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MacBook Pro Core i7: Effects of 8GB/4GB with Solid State Drive

This page separates out the effect of memory alone when used with a fast solid state drive, the stellar 200GB OWC Mercury Extreme.

The solid state drive (SSD) configurations discussed here are MPG Pro Laptop configurations.

diglloydSmall benchmark using solid state drive (SSD)

The diglloydSmall benchmark uses about about 8GB of scratch space in Photoshop CS5. It slightly exceeds the available (usable) memory on an 8GB system by about 2GB.

With 4GB, Photoshop must spend most of its time reading to and writing from the scratch volume.

The solid state drive is very fast, and mitigates the impact of memory as compared to a hard drive.

Observe that 8GB cuts the runtime by 54% or that 4GB takes 2.2 times longer.

Time in seconds, lower is faster

diglloydSmall benchmark using solid state drive (SSD)

The diglloydMedium benchmark uses about 16GB of scratch space in Photoshop CS5

With only 4GB or 8GB, Photoshop must spend most of its time reading to and writing from the scratch volume. Still, 8GB is far faster than 4GB, as would be expected.

Observe that 8GB cuts the runtime by 48% or that 4GB takes 1.9 times longer.

Time in seconds, lower is faster

Conclusions

8GB is hugely beneficial when working with large jobs in Photoshop CS5, even though a fast solid state drive does help mitigate the “hit” from having only 4GB.

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