Late 2012 increase ram to speed up Photoshop or wait for new iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by H.Finch, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. H.Finch macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Hi all,

    I've got a quick question for someone who's a bit more technical then I am...
    Lately I've been working with bigger artboards in Photoshop and for the first time since buying my 2012, 27" (quad core, core i5 2,9 ghz) iMac I've had negative experiences with its computing power. As in, PS gets very slow with saving, moving from artboard to artboard, dragging items to another artboard etc.

    Now I'm wondering if increasing the ram from 8 gig to 16 or 32 will solve this problem, or whether it’s a processor thing...

    If increasing the ram solves it I'll keep my current iMac for another year with more (new) ram...
    If not I'll have to buy a new iMac, but I'll have to wait to the next version which is long overdue...

    Any insights in the Ram vs Processor question as related to PS's performance is welcome!
  2. mollyc macrumors 68000

    Aug 18, 2016
    I admit I don't actually know much about the processors, but I have a late 2012 with a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 and have 32GB of RAM, and my PS is also lagging lately. Not to a point that it's unworkable at all, but just more like "why are you being so pokey?" My guess is that it's a processor issue with PS becoming more advanced with each iteration (I'm on CC). More RAM won't hurt, but I'm not sure it will solve your problem.
  3. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Thanks Molly... yeah I also was wondering about whether it was Photoshop itself... That’s not great if that’s the case…
    Your system is a lot better than mine (more ram, better proc) and if you’re experiencing lag that doesn’t bode well…
    Thanks a lot for your insight though… Might save me 200,- Euro’s :)
  4. Firebrand macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2016
    Perhaps your hard disk plays a partial role as well.
  5. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Could be. I have the fusion drive and its now 500 gig full (of 1,1 tb I think). Normally I kept it under 128 so that all is on the SSD part and put the rest on my external drive. I could try to return to the old way....
  6. Growlernz macrumors newbie


    Sep 21, 2016
    I have an old mid 2011 iMac. I threw 32gb at it just buying generic 1333 DDR3 from my local store. Was the best thing I have done on it in terms for bang for buck and ease of upgrade! Don't be fooled into 'mac' ram.
    Made a huge difference for PS, I deal with Raw files from my D800, no problem having 40+ open at once.

    I am itching to buy a new iMac, was ready to buy one with the MBP refresh but it never came. I'll hold out until March to see what happens and then relook from there and go either new iMac or Studio Surface.

    Attached Files:

  7. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Thanks for your perspective Growlernz!
    I'm gonna keep that in mind. Same as you I also was hoping for a new iMac at the previous event. Maybe I'll hold out until march, but we have no guarantees sadly of when it will come... Look at the Mac Pro :(
  8. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I'm guessing you aren't using a scratch disk? Please, read this and get a small/suitable TB 1/2 or USB 3-attached SSD - it doesn't have to be a large drive:

    None of it is PS CC-specific. FWIW I've been using PS since version 3. I still walk in on my subs and find them griping about PS performance and they're *still* not using scratch disks. I use the same MO for GIS and CAD apps... A properly-set up scratch disk can really make PS scream, in a good way...
  9. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Thanks a lot Campyguy!
    I have looked into that, but not in dept.. I think it uses my Macintosh HD (fusion drive) right now... I didn't even know I could use something external... I'm gonna try this!
  10. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
  11. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    IMHO, you'll want a dedicated drive to use only as a scratch disk (SD) - take a look at your setup and workflow. If you're working on "normal" images - TIFF or PSD files, then you're limited by PS to 2GB/4GB per image (we never work on PSB files!).

    PS's virtual memory (scratch disk) is allocated upon launch - on your OS drive or SD, depending on which drive is your designated drive. Depending on how much RAM is installed, the SD "temp" file can be as large as the RAM allocated to Photoshop. This is done so that the "ram first" use can seamlessly transition to ram + SD. Once that initial SD is set up, opening images and using History States also increases the SD allocation proportionally, and each history state is written to the SD.

    I learned this technique will really speed up a workflow, using a Windows tower, with AutoCAD and PS 5.5 (still my favorite version of PS!). I was the "new guy" and got the boat anchor hand me down. I got permission to add a small (5GB 10000 RPM HD - this was back in 2005, so that was a decent-sized drive at the time...). I set the drive up solely as a scratch disk for both apps, and that scratch disk was always spinning when I was using AutoCAD (often with SHAPE files) and PS (generally TIFF files of aerial photos exported from Mr. SID). My PC became the production beast. My point here is IMHO get the fastest relevant drive that suits your workflow - I use a TB2 enclosure with a 256GB Samsung 850 EVO, but I could get by with 128GB. The drive you called out is too large, an HD, and uses the USB-C interface; I chose my setup because when we switch over to the newer interface, a simple swap of the EVO into a new enclosure will take minutes. IMHO, I start and end my search for storage SSDs at the EVO. Also, for a few more bucks over a USB-SS interface I prefer TB - it never cuts out on me or gets unexpectedly unmounted like USB drives have.

    FWIW, I've ordered a few AKiTiO T3T adapters to help with the transition to the new TB3 port interface (

    One more tip? Work only in a Standard User Account that's dedicated to your work in PS - no mail, no surfing the web. Keep that account free of other use, and mount that scratch disk only for that account before logging into that account. See the following bit I do to keep up on email notifications and the like...

    I get my employees a cheap Nokia Lumia (the ATT GoPhone version) - load a Win 10 ROM on it, then load work email accounts into it (I use a Lumia 640), then connect them via wifi; Lumia's have a fantastic email client that works with Exchange Servers (I have one) and also use Office 365. Cheers!
  12. H.Finch thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Thanks for your extensive explanation Campyguy. Much appreciated. I'll keep an eye on the dedicated drive for PS in that case... I though I'd need a large external drive soon anyway, so I figured I'd get the 5 GBps usb C Lacie of 4 TB, thats why I was considering it and allocating space on it for PS next to my normal backup files. Thanks again!
  13. macmee Suspended


    Dec 13, 2008
    I had a 2010 iMac and photoshop was slow

    I sped it right up with 32gb of ram *and then* I made a 16gb ram disk, and copied photoshop into that

    I never really shut that mac down too often, I preferred sleeping it - so it worked out well and photoshop was very fast.
  14. 25ghosts macrumors 6502

    Jan 31, 2008
    Increasing RAM will help as will a great GPU. If you opt for an iMac don't forget to invest in to a pair of ear muffs to put on to get away from the loud noise of the iMac fans when they kick in after working about 3 minutes in Photoshop. iMac 2015 5K is the loudest computer EVER built. It is fast yes but when it is fast it is extremely loud, so loud that I opt for my 2016 Late MBP with 16 B RAM. I literally cannot work with the iMac due to its jet fans kicking in all the time due to thermal problems in design.
  15. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I guess depending on version of Photoshop what is the efficiency monitor tell you? Try allocating more RAM in preferences and see if you see a difference. Add more RAM depending on results.
  16. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

    Apr 13, 2017
    Well,if you use Photoshop elements,why not try switching to pixelmator?
    Works in similar ways,with almost the same functionality,and you can also get versions for both Mac and iOS devices.
  17. Miguel Cunha macrumors 6502

    Miguel Cunha

    Sep 14, 2012
    Braga, Portugal
    Photoshop is known to be very taxing on hardware, and not optimised at all.

    After 20 years of Photoshop, I switched to Affinity Photo.
    It's swift, responsive very intuitive and powerful.

    No more beachballs, no subscriptions, no need for hardware upgrade.
    It runs far faster and I prefer the workflow, so I work faster and make adjustments faster.

    I'll never use Photoshop again!
  18. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Jul 18, 2010
    Surrey, UK
    The hardrive might be partly to blame. I've a late 2012 with 3.4, 32gb RAM which I know is a higher spec (although someone with same spec mentioned occasional slow down too) but more importantly, I opted for the full SSD option. I'm running the latest PS CC and generally don't have any issues unless I've got multiple (10+) 36mp RAW files open alongside Lightroom.

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