Speeding Up Photoshop CS5
Optimizing Photoshop (CS5 or otherwise) is something that many designers overlook. Just because you have a great computer to run Photoshop, doesn’t mean you’re taking full advantage of your setup and getting all the speed and power out of it you can. Today I’m going to talk about how you take your Photoshop experience to the next level.
How much RAM can Photoshop use?
Most of you probably think that Photoshop already is using all of your RAM just because you have 4GB or more. It’s not! By default Photoshop is only using 70% of the available RAM (not including RAM needed for the OS). Also depending on whether you are running a 32bit or 64bit version of Photoshop and/or your operating system, will also determine how much RAM Photoshop can use. Here are the RAM specs for Photoshop CS5:
- CS5 32 Bit Version, Windows OS 32 Bit Version: Max RAM 1.7 GB
- CS5 32 Bit Version, Windows OS 64 Bit Version: Max RAM 3.2 GB
- CS5 64 Bit Version, Windows OS 64 Bit Version: Max RAM As Much As Your Computer Has!
- CS5 32 Bit Version, Mac OS: Max RAM 2.1
- CS5 64 Bit Version, Mac OS: Max RAM As Much As Your Computer Has!
The info above defeats the argument of Mac’s Being Better than PC’s for Graphic Design, also known as the Mac Myth. In a 64 Bit environment it is completely irrelevant and have no baring on performance.
Photoshop Hard Drive and Scratch Disk
Photoshop reads and writes image information while working on an image, the faster the scratch disk or the disk that contains the image, the faster Photoshop can process image information. To improve Photoshop performance, use a disk with a fast data transfer rate, such as an internal hard disk.
If you’re going to use a dedicated scratch disk, (which I highly recommend) the a Solid State Disk (SSD) is your best bet. Their performance and read/write speeds are better than the average Hard Disk and will work even better if you use more than one and setup a RAID 0 array.
Just get a machine with multi-core processors running over 2GHz, 3GHz or higher is best, Dual core is enough but you don’t need more than Quad Core to work with Photoshop, most of its heavy lifting is done in RAM and Hard Disk space and speed.
There is an “Efficiency Indicator” in Photoshop toward the bottom left hand corner of the screen. If it displays less than 90% Efficiency try enhancing your performance setting in Edit > Preferences > Performance… this will let you control what Scratch Disk are being used, in what order, and how much RAM Photoshop is using.