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Why is Lightroom so slow on my computer?

Matthew Kuehl , Jun 07, 2011; 06:37 p.m.

I was wondering if someone with more expertise than me could help me figure out why LR 3 runs slow on my machine. It takes me about 8-12 seconds to render a preview, and then there is a lag in processing every time I do an action. Since I process about 1200 images per wedding, this is not acceptable for me. Here are my computer specs:
LR v3.4.1
Windows 7, 64-bit
AMD Turion Dual-Core 2.1 GHZ
Laptop connected via HDMI to HP LP2475w Monitor 1920x1200
ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics
I'm keeping my working files and catalogs on the C: drive. At the beginning of processing, I click "Render 1:1 Previews" and let it go. I have no other applications running. Windows Task Manager shows
If this is an inadequate system, please let me know what the minimum I need to purchase to get the program running smoothly.

Thanks in advance,


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Sheldon Nalos , Jun 07, 2011; 07:05 p.m.

Yes, it is an indaqequate system. It's a very slow dual core laptop, and Lightroom is a demanding application. I'd recommend a newer quad core i5 or i7 desktop, ~3Ghz or faster, with 8+gb of RAM, a decent video card and a faster hard drive. A SSD for the boot drive + a larger drive for image storage would also help out.

John Deerfield , Jun 07, 2011; 09:44 p.m.

I agree that Lightroom can be demanding but the first "upgrade" to make is to simply get the Lightroom library on it's own drive. This does several things. For one, it keeps your library off your OS drive. Now the OS drive is free to run the computer and the library drive is free to cache the images. Currently, you have one drive trying to do two things: run the OS AND fiddle with images. Keeping your library on a separate drive might be all the upgrade you need.

After that, increase the RAM if you can. The more the better, especially if you are running Windows 64-bit. As a matter of fact, I fail to see why you would even need 64-bits with under 4GB of RAM in the first place?

If those don't do the trick.... then it's time for a new computer. But keep in mind, even with a new computer, keeping the library on a separate drive is still going to be much faster. So that upgrade is a wash so to speak. Adding the memory will certainly help. As to whether it helps enough is really only for you to say. But if it doesn't, you are out whatever you spent on the memory.

Matthew Kuehl , Jun 07, 2011; 11:00 p.m.

Thanks Sheldon & John.
I actually had the .NEF directory and the catalogs on an external USB drive until recently. I moved it to the C: drive to try to help the speed issue, but that obviously didn't work.
So if the task manager doesn't show I'm using the full 3GB RAM, would any more actually help?
Thanks again,

Sheldon Nalos , Jun 07, 2011; 11:32 p.m.

In my observation, Lightroom is first and foremost demanding on the processing power of your CPU. All of the edits that you make require calculations, re-rendering of the image then redrawing of the screen. I have a little CPU monitor widget on my desktop, and anytime I'm doing anything in Lightroom all four cores of my computer start spinning, and I've got a 3.6Ghz quad core.

Lightroom is not particularly a RAM hungry program, especially if it's the only program you're running. It also doesn't place huge demands on the hard drive to move a lot of data. It's mainly a database, so there is a fair amount of small reads and writes to the hard drive, but no big moves of data unless you are importing/exporting. A drive with fast seek/write times like an SSD will help, but it's secondary to the CPU issue.

Your primary problem is that you have a very slow CPU. No amount of hard drive changes or RAM addition is going to fix that issue.

Per-Christian Nilssen , Jun 08, 2011; 02:04 a.m.

Guys, thanks for interesting answers.

Please allow me to hijack the thread a bit. I also have experiened LR being slower and slower on my older Dell. I have my images on a USB 2.0 WD harddrive. Is the computer, LR, or the WD-drive the problem? LR seemed quite OK a few weeks ago. On the drive I have approx 35000 images.

Chris Letts , Jun 08, 2011; 07:01 a.m.

Before you spend money, check the usual things - i.e. is the hard drive getting full (80% plus) / has it been a while since it was defragmented / etc. Both those things will slow down your processing.

jf zhang , Jun 08, 2011; 08:08 a.m.

I believe your graphic card is the problem. I could be wrong, but, I think your graphic card uses part of the system RAM as its video memory (shared memory). Depending on how the system allocates its RAM for different tasks, the display process itself can become the bottle neck.

Keith B , Jun 08, 2011; 06:14 p.m.

Aside from what the others said, isn't your preference for rendering 1:1 previews on all the files is going to create a huge pile of previews that slows the machine down? I have a 2.8 gHz/8GB RAM,Dual-processor, 5400rpm HDD machine(MacBookPro)and LR3, which in general speeds merrily along, but...ALL the raw/original files are on [multiple]external drives(FW800 throttled down to FW400 because of old drives being used). USB2 also is not very fast in today's world.

Allan Armstrong , Jun 10, 2011; 01:08 p.m.

I'm on a machine pretty similar to the OP's and LR seems to perform ok. I have a 2-yr old Dell Inspiron 537S desktop with a Pentium 2-core CPU E5200 @ 2.50 GHz and 4G RAM. All files are on the same HDD. When I bought this, I went cheap, not thinking CPU performance was a big deal.

When I next upgrade, I would probably get a higher-end machine and probably a laptop with a docking station. Maybe in the interim I would add more RAM, but it seems like my machine is working ok, even when I'm running LR + Outlook + Internet Explorer + other stuff.

Frankly, I'd rather spend my $$$ on more glass, like an 85 f2.8 TS-E or a 400 f2.8.

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