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Photoshop CC 2017.1.1 CPU Comparison: Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, Broadwell-E, Kaby Lake, Ryzen 7

Written on July 5, 2017 by Matt Bach


Photoshop is an application that tends to favor lower core count CPUs that run at a higher operating frequency, so the new CPUs from both AMD (Ryzen 7) and Intel (Skylake-X) with six or more cores are not really all that interesting for pure Photoshop users. However, there are a lot of people that utilize Photoshop as a secondary application in their workflow so we decided to take the time to see how these CPUs actually perform in Photoshop.

In addition to the Skylake-X CPUs, Intel has also launched the Kaby Lake-X Core i7 7740X and the Core i5 7640X. These CPUs are essentially the same as the existing Core i7 7700K and Core i5 7600K, only moved onto the X299 platform. These CPUs drop support for onboard graphics, but they do sport a small increase in frequency and support faster RAM. Because of this, we are very interested to see if there is a noticeable performance gain to using the i7 7740X over the current leader in Photoshop performance: the Intel Core i7 7700K Quad Core.

To see how these new CPUs compare, we tested how long it took to complete a wide range of tasks in Photoshop including:

  1. Launching Photoshop
  2. Opening/Saving large .PSD files
  3. Convert to CMYK/RGB
  4. Applying Blurs
  5. Noise Reduction
  6. Camera RAW Filter
  7. Resizing images
  8. Creating Panorama image
  9. Creating HDR image
  10. More - see full list in the Benchmark Results section

If you would like to skip over our test setup and individual benchmarks, feel free to jump right to the conclusion section.

Test Setup

Since the new processors include two different CPU architectures, our testing platform is less straightforward than normal. Most of the new CPUs support DDR4-2666 RAM, although the Intel Core i7 7740X (Kaby Lake-X) CPU only supports four sticks of RAM rather than eight. In addition, the Intel Core i7 7800X (Skylake-X) only supports DDR4-2400 RAM for some odd reason. We opted to test with the highest officially supported RAM configuration for each CPU, so components used in our X299 test platform requires an entire table just for itself:

To act as a comparison to the new CPUs, we will also be testing AMD's Ryzen 7 1700X/1800X CPUs as well as the Intel Core i7 7700K (Kaby Lake) and Intel Core i7 6850K/6900K/6950X (Broadwell-E) CPUs. Again, we will be testing with the best officially supported RAM configuration for each CPU.

Inconsistent RAM aside, one thing we do want to point out is how much more affordable the Skylake-X CPUs are compared to the previous generation Broadwell-E CPUs. Where a six core CPU from Intel used to cost over $600, you can now purchase an eight core CPU for roughly the same cost. In fact, the i7 7800X is even a hair less expensive than AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs. This means that regardless of any performance gains we may see, Skylake-X is at the very least a big deal in terms of cost.

The images we used in our testing (and their source) are:

Photoshop Actions

360MP (21500x16718)
Scaled up from the Hardware Heaven Photoshop Benchmark V3 (no longer available)

Resized to 38MP (7000x5443) for Smart Blur

Merge to HDR

5x 18MP TIFF (5184x3456)

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i

5x 80MP TIFF (7760x10328)

Camera: Phase One IQ180
Courtesy of Mark McGilvray Photography

Settings: Default


6x 18MP TIFF (5184x3456)
Merged to 98MP (26144x3759)

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i

6x 80MP TIFF (7760x10328)
Merged to 177MP (18552x9552)

Camera: Phase One IQ180
Courtesy of Mark McGilvray Photography

Settings: Auto Layout. Blend, vignette removal, geometric distortion correction, and content aware fill enabled.

Benchmark Results

Due to the sheer number of actions we tested and the fact that the performance differences were remarkably consistent, we are going to forego our typical action-by-action breakdown. Feel free to analyze the individual results below in more detail if you wish, but due to the consistency of the results, we encourage you to skip straight to our conclusion for our benchmark analysis.

Scroll right for more results -->

Time to complete Photoshop action (Seconds) Intel Core i7 7700K
4 Core
4.2GHz (4.5GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 7740K
4 Core
4.3GHz (4.5GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 7800X
6 Core
3.5GHz (4.0GHz Turbo)
AMD Ryzen R7 1700X
8 Core
3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo)
AMD Ryzen R7 1800X
8 Core
3.6GHz (4GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 7820X
8 Core
3.6GHz (4.3/4.5GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 6850K
6 Core
3.6GHz (3.7/4.0GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 7900X
10 Core
3.3GHz (4.3/4.5GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 6900K
8 Core
3.2GHz (3.5/4.0GHz Turbo)
Intel Core i7 6950X
10 Core
3.0GHz (3.4/4.0GHz Turbo)
General Photoshop Actions                    
PS Start Time 1.7 1.8 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.1 2 1.9 1.9 2.1
Convert to CMYK 2.7 2.5 2.2 2.4 2.3 1.9 2.3 2.2 2.1 2.1
Convert to RGB 4 3.8 3 2.9 2.8 2.2 3.2 2.4 2.7 2.6
Rotate 38deg 4.5 3.4 5.1 4.3 4.1 3.6 3.7 4.5 3.7 3.2
Smart Sharpen 4 4.2 4.6 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.8 4.2 4
Field Blur 26.8 24.2 30.3 31.4 30.6 25.1 28.2 29.5 27.4 25.7
Iris Blur 30 26.9 32.9 33.3 32.7 29.2 30.3 30.4 29.2 28.9
Tilt-Shift 29.8 26.5 32.6 33.9 33.2 29.3 30.4 30.6 29.4 29
Lighting Effect 14.2 13.8 18.3 18.6 18.2 20.7 17.7 20.4 17.7 18.6
Motion Blur 6.3 4.7 7.1 6 5.9 7.0 6.7 6.5 5.9 5.7
Water Color 44.5 44.1 50.5 67.9 66.6 45.4 57.3 44.9 57.1 57.1
Pallette Knife 73.1 76 89.2 89.8 88.1 79.7 76.2 78.6 76.2 76.2
Stained Glass 137.2 134.9 161.4 110.4 108.4 164.8 132.9 150.2 132.3 132.5
Liquify 17.8 15.7 25.8 26 25.2 21.3 21.2 23.3 18.9 18.8
Reduce Noise 52.5 50.5 59.2 52.1 53 51.9 63.1 51.2 60.7 59.9
Camera Raw Filter 13 12.5 11.6 13.2 12.8 10.1 12.1 9.4 10.7 10.4
Generate Normal Map 10.3 10 13.1 13.2 12.9 11.7 14.1 11.6 14.1 14.4
Lens Correction 36.8 35.1 50.9 46.1 45.2 40.5 49.7 39.6 51.4 53.6
Adaptive Wide Angle 138.4 139.4 189.9 212.2 202 198.8 223.8 258.6 233.9 261
Resize to 109MB 7.1 6.9 9 9.3 9.4 8.1 9.2 8.1 9.5 9.1
Smart Blur 20.8 22.1 26.4 24.4 23.9 22.7 24.3 22.7 25.6 27.2
Save 1.17GB PSD 16 15.4 21.1 20.5 19.4 17.1 17.5 19.7 21.7 22.4
Open 1.17GB PSD 5.5 4.9 6.3 6.3 6.2 5.4 5.9 5.5 6.1 6.1
Photomerge - 6x 18MP Images 64 60.7 64.5 67.5 65.5 56.1 64.2 55.3 59.9 57.6
Photomerge - 6x 80MP Images 248.7 234.2 276.5 283 280.7 248.6 260.4 243 250 247.1
HDR Creation                    
HDR Analysis - 5x 18MP Images 14.2 13.4 20.4 18.8 18.5 16.4 14.9 18.2 16.2 16.9
HDR Creation - 5x 18MP Images 7.7 7.2 8.8 9.6 9.2 7.7 8.2 7.7 8.2 8.2
HDR Analysis - 5x 80MP Images 33.8 27.6 32.8 40 40.5 32.0 31.8 32.9 31.4 31.5
HDR Creation - 5x 80MP Images 30.3 28.4 34.2 36.9 36.4 30.3 32.5 29.8 32.1 32.1


Photoshop Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Kaby Lake-X 7740X Overall Benchmark Results

To analyze the results, we first normalizing them to the Core i7 6850K 6 core CPU, then averaged the results based on whether the task was for HDR creation, Photomerge, or if it was just a general Photoshop action. We could have normalized to any of our test CPUs, but we chose the Core i7 6850K largely because this is what we used in our Premiere Pro and Lightroom testing. This will make it much easier to compare results across each article for those that want to compare across multiple software packages.

Looking at the final results, there are not too many surprises to be found. For the Skylake-X 6-10 core CPUs, if you simply compare the new CPUs to the ones from the previous generation that have similar core counts, the new CPUs are not all that exciting. They are certainly more affordable, but the 8 and 10 core are only slightly faster than the previous generation and the Core i7 7800X 6 core was actually a bit slower than the i7 6850K.

The Core i7 7820X and 7900X may be relevant for video editors that utilize Photoshop in a secondary role, but for pure Photoshop users the only interesting new CPU is the Core i7 7740X 4 core. Before today, the Intel Core i7 7700K has been our primary recommendation for Photoshop users since it gives a great balance of performance across most tasks, but the new i7 7740X is about 6-10% faster than the i7 7700K at the exact same CPU price point. You will end up spending a bit more money on the system overall since X299 motherboards are more expensive than Z270 boards, but the cost difference for boards with similar features is usually only about $60-100. So for a relatively modest increase in price, you get a fairly decent 6-10% gain in performance. That may not be enough of a difference to prompt a system upgrade if you are already using a Core i7 7700K, but if you have a system that is more than a few years old you are likely looking at a pretty significant increase in performance with the Core i7 7740X.

Tags: Photoshop, Skylake-X, Ryzen 7, Broadwell-E, Kaby Lake-X
Lars Passic

"In fact, the i7 7820X is even a hair less expensive than AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs." I believe the most expensive Ryzen CPU is $499 vs the i7-7820X $599

Posted on 2017-08-02 16:55:27

Could you guys do an article or blog on Adobe Bridge an optimization? I use Bridge since it's the universal media browser for Adobe products. It's still completely relevant in my and many other peoples' workflows. I don't like depending on Lightroom's DAM (or any other DAM) because I've been burned by corrupt databases, crash appy applications(C1P), delete after import(C1P, iPhoto), and management of files when I want to and or upload them (LR,C1P,Aperture,iPhoto).

I use multiple computers to access my Assets in multiple folders and I have an easy to follow file structure (sorted by date and name) but the biggest issue isn't "where's my sh*t", but instead it's the fact that bridge decides to rebuild the cache every time I access the same folder from another computer. I have identical settings for bridge cc on each computer but when I switch computers every couple days cache rebuilds and it's super slow too.

I'm using Synology DS with 5 drives 3TB drives accessing folders w/ 1000-2000 raw files (weddings) and then folders with video files (hundreds), video projects, after effects, illustrator, psds, etc. I can almost deal w/ the slowness of rebuilding the cache, but the UI is incredibly slow as well. It seems like UIs from 2005 were much snappier than they are now. When Adobe CS was first published, Bridge was able to manage 6mb raw files with ease on a Pentium M Laptop. Over a decade later with a system with 32GB RAM, 4 Cores w/ HT, and 4.50ghz boost, running only SSDs and a 12 TB RAID 5 NAS, life seems to still suck.

Posted on 2017-08-12 17:37:05
Oliver Morgan

Can you please do this with a decent ram speed on ryzen?! We know ryzen benefits from fast ram, and then you pair it with horrible slow 2400mhz ram

Posted on 2017-08-25 14:56:04
Bruno F

Very interesting, thanks! According to www.cpubenchmark.net, i9-7900X is 83% faster than i7-7740X in multithreaded benchmarks. So it looks like Photoshop can only leverage at most 4 cores right?

According to www.cpubenchmark.net again, i7-7740X is 5% faster than i9-7900X in single threaded benchmarks. A cross-multiplication involving cpubenchmark single threaded scores, your average CPU performance scores, and i9-7900X turbo multipliers even suggests that only 2 cores are actually used by Photoshop. Is it possible?

Honestly I would be very curious to know how a Core i3-7350K would perform in your benchmark.

Posted on 2017-08-30 17:33:37
Juan Carmen Chetty

Hi There

I was just wondering if you guys will know if in future, programs like Lightroom and Photoshop will use multi-cores more or just rely on more GPU going forward, as I am upgrading from a i5 6500 with a R9 380x GPU and looking at the specs if it necessary to spend money on the X chips ... btw the 7800x is where my budget is ... so i am considering the following : 7700k, 7740x, 7800x

Posted on 2017-09-20 18:27:01