Photoshop GPU advice

In the wake of various sneak peeks, I’m seeing a fair number of questions about what kinds of graphics cards (GPUs) will be required or recommended for running Photoshop going forward.


We’ll have more to say once the new version is announced, but very generally I can say
you’ll want at least 128MB RAM on a card that’s Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 compatible.  Of course, more brawn is always welcome, and if you anticipate working with numerous large documents and/or 3D, having 512MB RAM on your card is a good idea.


For what it’s worth, I’ve been demoing by tossing around an enormous image on a 2-year-old ATI Radeon 1600 card (256MB) in a MacBook Pro, and it does just fine.  If your GPU doesn’t meet Photoshop’s requirements, you won’t lose any features you have today, but certain new things won’t be enabled.  As I say, we can get into more details soon.

0 thoughts on “Photoshop GPU advice

  1. Photoshop oughta work great on my 8600M GT then. GPU acceleration is wonderful!
    Lets see if my budget can handle a photoshop upgrade 🙁

  2. It’s nice to see Adobe has fully implemented Microsoft’s upgrade strategy.
    If you want our new (LOL) version of Photoshop (PSBloat), go get new hardware, ’cause our new Adobe PSBloat needs mo’ power.
    Get a new 128-512 MB GPU and it should run-ish our new baby.
    Adobe, get your hands out of my wallet.
    [Step off, dude. I just said that you don’t *have* to upgrade your graphics card to keep doing what you’re doing. If you want new power, it’ll need new hardware. If we weren’t taking these steps, you’d probably say, “I’ve got all this power on my GPU now, and Photoshop isn’t taking advantage of it. Lazy! Stupid!!”
    Incidentally, when I got my 256MB card two years ago, it was the highest-end build-to-order option. Now a card with the same memory (and almost certainly greater grunt) can be had for under 60 bucks. –J.]

  3. Will CS 4 fix all of the spaces bugs in Leopard where the palletes disappear?
    [This question (which comes up frequently) gets under my skin, as it always presumes that the bugs are Adobe’s (and Adobe’s alone) to fix. As it happens, Apple has made any number of bug fixes to Spaces via the 10.5.1-4 releases. As for remaining issues, I don’t know whose they are to address. My understanding is that we’ve done all we can from our side, but I’m not an expert on the subject. –J.]

  4. Thanks for the information, John Nack. From what I can gather, it seems that the GPU won’t speed up much beyond 3d og rendering previews on huge files. We will know soon enough, but I suspect that GPU-acceleration of filters is not in.
    [Not in the box, but Pixel Bender is arriving for Flash and After Effects, and we don’t plan to let PS get left out. –J.]
    Now, if Adobe instead manages to get Photoshop CS4 to take max advantages of 4 or 8 CPU cores, I would be more than happy. Especially with Intel Nehalem coming soon! 🙂
    [I know there’s intuitive sense that it would be good to see all your processors/cores pegged, but plenty of operations would slow down if split up. Here’s more info. Short story: we are working to add multicore support wherever possible/appropriate, but lots of operations are inherently not going to benefit from it (as they would from, say, a higher clock rate). –J.]

  5. Hah! KBrown’s post cracks me up mainly because of it’s absurdity. I used to hear the same kind of crap all the time when working in the prepress/print world. Dude, Gutenberg is dead; it’s time to upgrade to Heidelberg.
    In any case, I was just at Fry’s the other night and they’re selling the nVidia GeForce 9600GT for about $170 (newegg is selling them for about $120). This card kicks ass for anybody on a budget. Check out the nVidia GeForce GTX 280 if you’ve got a bit more cash to burn. Speed kills. Keep up the good work.

  6. Hello Jack,
    I have a PC/Radeon X1950 Series and a quad core/vista home prem.
    I hope my unit will take advantage of all the new “stuff” you guys are adding.
    I am not a techie, I just ask “how much” and hope she does not find out….lol
    On the Lamb in Adobe country
    I saw excerpts of you on T. White’s (video) blog.
    Gosh, you wife needs a lot of grace to live with you….lol
    Ken in KY

  7. That’s excellent news! Having seen some benchmarks (e.g. GPU vs CPU-based video transcoding) I have to say that it’s rather impressive you can do these things with such old cards! The low-end GPUs were very close to the low-end CPUs in H.264 tests. Can’t wait for the 23rd 🙂

  8. My bad John, I didn’t assume it was your fault that there are Spaces bugs I just thought that you would be the ones to fix it not Apple, but who knows! not me.
    Thanks for getting back to us.

  9. John,
    Here’s a ‘new’ slide I presented @ PS World in Vegas last week specifically about Video Cards and Photoshop. It has specific guidance for users who are looking to upgrade or buy a new video card.
    Photoshop Setup: Video Card
    * Photoshop CS3 Extended can take advantage of certain GPUs when working with 3D objects
    * Future versions of Photoshop will utilize certain GPUs for other advanced features
    If you’re thinking about getting a new video card you should consider the following:
    * Get a card that supports Shader Level 3.0/OpenGL 2.0/DirectX10
    * Get a card that has at least 256MB VRAM (512MB is better)
    * Get a card that takes advantage of PCI-E x16 bus speeds

  10. “My bad John, I didn’t assume it was your fault that there are Spaces bugs I just thought that you would be the ones to fix it not Apple, but who knows! not me.
    Thanks for getting back to us.”
    Here at work our retouchers (running Mac OS X 10.5.4 and Photoshop CS3 10.0.1) see a similar problem and they don’t have Spaces enabled. Sometimes after hiding Photoshop and then clicking it again it won’t come to the front. Photoshop isn’t stalled or anything, but one can’t simply get “inside” it. A force quit is required and upon doing that nothing happens (it seems). If one looks in Activity Monitor Photoshop isn’t there, thus the OS thinks it’s quit, however it’s still running according to the Dock so one can’t open it again. After several minutes (and some more force quit tries?) the Dock usually think it’s closed too and Photoshop can be opened again. Maybe it’s up to Apple to fix this, but I don’t know of any other apps that has this problem (well, In Design can’t always be hidden after the first launch, but after a re-launch it works).
    Another thing that has been plaguing the retouch department for years is the occasional delay when saving files (even locally to the desktop) when having mounted a large networked volume containing a large amount of .psd documents (about 1.3 TB of images).
    More on this here:
    Is this something that will ever be fixed in Photoshop CS3? Will it behave any different in Photoshop CS4?
    The third thing the retouchers say is that the Photoshop crashes seem much more frequent in Leopard than in Tiger.
    I do under stand that Photoshop is a complicated piece of software and that it’s hard to rule out all problems. What I don’t understand however is why it’s so hard get any info about Adobe’s knowledge about and the status of these issues.
    Especially since it says like this in the “leopardsupport.pdf” (
    “Adobe and Apple have been
    collaborating closely for months to ensure that Adobe Creative Suite® 3 applications can run
    smoothly and reliably on Mac OS X Leopard.”
    I’d be more than happy to help troubleshooting and sending logs etc. but who do I talk to about this?
    Best regards,
    -Martin B

  11. I found this post after asking for a hint about hardware for the upcoming CS4 GPU speed boost.
    Is OpenGL the technology used on both Mac and PC platforms? With Tom’s Hardware declaring DirectX the winner over OpenGL on their blog, it’ll be interesting to see if CS4 can change OpenGL’s fortunes – at least on the PC platform.

  12. I’m about to embark on a new ‘puter purchase and as an owner of the CS3-MC was wondering if CS4-MC will run on a quad core/64bit Vista OS?
    [Yep, absolutely, and Photoshop will run natively in 64-bit mode. –J.]

  13. I’ve tested the much-touted GPU functions in PS CS4 Wind x64 a little, and I have discovered a VERY troublesome problem: banding — very bad display banding, as if the color channels were only around 6-bit. When I disable GPU usage, the banding disappears and my files look smooth again.
    My Nvidia card is only a mid-range one, a Gainward-made 7600GS with 512 MB, but I have the latest Nvidia drivers. I’d gladly spring for a much better Nvidia card, like their very newest 260/280 — IF I could be certain this ghastly display banding would disappear. Haven anyone else any info to offer on this topic?

  14. Klaus – what version of Win X64? XP or Vista and what SP?
    XP64 isn’t supported, even though you can make it work and what you’re describing sounds like the kind of issue people with XP64 have due to OpenGL limitations.

  15. it really sucks that CS4 dosent support that the pc have 2 graphic cards ???
    i have to turn of the sli in my nvidia control panel, if i want the gpu acceleratio to work !!!
    I dont want to just use one of my cards ?
    btw my graphic cards is geeforce 9800 GT 512 mb
    [I’m told that there is an option in the NVIDIA prefs to choose more compatible dual-screen support, but I’m afraid I don’t know the details offhand. –J.]

  16. i dont like that CS4 dosent support that the pc have 2 graphic cards ???
    i have to turn of the sli in my nvidia control panel, if i want the gpu acceleratio to work !!!
    I dont want to just use one of my cards ?
    btw my graphic cards is geeforce 9800 GT 512 mb

  17. The problem is that i dont use dual screens only 1. and i have 2 cards. and so far the only way i can get the gpu accelereator to work is to disable sli in nividias preference ???
    Do i really have to cut of one af my graphic cards ?

  18. Hi, i have a windows xp 64 with nvidia Gforce fx5200 the pack od cs4 rum ok.. but when use premier crash only the video but the progrma continus running… the fx5200 support CS4 ?

  19. Hi,
    I am having trouble adding a graphics card that will support OpenGL with CS4 on my Windows XP pro tower. I installed a ASUS “EN8400GS Silent” which uses Nvidia and has 512 Mg and (think I) updated the drivers but OpenGL is still not available. If this card won’t work then what would you recommend? All of the cards listed on the Adobe tech sheet are old product that is generally no longer available. If this card should work can you give me a pointer on what to do next? This computer is running an Intel dual core processor and has 2 Gigs of RAM.

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