There’s Now a Fix for Lags in Photoshop and Illustrator on Surface Book

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
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photoshop lag in surface book

Just like Surface Pro 4, Microsoft’s Surface Book is also very suitable for artists, especially graphic designers.

And of course some of the most popular tools that all serious artists and designers use are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

But users are complaining about various lags in these programs, which makes it almost impossible to use them.

“MS is pitching the Surface Book as the Ultimate laptop and for Creative people. I found that there is considerable lag in Illustrator and just a bit better in Photoshop while drawing and zooming in and out. The lag is so bad in Illustrator that its not even worth running.”

The complaints started to appear in early October of 2015, and Microsoft still didn’t announce any possible fix for lags in Adobe’s software.

The company is actually aware of the problem, as a few Microsoft employees contacted users on forums, but they didn’t provide any useful info.

They didn’t even announce actual fixing update, which means that company doesn’t pay a lot of attention to this problem.

They actually only advised users to apply the latest updates, but you can judge yourself how much is that helpful.

How to Get Rid of Lags in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on Surface Book

And now, almost two months after the issue was identified, one user finally managed to find the solution of Photoshop and Illustrator lags on his own.

It requires installing the NVidia Control Panels, and changing a few settings. And here’s what you need to do exactly:

  1. Download and install GeForce Experience
  2. When installed, right click on your desktop, and go to NVIDIA Control Panel
  3. Go to Manage 3D Settings
  4. Go to Program Settings tab, and select Adobe Photoshop (Photoshop.exe) from the dropdown list
  5. Now, head to the Specify Settings list, and find the Power Management Mode settings
  6. Change it from Adaptive to Maximum Performance
  7. Restart your computer

This Insider from Microsoft forums even explained us what was causing the lagging problems. Namely, Adaptive Performance save the power, but it doesn’t work well with Adobe’s products.

Unlike 3D games or video editing, which exploits the GPU to the fullest, working in Adobe Photoshop only accelerates certain tasks.

As a consequence, there’s a delay in the time you do a certain action (start drawing, for example) and the time system directs more power to the GPU.

But, when you set the GPU to Prefer Maximum Performance, the GPU will always have necessary power. Using this, there will be no delay, therefore the lagging problem will be eliminated.

This was a serious issue, and Microsoft or Adobe should at least give some advices to users on how to deal with it, even though it doesn’t require any update or actions from the companies.

Luckily, users managed to find the solution by themselves, but that won’t be the case every time, with every problem, and the experience of using Surface Book could be significantly damaged.

UPDATE: according to some users, the issue was later solved by an NVidia update. Still, users say that the lagging problems continue. For that, you can use the solution mentioned above.

Even recently, the lagging issue persists. Generally, it has to do with Surface Book not using the maximum performance necessary for running Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.