Speeding up DeNoise, Lightroom and Photoshop with a High-end Graphics Card

 

This post was written for an Eastside Audubon Photography Group meeting. 

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write up this information about graphics cards. This was a much more difficult subject than I anticipated. The key problem is the cards are in short supply and appear to have more than doubled in price in recent months. The explanations vary from chip shortages, tariffs to high demand. Whatever the reason, the cards are expensive and choices are limited.

As mentioned at the meeting, the graphics cards are critical to the speed of most Topaz and Adobe programs, including DeNoise, Lightroom and Photoshop. For more on this, see:

 

If you thought that graphics cards only matter to video gamers, you’re not alone. Gamers bought these state-of-the-art cards for their stunning 3D graphics and animation generation. Software developers such as Adobe quickly realized they could use the massive computing power of the graphics processing unit (GPU) on these cards for other purposes. They wanted to tap into the cards’ ability to crunch more data than the computer’s general-purpose processor offers.

 

Why Even Non-Gamers May Want a Powerful Graphics Card in Their Next Computer

 

Adobe and Topaz recommend a graphics card with 2 gigabytes of RAM (separate from the computer’s RAM).  Adobe refers to the Promark GPU Benchmark and recommends a rating of 2,000 or more. Topaz, on the other hand, references two specific cards (one from AMD and the other from Nvidia). Both have benchmarks close to 2,000.

 

From there on, it gets challenging. The choices are limited for moderately priced cards ($200-400) on Amazon. I only considered cards that can be returned without cost. There are no guarantees that newer cards will work with older computers. I purchased an AMD Radeon RX 560 on Amazon for $256. Unfortunately,  I returned it within days because of the card’s excessively noisy fan. Furthermore,  the card caused one of my two monitors to occasionally malfunction. Tech support is limited.

 

The second one I purchased and also returned immediately was an AMD Radeon 570 that cost about $450.   My computer couldn’t meet the card’s massive power requirements.  After returning the second card, I was unable to find anything within my price range that was likely to work.

 

I’m still left with my old AMD W4100 card that I bought about 6 years ago. It was more than adequate for my needs until I started to use DeNoise.   

 

But purchasing the new cards did give me a chance to try an informal DeNoise test using a 50-megabyte image that is extremely noisy. The new AMD Radeon 560 was 4 times faster than my old W4100 card. Here are the results of my test.

 

Graphics Card

Seconds to render image

PassMark Benchmark

Note

Intel HD 2000 Graphics built into the computer

1,260 seconds

268

Over 20 minutes. Built-in card for my Dell Inspiron 660 computer

AMD Firepro W4100

200

756

Additional card that supports 4k and four monitors

AMD Radeon 560

54

1,776

Faster but fan is extremely noisy

 

During my card odyssey, I also found that it’s key to make sure the editing software is properly configured for the graphics card. In DeNoise, click File and then select Preferences.  I selected my W4100 graphics card. (See image below)

Apparently, All GPUs (experimental) allows DeNoise to use the computer’s built-in motherboard card that is likely to be extremely slow. It is only used when DeNoise has stability problems.  

 

In Lightroom or Photoshop, go to Preferences and check that Use Graphics Processor is turned on. I selected Custom and checked Use GPU for Image Processing to ensure that only the faster graphics card is used and not the computer’s slower built-in graphics card. (See image below)

 

I hope this helps,

 

 

 

John

DeNoise Preferences

Lightroom Preferences