Photoshop CS3 vs CS4 Speed Test – Very little Difference

This past month I upgraded my desktop PC computer. I had been using Photoshop CS3 on the older computer. Since CS4 was now out, I decided to try it out on the new computer using the 30 free trial from Adobe. I was most interested to find out if CS4 was faster than CS3 because it uses not only the computer’s CPU but the video card’s CPU.

First a few details on the new computer. It’s a HP m9510f with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33 GHz CPU running Vista 64 bit. The video card is an Nvidia GeForce 9500 GS discrete graphics card. The computer cost $799. This can be used to see if there really is a “Mac tax”. To test the speed of CS3 vs CS4 I decided to preform a radial blur on a 2.65 MB JPG file. The test was perfomed by opening JPG Test Image in photoshop. I almost forgot, turn off all other applications so they aren’t sucking up CPU power.

Then go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur.Set the Radial Blur setting to: Amount at 100, Blur Method to Spin, and finally Quality to Best. Then click OK and time how long Photoshop takes to complete the Radial Blur. The test is designed to check only the processing power of the computer and is independent of the RAM size or the speed of the scratch disk.

OK, here’s what you have been waiting for, the results. CS4 took 19 seconds to perform the task, and CS3 on the same computer took 20 seconds. CS4 is faster using the video card CPU, but the difference seems like nothing to write home about. I also did the test using a file that was 3.3MB. CS4 performed the Radial Blur in 23 seconds while CS3 took 24 seconds. I also ran the test on the older computer which is running CS3. The specs for the old desktop PC are, HP a1250n with an AMD Dual Core 3800+ 1.99 GHz CPU running on Windows XP. ( The computer is now about 3.5 years old ) The radial blur test took 58.5 seconds on this computer. I also perfomred the test on an older laptop the has an AMD 2800+ CPU and is running Windows XP. This computer has Photoshop 7 on it. The Radial Blur test took 3 minutes and 15 seconds in Photoshop 7.

The images below show before and after pictures (reduced in size) if you have done the test correct. The before image is linked to the actual image required to preform the test.

Please feel free to download the test JPG and perform the test on your compter then post the results in the comment section.

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Image before Radial Blur – Reduced to 700 pixels wide. This picture is linked to the full size test image.

Image after Radial Blur Test

Image after Radial Blur Test – Reduced to 700 pixels wide.

Update – Here is a compilation of results from the CPU speed test.

CPU Operating System Photoshop Version Test Time
Intel Core2 quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz Vista CS3 16 Seconds
Intel i7 920 overclocked to 3.6 GHz Windows 7 32 bit CS4 9 Seconds
Intel Core2 quad Q6600 2.4 GHz XP Pro CS3 14 Seconds
Intel Core2 Duo T6400 2.0 GHz Vista 32 bit CS3 42 Seconds
Intel Dual Core Xeon 2.66 GHz Snow Leapard CS3 17 Seconds
Intel Core2 quad Q6600 2.4 GHz Vista 64 bit CS4 19 Seconds
Intel Core i7 920 2.66 GHz Vista 64 bit CS4 12 Seconds
Intel Core i7 920 2.66 GHz Windows 7 64 bit CS4 13 Seconds
Intel Dual Core Xeon 2.8 GHz x2 Snow Leapard CS4 10 Seconds
Intel Core i7 920 2.66 GHz Windows 7 32 bit CS4 11 Seconds
Intel 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (iMac) Mac OS X 10.6 CS4 29 Seconds
Intel Quad Xeon 2.66 GHz Mac OS X 10.6 CS4 17 Seconds
Intel 2 x Quad Xeon 2.26 GHz Mac OS X 10.6 CS4 9 Seconds
IBM Quad Power PC G5 2.5 GHz OSX 10.4 CS4 32 Seconds
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz Mac OSX 10.5 CS3 42 Seconds

Conclusion – Overclocking your Intel Core i7 920 gets you the most bang for your buck. The Apple Mac Pro’s can perform the test quite quickly when equipped with 2 Intel Zeon CPU’s, but that option on a Mac Pro has a starting price of $3299. Not so much bang for your buck there

Because the result times on many of the newer computers were under 10 seconds, I designed a new and improved test. It can be found HERE.

David RossMay 2, 2009 - 5:29 am

Intel 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo – IMac – 2gb ram – 35 secs!

Spiros ZaharakisSeptember 1, 2009 - 8:05 pm

19 seconds on my old Q6600, Asus P5WDH Deluxe,Asus 4850 512MB, 6GB Ram, Vista 64, CS4.
12 seconds on my newer i7 920, MSI Motherboard, Gigabyte 9800 GT, 9GB Ram, Vista 64, CS4.

Michael ShandroNovember 1, 2009 - 1:01 am

13 seconds. Brand new i7 920 stock speed of 2.66GHz, GE Force 9500 GT, ASUS P6T SE Motherboard, 12GB OCZ low latency RAM, Windows 7 64bit, CS4.

Rich HawkinsNovember 29, 2009 - 9:54 pm

29 seconds. 24″ iMac, 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, nVIDIA GeForce GT 130GT (512MB) graphics card.

craig j stodolaDecember 18, 2009 - 9:48 am

13 seconds – 2.66GHz quad-core Nehalem Mac Pro, 12GB of ram, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 graphics card

craig j stodolaDecember 18, 2009 - 10:10 am

42 seconds – 2.16GHz 24″ white iMac, 3GB of ram, NVIDIA GeForce GT 7300 128MB graphics card, Photohop CS3, OS 10.5.7 ***note, my quad-core Mac Pro (test above) was also running Photoshop CS3 on OS 10.5.8***

[...] Core i7 980X. The only basic difference between this new and improved CPU benchmark test and the older test is the larger file that the test is preformed on. New for this test is a photoshop action that will [...]

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