I am using Photoshop CS2 several hours during the day, and because of what I'm doing, I also have a programming environment active, and also have Firefox and IE running. When I first start up - performance is acceptable, but after around 2 hours the system gets slower and slower - to the point that it might take 5 or 10 minutes to safely close all apps prior to a reboot. In Photoshop I'm not using high res large photo images.
I'm running a year old machine
MB Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H [ATI Radeon HD 4200 on board I thnk]
CPU Phenom II X2550 3.1ghz Dual Core
RAM DDR2 2048 2gig 667Mhz - 1 stick
I'm using the built in graphics card - I do have a Geforce 7950 GTOC [Pci Express] Video Board available - but I'm not sure if its any better than the MB graphics
If I want to spend a small amount of money, is it better to add RAM or a new graphics card?
If its slowing down after some amount of use, it's almost definitely various things filling up Ram. Running Photoshop CS2 + Visual Studio + Firefox + Windows 7/XP can definitely chew through 2GB if you let it, and which point thrashing can become an issue when closing everything at once, making it take forever to do anything. If you're running a 64-bit OS, you're probably over 2GB before starting anything heavy, and your best bet is to get a 64 Bit OS and upgrade to 4GB of ram.
Running Win XP 32 bit and Its not likely I would change that in the near future - if I do change I would go to a dual boot with Win7 64 bit - I run a lot of different programs for clients and I never rush to move my OS forward because of concern for compatablilty.
Ok, well, XP 32-bit can't actually use 4GB of RAM, it'll only get 3.3-3.7GB if you put in 4GB, which would still probably be a big improvement over what you have now and then a second OS of Win 7 64bit would get to use all of it when you boot into that (and could have photoshop running on that, for instance).