How much RAM Do You Need for Photo Editing

How Much RAM Do You Need for Photo Editing?

In this era, tons of photographers use photo editing software for many reasons. It aids in modifying the photo to look at perfection using their desired devices. However, the most disturbing question most of them tend to ask is, how much RAM is ideal for Photoshop.

Genuinely, answering this question is quite tricky even for the most experienced editors. Because there are plenty of considerations, you need to have in mind. Luckily, this article is here to answer the amount of RAM you need for editing your images.

How much RAM a Photoshop Need

How Much RAM a Typical System Need to Operate Stably?

Windows 10 is an average computer for a photo editor. It has an Email Software, Chrome browser with tabs, and a Window’s photo-viewer. Generally, a photo editor’s computer needs at least 4-6GB to run well and support other programs.

How Much RAM a Photoshop Need

In this case, you may need to understand how much space the photo editor currently has. This determines how much you will use for the editing process. Often, a Photoshop software itself needs 262MBs of RAM. This is without opening or uploading any photos to the software. However, when a 5MB JPG 12MP 8bpc photo gets opened, the RAM usage rises to 369MBs. What’s the reason for the increase?

Image Compression

The reason is, the software expands any compressed photo files for easy editing.

Like the GIF and PNG files, the JPG exists as a packed down image file type. So, the software uses algorithms to reduce the file size. This happens without sacrificing its visible quality. If the image file gets so much compressed, the quality may get lost.

Why does the photo editing software decompress an image file? The main reason is, the photo manipulations work on a pixel format. It compresses the image file after each pixel alteration tends to be very sluggish. Plus, it strains the CPU.

Bit Depth

This is another way of determining how much RAM you need for editing your decompressed image. In most cases, photo editors manipulate their images in three channels; R, G, and B are commonly known as RGB. Interestingly, each channel can save up to eight bytes or 256 various values per color. In other words, all JPG images exist in either eight or 24bpp (bits per pixel).

Image Resolution

This is also an essential factor that determines how much RAM you will need to edit your photos. Doing the math is super easy. , take [height in pixels] by [width in pixels] by [Bit Depth] and divide the sum by 8000000.

But why eight million? The reason is, 8 bits is equivalent to one byte while a megabyte has 1000000byte. This calculation helps you to get the decompressed photo size in MBs.

Photoshop Layer

A photo editing software may come with more than one layer. This allows for easy estimation of the quantity of RAM consumption for each photo multiplied by the sum of layers. Besides that, you can know the amount of RAM the uncompressed image is in use. You can find it by looking at the bottom left corner of your Photoshop software. But, the first number implies the absence of layers while the second one accounts for all layers.

RAM Requirement Per Photoshop Layer

Megapixels 8bpc 10bpc 16bpc 32bpc
8 MP 24 MB 30 MB 48 MB 96 MB
12 MP 36 MB 45 MB 72 MB 144 MB
16 MP 48 MB 60 MB 96 MB 192 MB
20 MP 60 MB 75 MB 120 MB 240 MB

Fantastic! From the table above, you can roughly calculate or estimate the amount of RAM one photo may need.

Above all, if you genuinely want to know the amount of RAM you need for editing images, think about the following;

  • The number of photos you should open at the same time
  • What Bit Depth you intend to use for editing photos often 8bpc for JPG files, and 16bpc for Raw files.
  • The average number of layers the photos have
  • How much additional RAM your device needs

Final Words

Using a Windows 10 operating system and Photoshop, 8 to 16GByte will be sufficient for nearly all your image edits. This is ideal when editing JPG photos in the resolution range of 10MP to 20MP and the occasional RAW photo.

Over 16GByte of RAM is best for image editors who edit mostly in high resolution and great Bit Depths. Also, they may have tons of other RAM exhaustive applications working in the background.

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