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Photoshop CPU performance: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Written on November 14, 2019 by Matt Bach


Back in July 2019, AMD released the first of their 3rd generation Ryzen processors that greatly closed the gap between Intel and AMD for lightly threaded applications like Photoshop. In fact, at the time, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X was actually about 1% faster than the Intel Core i9 9900K in our Photoshop benchmark.

Now, AMD is launching one more 3rd generation Ryzen CPU - the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X. This processor features a staggering 16 CPU cores which is really starting to blur the line between "consumer" and "HEDT" (High End Desktop) processors. It is also more expensive than what you would typically find on this type of platform, coming in at a MSRP of $749. For comparison, both the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12 Core and Intel Core i9 9900K 8 Core have a MSRP of $499. If you want more information on the specs of this new processor, we recommend checking out our New CPU Announcement: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X post.

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPU for Photoshop

In this article, we want to see whether the increase in core count (and price) is worth it for Adobe Photoshop. However, since Intel is launching their new Core X-10000 series processors and AMD is launching their new 3rd Gen Threadripper processors in the near future, we are only going to compare the 3950X to a handful of Intel and AMD CPUs. If you want to see how it stacks up against a wider range of Intel and AMD processors, check back in the coming weeks for articles that will include the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, Intel Core 9th Gen, and Intel Core X-10000 series processors in a number of applications.

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

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Test Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3950X​​​​
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Intel 9th Gen Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9900K
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper Test Platform
CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
Motherboard Gigabyte X399 AORUS Xtreme
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Intel X-Series Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9960X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
Adobe Photoshop 2020 (version 21.0.1)
PugetBench V0.8 BETA for Photoshop

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of November 11th, 2019

A few notes on the hardware and software used for our testing: First, we have decided to standardize on DDR4-2933 memory for the Ryzen platform. The officially supported RAM speed varies from DDR4-2666 to DDR4-3200 depending on how many sticks you are using and whether they are dual or single rank, and DDR4-2933 is right in the middle as well as being the fastest supported speed if you want to use four sticks of RAM. In fact, this is the speed we are planning on using in our Ryzen workstations once JDEC DDR4-2933 16GB sticks are available.

The second thing to note is that we are using an unreleased version of our Photoshop Benchmark. The scores from this upcoming version are actually completely interchangeable with the version you can currently download; we have just made a number of usability and stability improvements.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also wanted to provide the individual results. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, examining the raw results for that task is going to be much more applicable than the total scores.

Feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results if you rather get a wider view of how each CPU performs in Photoshop.

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X benchmark results PugetBench V0.8 for Photoshop

Photoshop Benchmark Analysis

Compared to the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12 Core processor, the Ryzen 9 3950X 16 Core is only about 6% faster in Photoshop even though it costs about 50% more. This is primarily due to the fact that Photoshop isn't able to take advantage of a high number of CPU cores, so you only get a marginal performance gain from those extra 4 cores.

Compared to Intel's offerings, the 3950X is able to sneak ahead of the Intel Core i9 9900K, but it is only by about 2% which is going to be hard to notice in the real world. As a side note, it is interesting to see the Core i9 9900K take a small lead over the Ryzen 9 3900X since our last testing had the 3900X winning by a small margin. There have been numerous BIOS updates, driver updates, as well as the move to Photoshop 2020 since that test, and any of those could potentially explain this slight shuffling of relative performance.

Is the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X good for Photoshop?

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is the fastest CPU we have tested for Photoshop to date but it is worth keeping in mind that the Intel Core i9 9900K is quite a bit less expensive while only being about 2% slower. Even if you wanted to stick with AMD, the Ryzen 9 3900X is about the same price as the 9900K, and is only about 7% slower than the 3950X.

Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for Photoshop. If your workflow includes other software packages, you need to consider how the processor will perform in all those applications. Currently, we have articles for Lightroom Classic, Premiere Pro, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, and a number of other applications.

In addition, both Intel and AMD have new processors coming out in the near future which may change the price to performance picture. We will be publishing more articles as these new processors launch, so be sure to keep a close eye on our list of Hardware Articles in the coming weeks.

Looking for a Photoshop Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

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Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: Intel 9th Gen, Intel X-series, Intel vs AMD, AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 2nd Gen, Ryzen 9 3950X, Photoshop
Avatar Eastman

I get a score of 726.2 compared to your 970.2 on my 3950X. Do you have any insights on why my system as such a low score?

Here's the score output:


Thank you for any advice you can provide.

Posted on 2020-01-24 13:06:44

You are running an older version of Photoshop which could be part of it. Are you sure GPU acceleration is fully enabled and working properly?

Have you run another benchmark like Cinebench R20 to make sure your single and multi-threaded performance is in line with expected results? It could be a Photoshop issue, or a system-wide issue with the CPU not boosting to the speeds it should or something like that.

Posted on 2020-01-24 18:09:24
Avatar Eastman

Hi Matt, thanks for your input. The scores are so drastically different, I don't think an older version of Photoshop would give me 250 points lower results. Everything is enabled including openGL. Geekbench scores are SC 1307 and MC 14686 so within expectations. Cinebench R20 score is ST 489 & MT 9515. So maybe a bit low on single threaded score. I've also noticed lags for panning and scrolling on older photoshop release compared to the same versions on my 8700k. Panning issue has been resolved with further photoshop updates. But I was really hoping this CPU would be as good in single and multicore task. I wonder if it's a problem inherent with ryzen and photoshop. I'll swap out my ram and GPU and test again.

Posted on 2020-01-28 12:31:36

We list that in the test setup section, but it was version 1903. We have also been using 1909 on newer articles, and haven't noticed a performance loss with that version either.

Posted on 2020-02-20 18:07:10
Avatar Eastman

Hi Matt, just a quick update on my problem. So I managed to get a more decent Photoshop score on my 3950x after doing a fresh install of Windows 10 release 1803. It's not matching your score since I have an ITX system with more restricted cooling and GPU. Right after that, I let windows auto update itself to the latest release and my score went down again. So I kind of isolated the problem down to Windows 10 updates. It could be a CPU single score slow down or a GPU conflicts who knows. Could I ask you what release version of Windows 10 you had installed when you performed those benchmarks test?

Update: Sorry forgot you mentioned your test setup and windows was 1903.


Posted on 2020-02-20 10:38:30