GETTING GOING WITH PHOTOSHOP can be as simple as running the installer, just as you do with other programs. But Photoshop is not quite like other programs, and it's not even like basic image editors such as Microsoft Paint. Taking full advantage of the advanced features in Photoshop requires much more processor power, disk space, and RAM compared to most other programs you use.
The larger your images, the harder Photoshop and your system have to work, and if your system isn't up to the task, you'll find that "working harder" becomes "working slower." If you produce simple low-resolution images, such as those for the Web or for standard-definition video, you might be satisfied with using Photoshop on a laptop or low-end computer right out of the box. If you work in print media or high-definition television, or regularly work with images from digital SLR cameras (which can be 6 megapixels or more), you'll need to have a good system to start with, and you still might need to beef that up. And even if you think you only work with small images, the Photoshop optimization advice in this chapter still applies to you if your images usually start out as large original digital camera images or scans.
As you put together your Photoshop machine, it's very important to keep in mind that the raw performance of any one part is less important than how well all the parts are balanced. For example, don't obsess over getting the fastest, most expensive central processing unit (CPU) if you won't have enough money left over to buy enough RAM to prevent RAM from becoming a bottleneck.