View Full Version : Adobe Photoshop CS4 (Performance Issues)

Richard Hall
27-01-2009, 12:17am
For a lot of folk, CS4 seems to run just fine, with performance in most areas similar to CS3 (some areas better, some worse). There are however some real performance issues for others. Unfortunately, I'm in the latter category.

The biggest and most noticeable problem (that I've encountered thus far) is that of stuttering and lag when using any brushes or the clone/heal tools. Even the smallest, simplest brush will lag quite a way behind the cursor making it difficult to use, with the heal brush being to the point of almost unusable entirely.

After spending a few hours looking through the Adobe (and other) forums for a solution, it appears there isn't one, or indeed any explanation to exactly what the cause of the problem is at this stage. The problem is appearing on all sorts of hardware/software/OS combinations.

I've noticed one Adobe Dev on there who seems to be looking into it, and he has provided a couple of registry tweaks which in my case have certainly helped. Of course you use these at your own risk, but they work fine as I've tested and are reversible with the optional reg tweaks in the download. More info on the two registry edits is available HERE (http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=kb405064&sliceId=1). In my case the AllowOLDGPU reg edit did the trick. Even though my vid card isn't old and is of course on the list of tested GPUs working with CS4. :confused013 The reg tweaks can be downloaded from the Adobe site HERE (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4056).

After applying the patches, the brushes are much more responsive and the lag has been greatly reduced, still not to CS3 performance levels, but at least to a level where CS4 is now usable.

Another problem I encountered was the screen not refreshing after applying anything to an image. If I used the clone tool for example, the screen would not be refreshed with my changes until I clicked onto another tool or used the same tool again. I discovered that this was due to a couple of Nik Software plugins I had installed. A quick update to the latest versions of Viveza and Sharpener Pro fixed that problem.

All-in-all, a rather frustrating exercise, though I'm at least able to now use it satisfactorily. Here's hoping Adobe actually pull their fingers out and address this problem with a patch before long, though I fear it'll be CS5 until anything is done about it.

27-01-2009, 7:13am
I have found it much faster on my machine. I haven't used CS4 a lot yet (only installed it last week). Yesterday I noticed that I only get half a brush tool. When I went to add my watermark to a photo, I could only see the left side of my watermark as I moved the brush around, when I clicked to apply, it worked fine.

One thing I do like is the clone tool, which I don't have a problem with, but I do like how it shows you the source area (it shows you the actual bit of the photo, over-layed inside the brush) as you work, makes it really easy to see the effect of cloning, before you click.

27-01-2009, 10:21am
Thanks for posting Rich! I'm not having any significant problems, but have fairly up to date hardware. I do notice a slight lag with the brushes, but not enough to worry me.

Richard Hall
27-01-2009, 5:10pm
It's not related to how antiquated hardware is. From all reports it's been happening across the board right up to the the best of the last gen hardware. Haven't seen anyone with i7's yet with the problem, but comparatively few people would have them and CS4 at this stage I would think, so there's less likely to be affected and hence report any issues.

One browse of the Adobe forums and you can see the variety of hardware/software combos affected, it's clearly a bug with CS4.

Richard Hall
27-01-2009, 9:08pm
Interestingly, I've benchmarked CS3 vs CS4 performance with an action providing a good mix of 'real world' tasks, with CS4 completing the action more than twice as fast. What took under a minute in CS4 took closer to 2.5 minutes when run within CS3.

So despite the buggy, lag I'm experiencing with the brushes (almost under control now as mentioned anyway), CS4 still seems to offer superlative performance over CS3. Now if they can just iron that darn bug out!

I think I shall install CS3 & CS4 on a number of systems with varying hardware spec/OS configs and report back my findings.

Richard Hall
28-01-2009, 12:43am
Well, if anyone is interested, I've benchmarked two systems so far with the following results. I'll try and compare some other systems once the ambient temps have dropped to a point where it's safe to breath, let alone turn a PC on...I hate summer!

HP Notebook
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 @ 2.4ghz
GPU: 8400M GS (128mb)
HDD: 320GB SATA 5400rpm (used as scratch disk)

Time to complete benchmark:
Photoshop CS4 - 1:01.8
Photoshop CS3 - 2:20.2


CPU: AMD Opteron 170 (dual core) 2.0ghz (@2.8ghz OC)
GPU: 8800GT (512mb) (G92 based & Factory OC) (driver version nVIDIA Forceware 181.22)
HDD: 2x120GB (RAID 0) (used as scratch disk)

Time to complete benchmark:
Photoshop CS4 - 48s
Photoshop CS3 - 2:28.4

Interestingly, the notebook didn't display any of the brush/heal/clone lag exhibited by the desktop at all. If you're interested in comparing performance between CS1-CS4 yourself, I've been running the action found HERE (http://retouchartists.com/pages/speedtest.html). Just observing the action running visually, the Gaussian Blur filter is where CS3 appears to be falling behind. I'll look for further benchmarks to run to see if the outcome is as lop-sided as these results seem to indicate.

10-02-2009, 3:35pm
We've just updated from CS3 and I just tried the clone tool:eek: :eek: :eek:

Anyway, this is hubby's explanation of how he fixed our problem with the tool and brush lag (also sped up my viewing in the browser heaps!)

OK it seems as though lovely Micro$oft has through its wise wisdom forced graphic card driver updates up on us which is causing the issue for most (if not all). Solution identify the type of graphics card your PC has and go to the manufacturers website and locate the new software driver for YOUR video card for the OS you are using.

For us we have NVIDIA 8600 GT cards and the latest update from http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us that we downloaded and installed fixed the issue.

If you still have a little lag try also changing the preference setting in CS4 for Performance to OPEN GL to disabled - try it both ways :).

Hope it works for you as well as it has for us!

Richard Hall
10-02-2009, 4:50pm
Thanks for the info Michelle. Hopefully it may help fix the issue for some people.

Personally though, I don't use Windows Automatic Updates, I prefer to apply updates manually to avoid that very problem. I certainly don't want anything installed to my PCs without my knowledge. I have auto updates set to inform me when new ones are available ONLY!

I'm already running the latest vid drivers (I'm running 2x8800GT in SLI) which are 181.22 from memory. I always keep my vid drivers up to date, comes from being a gamer I guess?

Yep, you can try disabling OpenGL in CS4, if you're lucky it may have some impact on brush/clone performance or it may not.

For me, the best fix has come from using the AllowOLDGPU reg edit I mentioned in my first post. CS4's brushes (clone/heal in particular) are now completely usable and only exhibit very minor lag. Everything else is quite speedy, and some filters in particular are dramatically quicker than the same found in CS3. :)