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Photoshop CC 2018: NVIDIA Quadro vs AMD Radeon Pro

Written on July 26, 2018 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

For a Photoshop workstation, the GPU is typically relatively low on the priority list falling behind the CPU, RAM, and storage. While GPU acceleration has become fairly common in Adobe applications, only a select number of tasks in Photoshop are able to take advantage of the video card to improve performance and often a mid-range consumer GPU is more than adequate. However, many are forced into using a more expensive workstation-class video card as that is currently the only way to display true 10-bit color in Photoshop (and many other professional applications) to a compatible display. Given the much higher cost of workstation GPUs, it is even more important to ensure that you are purchasing the right card for your needs. To help you decide which GPU you should use, in this article we will be looking at a number of NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro cards to evaluate how they perform in Photoshop CC 2018.

It is worth noting that while we will only be looking at Photoshop performance in this article, choosing a specific GPU to use is a much more complicated topic. Many other factors including price, reliability, power draw, and noise level are all things that need to be considered.

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 is the test platform we will be using in our testing:

Test Hardware
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 5
CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K 6 Core
3.7GHz (4.7GHz Turbo) 6 Core
RAM: 4x DDR4-2666 16GB
(64GB total)
Hard Drive: Samsung 960 Pro 1TB M.2 PCI-E x4 NVMe SSD
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Software: Photoshop CC 2018 (ver. 19.1.5)

To compare AMD and NVIDIA, we tested a wide range of cards as well as the integrated Intel HD 630 that is built into the Core i7 8700K to act as an additional comparison point. 

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. Not all of these tasks are GPU accelerated, however, so in this article we will primarily be looking at just the tasks that are as well as the combined "GPU Score" from these tasks. 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 task, we also wanted to provide the individual result for each task in case there is a specific tasks someone may be interested in. Tests that are directly utilizing the GPU are marked in blue, but feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results.

  Intel HD 630 512MB Radeon Pro WX 7100 8GB Radeon Pro WX 9100 16GB Quadro P2000 5GB Quadro P4000 8GB Quadro P5000 16GB Quadro P6000 24GB
Scores              
Overall Score 896.6 993.4 984.2 1023.2 1058.4 1043.1 1052
General Score 91.3 99.8 101.4 99.6 103.5 102.4 104.2
Filter Score 84.2 98.4 95.8 106.6 110 108.9 109.5
Photomerge Score 97.3 100.3 97.7 99.2 102.2 98.9 98.6
GPU Score 60.5 92.7 99.2 94.9 101.3 103.3 107.3
               
Individual Results (Seconds)              
RAW File Open 1.19 1.17 1.09 1 0.97 0.98 0.98
Resize to 500MB 8.89 1.94 1.42 2.04 1.66 1.52 1.3
Rotate 0.94 0.91 0.94 0.92 0.88 0.92 0.92
Magic Wand Select 12.74 11.92 12.31 12.66 12.2 12.35 12.42
Mask Refinement 3.38 3.34 3.29 3.28 3.14 3.27 3.23
Paint Bucket 1.83 1.7 1.86 1.82 1.89 1.86 1.86
Gradient 0.34 0.34 0.35 0.35 0.34 0.35 0.34
Content Aware Fill 10.7 10.41 10.66 10.66 10.42 10.54 10.66
PSD File Save 4.34 4.25 4.29 4.32 4.22 4.3 4.3
PSD File Open 2.73 2.72 2.66 2.57 2.48 2.57 2.55
Camera Raw Filter 4.87 4.81 4.85 4.84 4.76 4.85 4.81
Lens Correction 15.25 14.78 15.16 15.11 14.64 15.1 15.07
Reduce Noise 18.59 17.99 18.48 18.49 17.92 18.47 18.49
Smart Sharpen 43.07 24.72 22.07 22.04 20.29 19.9 19.61
Field Blur 18.98 14.06 14.06 13.86 13.31 13.25 13.25
Tilt-Shift Blur 16.48 13.52 14.05 13.37 13.22 13.28 13.14
Iris Blur 19.73 15.33 15.4 15.02 14.67 14.68 14.56
Adaptive Wide Angle 16.6 25.2 27.7 15.57 15.26 15.67 15.52
Liquify 13.46 7.81 9.07 6.57 6.36 6.38 6.37
Photomerge 22MP Images 82.73 80.49 82.41 81.52 78.63 81.6 81.5
Photomerge 45MP Images 107.82 104.35 107.48 105.36 102.83 105.87 106.66

Benchmark Analysis

AMD Radeon Pro vs NVIDIA Quadro in Photoshop CC 2018

Individual GPU-based test results:

Our Photoshop Benchmark includes a large number of tasks that don't utilize the GPU, but there are five tasks in the benchmark that should show a benefit to having a more powerful GPU. These results are used to calculate the "GPU Score" portion of our benchmark which does a great job at showing the relative performance difference between each card in a more general sense.

As you might expect if you have read any of our previous articles looking at GPU performance in Photoshop, there is not a massive difference between each card. While pricing varies widely based on numerous factors such as sales or special deals, in general you can think of the following very rough price parity:

  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100 8GB -> NVIDIA Quadro P2000 5GB
  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 16GB -> NVIDIA Quadro P5000 16GB

Using these as comparison points, we saw very little performance difference between the AMD Radeon Pro and the NVIDIA Quadro cards. Quadro was slightly faster on average by about 2 to 4%, but that is likely too small to be noticed in the real world.

However, one thing that leans things a bit more in NVIDIA's favor is something that we also saw in our Photoshop CC 2018 NVIDIA GeForce vs AMD Radeon Vega testing that looked at the consumer versions of these cards. In both of these tests, there was one task (Adaptive Wide Angle) that isn't supposed to utilize the GPU, but we saw much lower performance with the AMD cards:


We don't know why the AMD cards did so poorly in this test or why the WX 9100 was worse than the WX 7100, but we re-ran the test multiple times and the result was very consistent. As far as we could find, this task is not supposed to utilize the GPU which is backed up by the fact that the Intel HD 630 integrated graphics was just a hair slower than any of the NVIDIA cards. At the moment, we are willing to chalk this up to a driver bug, but we wanted to point it out since it was something we didn't expect to see.

Conclusion

If you need a workstation GPU for Photoshop in order to get 10-bit color support, you likely won't notice too much of a difference going with either an NVIDIA Quadro or an AMD Radeon Pro video card. In terms of pure performance, an NVIDIA Quadro card should give you about 2-4% better performance for your dollar, but that is small enough that you are very unlikely to notice the difference in real life. Due to this, we would advise using NVIDIA Quadro if you are on the fence, but AMD fans can happily use a Radeon Pro without worrying too much about giving up any noticeable performance.

Photoshop Workstations

Tags: Photoshop, Radeon Pro, Quadro, WX 7100, WX 9100, P2000, P4000, P5000, P6000