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Adobe Photoshop: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Written on April 5, 2022 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: Intel Core i9 12900KS performance in Photoshop

Intel already holds a strong lead over AMD in terms of Photoshop performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS only furthers their lead. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 6% faster in Photoshop, which puts it a solid 23% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For many users, Photoshop isn't a terribly taxing application, but for power users working with huge canvases and hundreds of layers, the Core i9 12900KS is a very attractive processor. The MSRP of $739 is certainly higher than any other Intel consumer CPU currently on the market, but in the grand scheme of things, spending an extra couple hundred dollars on a faster CPU isn't all that much if you are able to take advantage of the higher performance offered by the 12900KS.

Introduction

When Intel launched their 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Alder Lake") in November of 2021, they showed a terrific performance improvement over previous generations. They also made some significant changes to how their CPUs fundamentally worked, primarily through their hybrid architecture which utilizes a mix of Performance and Efficient-cores.

Since then, the wider availability of DDR5 memory and improvements in thread scheduling have allowed them to expand their performance lead over AMD in a number of workflows. And today, Intel is launching yet another model to their 12th Intel Core lineup: the Intel Core i9 12900KS.

Intel Core i9 12900KS for Adobe Photoshop

On paper, the 12900KS appears to simply be a higher binned version of the Core i9 12900K. It has the same number of cores and the same cache, but the frequency is slightly higher. The exact amount depends on which kind of core is being used as well as what type of Turbo, but at most we are looking at about a 6% increase in Turbo frequency.

To handle the higher frequency, the 12900KS has a slightly higher base power draw of 150W versus the 125W of the 12900K. Interestingly, the maximum Turbo power is the same at 241W, which means that it may not actually run much hotter under heavy load situations.

The last difference is, of course, the price. With an MSRP of $739, the 12900KS is $140 more expensive than the 12900K. This is still a bit below the $799 MSRP of the AMD Ryzen 5950X, but it certainly brings Intel and AMD closer in terms of pricing at the top of their consumer CPU lines.

CPU Model Core i9 12900K Core i9 12900KS
Total Cores/Threads 16/24 16/24
Performance Cores 8 8
Efficient Cores 8 8
Max Turbo Frequency 5.2 GHz 5.5 GHz
P-Core Max Turbo Frequency 5.1 GHz 5.2 GHz
E-Core Max Turbo Frequency 3.9 GHz 4.0 GHz
Cache 30 MB 30 MB
Processor Base Power 125 W 150 W
Maximum Turbo Power 241 W 241 W
MSRP $599 $739

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel Core i9 12900KS compared to the 12900K, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5950X. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, you can check out the summary of all our testing results - and links to more detailed analysis - in our Intel Core i9 12900KS Review Roundup article.

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

12th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 12900KS 8+8 Core ($739)
Intel Core i9 12900K 8+8 Core ($589)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12A
Motherboard Asus ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi
RAM 2x DDR5-4800 32GB (64GB total)
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core ($799)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core ($549)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware & Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Hard Drive Samsung 980 Pro 2TB
Software Windows 11 Pro 64-bit (2009)
Adobe Photoshop 23.2.2
PugetBench for Photoshop

*Latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware as of March 31st, 2022

In order to see how the new Intel Core i9 12900KS performs in Photoshop, we will be comparing it to the Core i9 12900K, AMD Ryzen 5900X, and AMD Ryzen 5950X. For the test itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Photoshop benchmark and the latest 23.2.2 version of Photoshop. Our benchmark includes the ability to upload the results to our online database, so if you want to know how your own system compares, you can download and run the benchmark yourself.

As for the test platforms, we want to point out that due to the wider availability of DDR5 RAM, all our testing is now using DDR5 on any platform that supports it (currently just Intel Z690). We try to stay within spec for memory speed whenever possible, which is why we are using 2x32GB of DDR5-4800 RAM on the Intel platform. While the move from DDR4 to DDR5 can improve performance by a decent margin, the RAM speed doesn't make a big difference in most content creation applications. If you want to read more about the impact of DDR5 RAM speed, we recommend checking out our Impact of DDR5 Speed on Content Creation Performance article.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide individual results for you to examine. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, examining the raw results for that task is going to be much more applicable than the scores that our benchmark calculated.

Feel free to skip to the next sections for our analysis of these results to get a wider view of how each configuration performs.

Intel Core i9 12900KS Photoshop benchmark performance

Photoshop Performance Analysis

  • Intel Core i9 12900KS Photoshop Benchmark Overall Score
  • Intel Core i9 12900KS Photoshop Benchmark General Score
  • Intel Core i9 12900KS Photoshop Benchmark Filter Score

Since Photoshop is largely single-threaded, the increased maximum boost frequency on the Core i9 12900KS should be able to make a sizable performance difference. On paper, the 5.5GHz maximum boost frequency is 6% higher than the 5.2GHz on the 12900K, which means that 6% is effectively the largest performance gain you can reasonably expect.

And in fact, 6% higher performance is exactly what we found in our Photoshop testing. This holds true for our Overall Score, as well as for the more targeted General and Filter tests. Intel already had a fairly strong lead over AMD in Photoshop, but this raises their maximum lead from 15% to closer to 23%.

What this means is that the new Intel Core i9 12900KS does very well in Photoshop. Yes, the price is higher, but a 6% increase in performance is a fairly standard increase in performance between models in this range and might be worth the investment for higher-end Photoshop users.

Is the Intel Core i9 12900KS Processor Good for Photoshop?

Intel already holds a strong lead over AMD in terms of Photoshop performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS only furthers their lead. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 6% faster in Photoshop, which puts it a solid 23% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For many users, Photoshop isn't a terribly taxing application, but for power users working with huge canvases and hundreds of layers, the Core i9 12900KS is a very attractive processor. The MSRP of $739 is certainly higher than any other Intel consumer CPU currently on the market, but it is still less than the $799 MSRP of the AMD Ryzen 5950X. And in the grand scheme of things, spending an extra couple hundred dollars on a faster CPU isn't all that much if you are able to take advantage of the higher performance offered by the 12900KS

Going into our testing, we were a bit worried about the higher base power draw of the 12900KS, but throughout our testing, we didn't notice any issues. Our standard 120mm Noctua heatsink was still more than enough to keep this CPU cool, and there was no noticeable increase in fan noise.

Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for Photoshop and that performance will vary widely in different applications. If your workflow includes other software packages (we have similar articles for a number of other applications that can be found in our Intel Core i9 12900KS Review Roundup article), you need to consider how the system will perform in those applications as well. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles to keep up to date on how all of these software packages - and more - perform with the latest CPUs.

Computer System

Looking for a Photoshop Workstation?

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

Configure a System!

Labs technician talking with customer

Labs Consultation Service

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

Find Out More!
Tags: AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5900X, 5950X, Intel 12th Gen, i9 12900K, Photoshop, 12900KS
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