I looked into the Preview search problem. In case there is any confusion, Search is different to Find. Preview memory usage increases each time a search is performed and even when the same search is performed later on. Perform enough searches and things get pretty ugly.
I'm running Lion on a C2D 2GHZ with 2.5GB. It is usually adequate for my needs and could use a memory upgrade but Preview's index strategy/memory management is the problem in this instance. Skim is more efficient in this area.
I suspect the problem is your machine GZT, My Core I3 iMac has no problems at all searching large PDF files. If you were running snow leopard you might have better luck, I have found running 10.7 and 10.8 on older machines that the hardware can't keep up with the system.
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