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Amount of RAM optimal with M1 PRO MacBook Pro

Explorer ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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I am looking at purchasing the new 14 inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip.   I use Photoshop and Lightroom Classic.   I know the adobe website has recommendations but I don't know if they consider new Apple silicon.   Since you get only one shot at how much RAM in the computer I want to get my choice right and future proof.  Will I be safe with 16 GB?  Or should I go for 32 GB?  $400 more is pretty steep.   

Right now I may use iMovie concutprrently but not other intensive programs.  
Thanks.

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

LEGEND , Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

The simple answer is, the most you can afford. PS needs 3-5 times each file size in RAM ideally. So much depends on the size of the documents you'll edit. 

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Engaged , Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

The more RAM you add, the longer your machine will be effective. If you're plopping down the cash for a new machine, max it out. You never regret too much RAM.

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LEGEND ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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The simple answer is, the most you can afford. PS needs 3-5 times each file size in RAM ideally. So much depends on the size of the documents you'll edit. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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New Here ,
Mar 29, 2022 Mar 29, 2022

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Apple obsoleted my machine, a mid-2010 Mac Pro, long before I hit the limit on hardware processing power.  So I doubt that adding un-needed RAM will actually extend the useful life of your machine.

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LEGEND ,
Mar 30, 2022 Mar 30, 2022

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Your computer is 12 years old, and the graphics card is pretty much the ,limiting factor now.

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New Here ,
Nov 02, 2022 Nov 02, 2022

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That's correct. I have a 2015 macbook pro and it's slow as hell now. Apple's updates slow down the system because every update is higher and higher in GB space, and every Creative Cloud software update ends up using more space and pulling more ram. I believe Apple slows down old systems with their software updates, just like they did with the iPhone. Unless you're doing heavy film editing and using several Adobe apps at once with many files open you are fine with 16 gigs of ram. If you go up in ram, you'll want to go up in graphics card too. Everything has to mach each other to process things efficiently and for you to get the most use out of each component. 

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Engaged ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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The more RAM you add, the longer your machine will be effective. If you're plopping down the cash for a new machine, max it out. You never regret too much RAM.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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You need RAM for everything you do. And your macOS needs 8-10 GB or more of RAM just by itself.  So get 32GB if possible.

 

 

 

 

Nancy O'Shea— Product User, Community Expert & Moderator
Alt-Web Design & Publishing ~ Web : Print : Graphics : Media

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Community Expert ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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32GB RAM is probably the safe choice, but that is a guess until more people have a chance to run their jobs on it.

 

Both Lightroom Classic and Photoshop recommend 16GB RAM, so that is the baseline for good performance. One thing to keep in mind is that because it’s Unified Memory, RAM not needed by applications is probably available to be used by graphics; that could be a reason to get 32GB if you frequently use applications that support GPU acceleration. But if money is tight, chances are 16GB RAM will perform well enough on Apple Silicon, and better than 16GB RAM on Intel.

 

It has been a long time since it made sense to “max out” a pro Mac. Maxing out all options on just the 14-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Max 10/32/16 cores, 64GB RAM, 8TB SSD) costs US$5899. Most typical 14" MBP configurations for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic probably should not exceed $3000 unless you do a lot of work daily with large files.

 

M1 Pro and M1 Max expand the specs well beyond M1, which already didn’t work the same way Intel x86 did. This is uncharted territory. If you can wait, wait until more photographers have tried out their Photoshop and Lightroom Classic workflows and have a better idea of how well the various combinations of CPU/GPU cores and RAM work for these applications.

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Explorer ,
Oct 18, 2021 Oct 18, 2021

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Thanks so much for your information and perspective.   I was looking at a $3000 configuration.   That included 32 GB RAM.   It will be instructive to see reports of actual experience with new machines.   

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New Here ,
Apr 25, 2024 Apr 25, 2024

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I have the Mac Pro M1 max, maxed out and I'm sorry to say that half of this semester has been hell on me as the four Adobe apps I was using for classes kept glitching on me and kept getting the spinning wheel that never went away.  I'd end up having to hard restart my new computer.  This only got worse to the point that it was happening every 5 to 10 min in any program that I was in.  Every time I was sending in the info.  And screenshotting what my system analysis monitor was reading at the time of the failure.  Just in case they tried to say it was my computer.   After about 20 times it started telling me that they didn't have a fix at this time and sorry for the inconvenience. The recovered files were scattered all over and sometimes when I opened them once I found them they would not be saved to the point I was at on the project or the whole design would be messed up and lines were steps. It also started changing when I'd click on a project to open it would open it in Creative Cloud in the Bata app instead of the original app it was created in. After a month and a half of file changing and repair and starting over projects. It has screwed me up so badly and put me so far behind that once I could actually make any progress I have not been able to recover from and now at the end of the semester so far I will be failing 2 possible 4 classes the whole semester so sorry for the inconvenience is not quite covering it.  As I can't afford to retake these classes and my living expenses another semester. And I would have had one more semester to go after almost two years.  And now that I'm catching my breath and have time to contact them I'm sure it will go the same as it did when they charged me $200 over the student price and swore to me that was the student cost. I called them because my instructor said I should be able to get that refunded. But not the case they wanted me to pay them another $170 and they would extend my subscription 6 months from the renewal date. The student subscription was only supposed to cost me $140 for the year. That made no sense. Then on renewal, I was told the cost went up for students, and was charged $280. Again to find out from school that it should cost me $120. That it went down. So I called again and was told that the price I got was the best price they had as the cost was usually $600 a year.  Like he was doing me a favor.  I feel this company is fraudulently treating its customers They tried to monopolize the creative groups and now are ripping them off. Just like in 1998 when I spent just over $600 on Photoshop and in 2006 it stopped working if I signed in because they went to an annual fee. Well, I would have not paid that not expecting that it would only work for a while and not as long as I owned it. They are expensive their products have less to offer than other products their AI is terrible and I'm having to use two or three [products to complete a print job ending with Indesign that is so far behind the times I can't use the colors I want to print in. I'm told it's the industry oh no I can print in any color I want even reflective, metallic, neon, whatever I was so why is it the program can't design it? So it seems to me they don't hold up any end of their deals even with the schools that are teaching their products.  So when are these guys going to be held accountable for causing such havoc in people's lives so recklessly? Also, none of the other students were having quite the same problems as I was so I came on here to see if I could find out if it's just compatibility with the M1 max or the nonstudent account. Because I can guarantee if all the instructors had these problems that the school probably would have to stop using them for their curricluem content.

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New Here ,
Oct 20, 2021 Oct 20, 2021

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I was debating the same thing.  I use LR, PS and started using Luminar AI.   I was using a Macbook Air with an Intel processor and it was slowwwww.   I don't want any more issues so I went with the pricy 32GB in the14inch.  I'd rather have too much RAM than not enough.  I'm planning on having this for at least 5 years so I was the right choice for me.

 

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Explorer ,
Oct 20, 2021 Oct 20, 2021

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I too want to keep the new laptop as long as possible.  And I imagine the demands of Lr, Ps, and Luminar AI will keep advancing as they use more artificial intelligence.  Becuase you cannot add memory later I am going to max it on the M1 Pro.  

FYI, I also tried out Luminar AI using it as a plug-in.  But will focus on Lr & Ps instead.  Not happy with their model of not continuing support for the product and introducting a new one that isn't backward compatible.  

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LEGEND ,
Oct 21, 2021 Oct 21, 2021

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Get as much RAM as you can afford for future-proofing if nothing else. I would recommend at least the 32GB upgrade. Going to 64GB requires the M1 Max which is more money, so I suspect 32GB will be the sweet spot.

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New Here ,
Dec 03, 2021 Dec 03, 2021

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Hey gang, 


I recently jumped on the 16in Pro with the M1 pro, and 16bg of memory and have had the chance to put it through extensive editing over the past month, all 50mp GFX raw files. I run the latest PS configuration and it works very good, but...big but, even with the new hardware the ram is getting maxed out and sharing memory after running photoshop for about 1 hour or so, and my workflow slows down with it. As it is only 400$ more, I think I will be returning and getting the 32gb as others have suggested. Although it hasn't given me much trouble now, it worries me to spend this kind of money only to have a clogged down macbook 3 years down the line. 

 

Two other photoshop issues I want to mention to save you the heartache when you start.

1) If you use external mouse (specifically magic mouse) the mouse communication will flake out and walk your cursor up the screen (mid-edit when you are working mouse commands fast) from your left hand hover over the trackpad while using basic keyboard commands. This was really fu***** frustrating; that they could do all of this design work and create a problem that hasn't existed in the past with their own NATIVE mouse. I tried three different magic mice before the possibility of the trackpad interfering accord to me. Solution: Turn off trackpad while mouse is connected via accesiblities. Work aroud worked.  

 

2) This is a photoshop issue that I imagine will be corrected with time and development on the new chip, but dialogue boxes such as "Do you want to save before closing?" are invisible and only respond with you press return or esc, locking you out of control. Annoying, but can be managed by knowing when they will pop up and what command is needed. 

 

We knew there would be issues with the brand new system, so far the benefits outway the cons, and the issues will likely be resloved in time BUT GET THE 32gb. 

All the best,

Justin 

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 03, 2021 Dec 03, 2021

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quote

the ram is getting maxed out

 

By @Justin21890932tlmv

 

It will and it should. That in itself is normal. Depending on file sizes, number of open files and history states, total memory usage can be 50 or 250 GB! That's why Photoshop uses a scratch disk, a portion of your physical drive(s), to store temporary working data. Think of RAM as a cache to the scratch disk's main memory. It moves back and forth constantly, the scratch disk is always in use.

 

RAM will very quickly be filled up to the limit you have set in Preferences. The default is 70%. Don't set this too high; other processes and applications need RAM too.

 

That RAM will not be released as long as Photoshop remains open, instead it will be reused and recycled.

 

In short, there is no such thing as enough RAM no matter how much you have. As long as you have a fast scratch disk, Photoshop will be fine.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 03, 2021 Dec 03, 2021

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D Fosse is of course correct and this has been the case since day one of Photoshop. It needs 3x5 times each open document size in RAM or it will hit scratch disk and this is why the preferences for a scratch disk are really old.

In the days when I was working with a Mac IIci, with maybe 8MB (yes megabytes) of RAM, it was necessary to have lots of fast (for the day) empty drive space for the Scratch Disk. Same today.

So again, depending on the document (and layers etc) plus the processing required, it is not at all uncommon for PS to max out the RAM as it should. Of course, it doesn't use 100% of your RAM, there are other processes that must use RAM as well. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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New Here ,
Dec 26, 2021 Dec 26, 2021

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You and D Fosse are 100% right here. Ram for photoshop is important to a point. Unless batch processing a lot of files at once, it seems 16 or 32 perform more or less the same, thanks to fast memory and super fast SSD.

 

If you were a wedding / commercial photographer who processes a tonne of images at once, then 32 seems a logical upgrade. For the rest that work on one image at a time you're not going to see a difference.

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LEGEND ,
Dec 26, 2021 Dec 26, 2021

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You can't add RAM later and both lifespan and eventual resale value will be higher with more RAM installed. Unified RAM is used for both OS and for video, so you could see a big difference between 16 and 32GB.

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New Here ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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Resale won't ever catch the amount spent though.

 

I have told myself a lot that my latest MacBook will be with me for years so I'll get the best I can now but reality is it never sees more than a couple or years maybe three. 

Video seems handled almost entirely by the video encoders and more memory from what I saw didn't make much difference to that either. On final cut anyway, less optimised programmed it might like resolve or premiere

 

It had a large inpact on massive file sizes in photoshop. Like 10-20gb files, I guess where the entire file is larger than the amount of memory you have. But 10gb is a massive file. I have 30 plus layer psb files that are 50mp and 16 bit and I think they are only 2-3gb. I think.

 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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RAM plays a very small part in that last scenario with massive files. That's all about the scratch disk.

 

The tipping point isn't the document size. It's the size of your entire open file history, for as many files as you have open, plus overhead, which can be significant for smart objects. For a 10 GB-on-disk document, you could be talking about 300-500 GB total memory requirement, or even more.

 

When you're working with large files, RAM is just a cache, holding only the most immediately current data. The real action is in the scratch disk. Data move back and forth continuously.

 

With modern superfast NVMe drives, the scratch disk isn't the bottleneck it once was. And the amount of RAM nowhere near as critical as it once was.

 

 

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New Here ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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I see, that is interesting. Maybe the speed difference was more the fact that one machine was 1TB SSD and the other was 512, maybe? So less room on the scratch disk for the large file?

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Community Expert ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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Photoshop will still use scratch disk regardless of the amount of RAM.

 

I have 256GB of RAM installed here (I built my PC for 3D work including running RAM hungry physical simulations). On opening Photoshop, no documents open at that stage, PS immediately opens a 5.5GB scratch disk file.

On opening a multilayered PSD, Photoshop is using 9GB of RAM and has increased the scratch disk file to 8GB

Opening a second image alongside the first, RAM use went up to 10GB and scratch disk rose to 8.5GB. Running the lens blur filter did not alter RAM usage but pushed scratch disk up to 8.7GB

 

I closed those two images and used Photomerge to combine , align and blend 14 TIF images. During that process RAM use peaked at 16GB. The scratch disk also rose to 16GB

 

I say this only to emphasise the points made earlier in the thread, that scratch disk speed and use is as important as RAM.

 

Dave

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LEGEND ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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Well that sailed right over your head. Video as it "what shows on the screen." Video RAM. All that display stuff. It uses the same RAM as the rest of the computer. One RAM to rule us all.

BUY.MORE.RAM.

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New Here ,
Dec 27, 2021 Dec 27, 2021

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Ok I see what you mean...

 

Rams 's importance is nothing like it was before so yeah sure it's better to have more, like it is more storage and better cpu gpu but when value taken into account ram for most tasks is becoming less and less important. 

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New Here ,
Nov 02, 2022 Nov 02, 2022

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These days by the time someone needs a new macbook pro the resale of the old one is next to zero. My machine stopped being useful at 8 year mark. 

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