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TL;DR: NVIDIA RTX A6000 48GB performance in Photoshop
While the new NVIDIA RTX A6000 performs 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 overall within the margin of error for our benchmark, so there is no reason to invest in a higher-end GPU for Photoshop. At most, if you have a GPU that is a few generations old, you may see up to about a 10% increase in performance with the RTX A6000 for the portions of Photoshop that utilize the GPU, but that is a small increase in performance relative to the cost of a workstation card like the RTX A6000.
While the launch of NVIDIA and AMD's consumer GPUs have been a major topic in recent months, NVIDIA is also starting to release the successor to their Quadro RTX line – starting with the RTX A6000. The NVIDIA RTX A6000 is a very powerful card, featuring 48GB of VRAM and significantly higher specs than the Quadro RTX 6000/8000 from the previous generation.
One thing we always like to point out when testing workstation cards like the RTX A6000 is that in many cases, straight performance is not the primary reason why you would invest in one of these cards over an NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon GPU. In fact, performance tends to be lower than a comparable "consumer" GPU since most of those cards are designed to push the boundaries of performance.
Workstation cards, on the other hand, are all about specialty features not necessary for most consumer workflows (higher VRAM capacity, ECC VRAM, vGPU support, Quadro Sync, etc.), and more importantly for many, have a strong focus on stability. Not only do workstation drivers get more validation for professional applications, but the hardware itself is also more reliable. In fact, over the last three years (Jan 2018 to Jan 2021), we have seen about 3x higher reliability in the field with Quadro cards over GeForce (.33% failure rate versus .91%).
Photoshop is an interesting application to use to test GPU performance since while it does boast a number of effects that utilize the GPU, these effects tend to perform 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 the new RTX A6000 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 NVIDIA RTX A6000 as well as the other NVIDIA and AMD workstation GPUs we will be testing, we recommend checking out the NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro product pages. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:
|Quadro RTX 4000||8GB||2,304||7.1 TFLOPS||160W||$449|
|Radeon Ro WX 9100||16GB||4,096||12.3 TFLOPS||230W||$1,499|
|Radeon Pro VII||16GB||3,840||13.1 TFLOPS||250W||$1,899|
|Quadro RTX 5000||16GB||3,072||11.2 TFLOPS||265W||$2,300|
|Quadro RTX 6000||24GB||4,608||16.3 TFLOPS||295W||$4,000|
|RTX A6000||48GB||10,752||38.7 TFLOPS||300W||$4,650|
|Quadro RTX 8000||48GB||4,608||16.3 TFLOPS||295W||$5,500|
While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, the biggest thing to note is that the RTX A6000 includes 48GB of VRAM at a lower cost than the Quadro RTX 8000, and theoretically has more than twice the performance of any of the previous generation cards. As we said early, we don't expect this to translate into much for Photoshop, but for those that need high amounts of VRAM and GPU performance (such as 3D Rendering workflows), this card is very impressive on paper.
Listed below are the specifications of the system we will be using for our testing:
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-Core|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12AP|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x Crucial DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)|
|Video Card||Quadro P6000
Quadro RTX 4000
Quadro RTX 5000
Quadro RTX 6000
Radeon Ro WX 9100
Radeon Pro VII
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Ver. 2009)
Photoshop 2020 (Ver. 22.1.1)
PugetBench for Photoshop (Ver. 0.92)
*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of Jan 20th, 2021
To test each GPU, we will be using one of the fastest platforms currently available for Photoshop – most notably the AMD Ryzen 5950X. Since Photoshop utilizes the CPU so heavily, this should minimize the impact of the processor and allow each GPU to perform at its fullest potential. Even with this, however, be aware that there typically isn't much variation in performance between different video cards.
To see how the RTX A6000 performs, we will be comparing it to most of the mid to high-end NVIDIA Quadro GPUs from the previous generation as well as the Quadro P6000 from two generations ago. One thing to note is that we are not going to test the Quadro RTX 8000 since in terms of performance, it is actually identical to the Quadro RTX 6000. The RTX 8000 does have more VRAM (48GB vs 24GB), but since our Photoshop benchmark doesn't need much in the way of VRAM, that would not affect the results for our benchmark.
In addition, we are only including two Radeon Pro GPUs: the Radeon Pro WX 9100 and Radeon Pro VII which are currently the top-end workstation GPUs from AMD. NVIDIA tends to hold a commanding lead in applications like Photoshop, but including these two cards will let us see if there are any surprises since the last time we tested workstation cards in Photoshop.
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.
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.
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 minimal difference between any of the GPUs we tested. Between the "fastest" and "slowest" cards, we only saw a 2.5% difference in performance, which is well within the margin of error for real-world testing like this. We have found in previous testing that having a GPU does increase performance by ~10% over onboard graphics, but a GPU with more raw horsepower doesn't result in significantly higher performance than a more modest GPU.
The "General Score" does show a bit more of a variation in performance, but even there the largest score differential is under 5% which isn't enough to draw any meaningful conclusions from. 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.
Even with limiting the results to just the GPU accelerated portion of Photoshop we test, the RTX A6000 is still essentially the same as the previous generation Quadro RTX 6000 as the difference is only about 2%. Compared to the Quadro P6000 from two generations ago, however, we do see about an 8.5% improvement in performance.
How well does the NVIDIA RTX A6000 48GB perform in Photoshop?
While the new NVIDIA RTX A6000 performs 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 overall within the margin of error for our benchmark, so there is no reason to invest in a higher-end GPU for Photoshop. At most, if you have a GPU that is a few generations old, you may see up to about a 10% increase in performance for the portions of Photoshop that utilize the GPU, but that is a small increase in performance relative to the cost of a workstation card like the RTX A6000.
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. We knew going into this testing that we were very unlikely to find anything groundbreaking, but we felt it was necessary to finish testing all the new NVIDIA and AMD GPUs before we attempt to overhaul the GPU portion of our benchmark.
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 GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.