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find out the ideal amount of ram used for editing photos in lightroom, photoshop and other photography applications

How much ram do you need for photo editing? Lightroom RAM test

How Much Ram Do You Need For Photo Editing?

Wondering how much ram do you need for editing photos in Lightroom?

Exactly how much ram does Lightroom use? Is 8gb or 16gb enough ram for editing photos?

I recently upgraded my computer and had these exact same questions. I was frustrated nobody had done any RAM tests for photographers.

Google results for “How much RAM do I need for photo editing” normally led to forum results from photography gear nuts who suggested I buy as much as physically possible.

This seemed kind of silly to me.

When determining how much RAM you need for photo editing, you need to remember RAM is only useful if its actually being used – And there is a limit to how much RAM any given program will consume. Therefore ideally, you’d have just a little bit more than the maximum amount of RAM you’d need. As we’ll find out, this number starts to top out around 32gb of RAM for most photography editing situations.

After a certain point, extra RAM will no longer give you extra performance. This led me to believe there was probably a magic number out there for photography editing where I could get maximum performance, without spending a bunch of money on extra ram I didn’t actually need.

So I decided to put it to the test and see what difference upgrading RAM made when editing photos in Adobe Lightroom.

I compared the performance from 8gb to 40gb of RAM in editing, exporting, generating smart previews, and basic photography tasks. During all of this I monitored how much RAM Lightroom (and my computer) was actually using to find the ideal amount for editing photos.

Inside this video we’ll compare upgrading my computer from 8gb to 40gb of RAM, the difference in editing speed, and whether upgrading your RAM is worth it for you.

For photographers trying to speed up the performance of Lightroom and other photo editing software, more RAM might be the single easiest (and most affordable) way to increase Lightroom’s performance and speed when editing.

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00:00
hey guys Ryan here at signature edits
00:01
and inside this video we are going to
00:03
look at RAM in Lightroom how much RAM
00:05
does Lightroom really need and use what
00:07
kind of performance increases can you
00:09
expect if you upgrade your RAM and is it
00:11
worth spending the extra money to
00:12
increase it are you ready let’s do it
00:15
[Music]
00:21
all right so for those of you who don’t
00:23
know I edit photos for a living and
00:25
recently upgraded my computer the cool
00:26
thing about this iMac is I can actually
00:28
upgrade the amount of RAM in it but I
00:30
didn’t know how much I needed to add in
00:31
fact I don’t want to purchase Ram that
00:33
isn’t going to actually benefit me is it
00:35
going to make lightroom faster in the
00:36
first place so I did some research and
00:38
found out that really there is no kind
00:41
of information about this so I thought
00:42
I’d make a video and test it myself so I
00:44
purchased 32 gigabytes of RAM to add to
00:46
the additional eight that came with my
00:48
computer and ran a bunch of tests before
00:50
and after to see kind of what difference
00:52
you can expect when it comes to
00:53
performance inside of Lightroom doing
00:55
research online there really is no
00:57
consensus of how much RAM you should
00:58
have for Lightroom for instance one blog
01:00
I found set 16 gigabytes but Lightroom
01:02
itself says 4 gigabytes is the minimum
01:04
with twelve gigabytes being recommended
01:05
now if you’re anything like me you might
01:08
automatically assume that more Ram is
01:10
going to equal better performance but as
01:11
I researched it I quickly realized that
01:13
that’s not the case the reason is that
01:15
ram is basically just sitting around on
01:16
your computer until your computer needs
01:18
it when it opens a specific application
01:20
and it needs to do some processing now
01:22
all applications use a little bit of RAM
01:24
but having mountains of extra RAM that’s
01:26
actually just sitting around not doing
01:27
anything is kind of like ordering
01:29
Chinese food for ten people when it’s
01:31
only you at home by yourself for dinner
01:33
it really makes no sense it’s extra
01:35
waste that is not going to do anything
01:36
you’re gonna have to throw it away you
01:38
should have bought it in the first place
01:39
ok now that’s kind of a very very basic
01:42
example of why more RAM isn’t
01:44
necessarily better if the demands of
01:45
your computer and the programs you’re
01:47
running including Lightroom is not
01:49
greater than the amount of RAM you have
01:50
you won’t benefit from having more RAM
01:52
basically you want to figure out how
01:54
much ram Lightroom is actually using and
01:56
then purchase just a little bit more and
01:58
the reason you want a little bit more is
02:00
because every computer program you’re
02:01
running is going to use a little bit of
02:03
RAM whether that’s Google Chrome or
02:04
Spotify playing music while you edit
02:06
it’s all going to factor in and so if
02:08
you have extra buffer extra room your
02:10
computer isn’t going to have to kind of
02:11
fight and divide that ram up amongst
02:13
different programs all right so let’s
02:15
take a look at how much ram Lightroom is
02:17
actually using so in order to figure
02:19
this out I actually edited a wedding and
02:20
kept track as I was editing of how much
02:23
ram Lightroom was using during the
02:24
entire process at its peak I found that
02:27
Lightroom was using just over 13
02:29
gigabytes now this really confuse me at
02:31
first because I only had 8 gigabytes of
02:34
RAM on my
02:34
computer so what gives well it turns out
02:36
your computer is pretty smart and so if
02:38
you don’t have enough RAM for a given
02:40
application it can take bits of its hard
02:42
drive and assign those as additional RAM
02:44
storage this doesn’t really work so well
02:46
though in the real world because the
02:47
storage on your computer is far slower
02:50
than the RAM on your computer and so
02:52
it’s going to slow down the process your
02:53
programs won’t be able to function as
02:55
fast so for me it was definitely worth
02:56
adding more RAM at least probably 15 16
03:00
gigabytes you can’t get 15 so 16 at the
03:03
minimum would be kind of what I would
03:05
need based around these initial kind of
03:07
tests so I went onto Amazon and I found
03:09
this pack of RAM 32 gigabytes for a
03:11
hundred and fifty dollars for my iMac
03:14
I’ll make sure to leave the link in the
03:15
description below if you want to use it
03:17
it’s really up to you just make sure it
03:18
matches whatever model of computer
03:20
whether it’s a Mac or PC that you are
03:22
using now why did I go for 32 gigabytes
03:24
because I didn’t want to basically just
03:27
get by with the 16 gigabytes I wanted to
03:29
see if I add more if lightroom would
03:31
take advantage of that extra ram okay so
03:34
I got home I installed the RAM and then
03:36
I started running some tests so once
03:38
again I headed into Lightroom pulled up
03:39
a wedding and started editing while I
03:41
was monitoring how much RAM was being
03:43
used to my surprise Lightroom was now
03:44
using over 20 gigabytes of RAM even more
03:47
than it had been before this was great
03:49
but I really needed to know how much of
03:51
a difference in speed it was making
03:52
obviously it was better I could tell it
03:54
was more snappy but would it be
03:56
substantial for that I had to do some
03:58
actual comparison tests so this first
04:00
test is a side-by-side comparison of
04:02
applying a preset and doing some basic
04:04
exposure adjustments inside of Lightroom
04:06
both were done at the same time and you
04:07
can see that the 40 gigabytes of RAM is
04:09
responding a far more quickly that’s no
04:12
surprise but what did surprise me is how
04:13
much more quickly it is doing it it’s
04:16
about 2 to 3 times faster and when it
04:18
comes to editing thousands of images
04:19
that 2 to 3 times faster with loading
04:21
speeds is going to save you hours of
04:23
work so definitely a huge difference
04:25
there next I generated 100 smart
04:27
previews now my upgraded Mac was using
04:29
12 gigabytes of RAM and finish this in
04:31
21 seconds whereas the old version took
04:34
51 seconds that’s two and a half times
04:36
slower again the same kind of numbers
04:38
lastly I exported 500 images from a
04:41
wedding and found out that the results
04:42
were pretty similar with my upgraded
04:44
machine coming in 20 minutes faster in
04:46
terms of export time
04:48
all right so in summary upgrading the
04:50
RAM in your computer can make a huge
04:52
difference when it comes to performance
04:54
in Lightroom but really when it comes to
04:56
the amount of RAM that Lightroom is
04:57
using twenty to twenty two gigabytes was
05:00
the max that I found across all my tests
05:02
all of my kind of observations that
05:04
Lightroom is going to use so if you have
05:06
32 gigabytes of RAM you’re all set
05:08
you’re not going to see any performance
05:09
increases when it comes to 64 gigabytes
05:11
or 128 gigabytes you can just save your
05:14
money there and put it towards camera
05:15
gear or whatever it is you want to do
05:17
all right
05:17
so if you’re interested in the RAM kit
05:19
that I used I’ll leave a link in the
05:21
description below if this video was
05:22
helpful do me a favor hit that thumbs up
05:24
button if you really liked it make sure
05:26
to subscribe leave me a comment and I
05:28
will see you in the next video all right
05:29
peace
05:31
[Music]
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A few key points I learned during my RAM upgrade research:

A) Not all RAM is created equal.

Just like certain lenses have different quality control standards, more expensive RAM will give you a slight increase in performance

B) More expensive RAM is almost always NOT worth the money.

Why? Even if it runs a little faster, 16gb of the most expensive RAM will still perform more slowly than 32gb of cheaper ram. 99% of the time, you are better off taking that extra money and buying more cheap ram with it, rather than less expensive RAM.

C) If you’re buying an iMac, NEVER pay for the RAM upgrade! 

Apple charges 3-4X more money for the same RAM you could install yourself in about 30 seconds. Upgrading the RAM in an imac is SO easy its not even funny, so save yourself some cash and buy the RAM off of amazon to install yourself.

In case you’re wondering, here is the RAM upgrade kit I bought for my iMac

D) More RAM is hands down the cheapest, most effective way to increase your computers performance when editing photos (and especially editing photography in Lightroom.)

A better SSD will help a bit. Adding an upgraded GPU might give you slight increases. Adding extra RAM is like putting your computer on turboboost – After upgrading, Lightroom was 300% faster on my computer!

I hope this breakdown saves someone out there a lot of time. If this was helpful for you please do me a favor and let me know in the comments!

Have other questions about Upgrading RAM? Leave them too in the comments below!

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