What imac specs needed to optimize Lightroom?


New Member
Aug 25, 2017
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
I am looking to purchase a new iMac and wondering what specs I need in order to optimize how Lightroom runs and decrease wait time. I am looking at a 27", but wondering what makes sense in terms of upgrades. i7 processor? ssd vs. fusion? what is the min about of memory needed? Which specs are the most important to upgrade? Thank you!!
Jun 24, 2010
Encinitas, CA USA
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Hi and welcome to the forum.

The most important is RAM and secondarily CPU speed and then disk. For years I used a MacBook Pro with a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB RAM. I could run Lightroom and Photoshop simultaneously quite easily although I sometimes had to quit Safari which can be a memory hog. In the last year I upgraded from a 22MP camera to a 42MP camera and brought my MacPro to its knees trying to run both at the same time.

So if this is your main system and want to run several other apps at the same time a minimum of 16GB RAM or more.

For CPU any 3-4 GHz is going to be fine for day to day work. The faster CPU clock will reduce the time to build previews especially 1:1 and update in the Develop module. If you spend all day in the Develop module then get the fastest CPU. Lightroom still only uses a maximum of 6 cores so getting more won't help unless you do video editing. Final Cut X and other video editors use a lot of cores. this is that the iMac Pro is for.

Just go ahead and get a SSD for your main disk. It won't help all that much with the actual performance of Lightroom but it will make your whole system nice and snappy. If you can get a second internal HD (7200 rpm) as big as you think you will need for holding your images for the next several years. A SSD would allow you to read/write image data faster but you will still be held up by the CPU processing to render images.

If you can't get second internal drive then get a large Thunderbolt-2 external drive. This as fast as an internal drive but just in an additional box with another power supply.

Also don't forget to get another external drive dedicated for your TimeMachine backups. This forum has many sad stories of folks that have lost days, weeks and even years of images due to not having a reliable and consistent backup. Don't put yourself at risk to be one of those stories.