Ask a Consultant - Do I Need Dual CPUs for Photoshop?Written on May 8, 2020 by Jared Lewis
Working with a Puget Systems Technology Consultant can save a lot of time, and take a lot of headache and worry out of the process of selecting a system. Puget Systems Consultants can provide insight into all of the testing numbers and component specs, so you will feel confident with the system you purchased is the one optimized for the applications that are critical to your workflow. Our goal is to make your workflow easier, so you can focus on what you do best.
Bigger is not always Better
Sometimes the most expensive parts are not the best performing ones depending on the customer’s choice of applications. A customer recently called with one focus in mind: increasing performance in Photoshop. This customer had a very impressive system in use: Two Xeon Gold CPUs and two graphics cards. It was a very powerful and expensive system. The customer wanted to configure a similar system to accomplish his goal of getting Photoshop to perform at top speeds.
This was a case where selecting the most powerful and expensive parts was not necessarily the best option. Photoshop is a predominantly single-threaded program. It sends one stream of data to the CPU for processing at a time and gets one answer back. Single-threaded programs perform best on a high clock-speed CPU.
With a dual CPU system like the one in use by the customer, each processor controls one half of the motherboard. They share memory, and a controller assigns work between the CPUs. If the program you are using isn’t specifically written to take advantage of those parts, it can actually run slower, despite having all that powerful hardware.
Second, Photoshop isn’t written to utilize two graphics cards, like the customer currently has installed and wants on the new system. While GPU acceleration in Photoshop has increased over the last few years, currently there are only a handful of effects that can utilize the video card, and none of them can utilize a second one.
What we recommended for the customer was not only cheaper, it runs Photoshop much more effectively.
First we chose a single CPU: The Intel core i9 9900k. Our performance testing shows that the i9 9900K offers near top performance, but at a lower price point, so is the best value. Second, we used the most appropriate amount of memory based on the file sizes the customer was working with . Finally, we used a single graphics card and a pair of high speed hard drives.
These recommendations all come from our performance testing of Photoshop.
This was a much better fit for the customer's goal: to speed up Photoshop. We gave the system a fast CPU to handle the predominantly single threaded tasks of Photoshop, combined with a large amount of memory to work with files, and a fast hard drive to serve and store data while doing that work. The end result is a much faster, less expensive workstation than the customer’s current system.
Looking for a Photoshop Workstation?
Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.