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Photoshop/iMac question:
I think maybe my Graphics Card is going bad, here is my problem that just started happening the past few days and I am in the middle of my crazy nonstop editing time.
I have an
-iMac (Retina 5k 27-inch late 2015)
-4GHz Intel Core i7 processor
-memory 32 GB 1867 MHz DDR3
-Graphics AMD Radeon R9 M395X 4096 MB
-OS Sierra 10.12.6 (hesitate to update because a few years ago I updated to high Sierra and it had an issue with my model of iMac and I had to take it to the Mac store and they had to take high Sierra off and put Sierra on.)
-photoshop CS5 (because I hate the new ones)
Issue: while in photoshop my brush is looking very pixely and lagging and sharper edges than normal. Sometimes the bucket tool will not paint until I click it twice. Sometimes my image will be solid black until I zoom in then it will correct itself. When I click the clone selection sometimes it doesn’t realized I selected and it wants me to reselect. When I restart my computer it will work normal for a little bit but then will randomly start acting up. I have noticed when I use Nik plug in that it messes up sometimes but not every time and other times it messes up without using that.
Recently I hear a noise every so often that sounds like a missile falling from the sky. Like a schweeeew noise descending.
Is it my graphic card?
Do I need a scratch disc for photoshop?
Any suggestions??
Damien had me uncheck the "Enable OpenGL Drawing" in Photoshop preferences but that did not help so he told me to post this question here. I am attaching pictures of my information and other programs I use. I also use the plug in Portraiture and Flood.












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OK, your hardware is "Fine" for Photoshop Standards. But I do see a few things that I don't like.

  1. I'd change your PS Scratch Disks to just use the Internal Drive. YES, YOU DO NEED A SCRATCH DISK. I'd just select the one named "Macintosh HD." You have more than enough room for the PS Scratch Disk, and you have 32GB of RAM, which really puts you ahead of the curve. The problem with using a EHD for a Scratch Disk, is the type of HD. If it's just a normal USB External HD, the bottleneck that you get with a USB port kills your performance. If you need that much Scratch Disk to process your images, we really need to look at your editing habits and the plug-ins that you use.
  2. You are running CS5 and MacOS Sierra. If there is any corruption with the video card drivers, there isn't a fix as the drivers come from Apple, which is part of the OS. Since you are so far behind with the MacOS versions, if you did attempt to upgrade, you will be forced to upgrade to MacOS Big Sur, which like Catalina is 64-bit only. Therefore, your Photoshop CS5 would stop working permanently. Period. Plus any other software / plugins that aren't 64-bit. Now, I know a lot of people will ask, "But I thought PS CS5 was 64-bit? Why is it going to stop working if I upgrade?" The reason is the programming language that PS CS5/CS6 was coded with is NOT compatible with MacOS Catalina OR Big Sur. 
  3. In your case, if you do decide to upgrade, I'd hold off for now, as your entire editing month of December would go down the drain. If you think you have problems now, just you wait. :)
  4. The other thing that concerns me is they had to downgrade from High Sierra to Sierra. Why? As in, why didn't they fix that issue? They just slapped a Band-Aid on it and called it good. Ether there is a problem with your Fusion Drive, (Macintosh HD) or you have other problems with the Motherboard or Video Card.

You aren't the 1st person to have issues with a 2015 27" iMac. I think Apple had a bad batch that year; specifically the GPU (The "Brain" of your Graphics Card) fails. The usual symptoms is laggy issues, weird / garbled display and being forced to reboot often to "fix" the issues. Unfortunately, you have a 2015 iMac. It's not worth fixing. I know, I know, "...but I spent so MUCH money!! It's only 5 years old!!" I get it. I empathize...but there is only one place that fixes Apple's products, and that is Apple. Spending over $1000+ (Parts and Labor, plus shipping) to fix a 5 year old computer isn't worth it in my opinion. Combine that with COVID and it jacking up all the prices, just complicates things.

So what would I do?

Use a little plug-ins as possible. Try not to use everything all at once. Also do not have 100+ tabs opened in Chrome when you edit, if you are anything like my wife. LOL!! She ALWAYS has so many Browser Tabs open constantly. The more Browser Tabs you have open, the more RAM is used as each tab eats a bit of RAM. Judging on your screenshots, this probably isn't the case, but I'm just making sure. That said, you run a lot of plug-ins. You might want to edit smaller batches of photos. Especially if your camera is 24MP or more. The higher the MP count, the more resources from your computer are required. The other thing I would try is head to your Photoshop's Performance Settings. Look towards the right and you should see your Graphics Card. Click the "Advanced Settings..." button and set the usage from "Advanced" to "BASIC." Then restart Photoshop. Heck, while you are there before your restart PS, uncheck that second HD in the Scratch Disk settings.

Here is what I'm talking about with the Graphics Processor thing:

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 2.09.04 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 2.09.19 PM.png

This is how I have my PS Scratch Disk Setup:


Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 2.10.06 PM.png

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Oh wow thank you so much for your information. I will follow your recommendations and hope that gets me through my busy time. I only recently added that usb scratch disk just because I had been having problems and was trying different things. I will uncheck that disc.  It makes sense that this imac just has a lot of problems. Ya when they had to reinstall Sierra they told me there was only an issue with my imac and high sierra but the next os would fix the issue but I have been scared to upgrade to that next os just because I didn't trust that it wouldn't have another problem. I just was managing to complete my work on it with Sierra so I've just stayed here lol.  I believe I purchased this in early 2017 but it was the newest model released at that time but shortly after I purchased they released the 2017 version if I remember correctly. I am so glad you let me know if I upgrade OS that is 64 bit then my CS5 will not work. I get set in my routine and when I tried CC I wasn't a fan but eventually I will need to upgrade if I upgrade os. If I sell this imac this spring (during my slower time) and get the newest imac and newest version of photoshop (I have the subscription to adobe for lightroom and PS but just haven't upgraded) do you think I will have other issues? Is there any other problems/bugs known yet for those systems? I just am so tired of the lag and issues of this 2015 imac but I hate to go through the trouble and expense of upgrading if the newest one has other known issues. My original imac was purchased new in 2007 and it lasted 10 years and I only upgraded because the hardware no longer supported newer os and it was getting slow. I now only use it for taxes.   If you have any suggestions on an imac and photoshop version that you know works well together I'm open for any advice. Thank you sooooo much!

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On 12/18/2020 at 1:54 PM, Linds_53 said:

I have been scared to upgrade to that next os just because I didn't trust that it wouldn't have another problem.

...and your fear has caused you to get so far behind, if you do upgrade or even replace your iMac, you are looking at Photoshop CC. Period. CS5/CS6, even PS CC 2015 and PS CC 2017 are not compatible with Mac OS Catalina OR Big Sur. So keep in mind, if you do stick with a Mac, Photoshop CC is in your future.

For the most part, Catalina is pretty stable now. The downside is that we are up to Big Sur. So really, you don't have much of a choice if you think about it. I will say this, PS CC 2019 is also really stable, so if there is an option to install that version for you, I'd upgrade to that. The latest / brand-new version of Photoshop has its quirks, but Adobe always seems to be patching something, so who knows, in six months from now, you may not have any issues.

Honestly, the majority of folks who have problems have unstable systems to begin with. They have all sorts of crap all over the place, Desktops with tons of files on them, not enough HD space, haven't bothered to install patches and updates, do not perform any routine maintenance on their computers, no good backup strategies, etc. It's like they just put gas in the car and never do any oil changes over the years. Then they wonder why their engine breaks in the middle of nowhere?  ;) For your situation, I truly believe that you have a hardware issue, so your experience is a bit skewed. It's too bad that the idiots at the "Genius Bar" didn't really help you.

As for what to buy, I've written a few articles on this very subject. They are pinned and starred at the top of this forum.

Here is that I recently updated, give it a read: Quick & Dirty new iMac Configurations

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Thank you again! I will probably install CC2019 on my current imac and work in it before I upgrade computers for a couple months. I just have all my actions and I like how certain things work in CS5 and when I had switched and tried it was CC2017 and I wasn't impressed especially with the liquify tool but I can't recall specifically what it was I didn't like. Anyways I agree, I wish the "Genius Bar" idiots would have actually helped me instead of just push me backwards on OS. I wish I would have found you sooner. I will check out your articles!!! Thank you sooo much you have no idea how grateful I am to actually find someone who has given me an answer that makes sense.

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I am planning on addressing my computer issue I mentioned above soon. This way I can get some time to learn it before my 2022 senior sessions start in June. I wanted to come back here and see if there was a better option available now since the new imacs came out. I don't know if I should just jump to Photoshop CC and update my current system to the newest OS or if I should update to Catalina and use Photoshop 2019. I am still currently using Sierra and CS5. I absolutely hate to learn new things and switch stuff over because I have everything in CS5 how I want it but I know it is inevitable LOL. Just wanted to double check here since the new imacs came out so I know if there is a new option maybe better?

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4 minutes ago, Linds_53 said:

I should update to Catalina and use Photoshop 2019

That combination is the most stable at this point. If you can update to just Catalina, please do.  That said, IF you take the plunge, than PS CC is in your immediate future. If you can download PS CC 2019, which might require calling Adobe since it's no longer in the downloads list with the PS CC Module, go that route. Of course Adobe will say that 2021 is perfectly fine, but I have enough members complaining about it to contradict that opinion.

Again, we are living in the Era of a Chip Shortage with COVID-19 still around. it is THE WORST TIME TO BE IN THE MARKET FOR A NEW COMPUTER. Windows Computers that are "Good for Photo-editing" cost around $3000 or more. That's right, Windows Computers are $3000.00+!!

If I was buying a iMac, right now, here is the configuration. I wouldn't go to Best Buy or another store, order from Apple.com directly.

Start with the 27" iMac for $2299 and change a few things to match this:


That configuration will cost you $3229.00 Plus Tax and Apple Care.

Then head to B&H and purchase a 16GB Memory Kit. This will increase the RAM from 8GB to 40GB for way less money that Apple would charge you for the same damn thing.

Crucial 32GB DDR4 2666 MHz SO-DIMM Memory Kit for Mac (2 x 16GB) - $176.99.

Just in case you are about to ask...

Is there a better configuration that's cheaper?

No. That said, you could go for the smaller / standard keyboard and save yourself $30. Other than that, the computer's configuration itself remains the same.

Do you recommend something less expensive?


Are you sure that I shouldn't buy a 21.5" iMac?

Yes. They are a complete waste of money and can't be upgraded after the fact.

Wow, that's expensive! Are you sure...

That's what I would buy for myself. I hate wasting money. This configuration should last you about 7-8 years.

But that much? Sheesh!

Yep. It sucks.

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Thank you so much for your response! I will read over it a few times and then make my decision. I am so glad I found you to help give me answers my local apple store could not. Thanks again I really appreciate it!!

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