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Photoshop is definitely not the target market for AMD's new Threadripper 2990WX 32 Core or 2950X 16 core CPUs, but even so it is an application that we really want to test. We know without completing any testing that Intel will be faster than AMD since Photoshop prioritizes per-core performance over the raw number of cores, but we think it is important to know exactly how much faster Intel may be. The reason is not to bash on AMD or to praise Intel, but rather to provide information for our readers so that they can make the best CPU choice possible for their new workstation. If Threadripper is much faster than Intel for one of the applications you use every day, but slower in others, knowing exactly what the performance values are for each of those applications goes a long way to ensuring you are choosing exactly the right CPU for your workflow.
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 test platforms we will be using in our testing:
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 and the tasks we will be testing are available on the benchmark download page.
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 task someone may be interested in. This is a whole lot of numbers, so feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results.
|AMD TR 1920X||AMD TR 1950X||AMD TR 2950X||AMD TR 2990WX||Core i7 8700K||Core i7 7820X||Core i9 7900X||Core i9 7920X||Core i9 7940X||Core i9 7960X||Core i9 7980XE|
|RAW File Open||0.91||0.91||0.88||1.22||0.99||0.92||0.81||0.83||0.8||0.86||0.84|
|Resize to 500MB||1.58||1.55||1.5||1.45||1.36||1.42||1.39||1.42||1.39||1.41||1.42|
|Magic Wand Select||19.96||20.08||18.72||17.61||12.26||14.54||13.92||13.97||13.76||13.67||13.53|
|Content Aware Fill||13.75||13.39||12.81||13.41||10.47||10.89||10.71||10.8||10.44||10.78||10.67|
|PSD File Save||4.91||4.89||4.52||4.58||4.28||4.33||4.31||4.31||4.2||4.26||4.26|
|PSD File Open||3.33||3.31||3.02||3.28||2.52||2.81||2.75||2.8||2.75||2.75||2.86|
|Camera Raw Filter||5.23||5.13||4.84||5.95||4.8||4.64||4.45||4.36||4.23||4.25||4.44|
|Adaptive Wide Angle||20.44||20.15||18.54||18.03||15.7||18.15||16.63||17.08||17.68||17.32||18.38|
|Photomerge 22MP Images||86.3||88.91||82.32||80.19||79.5||80.58||79.75||79.87||77.89||78.65||79.4|
|Photomerge 45MP Images||112.92||111.58||104.57||109.93||103.58||107.32||105.78||107.13||103.53||105.74||105.1|
We want to be completely honest here, if you need the best Photoshop performance you shouldn't really be considering AMD's Threadripper CPUs or even Intel's X-series CPUs in most cases. For an application like Photoshop, the Core i7 8700K 6 Core is going to either match or out-perform any of them at a fraction of the cost. However, this information is still useful for many people who use Photoshop in a secondary capacity and want to know how much performance they may be giving up in order to get the really high performance the Threadripper CPUs are capable of in a rendering application like V-Ray (you can see our testing results for that application here).
Compared to the Intel CPUs, in most cases you are looking at roughly 20-25% lower performance with any of the Threadripper CPUs. Photomerge is the one exception to this as the Intel CPUs and the new Threadripper CPUs all performed roughly the same. Interestingly, depending on the type of task the new Threadripper 2990WX 32 Core CPU was actually about 10% slower than the 2950X 16 Core CPU.
One thing we will point out is that for a single task (Reduce Noise), the new Threadripper CPUs were about 15% faster than the Intel CPUs. So, if your workflow includes a lot of noise reduction in Photoshop that may skew your choice of CPU a bit more towards Threadripper.
Is Threadripper 2 Good for Photoshop?
Photoshop really cares more about the per-clock performance of a CPU rather than the number of cores it has, which is unfortunately a weakness of AMD's Threadripper CPUs. For most Photoshop users, the Threadripper 2950X should be about 10% slower than the much more affordable Core i7 8700K while the 2990WX is actually a bit worse, coming in at roughly 20% slower than the i7 8700K.
The score in the chart above is the performance of each hardware configuration relative to a Core i7 8700K system with a GTX 1080 Ti using Photoshop CC 2018 (ver. 9.1.2). For more information on our benchmark or to download it for yourself, we recommend viewing our Puget Systems Adobe Photoshop CC Benchmark page.
Interestingly, with the exception of the Core i7 7820X, most of the Intel CPUs ended up performing within a few percent of each other. The i7 8700K is typically our go-to recommendation for Photoshop due to its relatively low cost, but it is good to see that that Intel's Turbo Boost technology really keeps each of those CPUs competitive if you end up needing one of these higher-end Intel CPUs.
However, since this article is covering the new Threadripper 2 CPUs in particular, there are really two primary comparisons we should be looking at based on the rough price of each CPU:
AMD Threadripper 2990WX vs Intel Core i9 7980XE for Photoshop CC
In our Photoshop CC benchmark, the Core i9 7980XE scored overall about 16% higher than the 2990WX. Depending on the type of task, however, the i9 7980XE was up to 25% faster than the 2990WX.
AMD Threadripper 2950X vs Intel Core i9 7900X for Photoshop CC
Compared to the 2950X, the i9 7900X overall scored just under 10% higher in our Photoshop CC benchmark. Photomerge was roughly the same between the two CPUs, while other tests were up to 15% faster with the i9 7900X.
To be fair, we didn't expect the Threadripper CPUs to do particularly well in Photoshop. This isn't really what they were made for and given the circumstances they actually did about as well as we would expect. Because of this, Threadripper is something we would never recommend to someone who is a heavy Photoshop user, but if you just use it occasionally and not for anything particularly stressful it should work just fine.
Choosing the right CPU for your system is a complicated topic, and Photoshop is likely just one of many programs you use every day. If you want to see how the 2990WX and 2950X fare in other applications, we recommend checking out some of our other recent Threadripper articles.
Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.