Graphics Card for Photoshop CS5

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?
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  1. Best answer
    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?
  2. 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
  3. Yeah, with an i7 you won't really probably need the 5870 version. I think that in CS4 you had to actually enable the GPU support so I'd say its contribute to overall performance is 50%-ish, if so.
  4. Doesn't CS5 benefit from CUDA(nvidia technology)?
  5. For Photoshop you can gain benefit from Nvidia cards (CUDA).
  6. 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.

    -- Dave
  7. All CS5 software benefit from CUDA(including Photoshop).
  8. That seems like another reason for me to get the cheaper card now and upgrade with nVidia later. Dell does not offere and decent nVidia cards with this machine.
  9. Best answer selected by dmsgraphix.
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