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I am currently thinking about upgrading my system. I'd say however that my needs do not exceed those of my current setup, I'd just like a bit more "breathing" space for my system, since it can become laggy after I open a few programs (sometimes I have Photoshop and a few other programs open at once)

I currently have a Core2 Duo @2.4 Ghz (the somewhat older E6600), with 4G of RAM running windows 7 pro 32bit.

I was wondering if a RAM increase to 8G and 64bit windows would improve performance enough so I would not require a new PC at this point? what is the system performance boost when upgrading to a 64bit OS with extra RAM, if any?

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Thanks for all your answers. I deceided I will go for SSD, win64 and +4GB ram. I guess that the most I can push out of my current system. I'd also like to get a new gfx card too (now having a 7600GT) but can't find many AGP options out there anymore :) –  Spiros Aug 12 '11 at 16:11
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, it should make a difference. Even a 32-bit application like Photoshop will benefit because it can have an entire 32-bit address space to itself without any of it being consumed by the operating system. With a 32-bit OS you are limited to a single 4GB address space for all applications, the operating system and hardware address mappings. This is why graphics cards with a large amount of onboard memory can severely limit your usable system memory - the GPU address space has to be mapped within the system's address space. So using 64-bit removes a lot of overhead from the 32-bit address space.

On 32-bit Windows no application can consume more than 2gb of ram by default, and while I'm not sure how much 32-bit Photoshop would be allowed to consume on 64-bit Windows it could theoretically be up to 4gb.

Having said that Photoshop is often CPU bound, so while adding more usable memory will allow it to keep more data in memory, it's not going to magically make your CPU go faster, and if you're not dealing with images that require more than 2gb of ram it's conceivable that you'd notice no difference.

I'd do it anyway though, ram is cheap and 64-bit Windows offers a lot of technical benefits.

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In my experience, I thought it was a major difference. I have had the same dual core 2.16 GHz laptop for a few years now. It came with 32-bit XP, and I originally upgraded to 64-bit Vista. Even though Vista is a pig as far as loading things, I still noticed a big difference. I have since upgraded to Windows 7. My computer is clean, and I think it runs great with 4GB of RAM.

Now, this was how the computer as a whole works. With one program, if it is 32-bit, like your Photoshop, you are still going to be limited to the same 32-bit performance.

You currently already have a pretty good amount of RAM, so I would check to see how much memory Photoshop is currently using, and see if adding more will really help. Windows itself will probably use more of it for caching, so you would receive a benefit that way too.

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By the way: Since you are running 32-bit Windows 7, your key will work with 64-bit Windows 7, so there is not cost (except time) to at least trying it, and seeing for yourself. –  KCotreau Aug 4 '11 at 11:57
    
Recent versions of Photoshop are available in 64-bit. –  afrazier Aug 4 '11 at 12:56
    
@afrazier I was just assuming he did not want to buy a new version. –  KCotreau Aug 4 '11 at 15:18
    
PS has been 64-bit on Windows since CS4, which was released in 2008, so it's entirely possible that the OP already has it. –  afrazier Aug 4 '11 at 15:27
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I have just upgraded my Acer Revo RL70 with a 128GB SSD drive, 16GB DDR3 RAM and Windows 7 64bit and I can tell you that the performance increase is significant:

  • Startup and loading Windows is super fast;
  • Restarting/shutdown of the system is super fast;
  • Data transfer speeds within the system and to external storage devices is faster;
  • Opening and running applications is much faster;

There are probably more benefits I just haven't found them yet. All in all I would say that the cost/performance improvement ratio is quite high and I won't need to upgrade for 2-3 years. (cost was about 180 EUR in total since I already had Windows 7 64bit in the cupboard)

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Hmm, since you're using a 32-bit system, I suppose the actual usable RAM is less than 4 GB, it can be as low as 2.2 GB depending on your VRAM. I suggest try this patch first, so your system run on full 4 GB (check it on your task manager, Performance tab, Physical Memory section, Total row). Then, you can try upgrading the memory first without upgrading your OS. With this patch, the OS itself could access any RAM you can throw into your PC, but every instance of a single application can only access 2 GB for themselves. If you still found it lagging, then you can try upgrade your OS to 64 bit.

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No doubt it would increase your systems performance.

BUT, there is always a but. Your 64 bits system would need 8gb ram to be on it's fastest, and would actually slow down when with 16gb of ram.

My recommendation would no doubt be: Get a SSD harddrive or 2 (Raid 0), combine it with 8GB ram, and notice the difference!

Sweet lord!

On my old gig I had 2GB of ram, and SATA-drive. It was a lot quicker with only 4GB and a SSD-drive.

And on Photoshop you also have the 64bits version. Combine it with a larger scratch disk and it would smoothen things out!

Good luck my friend!

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-1 for the "You need 8 GB of RAM". +1 for "Get an SSD". Net result, no vote. :-) –  afrazier Aug 4 '11 at 15:28
    
+1 for SSD - I was also thinking about it. 8Gs would be optimal as I would think as well –  Spiros Aug 12 '11 at 15:59
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