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TL;DR: AMD Radeon RX 6800 & 6800 XT performance in Photoshop
Although Photoshop has a number of GPU-accelerated effects that make it important to have a supported GPU, there is effectively no difference in performance between the various AMD and NVIDIA GPUs we tested. Having a GPU can give you up to a 50% boost in performance, but the new Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT are at most a few percent faster than the previous generation cards, and within the margin of error compared to the NVIDIA RTX 3000 series.
Recently, AMD launched their new Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT GPUs and while supply has been especially tight, we have finally managed to get our hands on a pair of cards courtesy of our friend Brian Stroh at BPS Customs. AMD has advertised very large performance gains with these cards, although gaming has been AMD's focus for the Radeon series of cards for the last few generations so we don't quite know what to expect in professional applications like Photoshop.
This is especially true since even for the portions of Photoshop that are GPU-accelerated, the performance tends to be roughly the same regardless of what GPU is in your system. Because of this, we don't expect to see a significant gain in performance with these new cards in Photoshop, but it is always worth testing to find out if there are any surprises.
If you want to see the full specs for the new Radeon 6800 cards, we recommend checking out AMD's product page for the Radeon RX 6800 and the Radeon RX 6800 XT. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:
|Radeon 5700X||8GB||2,560||1.9 GHz||225W||$399|
|Radeon Vega 64||8GB||4,096||1.55 GHz||295W||$499|
|RTX 3070||8GB||5,888||1.70 GHz||220W||$499|
|Radeon 6800||16GB||3,840||2.1 GHz||250W||$579|
|Radeon 6800 XT||16GB||4,608||2.25 GHz||300W||$649|
|RTX 3080||10GB||8,704||1.71 GHz||320W||$699|
|RTX 3090||24GB||10,496||1.73 GHz||350W||$1,499|
While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, it is nice to see AMD including 16GB of VRAM on the new 6800 cards. This really shouldn't be necessary for Photoshop, but it can make a difference if you also use your system to edit 8K timelines in programs like DaVinci Resolve Studio.
From a pricing standpoint, these cards are right in between the NVIDIA RTX 3070 and 3080 – although currently, supply is so poor that you will be lucky to find a card for anywhere near the MSRP price. However, we typically use the MSRP as a baseline for price in order to rule out fluctuations due to different brands, sales, and scarcity. This means that from a performance perspective, we will be primarily looking to see if these cards are able to out-perform the RTX 3070 and whether or not they can beat the more expensive RTX 3080.
Listed below is the specifications of the system we will be using for our testing:
|CPU||Intel Core i9 10900K 10 Core|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z490 Vision D|
|RAM||4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)|
|Video Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 24GB
Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 OC 10GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB
NVIDIA Titan RTX 24GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT 16GB
AMD Radeon RX 6800 16GB
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB
Intel UHD 630 (10900K Integrated)
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Ver. 2004)
Photoshop 2020 (Ver. 21.2.2)
PugetBench for Photoshop (Ver. 0.92)
*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of September 7th, 2020
Huge thank you to Brian Stroh of BPS Customs for generously loaning us his AMD Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT to use for this testing!
To test each GPU, we will be using one of the fastest platforms currently available for Photoshop – most notably the Intel Core i9 10900K. Since Photoshop utilizes the CPU so heavily, this should minimize the impact of the processor and allow each GPU to perform at their fullest potential. Even with this, however, be aware that there typically isn't much variation in performance between different video cards. We will also include results for the integrated graphics built into the Intel Core i9 10900K to act as a reference for what you would see if you did not have a GPU at all.
For the testing itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Photoshop benchmark. This tests a range of effects and tasks in Photoshop, some of which utilize the GPU to improve performance. If you wish to run our benchmark yourself, you can download the benchmark and compare your results to thousands of user-submitted results in our PugetBench database.
One thing to note is that due to the rolling GPU launches from NVIDIA and AMD, we will be re-using many of the results from our
Adobe Photoshop – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 & 3090 Performance article, which is why we are not yet using the latest version of Photoshop (22.0). Our current plan is to re-do all our GPU testing with the latest version of Photoshop once AMD launches the Radeon RX 6900 (XT) in December (assuming we can get our hands on them before 2021).
Raw Benchmark Results
While we are going to go through our analysis of the testing in the next section, we always like to provide the raw results for those that want to dig into the details. If there is a specific task you tend to perform in your workflow, examining the raw results is going to be much more applicable than our more general analysis.
Overall Photoshop Performance Analysis
Before we get into the results, we want to set some expectations so no one is disappointed. Although Photoshop does have a number of tasks that are GPU accelerated, we rarely see much of an improvement with higher-end GPUs for these tasks. It is incredibly important to have a supported GPU, but the video card itself is rarely the bottleneck even for these tasks.
But in the interest of being thorough, let's take a look at the overall performance in Photoshop with each of the cards we tested.
As you can see in the chart above, there is effectively no difference between any of the GPUs we tested. Between the "fastest" and "slowest" cards, we only saw a 1% difference in performance, which is well within the margin of error for real-world testing like this. Having a GPU does increase performance by ~10% over the onboard Intel UHD 630 graphics, but a GPU with more raw horsepower doesn't result in significantly higher performance than a more modest GPU.
The new Radeon RX 6800 did happen to end up at the top of the chart, but that is more random chance than anything else. When you are dealing with results that are this close together, the exact results will shift enough from one run to the next that the various cards will be playing musical chairs if you were to chart out multiple runs.
However, our benchmark does make a "GPU Score" based on the tests that are GPU accelerated, which should (in theory) be able to show more of a difference between each card.
GPU Score Analysis
The GPU score is calculated based on the performance for the Rotate, Smart Sharpen, Field Blur, Tilt-Shift Blur, and Iris Blur tests – all of which are able to utilize the GPU to improve performance.
Unfortunately, even if we only look at these specific tests, there is still no meaningful difference between each of the discrete video cards. The new Radeon 6800 cards are definitely an improvement over the 5700 XT and Vega 64, but the difference is only around 3-5% which is going to be nearly impossible to tell in your day-to-day work.
Compared to NVIDIA, AMD does technically take a lead, but when you are dealing with close results like this, there is really no effective difference between each GPU model. No matter what, however, it is clear that utilizing a GPU results in a roughly 50% improvement in performance, which highlights why it is so important to have a supported GPU for Photoshop.
How well does the AMD Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT perform in Photoshop?
While the new AMD Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT perform just fine in Photoshop, the GPU is a very low priority when designing a Photoshop workstation. It is very important to have a supported GPU, but all the cards we tested performed within the margin of error for our benchmark, so there is no reason to invest in a higher-end GPU for Photoshop. Between AMD and NVIDIA, we would give NVIDIA a slight lead due to the performance in other applications and because their drivers have historically been more stable, but if you want to go with AMD instead, you shouldn't notice any performance difference in Photoshop.
We know that this makes for a bit of a boring article, but given how much buzz there has been around GPU acceleration over the last few years, we believe that it is just as important to know when a more powerful GPU does not matter as when it does. In addition, Adobe is constantly improving its software, and re-testing GPU performance periodically is something that is very important to do in order to find out if anything has changed. In fact, in the near future, we plan on looking into new features like neural filters and sky replacement to see if they might show a greater variance between different GPUs in Photoshop.
As always, keep in mind that these results are strictly for Photoshop. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a range of applications perform with the new AMD Radeon 6000 series GPUs, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.