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Gear & Apps

Ryzen Rig Outperforms $5K Mac Pro In Photoshop Test

By Justin Heyes on April 9th 2017

Core for Core, AMD CPUs traditionally have not been on par with their Intel counterpart; instead, they relied on multiple cores to do the heavy lifting required by a processor. Since AMD released their latest poster child, the RYZEN CPU, people have wanted to know if it is better than the offerings of Team Blue. In a word, yes.


Not too long ago we featured a video by Max Yuryev, in it Yuryev compared the Ryzen 1700X against the Intel 6700K. While the test was comprehensive for video editing, some users remarked that if the software isn’t optimized for multicore performance, the extra cores will go to waste. Yuryev commented to one user, “Lightroom won’t make use of all eight cores. For Lightroom, I would get the newly announced 6-core “Ryzen 5 – 1600X”…The 1600X has a higher clock speed and less cores which is better for Lightroom. With that said Adobe REALLY needs to step it up and improve their software. Lightroom has been bad with efficiency for 6 or so years now, they keep adding features but the program itself is slow.


Another remarked that the benchmarking text was unfairly skewed because Yuryev was benchmarking a 4-Core CPU to an 8-Core CPU. Well, YouTuber ‘Tech Guy‘ ran a basic Photoshop Benchmark test that pitted a more capable Mac Pro running with a 3.0 GHz 8-Core Xeon E5 against a custom-built machine with a 3.0 GHz 8-Core Ryzen 1700 machine to answer some questions.

We already know that a custom-built machine will be cheaper (and to a certain extent outperform) an equivalent Mac. So, it comes as no surprise the three-year-old Mac Pro with its 8-Core Xeon E5 performed the task at around 15 seconds, while the new Ryzen machine performed much better in the test 8.8 seconds.


Photoshop, Lightroom, and to a certain extent all the apps in the Adobe Creative Suite, are not optimized to handle that many cores. I decided to run the test on my custom-built machine with an Intel i7-6700K running at 4.0 GHz. It performed the task in 13.2 seconds.

Intel, in recent years, hasn’t increased their performance of their CPUs much, instead focusing on overall system stability. With the recent apologies from Apple, we may see better, more upgradeable machines coming from their Pro line of desktops (interesting to note that the Mac Pro in the video isn’t available by Apple on their store any longer – they recently had a refresh). An architecture switch from Intel to AMD would be a welcome change to creatives who remain loyal to Apple (after all, they use AMD graphics cards almost exclusively), but it’s more likely that Apple will continue to use Intel chips. Here’s hoping that Intel follows AMD’s strategy with their upcoming Canon Lake, bringing much need performance wat a lower price point.

If you would like to perform the test on your machine, you can download the file and Photoshop Action here.

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rohan Jain

    Here’s what makes no sense. Why compare it to three year old hardware? Yes sure the mac pro is overpriced. But then not a fair comparison, compare it to the 5K iMac. 

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    • Craig John

      The comparison is valid, as that 3 year old Mac Pro (now nearly 4 years old) is what Apple currently sells with 8 cores. And Apple is currently selling their 2013 Mac  Pro at a laughable $4,000 price point – especially when someone can build solid 8-core 7820x PC workstation for less than $1,900. The sad thing is, Apple was selling their 2013 8-Core Mac Pro for $5,000 right up until the end April. 

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  2. adam sanford

    In other news, SLRs are worlds more capable than more expensive Leica rangefinders, yet somehow Leica continues to sell their pricier product. [Eye roll]

    If horsepower per dollar were all that mattered, we’d all be shooting sigma art lenses on Sony bodies and process everything on this toy of a PC rig.  But we don’t.  Autofocus matters for the lens, ergonomics/lens ecosystem matters for the body, and operating system matters for the computer.  We’re glad to pay more for things other than horsepower.

    (I’m not defending the Mac Pro one bit, but folks arguing horsepower-per-dollar with computers is not new.  Hasn’t stopped Apple yet.)

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    • Craig John

      I wouldn’t call a $1,500 8-core Ryzen workstation a toy. Plenty of people are using these machines to edit video.

      And with the number of photographers who use iMacs as their photo editing workstations, it’s safe to say not everyone needs Xeon CPUs, nor ECC memory. In fact, very few people need that kind of hardware. 

      Apple’s unusual early announcement of the iMac Pro and Modular Mac Pro (whenever that comes to be), we made to help prevent the Mac Users from migrating to the PC. The problem is, I’m not sure how many people want to spend $5,000 minimum on a workstation anymore more. The OS benefits are fading, and the value just isn’t there anymore. 

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  3. Carlito Smith

    The thing is, Ryzen isn’t really impressive at all in terms of performance. It’s the Mac Pro that’s *REALLY* bad.
    The i7 7700K is $50 cheaper than the AMD 1700X, and yet it outclasses the 1700X in both lightroom and photoshop (and web browing performance, etc):
    Even my 4790K from 2014 beats the brand new “higher end” $500 Ryzen 1800X… So again, it’s not that Ryzen is amazing, it’s the Mac Pro that’s an amazingly bad value in terms of performance per dollar.
    You don’t need a $4000 PC build to beat the Mac Pro either. Just about any decent $1000 build should do (7700K, GTX 1060, plenty of RAM, good SSD) and by a wide margin.

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    • Curtis McDonald

      By that same logic, the i7-7700 is also much better value and performance than a i7-6900k which costs over $1000.

      Thing is, the Ryzen 1800X isn’t competing against the  7700k, but the 6800k and 6900k. In a highly threaded application or situation, the 1800X outperforms the 6800k and is on par with the 6900k, which is twice the price.

      Basically, once Adobe better updates its programs, we will see better performance from CPUs with higher thread counts. Until then, yes, lower cost CPUs may outperform these, but that doesn’t mean that the Ryzen 1800X isn’t amazing, but that the software is sub-par.

      Just my 2 cents.

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