more ram or faster processor

EC
Posted By
Ellen_Cocose
Dec 30, 2008
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1066
Replies
30
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Closed
What improves performance more, more ram or faster processor?

I’ve got a Dell workstation 650, xeon processor 2.0GHZ.
2.5 GB Ram
XP Pro
CS

If I upgrade to 4GB Ram, will I see a big improvement? Or do I need to get a new computer with a faster processor plus 4GB or more of Ram.

Thanks,
Ellen

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TH
Trez_Hane
Dec 30, 2008
You’ve asked a question that often provokes more heat than light, but anyway here are some thoughts:
1. Processor? Unless the motherboard provides an easy upgrade route, this probably won’t be cost-effective.
2. Memory? If you’re running a 32-bit operating system, your system cannot address more that about 3.2 GB of memory. The rest of the address space is reserved for hardware. Since you already have 2.5 GB, there’s not much to be gained here.

On an older system, you can often realize surprising overall speed gains with an inexpensive new hard drive, especially if you presently have but one physical drive. Or, given current downward price trends, the notion of a new system has to be considered. That’s when you start thinking about 64-bit windows and more memory.

Trez
DM
dave_milbut
Dec 30, 2008
agree w/trez. there might be one other option besides an all out upgrade. go to 64 bit vista on a new internal hard drive (7200rpm) AND load up the memory. 4 or 8 gig.
EC
Ellen_Cocose
Dec 30, 2008
I have 2 hard drives – one for the os and one for data.

The research I’ve done shows that XP pro 32 bit recognizes 4 GB ram. If some of that is used up for hardware, wouldn’t that also be the case with 2.5Gb, so wouldn’t upgrading to 4gb be an improvement?

I’m just wondering how much I can push my present 2003 system without spending 1K in a new one. I know the only thing I can do on this is to add memory.

Also, I’m used to XP pro, have it on 3 computers, and would rather stick with it for now.
DM
dave_milbut
Dec 30, 2008
The research I’ve done shows that XP pro 32 bit recognizes 4 GB ram.

really 3, and each app only takes 2, with an unsupported switch (/3gb) you can sometimes get a machine to see 3 but no guarantees.
EC
Ellen_Cocose
Dec 30, 2008
So now I’m really confused. Here’s a link from Microsoft: <http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555223>

What am I missing?
DM
dave_milbut
Dec 30, 2008
video card memory, sound card memory, hardware caches, etc. also are included in the 4 gigs of memory that the os will see, so functionally you’ll wind up with something less than the 4 gig. usually it’s closer to 3.

if you’ve got 2 drives already, i say you go for the extra ram, and the 64 bit os to use it. the os will move forward with you (if you go retail) so that you won’t have to pay that expense again if/when you finally do upgrade your box.
EC
Ellen_Cocose
Dec 30, 2008
Will I still benefit with the extra ram but sticking with the 32bit xp pro?
TH
Trez_Hane
Dec 30, 2008
Ellen, what I think you are missing here is that the hardware, etc., uses memory ADDRESSES. A 32 bit operating can only address 2 to the 32nd power, or 4 GB of unique places. Even if you have only 512 Megabytes of RAM, there will still be 4 GB (specifically 4,294,967,296) of addresses, and about 3/4 of a GB is used for hardware addresses. They’re not necessarily using any RAM or have their own RAM, but if the addresses are taken, then those spots in your system ram are simply not available because there’s no way to access them.

Hence, the benefits of a 64 bit operating system. It has an address space of 2 to the 64th power, which is a stupendously large number. The problem here may be whether your 2003 machine and peripherals would work with a newer operating system.

I can only reiterate that if you try to speed things up by just throwing in more memory you are liable to be very dissapointed. Also, depending on the type of memory your system uses, many of the older memory sticks are far more expensive than current versions.

Finally, back on the subject of hard drives: modern ones generally are a lot faster, especially if you put a SATA card in your computer. And if your present drives are anything like the age of your computer, there is the question of overall reliability, not to mention the slowing effects of read and seek errors as a drive ages.

I can certainly appreciate your desire to keep your machine functional as long as possible. It can be very difficult in the fast-changing and ever-increasing demands put on a system by software.

Trez
EC
Ellen_Cocose
Dec 30, 2008
Thank you for explaining this to me. I know I’ve been slow to get it, thanks for your patience!

Ellen
JJ
John Joslin
Dec 30, 2008
Thank you for bringing it up. Quite a few people have a problem like this and bringing the discussion forward helps them too.
WL
willie_lawrie
Dec 30, 2008
Hi Ellen,

I would throw into the equation what printers do you have?

If you upgrade the Operating System to Vista make sure there are decent drivers for your printers. I have two computers, one Vista & one XP.
I have two epson printers – 1290S & R800 but the Vista drivers are very basic and are a nightmare to use.
QP
Q_Photo
Dec 30, 2008
EPSON drivers for Vista are available for the R1800 so they should also be available for the R800. Don’t use Vista drivers for Epson when EPSON drivers can be had.
Q
WL
willie_lawrie
Dec 30, 2008
It is the Epson drivers that I’m referring to.
I can’t remember the problems I had with Vista as now I only use the printers with my XP computer.

I am only advising that if you change the Operating system then make sure that there are good drivers for your printer.
J
JD
Dec 30, 2008
wrote:
What improves performance more, more ram or faster processor?
I’ve got a Dell workstation 650, xeon processor 2.0GHZ.
2.5 GB Ram
XP Pro
CS

If I upgrade to 4GB Ram, will I see a big improvement? Or do I need to get a new computer with a faster processor plus 4GB or more of Ram.

Thanks,
Ellen

I’m new to this newsgroup and I see nobody includes the original post in their reply. Is this the way it’s done here?

You’ve gotten a lot of theoretical discussion regarding your question.

Photoshop is a resource hog. The more ram, the faster the processor, the better PS works.

If you don’t have the money to buy a new computer, why not price more ram to see if you can afford it? 2 GB of ram for my computer cost $40.

Since you have two hard drives, go into PS and put the scratch disk for PS on the second hard drive. Put it on the hard drive that doesn’t have PS on it. Also, go into PS and adjust how much ram it uses. How to do that?

In PS, click on Edit, Preferences and select Performance.

How much ram is available? I have 4 GB of ram but only 1702 MB are available to PS. I let PS use 85%. What I did was start all the programs I would be using with PS, so I started MS Office, my web browser and Adobe Acrobat(full version, not the reader).

Where is your scratch drive? I have two 320 GB hard drives so I let PS use the second hard drive for it’s scratch disk.

If you have an older version of PS, Preferences may be located under File.


JD..
JT
John_T_Smith
Dec 30, 2008
whether your 2003 machine and peripherals would work with a newer operating system

My computer is from 2004 (Intel PBZ motherboard) and when I put a Vista64 disc in the drive (not to install, just to test after making the CD from an .ISO) the drive spun up… and a message displayed that the OS would not run on my computer

Going to Vista64 is very likely going to require a new computer for the OP
DM
dave_milbut
Dec 30, 2008
likely going to require a new computer for the OP

actually you may be right. i saw xeon and thought powerful chip, but i didn’t think about when they went to 64 bit. good catch there john. sorry.
J
JD
Dec 30, 2008
wrote:
whether your 2003 machine and peripherals would work with a newer operating system

My computer is from 2004 (Intel PBZ motherboard) and when I put a Vista64 disc in the drive (not to install, just to test after making the CD from an .ISO) the drive spun up… and a message displayed that the OS would not run on my computer

Going to Vista64 is very likely going to require a new computer for the OP

Will it also require new software? Will 32 bit software run on a 64 bit OS?


JD..
JT
John_T_Smith
Dec 30, 2008
I can get Vista64 Business for free (legal !!!) since I work at a University that has an agreement with Microsoft, and since my computer is almost 5 years old, I am "thinking" about building a new one with the latest Intel i7 processor

Of course, I have to get through tax season first, to see if I have any $$ to spend on building a new computer… but if I do, what I’m looking at is…

300 Motherboard (Asus P6T ??)
350 Intel i7 920 2.66ghz
240 6 Gig 3×2 DDR3 Ram set
100 Sata 160G x2 Boot swap
112 Sata 320G x2 Data swap
35 Pioneer Dvr216D
150 Case w/Power
20 Pci Printer Card or Usb/Parallel Cable
160 Vantec Drive Swap Housings x4
260 Ati Radeon HD4870 512
1727

With possible options of…

240 6 Gig 3×2 to go to max 12
1967

350 Intel i7 940 2.93ghz
2317
BL
Bob Levine
Dec 30, 2008
RAM is very cheap…max it out.

Bob
RP
Russell_Proulx
Jan 1, 2009
As far as I know there is little benefit in using XP-Pro vs XP-Home unless you’re using it in a corporate networked environment. They can max both use the same amount of memory and both work with muti-core processors in the same way. So don’t waste your $$ on XP-Pro unless it offers something you *really* need. It’s amazing how throwing ‘Pro’ on XP or ‘Ultimate’ on Vista has consumers believing that Photoshop (or their computer) will somehow work better or faster.
DM
dave_milbut
Jan 1, 2009
home was cripled when xp was released russ. the memory mgmt and cpu support came later.
RP
Russell_Proulx
Jan 1, 2009
home was crippled when xp was released russ. the memory mgmt and cpu support came later.

Dave, are you saying that when XP was 1st released (pre-SP1) that there was a difference? When did that change? SP2?

I remember that there was confusion about whether a dual-core processor was supported as only XP-Pro supported more than one processor. But I thought that was clarified to mean that there had to be physically more than one processor socket?

Afaik, in their current SP3 version there’s little difference that most users would ever notice between ‘Home’ and ‘Pro’. Correct me if I’m wrong. I just recently bought another copy of XP and became aware that the memory and multi-core processor support was the same so there was no need to spend the extra $.
DM
dave_milbut
Jan 1, 2009
Dave, are you saying that when XP was 1st released (pre-SP1) that there was a difference?

yup. mighta been as late as sp2 when they updated that. i don’t recall if sp1 had the ram and multi-cpu capabilities in home. so yea, at the beginning, there was definitely a reason to go pro. if you had more ram than home could handle or a processor that had more than 1 core (or simulated more than 1 – remember hyper-threading? :))
DE
David_E_Crawford
Jan 1, 2009
If people miss hyper-threading: it is back with the new Intel Nehalem CPU. 🙂
FN
Fred_Nirque
Jan 1, 2009
From memory there was also an issue with the 1st Home version running two monitors.
K
KyleDJ
Jan 1, 2009
(Apologies if this was already explained, however I saw it mentioned only lightly in passing in the other replies.)

Ellen,

Yes, even with Win XP (32-bit) you can get a significant performance improvement by adding RAM above 2 GB, assuming you are currently working with multiple files and/or very large files that consume all your RAM, which forces Photoshop to use swap space on a hard drive (=very slow).

While Photoshop (and other applications) cannot access *all* of the memory above 2 GB on 32-bit Win XP, Photoshop is capable of accessing *some* of it. While it seems like a rip-off to add all that memory and not get to use all of it, it is still a performance improvement. 🙂

In my case, I had 2 GB originally, and Photoshop CS2 could access less than only 1 GB with the settings I had. I now have 4 GB in my machine and adjusted some settngs, and Photoshop now has access to almost 2 GB. In other words, it basically doubled the amount of RAM Photoshop could use. For me, that made a huge performance improvement when working with multiple files or with very large single files, as Photoshop now uses the hard drive for swap space much less often.

Assuming your machine will let you install the extra memory (and that it’s cost-effective to do so), edit the boot.ini file in Windows:

1. Right-click on My Computer.
2. Click in the Advanced tab.
3. Under Startup and Recovery click Settings.
4. Click Edit.
5. At the very end of the line that contains "…Windows XP…", add " /3GB". For example, in my case it looks like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /3GB

6. Save the change and close the editor, click a bunch of OK’s, and reboot your machine. Applications that are capable of taking advantage of the special /3GB setting, such as Photoshop, can now access more memory.

(Note, someone please correct me if I made error(s) in the above steps.)

You can compare the effect before and after following the above steps, by opening Photoshop and looking at Edit -> Preferences -> Memory. This shows how much RAM is available, and has a setting to control the maximum amount that Photoshop can try to hog to itself. Even if you don’t add the extra memory or turn on the /3GB switch in boot.ini, you can increase this setting if it’s already low. I raised mine to 70% (based on advice in the Adobe Knowledge Base) from the default of about 55% I think, and it has worked well. My machine today, with 4GB installed, has CS2 reporting available RAM of 2698 MB, and with the maximum set at 70%, CS2 has up to 1888 MB all to itself. And I use it! 🙂 Numbers are similar in CS4.

As always, be aware that not all machines, installations, etc., are the same, and it’s possible things might not work in your case, or there could be side effects. If you search on Microsoft’s Knowledge Base for "/3GB switch" you will find all kinds of very detailed technical info about side effects, fixes, etc. For me, the RAM was cheap, so it was worth trying. If it doesn’t work or if your computer seems unstable, you can always just undo all the changes. At the very least, make that change in Photoshop to the max % it can use, and that will help some.

For more detailed info from Adobe about improving performance with Photoshop, including this Windows /3GB switch for memory upgrades, and many other Photoshop tweaks and tips, check out these two links:

< http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=33 2271&sliceId=2>

< http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=32 0005>

Note, these links apply to CS2, and I think you listed having CS, however I think many of the concepts should be the same regardless of version. (The Knowledge Base may also have similar articles specific to CS.)

Hope that helps…, if you try it be sure to let us know how it worked out 🙂

Regards,
KDJ
FN
Fred_Nirque
Jan 2, 2009
Nothing to add other than to highlight that there must be a SPACE before /3GB in the boot.ini line, which is not always visually apparent when seen in examples and is something that kept me puzzling for ages before I finally got it right years ago.
LH
Lawrence_Hudetz
Jan 2, 2009
Here are a couple of additional references on the /3GB switch. Note the Autodesk reference urges backup of the .ini file before messing with it.

There are cautionary notes about conflicts which can happen using it. I decided against it for some of the problems others have had.

Be careful out there!

< http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/server/PAE/PAE mem.mspx>

< http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/item?siteID=123112&a mp;id=9729516&linkID=9240697>
LH
Lawrence_Hudetz
Jan 2, 2009
Here are a couple of additional references on the /3GB switch. Note the Autodesk reference urges backup of the .ini file before messing with it.

There are cautionary notes about conflicts which can happen using it. I decided against it for some of the problems others have had.

Be careful out there!

< http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/server/PAE/PAE mem.mspx>

< http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/item?siteID=123112&a mp;id=9729516&linkID=9240697>

Concerning hyperthreading, it’s mostly useful if the programmers use it correctly. The Nehalem shows 8 cores in Task Manager, but that doesn’t mean you actually will use them!
EC
Ellen_Cocose
Jan 2, 2009
Thanks, everyone, for the tips! This has been a very informative thread.

Ellen

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