The Best Graphics Card For Video Editing And Photoshop

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The Best Graphics Card For Video Editing And Photoshop in 2022

If you’re wondering what GPU to get for your video and image editing needs, the answer may surprise you. Some people instinctively go for the most expensive cards on the market, burning into their budget without ever really checking to see if that’s the wisest idea.

Spoiler: It isn’t.

Why is it a bad idea to just grab an RTX 3080 and be done with it? As it turns out, you need to save that money for something else. So sit back, relax, and read about how to figure out the best graphics card for video editing and Photoshop.

Only Certain Attributes Determine The Best Graphics Card For Video Editing

As it turns out, most video editors don’t make a lot of use out of the GPU. The main exception to this is DiVinci Resolve, which is designed specifically to use GPU heavily in the editing process. If you’re using Resolve, then by all means pick up a 30xx card.

For everyone else, CPU is far more important than GPU! If you’re on a budget, you want a mid-tier graphics card for video editing, and a powerful processor, because that’s where all the action is. The graphics card will help during the encoding and rendering phases, but the vast majority of your editing time is improved with more threads and more processor horsepower.

Don’t believe me? Here are the stats from the most average video editing setup in the world. This is an RTX 2070 Super (October 12, 2022 - 522.25 driver), 16 gig of RAM, with a 3.5 GHz i7-4770 CPU running Lightworks Pro:

Normal Playback And Marking

 


The CPU is absolutely smashed, and would be even if you had the best graphics card for video editing.
Rendering hit hard, but the CPU is much more taxed than the GPU, so you won't need the very best graphics card for video editing.

The CPU is spiking between 30% and 40%, while the GPU never breaks 30%. And not much is even happening.

Rendering And Exporting

Here’s what happens during the rendering and export process:

 

 

 

The CPU maxes out, while the GPU wavers between 40% and 50% usage.

Yes, there are some functions that will tax the GPU further… briefly. But if a 20xx can handle the smoke, fog, explosions, and other effects while the CPU is thrashing, it should be clear where the wiser investment is. On the AMD side, a Radeon RX 6600 will likely be fine for most people using OpenCL compatible software, including Final Cut Pro.

Of course if your video editing rig doubles as your gaming machine and streaming PC, there are reasons to bump the graphics card up in priority. But not at the detriment of your CPU! Unless you plan to use Resolve, then GPU will be king.

Best Graphics Cards For Photoshop, GIMP, and Other Image Editing

Although Photoshop is synonymous with image editing, we’re aware that some people use GIMP and other image editing software, and they’re wondering which GPU to invest in.

The good news is, AMD and Nvidia are now both OpenCL compliant, as are most of the popular image editors. That means you’re free to pick the best value card without worrying about software compatibility.

But once again, in the world of image editing, GPU isn’t king - CPU is. As it turns out, the best graphics cards for Photoshop, GIMP, and the vast majority of editors is what you can afford while pouring your budget into a high end processor.

Here are the stats from our perfectly average 2070 rig running GIMP 2.10.32 (2022-06-12):

Normal Editing

During normal use, the CPU is hit much harder than the GPU, so you don't need the best graphics cards for Photoshop or GIMP.

Normal editing barely registers on either scale, including fills, complex selections, layer manipulation, and the like.

Filters And Complex Mapping

Contrasting those operations to on the fly fractal rendering (Julia and Mandelbrot) with previews is like night and day, at least on the CPU side:

 

Getting the best CPU far outweighs getting the best graphics cards for Photoshop and similar apps.

 

The best graphics cards for Photoshop, GIMP, and other image editors don't matter as much as some people think.

The GPU will get taxed more for operations such as Ray Tracing and complex skinned wireframes, but image editing is still a CPU dominated world.

Home Videos Or Hollywood?

Of course, if you have the budget you should be maxing out the GPU, the CPU, and the memory as much as possible. This will reduce your bottleneck for more niche operations, and open up the possibility of using GPU-intensive software like Resolve.

But for most people producing social media content at home (who aren’t concerned with graphics for gaming or streaming), you’ll do just fine with anything in the mid range. With all that in mind…

The Best Graphics Card For Video Editing In 2022

Assuming a typical PC setup, on the primary market:

Zero Budget Concerns: GeForce RTX 3090 TI

Some Budget Concerns: GeForce RTX 3060

Average Budget Concerns: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT

On the secondary and clearance market, you can probably grab a cheap GeForce 1080 or GeForce 2070 and be just fine. But with all of the crypto miners dumping heavily worked cards right now, let the buyer beware.

Best Graphics Cards For Photoshop, GIMP, Etc.

Drumroll please… exactly the same as above.

Zero Budget Concerns: GeForce RTX 3090 TI

Some Budget Concerns: GeForce RTX 3060

Average Budget Concerns: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT

And by now it should be obvious why this is the case, but let’s wrap this up nicely and point out a few details that you should remember.

Conclusion

The main takeaway from this is that CPU is far more important than GPU for video and image editing, in most cases. Niche software suites might lean heavily into GPU, but most simply hammer your processor like there’s no tomorrow.

Something to remember is that your motherboard’s architecture is going to depend on your CPU choice. That means if you do want to go the cheap and cheerful Radeon route, you need a motherboard that will slot AMD graphics cards. That’s going to impact your upgrade paths later on - for better or for worse depends entirely on how the latest Nvidia drama pans out.

But that risk goes both ways. Invest heavily in an Nvidia card and motherboard bundle, and you run the risk of Nvidia’s manufacturer rebellion becoming a long term issue. My advice: If you go the Nvidia route, invest for the long term. The upgrade paths might be extremely limited if more manufacturers decide it isn’t worth doing business with them.

BEST VYRAL PCs For the Job!

Zero Budget Concerns: Insert PC

Some Budget Concerns Insert PC

Average Budget Concerns Insert PC

That’s it! Leave any questions or observations in the comments below.

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