Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

How To Build A Photoshop Optimized Computer - 2015

I recently wrote a post about purchasing my new computer and mentioned that back in 2010 I had written a series of posts about optimizing a computer for Photoshop usage.  I also mentioned that some things have changed since then and that I would write a new post about the current status of optimizing a computer that is mainly to be used for editing images in Photoshop.  Please note however that, while I have some degree of computer literacy, I am certainly not an expert and this post simply compiles data from several locations. I would welcome any further comments or updates from readers about these recommendations. In addition, since I happen to be a Windows user this information pertains specifically to computers running the Windows operating system.  

CPU: Faster = Better. More cores = a point. There are diminishing returns after about four cores (editing video using Adobe's Premier Pro is a different story). So the performance boost by moving from 4 to 6 or 8 cores is very small.  Save your cash after 4.

RAM: No surprises here. More = Better, depending of course on your file sizes.  If you are working with very small files then massive amounts of RAM won't speed things up terribly.  But if you are working on very large files having enough RAM to avoid having Photoshop write to the scratch disk will be one of the biggest improvements you can make.

Hard Drive: Installing Photoshop on an SSD will allow it to launch faster than if it were on a spinning disk. But what about the scratch disk?  Back in 2010 I had assembled a RAID 0 array to serve as a fast scratch disk, which of course increases the cost and the complexity of the system.  That type of setup is no longer needed.  Having the scratch disk on the C drive will be fine as long as the C drive is an SSD and it has plenty of empty space.  In this instance there isn't much to be gained by putting the scratch disk on a separate SSD drive.

I had no plans to put the scratch disk on a separate drive but happened to see a great sale on a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD for $150 and grabbed it as an add on.  I decided to use it to save the files I am currently working on so that they can open and save very rapidly (I work on large files) and so, with that large and near empty SSD in place, I decided to use it as a scratch as well.

Storage is relatively cheap, so I recommend getting a large mechanical drive or two for storing your files.

Graphics Card: Here is another place that going top end doesn't buy you very much more in performance (assuming you are not planning on any serious video editing).  Although modern versions of Photoshop do use the GPU, it doesn't do it intensively.  I went with an Nvidea GeForce 960 with 2 GB of VRAM.

Looking for more detailed information?  There is a lot of good stuff out there!  Start with these:

I hope this is useful information for those that might be looking into purchasing a new system for image editing.  I should also mention that my prior system was running Windows 7 and I was extremely happy with it.  Because I anticipate the new system lasting another 5 years, it was with some trepidation that I ordered it with Windows 10.  My daughter has a Windows 8 laptop and I can't even begin to use the thing. She hates it as well.  However, I do have to say that Windows 10 is a joy to use so far and I have not had any compatibility issues with any Adobe Products or plug-ins.  I may actually prefer the interface to 7, though it's a little too early to tell.