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GeForce GTX 580 And GF110: The Way Nvidia Meant It To Be Played

Benchmark Results: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

We’ve been looking for non-gaming-oriented applications to fold into our graphics card reviews for a while, and Adobe’s software is widely-enough used by professionals and power users alike to demonstrate the merits of GPU-based computing. We’ve held back on less-popular tests in the past, but enough of us use Adobe’s software, which now supports this technology natively, that it makes more sense to start adding it.

Bear in mind that the Mercury Playback Engine only supports a limited number of CUDA-capable graphics cards. Of course, neither the GeForce GTX 480 or 580 are included in that list (humorously, the GeForce GTX 470 is), so Premiere gets “hacked” to make those cards work (see William Van Winkle’s exploration of performance in CS5 for instructions on how to do that). I’m leaving AMD’s cards out because this isn’t an AMD versus Nvidia battle. It’s all about hardware (GPU) against software (CPU) rendering—expect the AMD cards to look a lot like the Nvidia cards running in software mode. That score is most dependent on our Core i7-980X overclocked to 4.2 GHz.

The hardware-accelerated configurations are more than 20 times faster than rendering in software. No surprise there. The question is: should you spend the extra money on a $500 graphics card to help improve your experience with Adobe’s Mercury Playback Engine? Probably not. Even our baseline GeForce GTS 450 finished this effects-laden project in 1:35. And while the GTX 580 shaves off four seconds from the 480’s time, such high-end hardware is only really worth it if gaming is your first priority. Otherwise, a more mainstream (supported) GPU would be plenty.