Recommended PC Hardware for Photoshop CC Computers:
Like most software developers, Adobe maintains a list of system requirements for Photoshop that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system will work with Photoshop. However, most "system requirements" lists tend to cover the required hardware, not what hardware would actually give the best performance. In addition, some lists can be outdated, list old hardware revisions, or simply outright list sub-optimal hardware.
Because of how inconsistent those lists can be, we've taken the time to perform testing to determine what hardware runs Photoshop the best. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommended hardware for Photoshop.
The processor (or CPU) is one of the most important pieces of a Photoshop workstation. While many other parts of the system impact performance to some degree, the CPU is the core piece of hardware that is a part of absolutely anything and everything you do in Photoshop.
In general, CPUs come in two flavors: those with a high number of cores and those with a high operating frequency. While Intel and AMD make a very wide range of processors - many of which are much more expensive than what we offer in our Photoshop workstations - there is really only a single modern option that make sense from both a value and raw performance standpoint: the Intel Core i7 8700K 6-core. For the majority of tasks in Photoshop (and thus most users) a high-frequency CPU with a moderate number of cores like the Core i7 8700K is going to give the best overall performance.
Full results available in our article:
Photoshop CC 2018 CPU Performance: AMD Ryzen 2 vs Intel 8th Gen
- Photoshop CC 2018: AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance
- Photoshop CC 2018 CPU Performance: AMD Ryzen 2 vs Intel 8th Gen
- Photoshop CC 2017.1.1 CPU Performance: Core i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K
- Photoshop CC 2017.1.1 CPU Performance: Core i9 7940X, 7960X, 7980XE
- Photoshop CC 2017.1.1 CPU Comparison: Skylake-X vs Threadripper
- Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.1.1 CPU Comparison: Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, Broadwell-E, Skylake, Ryzen 7
- Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 Intel Core i7 7700K & i5 7600K Performance
- Adobe Photoshop CC Multi Core Performance
Adobe has been increasing support for GPU acceleration in Photoshop over the last few years, but currently there are only a handful of effects that can utilize the video card. Adobe maintains a list of effects that are GPU accelerated in their GPU FAQ: Photoshop GPU card FAQ
Although Adobe is constantly expanding GPU acceleration support to Photoshop, the current demand on the video card is actually relatively light. Even an entry video card will be able to provide a huge boost in performance for GPU accelerated effects but there is a sharp drop in performance benefit by using anything more than a mid-range video card. A few tasks may be able to see a performance benefit to using a high-end card like the GTX 1080, but a GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 is going to get you within a few percent of the best performance possible.
NVIDIA GeForce GPUs:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB - This GPU is our entry level card, but it actually has plenty of power to handle most workflows.
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB - One step up from the GTX 1060, the main advantage of this card is the 8GB of VRAM it comes with. Many users will not need it, but especially those who use multiple 4K displays will benefit from having the additional VRAM.
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB - For those looking for a bit more performance without spending much more money, the GTX 1070 Ti is a great choice as it is withing a percent of the GTX 1080 at a much lower cost.
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB - Currently one of the fastest cards you can get for Photoshop without vastly increasing the price of the system, the GTX 1080 is a great card for anyone looking for the best Photoshop workstation. It is also a great choice if your workflow includes more GPU-heavy applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Full results available in our article:
Photoshop CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce vs AMD Radeon Vega
While any modern video card should work just fine in Photoshop, if you want to view 10 bit color on a 30-bit display you will need to use a workstation GPU such as the NVIDIA Quadro series of cards. These cards are more expensive than their consumer counterparts, but since Photoshop doesn't require a high-end card in most cases there is often little need to use one the really expensive models.
NVIDIA Quadro GPUs:
- NVIDIA Quadro P2000 5GB - While more expensive than our entry GeForce card, it will actually perform a bit worse than the GTX 1060. However, if you want to use a 30-bit display this is an excellent starting card if you do not work with extremely high resolution images.
- NVIDIA Quadro P4000 8GB - While more expensive than even the top-end GeForce card we use, the Quadro P4000 should actually perform roughly on par with the GeForce GTX 1070. For most professional users who use a 30-bit display, this is the card we typically recommend.
- NVIDIA Quadro P5000 16GB - While only a hair faster than the Quadro P4000, the P5000 has 16GB of VRAM which makes it ideal if you are using more than 2 4K displays or otherwise have projects that require a large amount of VRAM.
Full results available in our article:
Photoshop CC 2018: NVIDIA Quadro vs AMD Radeon Pro
- Photoshop CC 2018: NVIDIA Quadro vs AMD Radeon Pro
- Photoshop CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce vs AMD Radeon Vega
- Photoshop CC 2018 NVIDIA GeForce GPU Performance
- Photoshop CC 2017 NVIDIA GeForce GPU Performance
- Photoshop CC 2017 NVIDIA Quadro GPU Performance
- Adobe Photoshop CS6 GPU Acceleration
- Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) card FAQ
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the size and number of images you will be working with, we generally recommend a minimum of 16GB for all our systems. Memory usage in Photoshop can quickly shoot up, however, so it is important that you ensure you have enough system RAM available. The exact amount you need will depend on exactly what you are doing, but based on your document size we recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM for 500MB documents or smaller, 32GB for 500MB-1GB, and 64GB+ for even larger documents. Note that this is for the document size once opened (as found in the "Document Sizes" section of the Info Panel or status bar), not the file size of the file itself. Photoshop will often list two sizes such as 20.3M/60.2M - in those cases the left number is typically the most relevant when deciding how much RAM your system needs.
For Photoshop, ECC memory (which can automatically detect and fix minor memory errors) is not required. ECC is almost never a bad idea but ECC memory requires an Intel Xeon processor which for Photoshop will not be as fast as the Intel Core i7 CPU that is in our recommended system.
Our systems offer three different types of storage drives depending on your specific needs and requirements:
- Standard SSD (Samsung 860 EVO/Pro) - SSDs are a staple in modern workstations, especially as your primary drive containing the operating system and program installations. They are more expensive than a traditional platter hard drive, but also many times faster allowing you to launch Windows and programs significantly faster. We offer both the Samsung 860 EVO and Pro line of drives with the primary difference being the write endurance. The Pro line is rated for a much higher number of writes making it a better choice if you will often be writing data to the drive (such as for a scratch drive).
- PCI-E x4 M.2 NVMe SSD (Samsung 970 Pro) - These drives are about 30% more expensive than a standard SSD, but around five times faster! However, in most cases you will not see much of a performance difference since a modern standard SSD is already so fast that it is rarely a performance bottleneck.
- Traditional Platter Drive (WD Red) - These drives may be slower than the other drives we offer, but they are much more affordable and available in capacities ranging up to 10TB per drive. While we do not recommend working directly off these drives more than occasionally, they make terrific long-term storage drives
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