Do Photoshop and 64-bit Windows mix?

Posted on July 30th, 2008 | Permalink

I recently got an e-mail from a friend asking if Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 is compatible with a 64-bit Windows operating system, and if there would be any performance advantage. The short answers are “yes” and “potentially”.

Adobe does not have a 64-bit version of CS3, so running on a 64-bit processor won’t in itself give programs like Photoshop any innate speed boost. The advantage is that 64-bit operating systems can recognize memory beyond the 2 GB limit (or 3 GB, if you have the right hardware and Windows XP tweak) of 32-bit editions.

According to Adobe, Photoshop itself is unable to use more than 3 GB of RAM, but having more than that set aside for Photoshop can still give you a speed boost. If you have 4 GB of RAM available, many Photoshop plug-ins will use the 3-4 GB slot for their needs, freeing up more of the initial 3 GB for Photoshop itself. Beyond that, the OS will use up to an additional 2 GB for Photoshop’s scratch disk data, which drastically increases performance over using a hard drive like it does normally. Windows will of course need a decent amount of RAM to work with, and the more it has the quicker it will be able to respond to Photoshop when large images are being processed, so having a computer with 8 GB or more is still beneficial to Photoshop.

However, while Photoshop may be a happier camper with a 64-bit OS, older hardware drivers and applications (e.g., scanner drivers and monitor calibration software) may not work on Windows XP x64 Edition and Windows Vista 64-bit, and should be checked for compatibility before you make the switch.

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