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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
Mark Harris

Looks like I found my new CPU in the 9900K

Posted on 2018-10-19 17:38:28

Me too - I placed an order for one yesterday :)

Posted on 2018-10-21 04:11:22
Mark Harris

I hope they are not as delayed as some are claiming or I will just wait to see what Zen 2 brings then. :)
BTW, I think Intel's marketing for this CPU has been so wrong calling it best gaming CPU ...this to me is the DO IT ALL CPU right now cause it kills in games but its app performance like Photoshop and Premiere (even better if using igpu) is fantastic.

Posted on 2018-10-21 16:10:05
Mark Harris

BTW, what cooler are you getting? I am debating between Swiftech newer 360mm, the Deepcool 360mm EX or Artic Liquid 360mm. Or just the h150i...so many options :)

Posted on 2018-10-21 16:12:09

I'm not going to overclock at all, and I like quiet, so I'm going to use a Noctua NH-U12S. That's what we've been using in our testing here, and it seems to work well. I think it will do the trick, but if it does run a little hot I can always add a second fan on the other side of the heatsink for even more airflow.

Posted on 2018-10-21 16:26:44
Mark Harris

Did you get yours? Mine is a beast...love it!

Posted on 2018-11-22 22:29:55

Only a 4% gain for a 9900K over a 9700K. Makes me wonder if the 9700K is better value for LR and PS?

Posted on 2018-10-20 10:21:34
Mark Harris

If your only or main use is Photoshop then it may very well be, based on the results above.

Posted on 2018-10-21 03:35:55

Can the Noctua NH-D15 be used with cooling for this processor?

Posted on 2018-10-29 12:48:26

I would expect so - we use the smaller, single-fan NH-U12S on these processors, and it cools sufficiently (without overclocking, and supported by airflow through the system from the chassis fans).

Posted on 2018-10-29 16:25:17
Ghaeth Wardeh

Hi! I am a little bit surprised because I can't see i7 8086k benchmark on your website. I think it can meet photoshop system requirements with high core frequency and hyper threading technology.

Posted on 2018-11-03 12:17:48

The 8086K is really an overclocking CPU and there were not a whole lot of them manufactured since it was more of a promo product. Without overclocking, it is really the same as the Core i7 8700K. Slightly higher single-core performance, but you are almost never going to have just one core loaded. Even if you are running software that only uses one core, all the OS operations in the background are probably going to cause a second core to activate, at which point the 8086K and 8700K should run at the same frequency.

Posted on 2018-11-03 23:37:28
Ghaeth Wardeh

AHA... thank you so much to inform me about that

Posted on 2018-11-04 14:41:50

Been doing some reading of the 9700K vs the 9900K. The 9900K needs top end cooling to achieve 5ghz on all cores and a constant ambient air-con room temperature. The 9700K can hit 5.3ghz within a little less temperature range. With these clocks the 9700K beats the 9900K in most applications except rendering etc. It would be great to see overclocked PS/LR benchmarks here and see if the 9700K tops the list. It looks like the benchmark is using stock clocks right?

Posted on 2018-11-11 01:52:53

All of our benchmarking is done at stock speeds since that is what we use in our workstations. In the end, our testing is primarily done to ensure we are selling the right hardware to our customers, so doing testing with overclocking is not something we are very likely to do.

Posted on 2018-11-12 17:06:03

I understand, thanks Matt.

Posted on 2018-11-14 04:49:40
Mark Harris

A good 240 or 280mm cooler is more than enough or high end air like Noctua. Too much silly exaggeration on the net about the 9900 and heat.

Posted on 2018-11-22 22:31:15

There is no exaggeration about the 9900s heat. It gets super hot even at stock! To run at 5ghz on all cores you can get by with a good 240/280 but a Noctua D-15 will struggle without a cool ambient room temperature.

Posted on 2018-11-24 23:53:30
Mark Harris

I OWN the 9900k and YES it is exageration if you have a decent common sense case. If you are using one of those trendy all glass no airflow case, then that is on you. ;)

Posted on 2018-11-25 18:30:43
Sean Carlin

Are the above test results 8 or 16 bits/Channel... if they are 16 are there results showing the ryzen at 8 bits? I just want to compare to my current system and I can't run it at 16 for the test.

Posted on 2019-04-05 13:38:45

This test was just at 8bpc. Our newer tests (like https://www.pugetsystems.co... include both 8 and 16, but this is from before that update.

Posted on 2019-04-05 13:43:38