Which Graphics Card is Better for Photoshop in 2020? - Hardware Guide

Written by Chad Norton on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 2:30 PM

Adobe Photoshop is one of the biggest software applications out there, and luckily that wide appeal has ensured the application isn’t exactly the most demanding pieces of software that it used to be. Almost all new graphics cards will be able to run Adobe Photoshop without an issue, and you can even run it without a display adaptor, though there are a few GPU-exclusive features that will require a graphics card to be utilized properly.

Features that require a GPU and won;’r work without one include Perspective Warp, 3D, Oil Paint, Render - (Flame, Picture Frame, and Tree), Scrubby Zoom, Birds Eye View, Flick Panning, and Smooth Brush Resizing.

Several other features can be made to run faster thanks to the use of a GPU for acceleration, these include Lens Blur, Artboards, Camera Raw, Image Size - Preserve Details, Select Focus, Blur Gallery - (Field Blur, Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift, Path Blur, and Spin Blur (OpenCL accelerated)), Smart Sharpen (Noise Reduction - OpenCL accelerated), and Select and Mask (OpenCL accelerated).

Features that require a GPU Features that require a GPU for acceleration
Perspective Warp Lens Blur
3D Artboards
Oil Paint Camera Raw
Render - Falme, Picture Frame, and Tree Image Size - Preserve Details
Scrubby Zoom Select Focus
Birds Eye View Blur Gallery - Field Blur, Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift, Path Blur, Spin Blur (OpenCL accelerated)
Flick Panning Smart Sharpen (Noise Reduction – OpenCL accelerated)
Smooth Brush Resizing Select and Mask (OpenCL accelerated)

Apart from these GPU-accelerated features, a graphics processor is not required to run Photoshop. Though instead processor speed, CPU cores, RAM and storage speeds are all used to help make Photoshop run faster. 

In order to run Adobe Photoshop at its best performance you will need a 6-8+ core CPU running at 1.6GHz or faster, Windows 10 Operating System, a decent M.2 SSD storage, and 8GB of RAM (though as some of you pointed out before, 16GB is more preferable).

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Adobe Photoshop official system requirements 2020

Adobe Photoshop Windows system requirements

  • 1.6GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support
  • Microsoft Windows 10 (recommended versions 1809, 1903) or Windows 8.1 (Windows 7 not supported); 64-bit versions only (32-bit not supported)
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 5.2GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 2.4GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1280x800 display resolution (at 100% scale factor)
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible display driver
  • DVD-ROM drive (for installation from DVD)
  • Internet connection required for product activation and content download*

Adobe Photoshop MacOS system requirements

  • 64-bit multicore Intel processor
  • macOS v10.13 through v10.15
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 6.5GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 2.5GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1280x800 display resolution (at 100% scale factor)
  • DVD-ROM drive (for installation from DVD)
  • Internet connection required for product activation and content download*

Adobe Photoshop minimum graphics and display requirements

  • 1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB of VRAM (2 GB or greater of VRAM is recommended)
  • To use OpenGL acceleration, your system must support OpenGL v2.0 and Shader Model 3.0 or later
  • To use OpenCL acceleration, your system must support OpenCL v1.1 or later

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What is the best graphics card for Photoshop in 2020?

In terms of which is the best graphics card for Photoshop in 2020, you’re looking at a GTX 1660 Ti 6GB or RTX 2060 6GB for Nvidia or an RX Vega 64 8GB for AMD. The higher the resolution of your display though, the more video memory will be required from your graphics card.

The minimum spec graphics cards tested by Adobe for Photoshop includes the Nvidia GeForce 400 series and up, as well as the AMD Radeon 5000 series and up.

Listed below are the officially tested GPU’s by Adobe that are compatible with Photoshop in 2020. It’s not a complete list unfortunately as it lacks a lot of modern Nvidia and AMD GPUs which will be able to run Photoshop without a problem.

Official Adobe-supported Photoshop Graphics Cards

  • nVidia GeForce: 400, 500, 600, 700 series
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 965M & 980M
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 1050, 1080, 1660
  • nVidia Quadro: 2000, 4000 (Windows® and Mac OS), CX, 5000, 6000, K600, K2000, K4000, K5000 (Windows® and Mac OS), M4000, M5000, P2000, P4000, P5000, T1000
  • nVidia GRID K1, K2
  • AMD/ATI Radeon: 5000, 6000, 7000, R7, R9 series, 7950 Mac OS
  • AMD/ATI FirePro: 3800, 4800, 5800, 7800, 8800, 9800, 3900, 4900, 5900, 7900, W8100, W9100, D300, D500, D700
  • AMD/ATI FireGL: W5000, W7000, W8000
  • AMD RX 480
  • Intel® HD Graphics: P530, P630, 5000, 515, 520
  • Intel® Iris Pro Graphics: P5200, P6300, P580
  • Intel HD Graphics 515 and 520

Adobe Photoshop Unsupported Graphics Card Series

  • AMD/ATI 100, 200, 3000, and 4000 series
  • nVidia GeForce 7000, 8000, 9000, 100, 200, 300 series
  • Older Intel® HD Graphics (for example 2000, 3000, 4000 series) cards

Our favourite comments:

I run PS DAILY. What you need to look at is not necessarily the core count - Adobe is actually really crap at multithreading, since most of their code is very old, with new features just tacked-on. What you really need to pay attention is the IPC and clock speed! I used to have a 20c/40t workstation at 2.6GHz and changing that over for a 8C/16T workstation @4.5GHz gave me a significant speed/smoothness boost.

GPU-wise - any modern GPU will do, but if you work with large files - more VRAM will help PS not spaz out into rendering errors.

xquatrox

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17:27 Jul-22-2020

can you guys do one for Blender, I'm praticing it on my laptop while using MMD on it too, but more than 2 models and it's lag as hell

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09:47 Jul-23-2020

Depends on what you're doing. If you're doing a lot of rigging/animation work - CPU is what you need to look at (and probably the source of your lag if the deformations are not cached). If rendering - depends on the renderer in question, but Cycles can use both the GPU and CPU to render, so those are the parts you'll need to look at for increased rendering speed.
12GB RAM should probably be enough, since you'd need to be working on large scenes to use that up - hardly a 2 model issue, especially if what I found "MMD" to be is right.

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09:50 Jul-23-2020

I'm a 3DS MAX user by profession, but the same principles apply in most cases. When things start lagging, you can open up the task manager and see if it's the RAM, the CPU or the GPU that's being worked. Be sure to set the CPU graph to "logical processors" to see what each thread is doing - I've had to talk to Autodesk engineers over single-threaded viewports a couple years back when I noticed only one thread driving the entire viewport system (LOL!), for example.
PM me if you'd like to discuss further. I can open up your scene on my PC, see if it lags.

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15:20 Jul-23-2020

thanks for the advice, I'm considering upgrading my PC soon, gotta look more into CPU then

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16:30 Jul-22-2020

I run PS DAILY. What you need to look at is not necessarily the core count - Adobe is actually really crap at multithreading, since most of their code is very old, with new features just tacked-on. What you really need to pay attention is the IPC and clock speed! I used to have a 20c/40t workstation at 2.6GHz and changing that over for a 8C/16T workstation @4.5GHz gave me a significant speed/smoothness boost.


GPU-wise - any modern GPU will do, but if you work with large files - more VRAM will help PS not spaz out into rendering errors.

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16:42 Jul-22-2020

RAM - as much as you need for your files. I've got some 10GB PSD files that eat RAM for breakfast, but most people will never deal with that. Having copious amounts of RAM never does any bad for any workstation, especially when you may have to work in multiple programs at the same time.


Disk... HDDs work, but they're stupid slow, especially for scratch disk functionality. SSDs are 100% the recommendation from me. Set aside a large cache on an SSD. Have enough space too, since "scratch disk is full" is a real error in PS that stops work in its tracks.

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16:52 Jul-22-2020

This is not to say that you can't do work on a slow system - you absolutely can, and I used to work on PS with my laptop (2GHz CPU with only 2 cores, no hyperhreading, 4GB RAM and a 512MB mobile GPU) during my poor student days. It all depends on WHAT it is that you want to do, how large the files, how many layers, how big the undo history, what speed you expect...


I'd always recommend trying the software on your current rig and seeing if it works, before going out to buy an upgrade. In most cases you'll be fine with nothing more than a RAM upgrade.

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19:46 Jul-22-2020

That's exactly why in every benchmark tests, Intel beats AMD in PS, even when the FX CPUs were hitting 5ghz. Low IPC didn't help and Intel could get high speeds to go with high IPC. Thankfully I don't use PS but in my work but do I need speed and IPC. Mores cores will help but then I lose speed. Zen 3 and Tigerlake will hopefully push things forward.

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09:54 Jul-23-2020

Photoshop is not alone in loving clock+IPC over core count, that's for sure. That's why for everything but pure rendering I still prioritize those things over how many cores. It also works out great for games :)
We'll see what the future CPUs offer. As of now, the best of them are only like 20% faster per-core than my "ancient" 5960X with its OC - that should tell you how unexciting the CPU world has been... That's why core count is the new selling point - they kinda screwed up on improving clocks and IPC, so cramming more cores makes for better sales.

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15:30 Jul-23-2020

For me, core count helps tremendously. We just can't get the speed of a lower core count CPU with a ton of cores. We did run a 3990 with an ice reservoir for its water-cooler. It cut 3/4 of our time off (even though we only had it at 4ghz) but we had to have someone syphon out the excess water while filling it back up.

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12:38 Jul-24-2020

I would imagine you're talking rendering something, or a simulation of some sorts - those tasks are highly multi-threaded. I can throw a 100 cores at 3Ds MAX on a CPU renderer and it'll use them all with perfect scaling. But there are many tasks beside rendering that cannot be multithreaded, either efficiently or even at all (that pesky pesky math...), so in those cases it helps to have a lower number of really FAST cores. In terms of Photoshop or Illustrator, I've found that only a tiny handful of effects really use more than 4 cores.

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15:32 Jul-22-2020

mine is MSI gtx 1060 6gb

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15:12 Jul-22-2020

who needs Photoshop when there's Affinity Photo

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16:45 Jul-22-2020

Probably just like Krita, they look alike with PS, but most tutorials on the internet are for PS, and if you're not willing to spend time learning how to achieve the same on an alternative program, stick with what you have. For me, I don't use it more extensively besides the stamp tool and easy quick fixes, but sometimes creating filters and using LUT tables makes it easier if I can follow a simple YT tutorial.

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12:07 Jul-23-2020

it's more advanced than Photoshop in many ways (for ex. changes are visible on the fly, not only after applied, unlike Photoshop),
give it a try ;)

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12:42 Jul-24-2020

Which changes in PS are not visible on-the-fly? I can think of a couple of heavy effects (displace, radial blur), but that's about it.

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13:56 Jul-24-2020

I meant basic things like background/magic eraser for ex., in Affinity, just hovering over area shows instant result, in Photoshop you really need to click/drag mouse to see

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19:18 Jul-24-2020

That's pretty nice. I might check it out and see if I can work with it (if it naturally goes like photoshop for me) and see if there are youtube tutorials on the stuff I would like to use.

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16:46 Jul-22-2020

Everyone who deals with other Adobe products and file formats.


Clients don't give a sh*t that you wanna feel fancy and "stick it to Adobe" - they want you to open their files and for them to open YOUR files and for everything to be compatible and working.
Linus made a great video on that and I 100% agree with what he said, because I live in the real world.

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12:08 Jul-23-2020

that's a good point, but depends on what the client/company needs - if they want final print/distribution formats, it doesn't matter which software was used for creation really..

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12:31 Jul-24-2020

Yeah, but you can't realistically expect to only work with clients that never need source files or who never have source files for you to open and edit.

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21:17 Jul-24-2020

From a company perspective view it's very understandable. At my work, we buy stuff like money doesn't play a role. Taking an hour to figure out something is broken is often more expensive than buying a replacement part. This is so different from what you'd do at home. You'd easily spend one to three hours trying to fix something rather than spending 20 euro to replace it.
Besides that, adobe is widely used so there's more seamless collaborations between companies.

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14:37 Jul-22-2020

REALLY ?
Did you read my mind ? I was looking at PS requirements 10 mins ago
In a near future I'll need to use it so I was wondering if my rig would handle it ( my gaming rig can but I was doubting of my laptop )
I'm a bit sad because I'll need a new laptop in order to get the job done

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16:48 Jul-22-2020

I used to use PS with my old laptop:


AMD Turion 64x2 TL-60 2.0GHz 2C/2T CPU
4GB RAM
ATI Radeon HD 2600 512MB GPU


It worked and I've done work on it for years. Granted, older PS versions, but you get the idea. Best thing to do is to TRY it before you buy a new laptop. In most cases, a simple RAM upgrade will suffice.

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21:43 Jul-22-2020

Which version ? My current laptop's running a Core i3 5005U, 12Gb RAM and a GeForce 920M
I'll surely buy a new laptop next year, but if I can use mine, that's better

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09:41 Jul-23-2020

I think back then we had CS4 to CS6. Most of the core functionality is there.
Your laptop will be fine for PS, don't worry. The CPU is the only real let-down in this system for productivity, but that's not to say you can't do it. I worked on masking in PS CC on my Surface Pro 3 tablet, which also has one of them U-series low-power CPUs. :)

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]