 am Link

Photographer

Yingwah Productions

Posts: 1344

New York, New York, US

Fred McKie wrote:
Wow, thank you very much everyone, some great responses! Plenty of food for thought ... will definitely hunt around for Windows 7 and sons more RAM plus maybe an SSD I think.

I don't feel SSDs make a big difference in performance. Programs will open really fast, but unless you put your image files on the SSD you won't get much benefit. I usually work off my storage drives which are WD black drives.

Dec 10 12 12:27 am Link

Photographer

Drew Smith Photography

Posts: 5210

Nottingham, England, United Kingdom

It's a 'TRAP!' smile

They lull you and entice you in with PS Elements to process your puny JPegs, then you upgrade your camera and start shooting raw and ... wtf? Elements is running through treacle, so you buy the full version PS creative suite and run CCleaner through your PC.

Burt now your PC is crawling on it's hands and knees and wheezing like an asthmatic carrying some very heavy shopping.

Random Access Memory is your friend here and yes, Windows 7 (which will bring unto you it's own 'joys'.)

Recently went through this whole upgrade process and probably will do again in the not too distant future. It's 'fun' as long as you don't weaken. smile

Dec 10 12 12:42 am Link

Photographer

Fred McKie

Posts: 46

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

sublime LightWorks wrote:

The OP did not say how old his system was and based on the statement he's running Vista, you might want to think about your Posting.  You should note that many systems still had 32 bit CPUs just 6 years ago. Do some research and read his initial posting before making your statements.

For example, the Pentium 4 is a 32 bit processor.

It is indeed a 32-bit processor. Almost 4 years old from recollection.

Dec 10 12 05:01 am Link

Photographer

Fred McKie

Posts: 46

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Drew Smith Photography wrote:
It's a 'TRAP!' smile

They lull you and entice you in with PS Elements to process your puny JPegs, then you upgrade your camera and start shooting raw and ... wtf? Elements is running through treacle, so you buy the full version PS creative suite and run CCleaner through your PC.

Burt now your PC is crawling on it's hands and knees and wheezing like an asthmatic carrying some very heavy shopping.

Random Access Memory is your friend here and yes, Windows 7 (which will bring unto you it's own 'joys'.)

Recently went through this whole upgrade process and probably will do again in the not too distant future. It's 'fun' as long as you don't weaken. smile

Haha, no doubt it is a trap! smile

Thanks everyone for your input ... I am weighing up my options.

Dec 10 12 05:05 am Link

Photographer

Blue Mini Photography

Posts: 1698

Tempe, Arizona, US

I don't know about pricing where you are, but I have found looking here, I can get and I7 with 8-gig from a major company for 5-600 all the time.   This will be my recommendation - it will also have current OS which others have said is good too.

Dec 10 12 05:14 am Link

Photographer

Michael Clancey

Posts: 71

Colorado Springs, Colorado, US

Unless you like doing your own desktop support I suggest just get a new pc.  The suggestions of 64Bit OS/Processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD would be the low end of where I'd want to start.  I don't know if you'd need a core i7 or or a core i5 would handle the load.  I use light room, which when running batches on export will peg the 8 virtual CPUs on my core i7.

I didnt see much about video cards in the thread and dont know if there is any benefit from upgrading that.  Since we're not talking rendering scenes, I image not much.  However, if you're not running two monitors that might be something to consider as well.

Good luck!

Dec 10 12 06:44 am Link

Photographer

Kawika Photography

Posts: 110

San Diego, California, US

Drew Smith Photography wrote:
It's a 'TRAP!' smile

Heh, so true. I seem to get stuck in it every 3-4 years. Videoguys have good recommendations for video editing, good systems for photo editing as well.

https://www.videoguys.com/Guide/E/Video … 3a6c6.aspx

I have the equivalent of the DIY9 but with 24GB RAM, SSD, 28" monitors.

Dec 10 12 07:39 am Link

Photographer

Yingwah Productions

Posts: 1344

New York, New York, US

sublime LightWorks wrote:
The OP did not say how old his system was and based on the statement he's running Vista, you might want to think about your Posting.  You should note that many systems still had 32 bit CPUs just 6 years ago. Do some research and read his initial posting before making your statements.

For example, the Pentium 4 is a 32 bit processor.

Fred McKie wrote:
It is indeed a 32-bit processor. Almost 4 years old from recollection.

64bit pentium 4 came out in 2004, vista was released in 2007. Unless you upgraded to vista or bought a custom built computer with very old parts, most likely you can support 64bit OS

Dec 10 12 08:21 am Link

Photographer

udor

Posts: 22938

New York, New York, US

Fred McKie wrote:
Hi

I've been running Elements 9 on my computer and it struggles considerably at times, particularly if I open too many files (quite large, from Canon 5D Mk III shooting RAW). I have the full version of PS on order (CS6) and am wondering if it would be beneficial to upgrade components of my computer - if so, what would make the biggest difference? Is upgrading worthwhile or smarter to just buy a new computer. All opinions appreciated.

Currently I have 4GB RAM and operate on a 32 bit system (Vista). I'm talking a desktop PC.

Many thanks!

Fred

PC???

PC!!!!!

Here is the much better solution than Photoshop:  ACDSee Pro 6 it is smaller, faster, easier and cheaper than PS.

The only thing you can't do is cut and paste of objects from one image into another... if you don't use gimmicks like that... that's the best program.

Using it for years (2005)!



P.S.: For the curious Mac users... don't bother... my buddy downloaded the Mac Version and it's bare bone... not worth it! Doesn't come even remotely close to the power of the PC version.

Dec 10 12 08:45 am Link

Photographer

sublime LightWorks

Posts: 6065

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Yingwah Productions wrote:

sublime LightWorks wrote:
The OP did not say how old his system was and based on the statement he's running Vista, you might want to think about your Posting.  You should note that many systems still had 32 bit CPUs just 6 years ago. Do some research and read his initial posting before making your statements.

For example, the Pentium 4 is a 32 bit processor.

64bit pentium 4 came out in 2004, vista was released in 2007. Unless you upgraded to vista or bought a custom built computer with very old parts, most likely you can support 64bit OS

The first 64 bit Pentium's were released in 2005, not 2004. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_In … chitecture

And as noted machines like the Dell D610 we released in 2005 and 2006 and used 32-bit processors.  The fact is a lot of 32 bit machines were sold thru 2008 as many still could not afford the top-end CPU's (note that very few people ran a 64 bit version of XP).

Dec 10 12 09:07 am Link

Photographer

Yingwah Productions

Posts: 1344

New York, New York, US

sublime LightWorks wrote:

The first 64 bit Pentium's were released in 2005, not 2004. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_In … chitecture

And as noted machines like the Dell D610 we released in 2005 and 2006 and used 32-bit processors.  The fact is a lot of 32 bit machines were sold thru 2008 as many still could not afford the top-end CPU's (note that very few people ran a 64 bit version of XP).

if you really must be pedantic about it
http://ark.intel.com/products/27468/Int … 00-MHz-FSB

around the time of vista the Core2 was pretty common, even the single cores were still 64-bit capable. It's possible to find 32bit processor but the likelyhood coming from a box store is pretty low.

Dec 10 12 10:48 pm Link

guide forum

Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6729

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I built a new computer last February and noticed a MARKED improvement. I had Vista32 and 4GB like you... even opening 40 RAWs from my XSi took a while.

Win 7.64 with 16GB ram, CS5 on a 128GB SSD, files on a 7200rpm WD Black - now even dealing with 30MB files instead of 12... still blazingly faster than the old system... and cheap too.

Dec 11 12 12:07 am Link

Photographer

Fred McKie

Posts: 46

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Thanks again all. Am looking at buying new now ... once I save up!

One question re use of HDD v SDD.

I've read that the ultimate for CS6 is to have 4 drives:

1) large HDD for OS
2) large HDD for the software
3) SSD for output files
4) SSD set up as scratch disk

Some here have suggested an SSD for the OS ... any thoughts on what is the best way to go?

Dec 12 12 04:50 pm Link

Photographer

B R U N E S C I

Posts: 25319

Bath, England, United Kingdom

Here's what I've done with my desktop recently:-

- Upgraded OS to Win7 64bit
- Increased RAM to 12GB
- Used a small (64GB) SSD for the OS and programs etc.

As I don't want or need CS6 I also installed a 5GB Ramdrive and use that for PS scratch. (PSE9 is a 32 bit program and cant directly access RAM above 4GB)

All the above have dramatically improved performance of both PS and LR4.




Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

Dec 12 12 04:57 pm Link