Get The Most Out Of Lightroom On Older Hardware

by David Miller

Not all of us have bleeding–edge hardware to run their processor and memory–hungry software on (*cough* Lightroom and Aperture *cough*). My mobile machine — a 3–year old 15” Powerbook (1.5 GHz G4 w/ 1.5 GB RAM) — is definitely showing its age when processing and displaying RAW files, and it doesn’t even hold a candle (color temperature: 1850 K) to the machines that are currently rolling off the assembly lines.

However, Lightroom is by no means a slouch on older hardware — especially when compared to its archrival, Aperture. But restraints and limitations can blossom into creative solutions, and I’ve gradually adapted my mobile workflow to adapt to the machine I’m working on. In doing so, I’ve come to learn and understand Lightroom’s nooks and crannies much better than I would have if I didn’t need to coax as much performace out of my laptop as I have.


Bruce McL
2007-11-07 08:56:33
Adding RAM can help Lightroom a lot. For you a 1GB chip costs under $100.00. That will max out your Powerbook's RAM at 2GB. Well worth the money.
2007-11-07 09:31:51
I travel with a tiny little Sony Vaio TX - 1Ghz processor, 1.5GB RAM and a really slow hard disk. Reducing disk usage is the key to overall improved performane, since it's the slowest part of any system. For me, the biggest win came from reducing the size of my catalog: I start a new one for each trip and then merge it into my master catalog on my much faster workstation when I get home. This keeps the catalog small, which helps performance significantly. LR 1.1 makes this a snap: export your "master" keyword list from your main catalog before you start, then import it into the new catalog you create.
2007-11-07 23:21:18
I've got a 3.5yo Powerbook too - 1.5Ghz with 2GB ram and a 5,400rpm hard drive - and yes it's quite sloooowwww

Widgets! All those widgets hog space and memory even when you're not looking at them - so don't have any widgets running in dashboard.

And remember to check on our menu bar if any other applications are running up top that you don't need - such as any memory monitors or delicious toolbar etc.

My biggest issue is just the time it takes to edit all those RAW photos - time I don't have unfortunately!

I'll try Lightroom again and shut everything down see if it helps...

Larry Hartwell
2007-11-08 02:50:06
I run lightroom with 30,000+ images (>12000 RAW) on an AGP 400Mhz G4 with 1.2Gb ram and yes it ain't the quickest when batch processing etc fbut for much of the time using the shortcuts I get to work at an acceptable pace- the creative processes don't always work that quick do they?!
2007-11-10 01:41:22
A couple of weeks ago I switched from a HP Pavilion PC (512 MB RAM and 2.8Ghz AMD processor) to an iMac early 2006 (Intel Core Duo 2Ghz, with 2GB RAM) and it works like a charm.
Even with Lightroom, Photoshop and Safari or iTunes running at the same time.

I think the RAM is in most cases the big bottleneck.

2007-11-13 08:53:46
I use a first generation MacBook Pro and have just moved from Aperture to Lightroom (I'm in the process really) because of slow system performance with Aperture (Aperture, Lightroom, and Me).

For me the key was making a decision about what was most important, working on a portable computer or giving any of these applications what they want (fast processor, memory, fast HD, fast graphics card). I decided that I did not want to change my hardware setup just for the sake of one application as I know people do with photoshop all the time. I'm a serious photographer but I'm also serious about the other things I do with my computer. Lightroom gives me a bit more space to do other things than Aperture did. Yes, I wish I had more memory (I have 2 gigs, maxed out) but I will on whatever next computer I have.