I am purchasing a new computer and found a good deal form Dell on the Inspiron Studio XPS 9100. I have several options regarding the graphics card, including the following:
ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5
(I like the 5770 the best, but, for some reason, it’s not compatible with the sound card I want. They have only one upgrade option for the sound card -- a nice Creative Sound Blaster. Otherwise, the sound is integrated on the motherboard.) So, my only options really are the 5670 or 5870. They don’t offer anything decent from nVidia.
I know the 5870 is a great card, but will it make a tangible difference in Photoshop CS5? I use big files and multiple layers, but I don't edit video, do any gaming, or watch movies. This machine is mainly just for Photoshop.
The 5870 is about $200 more than the 5670. Is it worth it? It’s my understanding that Photoshop does not use the graphics card much, but I think that may have changed because Adobe says that CS5 uses the graphics card more. Will I see a realistic difference?
While I’m at it, do you think it would be necessary to upgrade from 8 GB to 12 GB RAM?
I don't really think that you would notice that much of a difference. 5870 is brute force energy eating monster. I missed this year's Adobe CS5 convention here, but if I recall correctly, PS CS4 didn't really use the GPU that much. More like as a support muscle. For big files etc I think the very most important component is still the CPU by far. Then again, I'm not exactly 'pro' at Photoshop and stuff.
Maybe (if you have another GPU at home/work) you could try getting a little more/less strong GPU then you have right now and compare them rendering times and overall err.... consecutiveness?
Below are my other system specs. I am only concerned about running Photoshop CS5 while maybe I have email open. I don't do ANY 3-D work, no gaming, no video editing, no movie watching. Only concerned about how the cards would impact Photoshop. Adobe says they moved the processing to the GPU.
Windows 7 64-bit
Intel Core 7-920 processor (8MB L2 Cache, 2.66GHz)
12GB Tri Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 6 DIMMs
First Hard Drive 750GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
Second Hard Drive 500GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
Power 525 W
Sounds like I should stick with the 5670. I always can upgrade later. the nVidia cards have CUDA, but it's my understanding that's only good for video editing, like in Adobe Premiere. I was willing to spend the extra $200 on the 5870 if it would make any tangible difference, but it sounds like it won't.