Please help me choose a "good enough" graphics card

Dec 31, 2020

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Hi, I'm building my first PC, primarily for Photoshop/Lightroom. I'm finding graphics cards completely confounding. I don't do any gaming, so I'm only for the least expensive card I can find that will perform well with Photoshop & Lightroom. As much as I want to keep costs down, I don't want to finish this build & discover I've really weakened performance by being too cheap on the GPU. I'm using a Ryzen 7-3700x with 32GB RAM,  NVMe drive, if that helps.

 

The following have all been recommended (and are in stock here in Canada)

MSI Armor RX570 Radeon 8GB

Asus Rog Strix RX570 Radeon OC 8GB

EVGA Nvidia 1660 6GB

EVGA Nvidia 1660 Super 6GB

 

I've tried reading reviews but they all focus on framerates & game performance, which don't really matter to me. I am absolutely open to suggestions beyond the list above. I have read that Photoshop prefers Nvidia cards, but that might be for higher end, or newer cards?

 

 

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Please help me choose a "good enough" graphics card

Dec 31, 2020

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Hi, I'm building my first PC, primarily for Photoshop/Lightroom. I'm finding graphics cards completely confounding. I don't do any gaming, so I'm only for the least expensive card I can find that will perform well with Photoshop & Lightroom. As much as I want to keep costs down, I don't want to finish this build & discover I've really weakened performance by being too cheap on the GPU. I'm using a Ryzen 7-3700x with 32GB RAM,  NVMe drive, if that helps.

 

The following have all been recommended (and are in stock here in Canada)

MSI Armor RX570 Radeon 8GB

Asus Rog Strix RX570 Radeon OC 8GB

EVGA Nvidia 1660 6GB

EVGA Nvidia 1660 Super 6GB

 

I've tried reading reviews but they all focus on framerates & game performance, which don't really matter to me. I am absolutely open to suggestions beyond the list above. I have read that Photoshop prefers Nvidia cards, but that might be for higher end, or newer cards?

 

 

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Dec 31, 2020 0
Dec 31, 2020

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Hi

Any of the above GPU's will be fine for both Photoshop and Lightroom, Photoshop is not really a GPU intensive application, although that has changed with the most recent version, any new GPU with 4GB of VRAM and above will be fine.

Just make sure you have plenty of space for the scratch disk, a 1TB NVMe should be fine

If you do go for the Nvidia GPU make sure to install the Studio driver and not the Game Ready driver and since you won't be gaming you wont need the GeForce Experience installed either

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Dec 31, 2020 3
Dec 31, 2020

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Thanks so much! As far as I could RX570 is close to 4 years old, so I wasn't sure if it was new enough for some of the AI features. (I've been using CS6 on a nearly 10 year-old i7 notebook till now, so any AI features are going to be quite novel to me.) Thanks as well for the pointer on the scratch disk, I have 1TB 970 Plus, so I should be well covered on that front.

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I'd agree with that, even if requirements have steadily increased and probably will continue to do so.

 

Photoshop basically needs two things from the video card: One, a fair amount of VRAM, and 4GB up is recommended. Two, and this is the tricky bit, reliability. Driver bugs have been the curse of Photoshop ever since CS4, when Photoshop started to use the GPU actively.

 

Gaming is a problem. Most cards are made for gaming because that's where the market is. Drivers are released with one goal in mind - getting the latest games to run. The gaming community isn't particularly preoccupied with observing correct coding protocol, so corners are very likely cut to get there as fast as possible.

 

This is why NVidia is recommended. Recently they started to release a separate "studio" branch of drivers, in addition to the "game ready" branch. Make sure you install the studio driver.

 

The safe bet is NVidia Quadro, which is made specifically for the professional graphics/3D/CAD market. But they are much more expensive for the same nominal specs. I used to recommend the Quadro P600 series, which is about the same price as the 1660, but the problem with that is that it has only 2GB VRAM. I have one, and it works splendidly, but I am prepared to replace it with a P1000 (4GB) or P2000 (5GB) series in the near future.

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Dec 31, 2020 1
Dec 31, 2020

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Thanks very much, that sounds quite impressive, but my total budget is a touch less than the cost of that card. (Assuming those are US dollars). I'm very much a non-professional can't afford to let myself get too carried away.

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the Asus Rog is the best card of those listed... by a long way but Adobe doesn't really use your Gpu and has major driver issues because they (thats Adobe) cut corners in dev

 

the other 3 cards are ok as well and yes I'd take the Nvidia cards over the Msi but if you are not looking to do any gaming or 3[4]D then it really doesn't matter that much

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Dec 31, 2020 1
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"Adobe doesn't really use your Gpu and has major driver issues because they (thats Adobe) cut corners in dev"

 

I think you need to elaborate a bit on that statement. Photoshop does indeed use the GPU, and for actual data processing, not just display. And the drivers aren't made by Adobe.

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Jan 03, 2021

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Thank you so much, I ordered the card shortly after you posted this, and by the next morning online orders were sold out. I'm happy and very much releived to finally have all of my computer & most of it in-hand.

 

I'm curious as to what makes this card so obviously better than the other RX570, all I can spot is a seemingly minor difference in overclock speed.

 

 

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Jan 03, 2021 1
Dec 31, 2020

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The main reasons for using Quadros have diminished in my view. In the past they were :

1. Reliability and thoroughly tested drivers

2. 30 bit display capability

3. Multi display capabilities

4. In some cases quite high specced cards

 

However now :

1. The studio drivers are much more reliable and better tested than the game drivers

2. GTX and RTX cards are capable of 30 bits per channel

3. GTX and RTX cards can support multiple displays

4. The GTX and RTX cards are well specced and powerful. I use an RTX2080ti here and it is both fast and capable (with 11GB of VRAM which works well for 3D rendering work in Blender). The current RTX3090 has 24GB VRAM. It is not cheap but a 24GB Quadro is eyewateringly expensive.

 

I am not here to knock the Quadro's, they are good cards, but IMO the gap between the two is not what it was.

 

Dave

 

 

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You're right, the gap has indeed narrowed.

 

The introduction of the studio drivers was a significant turning point, and it could well be that the Quadros are on their way to being phased out sometime in the future. It seems a logical next step. I originally went the Quadro route for 30 bit display. That's no longer an argument, and the remaining justification for Quadro over GeForce now boils down to reliability.

 

So the question is - is it still worth the price? Hard to say. If you don't have any issues running a GeForce, then the answer is very obviously a resounding no. The price to nominal performance ratio is still around 2:1 - a Quadro is about twice as expensive as an equivalent GeForce.

 

I still see people having driver problems here in the forums, quite a lot. I just don't want to be one of them, that's all. My philosophy has always been to go as expensive as my bank account allows where it matters, and shave the budget where it doesn't.

 

I suppose we just have to see how this plays out. At the first sign of the Quadro line being discontinued I'll drop it. So far I haven't seen any such sign, so I assume the higher price still buys you something.

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Jan 03, 2021

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Update: I took a look around the NVidia website. The Quadros are still alive and thriving, but the relatively affordable P-series is now listed as "previous generation" and clearly on their way out (although still being sold). Current Quadros are the RTX series, which starts with the RTX 4000 at around $1000 as listed on the B+H website. It quickly gets very much more expensive from there.

 

So no "cheap" Quadros anymore. The RTX 4000 price range is roughly between the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3090. So Quadro still basically starts where GeForce stops. But what does it buy you?

 

I could pay $1000 if I knew it was worth it. I paid much more for the monitor. But when will it become obsolete? The P2000 in my work machine is now "previous generation", even though I got it just two years ago. What's a sensible price weighed up against product life?

 

I need to make a decision about this soon, because the P600 I have in my home machine pretty soon won't be up to Photoshop requirements. Do I kick in $1000 for an RTX 4000, or will a GeForce RTX 3070 at half the price do?

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Jan 03, 2021 0
Jan 03, 2021

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I use a GeForce RTX2080ti connected to two Eizos.  I have no problems with it, using the Studio Drivers. If buying today I would go for the RTX 3080 or 3090 but that is because I use the larger VRAM for 3D rendering with Blender, World Creator and Adobe Substance.

For Photoshop an RTX3070 should be more than enough to give a reasonable lifespan.

 

 

Dave

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Jan 03, 2021 0
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Yeah, but the Quadro looks so slick... 😉

 

I'm sure you're right. I'll give it a few weeks and let it ripen.

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Jan 03, 2021 0
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Ah, for looks though you will be needing RGB lighting and a cooling kit with multicoloured fans.......   😉

Dave

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Jan 03, 2021 0
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whats in a name?

like saying Mercedes vs Ford both make cars with 4 wheels and a gas tank, yes Ford is a good name with fans but seriously they are not in the same class

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Jan 03, 2021 0
Jan 04, 2021

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Can you say what a Quadro would do for Photoshop that an RTX would not? Many of the old answers to that question, no longer apply. 

Dave

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Jan 04, 2021 0
Jan 04, 2021

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Can you say what a Quadro would do for Photoshop that an RTX would not?

nothing

 

I assume you are asking me so the Asus RoG is in first place and the Msi last, just from a good value for money G-card but I have already said removing Gaming and 3D makes it a pointless debate because Adobe Photoshop is not software that really uses your gcard... I just wouldn't get Msi if there was a better choice

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Jan 04, 2021 0
Jan 04, 2021

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"Adobe Photoshop is not software that really uses your gcard"

 

That was true 10 years ago, but today a lot of functions are executed in the GPU and the result fed back to Photoshop for further processing. That's actual data processing, and if the GPU isn't up to it, Photoshop won't work correctly.

 

The question is, how much GPU power do you need. I don't believe you need top-end Quadros (my argument for Quadro above was for reliable drivers, not power) - but on the other hand, a low-end card may quickly get into trouble. If not in this version, then maybe the next. Requirements keep tightening.

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Jan 04, 2021 0
davescm LATEST
Jan 04, 2021

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I get it now Graham - I thought your Ford /Mercedes comparison was between Quadros and GTX/RTXs. Once in a range of cards e.g. RTX2080 the differences between manufacturers tend to be cosmetic , although some do have differences in cooling which can affect the ability to overclock (again not required for Photoshop but it can shorten rendering times in Blender).

 

Dave

 

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Jan 04, 2021 0