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Adobe Photoshop - AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Performance

Written on January 4, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB performance in Photoshop

While the new AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT performs just fine in Photoshop, the GPU is a very low priority when designing a Photoshop workstation. It is very important to have a supported GPU, but all the cards we tested performed within the margin of error for our benchmark, so there is no reason to invest in a higher-end GPU for Photoshop. So, while the 6900 XT performs just fine in Photoshop, you might as well save your money and get something like a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon 5700 XT and spend the savings on a more powerful CPU.

Introduction

For the last part of 2020, both NVIDIA and AMD have been slowly releasing a number of new GPUs. One of the most recent was the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB which officially launched on December 8th, but due to extremely tight supply, we have not been able to get our hands on one to test until just recently. In fact, we still have not been able to purchase a card ourselves, but our friends at Linus Media Group were able to loan us a card so we could perform our testing.

While gaming is almost always a major focus during these GPU launches, professional applications like Photoshop are becoming more and more important. In fact, if you view the product page for the 6900 XT, you will note that they are starting to include Content Creation performance from benchmarks like our very own "PugetBench for Premiere Pro".

However, even though Photoshop does boast a number of effects that utilize the GPU, these effects tend to perform roughly the same regardless of what GPU is in your system. Because of this, we don't expect to see a significant gain in performance with any of the new cards from either NVIDIA or AMD in Photoshop, but it is always worth testing to find out if there are any surprises.

Photoshop GPU Performance Benchmark - AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB

If you want to see the full specs for the latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD, we recommend checking out the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series and AMD Radeon RX Graphics Cards product pages. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:

VRAM Cores Boost Clock Power MSRP
Radeon 5700X 8GB 2,560 1.9 GHz 225W $399
RTX 3060 Ti 8GB 4,864 1.67 GHz 200W $399
RTX 3070 8GB 5,888 1.70 GHz 220W $499
Radeon 6800 16GB 3,840 2.1 GHz 250W $579
Radeon 6800 XT 16GB 4,608 2.25 GHz 300W $649
RTX 3080 10GB 8,704 1.71 GHz 320W $699
Radeon 6900 XT 16GB 5,120 2.25 GHz 300W $999
RTX 3090 24GB 10,496 1.73 GHz 350W $1,499

While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, the biggest thing to note is that the AMD Radeon 6900 XT 16GB is at the top of the product stack from AMD and has a MSRP that is $300 higher than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB, or $500 lower than the GeForce RTX 3090 24GB. Based on price alone, this means that we (hopefully) will see better performance from the 6900 XT than the RTX 3080, although there are certainly other factors to consider such as the larger VRAM capacity.

Note that the current supply is so poor that you will be lucky to find many of these cards for anywhere near the MSRP. However, we typically use the MSRP as a baseline for price in order to rule out fluctuations due to different brands, sales, and scarcity. The actual cost you will likely need to pay for either an AMD or NVIDIA card is likely to be quite a bit different, so keep that in mind as you read this article.

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Test Setup

Listed below is the specifications of the system we will be using for our testing:

To test each GPU, we will be using one of the fastest platforms currently available for Photoshop - most notably the AMD Ryzen 5950X. Since Photoshop utilizes the CPU so heavily, this should minimize the impact of the processor and allow each GPU to perform at their fullest potential. Even with this, however, be aware that there typically isn't much variation in performance between different video cards.

For the testing itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Photoshop benchmark. This tests a range of effects and tasks in Photoshop, some of which utilize the GPU to improve performance. If you wish to run our benchmark yourself, you can download the benchmark and compare your results to thousands of user-submitted results in our PugetBench database.

Raw Benchmark Results

While we are going to go through our analysis of the testing in the next section, we always like to provide the raw results for those that want to dig into the details. If there is a specific task you tend to perform in your workflow, examining the raw results is going to be much more applicable than our more general analysis.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB Photoshop GPU Performance Benchmark

Overall Photoshop Performance Analysis

Before we get into the results, we want to set some expectations so no one is disappointed. Although Photoshop does have a number of tasks that are GPU accelerated, we rarely see much of an improvement with higher-end GPUs for these tasks. It is incredibly important to have a supported GPU, but the video card itself is rarely the bottleneck.

But in the interest of being thorough, let's take a look at the overall performance in Photoshop with each of the cards we tested.

As you can see in the chart above, there is minimal difference between any of the GPUs we tested. Between the "fastest" and "slowest" cards, we only saw a 4% difference in performance, which is just within the margin of error for real-world testing like this. We have found in previous testing that having a GPU does increase performance by ~10% over onboard graphics, but a GPU with more raw horsepower doesn't result in significantly higher performance than a more modest GPU.

The "General Score" does show a bit more of a variation in performance, and if anything, AMD has a slight lead there with the AMD Radeon 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT topping the chart for that set of tests. Oddly enough, that performance gap is largely from a single effect - Adaptive Wide Angle - that isn't even supposed to use the GPU at all. We are a little worried that for whatever reason, Photoshop is applying a different setting for this effect on AMD and NVIDIA cards for some unknown reason which we plan on investigating before the next update to the PugetBench for Photoshop benchmark.

However, our benchmark does make a "GPU Score" based on the tests that are GPU accelerated, which should (in theory) be able to show more of a difference between each card.

GPU Score Analysis

Photoshop GPU Effects benchmark performance AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB

The GPU score is calculated based on the performance for the Rotate, Smart Sharpen, Field Blur, Tilt-Shift Blur, and Iris Blur tests - all of which are able to utilize the GPU to improve performance.

Unfortunately, even if we only look at these specific tests, there is still not a significant difference between each of the video cards we tested. The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is really the only card that appears measurably slower than the others, but even it is only 4% below the highest scoring card.

How well does the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB perform in Photoshop?

While the new AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT performs just fine in Photoshop, the GPU is a very low priority when designing a Photoshop workstation. It is very important to have a supported GPU, but all the cards we tested performed within the margin of error for our benchmark, so there is no reason to invest in a higher-end GPU for Photoshop. So, while the 6900 XT performs just fine in Photoshop, you might as well save your money and get something like a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon 5700 XT and spend the savings on a more powerful CPU.

We know that this makes for a bit of a boring article, but given how much buzz there has been around GPU acceleration over the last few years, we believe that it is just as important to know when a more powerful GPU does not matter as when it does. In addition, Adobe is constantly improving its software, and re-testing GPU performance periodically is something that is very important to do in order to find out if anything has changed.

In fact, in the near future, we plan on looking into new features like neural filters and sky replacement to see if they might show a greater variance between different GPUs in Photoshop. We knew going into this testing that we were very unlikely to find anything groundbreaking, but we felt it was necessary to finish testing all the new NVIDIA and AMD GPUs before we attempt to overhaul the GPU portion of our benchmark.

As always, keep in mind that these results are strictly for Photoshop. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a range of applications perform with the new GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.

Photoshop Workstations

Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: NVIDIA, NVIDIA vs AMD, AMD, Radeon RX 5700 XT, RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 3080, Photoshop, RTX 3090, RTX 3070, Radeon RX 6800, Radeon RX 6800 XT, RTX 3060 Ti, Radeon RX 6900 XT