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

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?

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.

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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