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Realistically, how much does CPU performance matter for Photoshop?


Before anyone suggests it, yes I have looked at benchmarks. I know how much better X cpu does than Y cpu in whatever Photoshop benchmark. Mainly, I am thinking of Puget and Gamers Nexus (who has charts up for the 3900x in Photoshop). But I am not so curious about theoretical performance as I am in actual, day to day use.

You see, I have a friend who deals with Photoshop regularly, and I would like to be able to recommend what he does as far as hardware upgrades, but I don’t know much about Photoshop at all. As I mentioned, I can see how cpus perform in Photoshop benchmarks, but how much does that actually impact the user experience? The differences that you see on the charts could be entirely theoretical, and never actually realized in daily use.

So I am hoping to hear from someone here who is familiar with both Photoshop and hardware. My friend currently uses an 8350 daily for Photoshop. How much of a usability improvement would he see with something faster? The R5 3600 does very well in Photoshop benchmarks, but that would basically require a whole new build. Is it really worth it? He doesn’t complain about it being slow, just about it running out of ram.

He has 16gb, but I didn’t want to advise putting more money into a dead platform if upgrading the cpu would net sizeable improvements. So I want to know, should we just get him more ddr3, or should we hold out until he can make the switch to AM4 (or whatever platform makes the most sense at the time)?

And as a bonus question, how would a 2500u fair from a usability stand point as well? Laptops are an option over desktop upgrades, but if the desktop route would be a noticeable usability improvement over both the 8350 and the laptop options in the same (or close-ish) price range, then that is where we will look.



Check out Puget system they do some deep dives on apps and provide hardware guidance

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So does no one with real world photoshop experience care to weigh in?



Disclaimer: I’m not a regular Photoshop user. I mainly use gimp and even that sporadically. I’m not much of a graphics designer.

With that said. Photoshop is a workload that can’t really be measured all to well. It highly depends on what you’re doing with it.

  • Drawing Manga at 72ppi: Not very resource intensive at all.
  • Stitiching Ultrapixel Images: Highly Disk and RAM dependent
  • Using lots of Advanced filters on tons of Layers: CPU bound (some filters can take advantage of your GPU).

If you use Photoshop to touch up photos and fix color and saturation, or if you are primarily drawing in it, i don’t think the CPU will have a big impact. If you’re working on huge images (multiple Gigabytes), an nvme drive and more RAM will help.
If you tend to work with tons of filters and effects, they get applied faster with a better CPU. This won’t improve moving the image around or such. Just the actual time it takes to apply an effect.

So, without knowing exactly what you do, and looking at the current workflow and see what takes time, you can’t get a clear answer. Most benchmarks in Photoshop mainly focus on the Effects and Filters, as these take CPU. If waiting 10 Seconds for a gaussian blur to apply to a 40 Megapixel image isn’t a problem, your CPU isn’t all that important.

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For drawing, photoshop has resolution limit where it first starts to load what you just did do, and then it just becomes sluggish while also loading what you just did do

These seem to be two different limitations, and no idea which is from what



If you can find an affordable way for him to upgrade the system to 24/32GB of RAM, depending on the current configuration, then that should be well enough for a while by the sound of it. It doesn’t have to be fast RAM either, as he just needs more.



My experience of Photoshop was during the PowerMac G5 era(CS2-4) as a web developer, depending upon factors such as document size, layers and filters–there are cases which more CPU sockets/cores & RAM is important than just raw CPU speed. Creative Cloud era of Photoshop/Illustrator hasn’t really offloaded much to a dGPU or Intel’s IGP OpenCL support if you’ve browsed the Adobe forums.

If someone is just going to batch process such as working in a media/publishing field, it might make more sense to just build something with as many cores on a budget like a Ryzen 7 or look for an off-lease Xeon E5-v4. Creative field has many types of users, there are Photoshop/Illustrator types who also do a bit of Blender and other CPU leaning tasks which is why I’m suggesting Ryzen 7 or the poor-mans rendering box via Xeon E5 v4.