How much RAM?

Started Jan 19, 2012 | Discussions
DotCom Editor
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How much RAM?
Jan 19, 2012

Well, I may bite the bullet and buy a new PC in the next month or so. Probably will go with Win 7 Ultimate. Probably will want the ability to run twin monitors for Photoshop.

How much RAM? Is 16GB considered enough these days for running the forthcoming CS 5 and LR 4? (Yes, one can never have enough, I suppose...) This is a far cry from my trusty DOS 2.1 PC with its 320K, yep, that's kilobytes of RAM.

malch
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

DotCom Editor wrote:

How much RAM? Is 16GB considered enough these days for running the forthcoming CS 5 and LR 4?

More than enough. I get on fine with 6GB and have never felt I needed more. I'd guess that most folks are buying new systems with 8 or 12GB today.

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doni
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

16 GB is more than enough.

My recommendation: get an 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X (one of the best rams out there imo and based on online reviews) and use the money you save for other parts that can help improve performance (i.e., faster processor, ssd, faster HDD, better keyboard [mechanical], good mouse [adjustable DPI settings are always good])

For reference, I use CS5 and Lightroom on an AMD phenom x6 black (overclocked to 4.0 on H20 cooling) based PC with only 8 GB of GSkill Ripjaws X with no hiccups.

Here is a link to reviews of this ram:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231428

But as you say, if money is no problem, 16GB cannnot hurt at all!

hope this helps!

DotCom Editor wrote:

Well, I may bite the bullet and buy a new PC in the next month or so. Probably will go with Win 7 Ultimate. Probably will want the ability to run twin monitors for Photoshop.

How much RAM? Is 16GB considered enough these days for running the forthcoming CS 5 and LR 4? (Yes, one can never have enough, I suppose...) This is a far cry from my trusty DOS 2.1 PC with its 320K, yep, that's kilobytes of RAM.

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Simon Garrett
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

DotCom Editor wrote:

Probably will go with Win 7 Ultimate.

Why? Do you have a specific need for the features beyond W7 Home Premium? Remember that Pro and Ultimate are not "better", they just have more features. The extra features are of very little relevance to most users not on an enterprise network (and I'm not talking about a home network). In fact, the extra features just mean it takes a bit more RAM and loads a bit more slowly, even if you don't use them.

See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/products/compare .

The features (in Pro) you might just want are virtual XP mode, but the (free) VirtualBox is (IMHO) better and more flexible. The only other one is that the Microsoft backup utility won't run over a network in Home Premium, but there are better backups anyway.

How much RAM? Is 16GB considered enough these days for running the forthcoming CS 5 and LR 4? (Yes, one can never have enough, I suppose...) This is a far cry from my trusty DOS 2.1 PC with its 320K, yep, that's kilobytes of RAM.

I have 12, and even running Photoshop, Lightroom, mail, lots of web browsers and several virtual machines - it rarely uses more than 6. Really: 8G is plenty for most users.
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Glen Barrington
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I'd go with 8 gig of RAM. . .
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

I'm a Lightroom user using it with 4 gig of RAM on a Vista machine to edit 8 and 12 mb raw files. (about to upgrade in Feb). I don't feel that I am taking a significant hit on response time with this set up. I think I'd definitely opt for 8 gig of RAM on a new machine since the difference in cost between 4 and 8 gig is now virtually nonexistent. BUT. . .

I think I'd rather spend the $$$ it would cost to go to 16 gig over 8 gig on a larger HD or maybe apply it to a better display screen. My thinking is memory is cheap enough that if you do need more ram, you can add it later for a modest sum of money and effort, but some of the other features are more hassle/cost to 'fix' after the initial build. (I don't see our HD storage needs staying level over the next 3 years either, and switching Hard drives is a true PITA!)

Clearly, if you expect to edit significantly larger files than I am using, then more RAM is probably a good use of your money. But you do need to balance the overall experience with just one aspect of the experience.

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Ho72
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

I once thought 16GB would be more than enough, but now that I've asked around I won't settle for less than 24gig when I build new.

For people who don't really tax their machines because all they do is play around with web-sized images or for the ones for whom time is not money, 8GB is probably plenty. However, for anyone who plans to stitch together large 16bit panos or who may be considering migrating to medium format, or for anyone who has page layout, illustration and image editing software all running simultaneously, even 24GB may be limiting. Especially when working with a time constraint.

It all goes back to my old rule of thumb regarding Photoshop and RAM: Carefully calculate your projected memory usage in terms of required RAM -- then double it.

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pcunite
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to Simon Garrett, Jan 19, 2012

Simon Garrett wrote:

Why? Do you have a specific need for the features beyond W7 Home Premium? Remember that Pro and Ultimate are not "better", they just have more features.

Windows 7 PRO is the minimal SKU that offers software restriction polices, which if you're not using now, are probably going to get your PC busted by a virus someday.

http://www.mechbgon.com/srp/index.html

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hkrautter
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

Part of the problem is if you're buying one made they charge you a a lot more to up the RAM. I built my own and spent $80 on Corsair 1600 MHz 16GB. See what the price difference is. You may do better to go with say 8GB and then wait till the price of 8GB RAM sticks come down and then put 32GB in yourself.

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hotdog321
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

I recently bought a laptop with 4 GB of RAM and it ran the full-on CS5 64-bit on Win 7 Home Edition just fine. I processed 21 megapixel RAW images with no problem.

I went ahead and doubled the RAM to 8 GB and really didn't notice any improvement.

Then I swapped out the hard drive for a SSD and the laptop suddenly could process huge RAW files in 1/2 to 1/3 the time!

The upshot is: 4 GB works fine on CS5, 8 GB is recommended by many folks, and I put 16 GB in my desktop. But if you are serious about power and have deep pockets, get a SSD.

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Simon Garrett
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to Ho72, Jan 19, 2012

Ho72 wrote:

I once thought 16GB would be more than enough, but now that I've asked around I won't settle for less than 24gig when I build new.

For people who don't really tax their machines because all they do is play around with web-sized images or for the ones for whom time is not money, 8GB is probably plenty. However, for anyone who plans to stitch together large 16bit panos or who may be considering migrating to medium format, or for anyone who has page layout, illustration and image editing software all running simultaneously, even 24GB may be limiting. Especially when working with a time constraint.

That's certainly not my experience, but maybe we're not comparing like-with-like.

I work with D300 12M pixel images - certainly not MF - and from time-to-time create panos or other composites with a few images, or maybe have half a dozen layers (all 16 bit). That together with Lightroom, lots of browser windows, Outlook, Word, Excel, 3 Virtual Box VMs and anything else I could think to run to load it up, and generally it uses no more than 6GB.
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Simon Garrett
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+1 for an SSD
In reply to hotdog321, Jan 19, 2012

An SSD makes a huge difference in performance - certainly much more than extra RAM above 8G in my experience.

As SSDs are expensive, you need to have at least 2 drives: an SSD for drive C (preferably 100-128G, doesn't need to be more than that) and a conventional drive D. If you keep Windows, programs and maybe ACR cache on C and all user data on D then 100G is enough for C, but less than about 80 and you spend all your time tidying up to keep the size down.

In fact, I keep some less-used or particularly large programs on D as well, and with an ACR cache size of 20G I use 100G on C.
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Ray Thompson
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

You don't need Windows 7 Ultimate unless you need multiple languages or bitlocker. You also don't need Windows 7 Professional unless you have to connect to a domain or have a really old program that needs XP. Windows 7 Home Premium will suit most people just find. Also be sure and install the 64 bit version. I haven't found anything that won't run in the 64 bit environment.

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tropicalsun
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Re: I'd go with 8 gig of RAM. . .
In reply to Glen Barrington, Jan 19, 2012

I agree 8GB is plenty and you are not likely to need more beyond that.

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hotdog321
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to Ray Thompson, Jan 19, 2012

+1 Agree. I, personally, see little use for Ultimate. Home Premium is great for almost everything. I did put Pro on one machine so I can access a VERY old game and my very, very old Managing Your Money financial data. (Just too big a pain to migrate to a new financial program.)

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DotCom Editor
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The issue for me is Lightroom, not PS
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

My LR 3 catalog contains about 60,000 images. I find working in LR 3 painfully slow. Maneuvering around the library module is so-so, but using the brush tool for touch-up and waiting for the screen to repaint is completely unacceptable.

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kelpdiver
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to Simon Garrett, Jan 19, 2012

Simon Garrett wrote:

Why? Do you have a specific need for the features beyond W7 Home Premium? Remember that Pro and Ultimate are not "better", they just have more features. The extra features are of very little relevance to most users not on an enterprise network (and I'm not talking about a home network). In fact, the extra features just mean it takes a bit more RAM and loads a bit more slowly, even if you don't use them.

See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/products/compare .

The features (in Pro) you might just want are virtual XP mode, but the (free) VirtualBox is (IMHO) better and more flexible. The only other one is that the Microsoft backup utility won't run over a network in Home Premium, but there are better backups anyway.

Remote Desktop connectivity is extremely useful to me as I tend to build more machines than I have monitors for, and I often like to work/play in the living room in front of the TV with a laptop. KVMs work, but are much slower than just maximizing/minimizing a window.

One advantage XP mode has over Virtual Box is no issues around the licensing of that XP instance. It sets up much more quickly, easily, as well. (Personally, I use VirtualBox on a solaris parent)

The 16GB limit in Home may be a concern someday, but you could always upgrade later - I think Newegg often sells it for $60-70. It's the most wasteful packaging on earth, but cheaper than the direct online upgrade from MS at $90.

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Glen Barrington
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Re: The issue for me is Lightroom, not PS
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 19, 2012

Well as a Teradata database administrator, my suspicion is that the number of records in your LR database is not exceptionally large for a reasonably modern pc, and the size of the photos is more of a performance hit for you than the number of photos you are dealing with.

You may well need more ram AND a faster hard drive!
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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: How much RAM?
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 20, 2012

8 is plenty but ram is cheap you can see improvements from 4 to 8Gb (well for power users not average Joe) from 8 to 16 I can't notice it at all

I use 4Gb for most builds (non heavy users) runs win 7 64bit just great
8 for power dudes photo/video work
16 for overkill folks

If anyone is running 32Gb and telling you they need more ram, I'd have to wonder what they are doing

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DotCom Editor
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Re: The issue for me is Lightroom, not PS
In reply to Glen Barrington, Jan 20, 2012

Glen Barrington wrote:

You may well need more ram AND a faster hard drive!

No local C: storage for me except for the actual LR catalog database. I have four separate RAID 5 arrays on my gigabit network (each is 8TB -- 4x2TB). Array #2 is a mirror of #1, #3 is another mirror, and #4 is yet another mirror. All content is on the network, running through a Netgear 48-port gigabit managed switch. Of course, the catalog is backed up to all four arrays, and there is yet another copy (#5) of everything stored offsite with weekly incremental backup. Considering a sixth copy of all data to the cloud, though that would be excruciatingly slow. Can you tell I come from a mainframe background (though not in storage administration)?

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Glen Barrington
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Well what are you asking us opinionated yayhoos for!
In reply to DotCom Editor, Jan 20, 2012

You clearly have the expertise to decide this for yourself, and even if you don't, that setup takes a guy who knows your system to keep running!
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