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16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?

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Alexander Freedman
16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 19, 2015 at 2:44:03 pm
Last Edited By Alexander Freedman on Jun 19, 2015 at 2:46:38 pm

Hello all,

I'm pretty sure I already have the answer to this question but I wanted to double check with your expert opinions as well: I just finished building my new windows editing rig (stats below), updated to Adobe CC 2015, and was excited to start a 4k project only to have Premiere Pro hang-up and crash on import of my 50+ 4k clips from a recent shoot I did.

After creating the project on my 250GB SSD boot drive and pointing my scratch settings to their dedicated 60GB SSD scratch drive, I used the media browser to navigate to my dedicated 1TB SSD media drive where the 4k clips are located. When I get to the clip folder in media browser, I immediately noticed some slow down as it located all the clips but hung up on creating thumbnails for them. Some were just a green screen for a thumbnail, others didn't load at all or took a long time. I tried to import them all, but got a prompt from both Windows and PP that my system memory was low. It still imported some of the footage but then crashed.

Trouble shooting, I repeated this process again with Task Monitor open and, indeed, when trying to import the footage, I can see my RAM usage skyrocket to 100% before I see the warning prompts.

I've adjusted my PP Memory Preferences, allocating the minimum 3GB for the system and 12GB for Adobe Software (and selected "Memory" instead of "Performance"), but still no luck. I can maybe import 5 clips at a time and safety stay under 100% memory usage, but, even still, some clips don't always load.

What is strange is that the clips that do load successfully into my project all playback just fine in the timeline, no dropped frames. I do have Adobe's Mercury GPU acceleration active and this is my first time having that option. Maybe I shouldn't be using it?

Are their other memory optimization procedures I'm missing? Or am I, as I fear, out of luck and need to buy more expensive DDR4 RAM to upgrade to 32GB?

My Rig:
Intel i7-5820k 3.2Ghz Overlocked to 4.0Ghz
16GB Ram
250GB SSD - Boot drive, programs, & project files
1TB SSD - dedicated media drive
60GB SSD - dedicated scratch drive
1TB 7200RPM External G-RAID Mini HDD in RAID 1 - Dedicated Export/Archive

Thanks in advance!

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Michael Ron
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 22, 2015 at 8:25:22 am

Do you have the CUDA drivers installed? If so, try changing GPU acceleration to CUDA or Open-CL and see if that makes any difference for you.

I know you said the machine is new, but did you have CC2014 installed before you updated to CC2015? If you did, it might also be worthwhile to manually remove all your cache files and let PP recreate those.

It is possible that 16GB RAM is simply not enough for 4K editing, but AFAIK that you still shouldn't see such a spike in RAM usage just for importing a few files.
If all else prevails, it might be worthwhile for you to roll back to CC2014 and see if you're getting the same issues.. If everything works well in CC14, then you'll at least know it's not a hardware issue and you can then re-upgrade (or install CC15 without removing CC14), and continue troubleshooting.

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Alexander Freedman
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 22, 2015 at 1:34:31 pm


Thank you for responding to my post! I have NVIDIA's software updater installed on the computer and it says there are currently no updates, but I'll double check their website for CUDA specific drivers I might be missing. I didn't realize I needed to specify CUDA or Open-CL. I just selected the Mercury Playback GPU Acceleration in the project settings.

I did have CC2014 installed, but didn't use PP during that time. I built the computer about a week before CC2015 dropped and hadn't got around to actually using CC yet, but I'll hunt down the cache files and see if I can manually remove them - just in case.

Yeah, it's soo strange for the ram to spike on import. Now, it was about 50+ clips, all at 4k - I don't know if that amount of clips being imported at one time plays a roll in it, but I've important at least that much 1080p clips before without a problem (again, not on this machine, but my last machine which was considerably less powerful). I run CS6 on a 2011 Mac Pro here at work with only 12GB of ram (9GB to CS6 and 3GB to everything else). I'm going to bring the 4k files here tomorrow and see the same thing happens.

Yes, as a last-ditch effort I'll do a rollback and double check that as well. As with any self-built PC, there are always little tweaks the need to be made and I'm sure this is just one of them.

I'm at work now but I'll attempt some of these options tonight and report back ASAP!

Thanks again,

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Michael Ron
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:11:53 pm

The Mercury transmit is actually the "software-only" option, which is mostly meant for machines with unsupported GPUs that cannot utilise GPU rendering. I would suggest (after verifying on Nvidia's site that your drivers are indeed updated), to try and switch to CUDA and see if that helps.

You can't really compare 1080p files to 4K files.. The file amount might be the same, but the 4K files contain over 5 times the information an HD file has - Both because of the obvious difference in resolution and file size, and because of the codec/compression differences. 4K files are usually RAW or at the very least use an uncompressed codec which is highly intensive on your CPU and RAM.
However I still agree that it's pretty wired. Your specs look like they should be good enough to play 4K files.. I would say RAM might be a bottleneck as far as editing goes, but would still expect it to work (maybe in half resolution for playback while editing).

If your machine is otherwise behaving normally (no crashing, other RAM-intensive softwares/games working well), than it's most likely a software issue.
You can try clearing cache and importing the files a-few-at-a-time to see if that works.. But your best way to find a solution will be to eliminate some of the variables - You currently have a new computer with a new version of a newly installed software.. So it's pretty hard to troubleshoot.

Since CC15 is very new, it's possible this is a new import-related bug, or it can be something on your machine ..
Taking the files to a different machine is great, since you can know for sure the files themselves aren't the issue.. But it still won't tell you what the issue on your machine actually is.
If you can confirm the same files are working on your machine with CC14, that would mean this is related to CC15.. If they don't work on CC14 either, but work on another machine, then at least you know this is for sure related to either faulty RAM or something in your OS (missing codecs, drivers, etc).
So I think in your case, if nothing else you can think of works, this might be a good step to take.. Even if it looks extreme, it can put your mind at ease as far as your hardware being fine and can get you closer to a solution.

Happy to help, hope you figure it out :)

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Alexander Freedman
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 23, 2015 at 7:30:38 pm

Well Michael, I'm at a loss...

When I navigate to the folder with the 4k clips via Media Browser, this is what I see:


That clips was taken shortly before PP gives me an error saying "unable to create image buffer" and either freezes or crashes. I notice this happens once my RAM utilization in Task Manager hits 75% or higher, CPU ramps up to 100% as well. Sometimes I don't get the error and it just crashes, sometimes it almost loads all of them before crashing. I double checked my preferences and Adobe is allocated 13GB of RAM set to "performance" (I tried "Memory" and didn't see a difference), everything else is 3GB.

Searching other forms, I found the "image buffer" error can happen when you don't have enough space on your disks for PP to create the image previews in your Media Cache, so I've tried multiple ways of optimizing my SSDs as mentioned on Adobe's official forums here:

...and still had no luck in PP2015. Each disk I put the media cache and database on has more than 100GB of space and should be fine.

So, I deleted all my scratch and media cache files and rolled back to PP2014. Same issue. Same crashing.

Here's the kicker:

I took the same 4k files to work and uploaded them onto my 2011 MacPro with Adobe CS6 and only 9GB of RAM (set to performance, 3GB to everything else) and when I navigated to media browser... everything was fine! Media Browser built previews for all the clips and they all imported just fine. Now, I couldn't play any of the footage back without dropping frames (which was to be expected), but I was still able pass the import phase cleanly.

So I come back home, roll back to Adobe CS6... same problem. RAM passes 75% utilization. Freeze. Crash. etc.

I've double checked NVIDIA, both the website and "NVIDIA Experience" app says I'm up to date. Windows has no updates.

Could my RAM be bad? How would I know? I'm playing MMORPG games (like WoW, FFXIV, Elder Scrolls) just fine on this computer. Nothing else seems to be a problem. I've ran OCCT performance software when I was overclocking and the computer didn't crash when CPU was being blasted to 100% for more than an hour.

Thanks for any help you can give.

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Michael Ron
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 24, 2015 at 7:17:39 am

[Alexander Freedman] "So, I deleted all my scratch and media cache files and rolled back to PP2014. Same issue. Same crashing."

From what you're describing, if the problem persists in PP CS6 and CC14, this is not a CC15 issue but something on your machine causing the crashing.

You say CUDA is installed and up to date.. What about codecs?
You didn't mention your footage codec details, but I know that on a PC, a lot of 4K footage often requires codecs or plugins to be imported properly. Did you install the relevant video codecs for your video?
If you didn't, try googling 'your camera name / codec + premiere pro import' or something similar and see what comes up.

If I remember correctly you said you're working of SSD's but also have an external RAID? What happens if you try to use that instead of one of the internal SSD's? And by that I mean putting your media and project file, as well as directing all your media cache and scratch files, to the external RAID, leaving nothing on the SSD - Just to make sure this isn't a hardisk issue with one of your SSD drives.

[Alexander Freedman] "Could my RAM be bad? How would I know? I'm playing MMORPG games (like WoW, FFXIV, Elder Scrolls) just fine on this computer. Nothing else seems to be a problem. "

As far as your RAM, you are playing some relatively RAM intensive games, but these would still work while only utilising 8 or 12 GB of RAM, so it's not really a definitive answer.
I know a software for mac that does hardware diagnostics, I'm sure there are similar softwares for Windows, but can't really recommend anything specific.
If you feel comfortable with opening up your PC case, you can also verify this the old fashioned way - Depending on your RAM setup, try to remove half of it (e.g. if you have four 4GB chips, remove two of them, leaving 8GB inside) and boot your machine to verify it's seeing 8GB of RAM.
Then try this again with different pairs - If one of your chips is defective, on one try your machine will most likely either not boot at all, or will only boot with 4GB of RAM.

However, since your CPU also seems to reach it's cap - your issue might not be with RAM at all.. You're saying the CPU also reaches 100% when playing video games, which AFAIK shouldn't happen on an i7 with the type of games you play. Unfortunately CPU issues are harder to troubleshoot without additional hardware, but this sounds like it might be your issue.
It's possible PPro has a "defence" mechanism designed to keep your machine from over-extending itself, where if your CPU and/or RAM hits a 100%, the software intentionally crashes.
I don't know much about overclocking, but you might want to look at older posts on COW and Adobe forums that deal with OC and Adobe apps, e.g. this one:
You might find some helpful troubleshooting tips or better understanding of the inner-workings of PPro.

And another post that deals with RAM spikes in CC2015 you might also want to follow:

If I think of anything else I will let you know. In the meanwhile if you can't find a solution, take advantage of the fact that your machine is new and try to take it in to the shop where you purchased it - If you really do have any defective hardware, they should be able to find and replace it for you.

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Alexander Freedman
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 24, 2015 at 12:49:38 pm

Michael, you're a fountain of great information!

I haven't installed any additional codecs other than what CC2015 comes with, so I will research that topic. Yes, I have an external 7200RPM 1TB G-RAID Mini by G-Technology that I originally had on my mac editing rig. It's currently in a RAID 1 config for archiving, but I'll switch it back to RAID 0 and trouble shoot the SSD's.

As you suggested, I'm also leaning toward it either being the RAM or CPU. I've found some software that'll stress test the RAM so I'll utilize that and see what I get. I might also have missed something in the overclocking process, so I'll just return the CPU back to factory settings and test that as well.

Thank you so much for these possible solutions. I'll follow the other forum links you suggested and begin troubleshooting them over the next few days and get back with you if I find a solution.

You've been a huge help!

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Michael Ron
Re: 16GB Not Enough for 4k Editing in Premiere Pro 2015?
on Jun 24, 2015 at 1:16:50 pm

Great to hear, hopefully you can find a solution soon - Would love for you to come back and update the thread when you do, both to satisfy my own curiosity, but mostly for other users who might have similar issues in the future.

Good luck :)

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