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Photoshop CC 2018: AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance

Written on September 18, 2018 by Matt Bach


Photoshop is definitely not the target market for AMD's new Threadripper 2990WX 32 Core or 2950X 16 core CPUs, but even so it is an application that we really want to test. We know without completing any testing that Intel will be faster than AMD since Photoshop prioritizes per-core performance over the raw number of cores, but we think it is important to know exactly how much faster Intel may be. The reason is not to bash on AMD or to praise Intel, but rather to provide information for our readers so that they can make the best CPU choice possible for their new workstation. If Threadripper is much faster than Intel for one of the applications you use every day, but slower in others, knowing exactly what the performance values are for each of those applications goes a long way to ensuring you are choosing exactly the right CPU for your workflow.

If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark result/analysis sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion section.

Test Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the test platforms we will be using in our testing:

For the testing itself, we will be using version 18.4 of our Puget Systems Photoshop CC 2018 Benchmark which is currently available for public download. This benchmark tests a range of general tasks (open/save, resize, content aware fill, etc.), filters, as well as panorama photomerge. Full details on the benchmark and the tasks we will be testing are available on the benchmark download page.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each task, we also wanted to provide the individual result for each task in case there is a specific task someone may be interested in. This is a whole lot of numbers, so feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results.

  AMD TR 1920X AMD TR 1950X AMD TR 2950X AMD TR 2990WX Core i7 8700K Core i7 7820X Core i9 7900X Core i9 7920X Core i9 7940X Core i9 7960X Core i9 7980XE
Overall Score 864.6 885.8 930.6 870.2 1034.7 961.6 1010.2 996.2 1036.2 1014.4 1009.6
General Score 84.3 84.5 89.3 83.9 103.7 97.5 103 100.9 105.8 101.9 102.5
Filter Score 85.3 90.8 93.8 84.7 104.4 93.5 99.5 98.5 102.1 101.3 99.6
Photomerge Score 93.1 92.3 99.1 97.9 101.3 98.8 100.1 99.3 102.3 100.8 100.6
GPU Score 87.6 89.2 92.8 83.6 106.2 95 102.2 101.1 107.9 105.6 105.2
Individual Results
RAW File Open 0.91 0.91 0.88 1.22 0.99 0.92 0.81 0.83 0.8 0.86 0.84
Resize to 500MB 1.58 1.55 1.5 1.45 1.36 1.42 1.39 1.42 1.39 1.41 1.42
Rotate 1.14 1.06 1.06 1.08 0.91 1.05 0.96 0.94 0.87 0.87 0.81
Magic Wand Select 19.96 20.08 18.72 17.61 12.26 14.54 13.92 13.97 13.76 13.67 13.53
Mask Refinement 5.59 5.75 5.03 4.97 3.19 3.89 3.71 3.66 3.52 3.53 3.52
Paint Bucket 3.19 3.2 3.05 2.81 1.92 2.12 2.11 2.12 2.05 2.05 2.09
Gradient 0.3 0.31 0.3 0.36 0.36 0.33 0.29 0.33 0.28 0.34 0.34
Content Aware Fill 13.75 13.39 12.81 13.41 10.47 10.89 10.71 10.8 10.44 10.78 10.67
PSD File Save 4.91 4.89 4.52 4.58 4.28 4.33 4.31 4.31 4.2 4.26 4.26
PSD File Open 3.33 3.31 3.02 3.28 2.52 2.81 2.75 2.8 2.75 2.75 2.86
Camera Raw Filter 5.23 5.13 4.84 5.95 4.8 4.64 4.45 4.36 4.23 4.25 4.44
Lens Correction 17.91 18.08 16.97 16.99 14.8 15.32 15.59 15.77 16.08 15.83 15.87
Reduce Noise 17.8 17.61 16.5 16.33 18.09 20.18 19.98 20.03 19.49 19.56 19.53
Smart Sharpen 18.84 17.33 16.81 17.64 19.62 19.17 16.41 15.71 13.95 13.65 13.47
Field Blur 18.23 18.52 17.63 21.94 13.28 16.01 15.33 16 15.11 15.79 16
Tilt-Shift Blur 17.73 17.94 17.17 20.64 13.13 15.89 15.03 15.27 14.58 15.4 15.37
Iris Blur 19.06 19.3 18.31 21.94 14.58 17.23 16.04 16.53 15.53 16.26 16.53
Adaptive Wide Angle 20.44 20.15 18.54 18.03 15.7 18.15 16.63 17.08 17.68 17.32 18.38
Liquify 16.52 9.88 11.41 14.41 9.39 12 10.87 11.46 11.38 11.28 11.89
Photomerge 22MP Images 86.3 88.91 82.32 80.19 79.5 80.58 79.75 79.87 77.89 78.65 79.4
Photomerge 45MP Images 112.92 111.58 104.57 109.93 103.58 107.32 105.78 107.13 103.53 105.74 105.1

Benchmark Analysis

We want to be completely honest here, if you need the best Photoshop performance you shouldn't really be considering AMD's Threadripper CPUs or even Intel's X-series CPUs in most cases. For an application like Photoshop, the Core i7 8700K 6 Core is going to either match or out-perform any of them at a fraction of the cost. However, this information is still useful for many people who use Photoshop in a secondary capacity and want to know how much performance they may be giving up in order to get the really high performance the Threadripper CPUs are capable of in a rendering application like V-Ray (you can see our testing results for that application here).

Compared to the Intel CPUs, in most cases you are looking at roughly 20-25% lower performance with any of the Threadripper CPUs. Photomerge is the one exception to this as the Intel CPUs and the new Threadripper CPUs all performed roughly the same. Interestingly, depending on the type of task the new Threadripper 2990WX 32 Core CPU was actually about 10% slower than the 2950X 16 Core CPU.

One thing we will point out is that for a single task (Reduce Noise), the new Threadripper CPUs were about 15% faster than the Intel CPUs. So, if your workflow includes a lot of noise reduction in Photoshop that may skew your choice of CPU a bit more towards Threadripper.

Is Threadripper 2 Good for Photoshop?

Photoshop really cares more about the per-clock performance of a CPU rather than the number of cores it has, which is unfortunately a weakness of AMD's Threadripper CPUs. For most Photoshop users, the Threadripper 2950X should be about 10% slower than the much more affordable Core i7 8700K while the 2990WX is actually a bit worse, coming in at roughly 20% slower than the i7 8700K.

AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Photoshop CC 2018 Benchmark

The score in the chart above is the performance of each hardware configuration relative to a Core i7 8700K system with a GTX 1080 Ti using Photoshop CC 2018 (ver. 9.1.2). For more information on our benchmark or to download it for yourself, we recommend viewing our Puget Systems Adobe Photoshop CC Benchmark page.

Interestingly, with the exception of the Core i7 7820X, most of the Intel CPUs ended up performing within a few percent of each other. The i7 8700K is typically our go-to recommendation for Photoshop due to its relatively low cost, but it is good to see that that Intel's Turbo Boost technology really keeps each of those CPUs competitive if you end up needing one of these higher-end Intel CPUs.

However, since this article is covering the new Threadripper 2 CPUs in particular, there are really two primary comparisons we should be looking at based on the rough price of each CPU:

AMD Threadripper 2990WX vs Intel Core i9 7980XE for Photoshop CC

In our Photoshop CC benchmark, the Core i9 7980XE scored overall about 16% higher than the 2990WX. Depending on the type of task, however, the i9 7980XE was up to 25% faster than the 2990WX.

AMD Threadripper 2950X vs Intel Core i9 7900X for Photoshop CC

Compared to the 2950X, the i9 7900X overall scored just under 10% higher in our Photoshop CC benchmark. Photomerge was roughly the same between the two CPUs, while other tests were up to 15% faster with the i9 7900X.

To be fair, we didn't expect the Threadripper CPUs to do particularly well in Photoshop. This isn't really what they were made for and given the circumstances they actually did about as well as we would expect. Because of this, Threadripper is something we would never recommend to someone who is a heavy Photoshop user, but if you just use it occasionally and not for anything particularly stressful it should work just fine.

Choosing the right CPU for your system is a complicated topic, and Photoshop is likely just one of many programs you use every day. If you want to see how the 2990WX and 2950X fare in other applications, we recommend checking out some of our other recent Threadripper articles.

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Tags: Photoshop, Threadripper, 2990WX, 1950X, 2950X, Core i7, Core i9, 8700K, 7820X, 7900X, 7920X, 7940X, 7960X, 7980XE
John Torset

You should be bashing Photoshop as clearly the developers does not care about making Photoshop as fast as it could be and are not using proper multi core development practices. This is regardless of processor make or type.

Posted on 2018-09-19 06:46:35

I actually disagree a bit with this. Making software highly parallel is not an easy task, and some workloads simply are not possible to effectively run in parallel. It all depends on whether the various calculations are independent of each other or if they rely on results from previous calculations. I'm not saying it isn't possible in Photoshop, but it is certainly a factor.

Something else I've noticed more and more is that the tasks that can be run efficiently on a high number of cores tend to get offloaded from the CPU to the GPU. Video cards are really, really good at processing highly parallel tasks, so it really sense for developers to move those tasks to the GPU. I think we've seen this over the last few years especially with Adobe adding GPU acceleration to more and more tasks. Especially when you start talking about 20+ core CPUs, a lot of things that run effectively on that many cores will simply be faster (and cheaper) to run on the GPU. There are of course exceptions to this, but I honestly see these super high core count CPUs becoming more of a niche product in the future - kind of like what Dual or Quad Xeon systems are today.

Posted on 2018-09-19 16:41:18
Jakub Badełek

Cool observation - frankly, I hope so as GPUs are, generally, rather consumer-friendly, so to say... Anyway, as for usability of RTX, here is a list of supported applications: https://blogs.nvidia.com/bl... - yeah, Adobe, didn't find many applications for that tech but look at DaVinci Resolve or Blender, Redshift or Autodesk (you are testing for Redshift as I remember). So, worth analyzing once they really kick-off.

Talking of DaVinci Resolve - maybe you can throw it in for tests one day as more and more people are switching from Premiere to Resolve...

Posted on 2018-09-19 16:58:44

Interesting, I completely missed that page from NVIDIA. Thanks for the link! One thing I'm not sure about is if this is actually a list of applications that support Tensor cores specifically or not. DaVinci Resolve is the only one I could find that lists Tensor cores specifically (which is really interesting to me). BTW, we actually do Resolve testing already: https://www.pugetsystems.co... and we definitely will be looking at the RTX cards when we get some in.

Posted on 2018-09-19 17:16:01

I got really curious about the Tensor core support in Resolve 15 so I did a quick test comparing Resolve 14.3 to Resolve 15 using a Titan V (which has Tensor cores). I saw a whopping .9% performance gain with Resolve 15. I'm just looking at FPS in the Color Tab, however, so my guess is they are implementing Tensor support in some other area of the application although I couldn't find any information online about where it is being used. Who knows how many places they are using it though, they might have just implemented it in one tiny spot just so they can get in on NVIDIA's marketing efforts. Or maybe it is going to be limited to just the Tensor cores on the new Turing GPUs. Definitely looking forward to getting our hands on some of those RTX cards to find out.

Posted on 2018-09-19 18:21:49
Jakub Badełek

Matt, are you planning to test out new Turing GPUs rfom nVidia? RT and Tensor cores are supposed to give huge boost in performance in some professional applications too, not only games. It would be cool to see where we can gain from those new technologies.

Posted on 2018-09-19 13:11:04

Yea, we will be testing those cards once we can get our hands on them. That said, I'm skeptical that the Tensor cores will do anything for Adobe applications for quite a while. I haven't heard about Adobe doing any dev work with them and while they could just be keeping it under wraps I wouldn't expect to see anything for at least a year or two. Based on the reviews I've seen so far, I would guess we will only see a 10-15% performance gain with the 2880 Ti over the current 1080 Ti.

Posted on 2018-09-19 16:29:47
Mark Harris

Interesting results!
I am coming from a X5650 @ 4.3 and it is showing its age and I mainly use Photoshop with logs of plugins. Some like Portrait Pro can be slow moving markers around so maybe a 7900x or 7820x will be better for me than the 2950x I was planning to get. I will also be doing some Premier 4k video editing and gaming (mainly Oculus VR),
I was focused on those 16 cores but it seems for my needs that may not be the best performer.
What you guys think?

Posted on 2018-09-29 16:21:13

Obviously this is biased! You did not even try generating previews of 1000-ish 50 Megapixel RAWs. It is likely that the multithreaded AMD monster will beat de I9.

Posted on 2019-01-25 21:50:48