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2017 iMac 5K: Photoshop Benchmarks, 64GB vs 8GB Memory
MPG recommends 64GB OWC memory (big savings!) in: 27" Retina 5K Display, 4.2 GHz Intel Core i7 (Skylake), 1TB Flash, 8GB memory, AMD Radeon Pro 580 Graphics Card (8GB).
How much does adequate memory matter? A lot.
Ordered with 8GB memory, the about $3099 4.2 GHz 2017 iMac 5K felt sluggish doing all sorts of things. It’s just not enough for any serious use, although web browsing and email are fine.
The solution is the OWC 64GB memory kit (or the OWC 32GB memory kit). Easily installed by anyone in a few minutes via the rear hatch with no tools, install, boot up and enjoy the snappy behavior! But it gets even better: it’s less than half the price of what Apple charges.
But how much faster is it, with Photoshop? MPG set out to see how the extra memory matters for relatively undemanding Photoshop work (in terms of file size) up to huge jobs.
The diglloyd Speed1 Photoshop benchmark uses a mix of the most commonly used Photoshop operations with a file size that allows everything to stay in memory. Hence it accurately represents what one might expect in everyday use of Adobe Photoshop CC. Specialty operations such as Liquify and other GPU-intensive tasks are just that—specialty, and are not included in this suite.
The diglloydSpeed1 benchmark needs only about 4GB of memory, so the speedup is modest, but in a way surprising that it still helps: 64GB is still about 8% faster than 8GB. Given that the top-end CPU costs $200, that money can go into memory and offer more bang for the big for users who are likely to run several apps and thus run into performance problems.
The diglloyd Medium Photoshop benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a moderately larger file size that exceeds what most users are likely to use, using about 15GB of memory in Photoshop.
Even with the incredibly fast SSD for swapping (which softens the performance blow), using 64GB cuts the runtime in half versus 8GB.
The diglloyd Medium Photoshop benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a large file size that exceeds what most users are likely to use, using about 30GB of memory in Photoshop.
For big jobs, the speedup is 6X—far beyond what any other upgrade can deliver—CPU, GPU, SSD all taken together pale in comparison to having 64GB instead of 8GB.
The diglloyd Huge Photoshop benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a file size that requires about 56GB of memory usage in Photoshop, well beyond what most users are likely to encounter. Due to memory limits and the resulting variability in runtime, it is advised to run 10 iterations or more of this test.
Even 64GB is not quite enough for this benchmark, so there is some impact on runtime even with 64GB. Still, a speedup of “only” 5.4X is a massive gain in performance.