I'm suffering what seems to be a common ailment... Performance starts to really lag about 20-30 minutes into a fresh launch and file.

I've been researching this issue down to the nitty gritty for a while now, so I've plowed through the most common suggestion for sure.

==> I'm working with large and complex files utilizing a very wide range of illustrator effects, masks, plugins, distortions, 3d, blend modes... all at once, often at huge artboards! Multiple artboards! Embeded images! You name it, I'm doing it.

I've already had to significantly reel in my workflow and limit my filters (no gaussian blurs... no svg filters like drop shadow etc.) but the thing is, I really need to work in this way because I work with constant revisions on everything and the ability to change any piece on the fly is becoming both the glory and the horror that is illustrator.

I built my own custom Windows 10 machine last year, tailored to graphic design. I didn't buy the top end components at the time since I didn't have the money, but I've since upgraded a number of components and I'm hitting the ceiling in some areas. To buy stronger components in some areas I pretty much need to start at motherboard. sigh.

===> Windows 10 x64

32gb 2133 ddr4

X2 512 gb samsung SSD's (all my working files are on my boot SSD

Radeon R9 380 w/ 8gb (upgraded after crap performance from a GTX 970 2gb)

It's a shame because illustrator is an amazing tool. Combined with the set of plugins offered from Astute graphics, I have a very similar toolset to what photoshop can do. But in vector, it's very slow.

  • The thing is, if you pile up all goodies in a scene it will slow down eventually. There is no way around that. This is especially true for raster effect filters like blur and svg drop shadows. This is simply the price you pay for trying to do raster editing in a vector application. No amount of hardware will save you im afraid. Consider using a cache scheme, where you only display parts of your scene at once, rasterize layers for preview or work with a lower raster effects setting.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 4:56
  • In my experience smart guides are very demanding. Also in InDesign. Reacts to every mouse move. Also the plugins from Astute seems demanding too. Do you have the same problems without the plugins?
    – Wolff
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 20:03
  • Thanks guys, these are all really good suggestions that I hadn't pursued....and I do recall ramping up my raster settings to 300 art some point and forgetting about it....will be my first line of attack in the morning.
    – n10ae
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 5:46

2 Answers 2


Just to chime in... yup.. AI can be dog slow and it has very little to do with actual hardware specs.

Best you can do is utilize layers well and hide portions of artwork you aren't directly working on. Limiting raster effects will help a great deal as well.

If you must use raster effects, set the Document Raster Effects Settings (Effects Menu) to 72ppi while working. It'll greatly speed up raster effect drawing. Then before output switch it back to 300ppi and wait for things to redraw.

There's really not much more you can do.

There's some super secret, internal limit to something that once a file passes that limit, it is often like walking through mud to get things done. Truth is, I'm not even certain the AI Dev teams knows what causes it (or they'd address it).

  • Yeah hiding portions has thus far helped a lot, and could be better integrated to a workflow - thanks!
    – n10ae
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 5:48
  • This super ambiguous internal limit thing, it's totally what I'm hitting. And I have this odd feeling no amount of horsepower will get around it. Just have to get clever with layering and hiding items I suppose.
    – n10ae
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 5:52

AI is traditionally slow with complex artwork and more so when plugins are added. Consider switching your workflow to design the piece in ID and link AI and PS assets externally. ID is good (and quick) when putting together many AI & PS files. Not sure it works in your case though.

Example: i am designing an 80+ page product catalogue in ID with 400+ AI & PSD links. This is typeset in 15 languages (as layers in the same ID file) and runs smoothly on a 4-yo laptop (slower hardware than what you have, ie win7/8gb/256ssd/4g video).

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