Photoshop Hardware Requirements
Below is what you need to know to build your system for Adobe Photoshop.
Best Processor for Photoshop
Photoshop is not a highly-multithreaded application so it will work best with a CPU that emphasizes frequency over the number of cores. The best CPU that fits this requirement is Intel’s i7 7700K.
Graphics/GPU Requirements for Photoshop
Photoshop uses many effects which are dependent on your graphics card. A mid-end graphics card like the Nvidia GTX 1060 is more than capable of processing these effects. You can see which Photoshop effects make use of the graphics card here. If absolute color accuracy is important to you however you should consider a workstation video card like the Nvidia Quadro M2000. This will ensure you can view 10-bit color on your 10-bit monitor.
As you edit your images in Photoshop, the application continually makes multiple copies of your images so that no original data is lost. Photoshop stores these copies in your computer’s memory or RAM. It’s a good idea therefore to plan on getting 4-5 more times more RAM than the size of the images you are editing on the desktop to take account of these copies. So for example, if you will be editing images of 4-5GB on your desktop simultaneously, the right amount of RAM would be 20-25GB. Another reason for lots of RAM is the scratch disc which we cover below in ‘Hard Drives’.
Storage Requirements for Photoshop
Hard drives have developed in leaps and bounds over the last 8 years with the advent of solid state drives. The best hard drive configuration for digital content creators such as Photoshop users is one solid state hard drive for the operating system and applications and a separate hard drive for active projects. You may want to choose a third hard drive for short-term storage or somewhere to dump your images after a photo shoot. A solid state hard drive ensures that your computer will load the operating system and applications quickly.
When Photoshop runs out of RAM for storing copies of the images that you are working on, it uses any hard drive you choose in your computer as a scratch disc. If that hard drive is a solid state drive, it will enable fast reads and writes to that scratch disc. RAM however is many times faster than even the fastest hard drive, so if you have enough RAM, you will never have to use any of your hard drives as a scratch disk.
The CPU is the bottleneck when exporting images in Photoshop so the speed of your hard drives won’t matter when exporting images.
The speed of importing images is determined by the slowest hard drive in the chain, so for example, if you are importing images from your camera’s flash card to the storage drive, the flash card is usually slower than the hard drives in your computer so the import will be as fast as the flash card can transfer that data. A solid state storage drive won’t increase that import speed.