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Photoshop CC 2018: Core i7 9700K & i9 9900K Performance

Written on October 19, 2018 by Matt Bach


Intel has launched their new 9th Gen Intel Core Processors with a number of improvements including a small frequency bump and an increase in core count. Where the current top-end consumer Core i7 CPU (the Core i7 8700K) has only 6 cores and a max Turbo of 4.7 GHz, the Core i7 9700K and i9 9900K both have 8 cores and a 4.9-5.0 GHz max Turbo frequency. Photoshop tends to primarily rely on just a handful of cores, however, so the question is whether the frequency bump and other architecture improvements are enough to make a significant difference in performance.

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 systems we will be using in our testing:

While benchmarking the i7 9700K and i9 9900K against the i7 8700K is likely the most direct comparison we could make, we also wanted to see how these new CPUs stack up against a number of other processors. AMD vs Intel is always a popular discussion, so we included the Ryzen 7 2700X - which tends to be cheaper than either of these new CPUs - as well as the Threadripper 1920X which is similar in price to the i9 9900K. To get an idea of whether or not purchasing a more expensive Intel CPU would give you a notable increase in performance, we also include the i7 7820X and the i9 7900X.

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 are available on the benchmark download page.

Benchmark Results

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

Benchmark Analysis

Our Photoshop benchmark tests a large number of tasks that we split into 4 categories: General, Filter, Photomerge, and GPU-accelerated (which contains both general and filter tests). For more information on what is tested, we recommend checking out our benchmark download page

What is immediately clear is that the new i7 9700K and i9 9900K are easily the fastest CPUs currently available for Photoshop. Compared to the Core i7 8700K (which used to be our go-to CPU for a Photoshop workstation), the i7 9700K is about 12% faster in each type of test. This isn't groundbreaking, but it is slightly above the now standard ~10% bump in performance each time Intel launches a new CPU.

The i9 9900K is even faster, however, coming in at 15-20% faster than the i7 8700K. The i9 9900K is more expensive than the 8700K, but if you are looking for the best performance in Photoshop, this is definitely the CPU to use.

Are the 9th Gen Intel Core Processors good for Photoshop?

Yes! The i7 9700K is roughly the same price as the i7 8700K, but performs about 12% faster in most Photoshop tasks. The i9 9900K is a bit more expensive, but in return you should see a 15-20% performance increase over the i7 8700K. Compared to the AMD CPUs we tested, these 9th Gen Intel CPUs are anywhere from 20-30% faster.

9th Gen Intel Core i7 9700K & i9 9900K Photoshop Benchmark
Overall, the new 9th Gen CPUs from Intel are great for Photoshop. A 10-20% performance increase may not be quite worth a straight upgrade from the Core i7 8700K for many users, but depending on how much time you spend waiting for Photoshop to finish a task, these processors could give you a noticeable productivity boost.

Core i7 9700K vs Core i7 8700K for Photoshop

In almost every Photoshop task we tested, the Core i7 9700K is about 12% faster that the Core i7 8700K. If Intel hadn't decided to launch the even faster Core i9 9900K, this would have been the fastest CPU we have ever tested for Photoshop.

Core i9 9900K vs Core i7 8700K for Photoshop

The Core i9 9900K is approximately 20% more expensive than the Core i7 8700K, but in exchange we saw a 15-20% performance increase in Photoshop. With higher-end hardware, it is actually rare to see such a close relationship between an increase in price and the performance gained, which makes the Core i9 9900K excellent for heavy Photoshop users.

If you are interested in how the 9th Gen Intel Core Processors perform in other applications, be sure to check out our recent Processor articles as we have a number of other articles for looking at the i7 9700K and i9 9900K.

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Tags: Photoshop, 9700K, 9900K, 8700K, 7820X, 7900X, 2700X, 1920X