Is the SandyBridge K Integrated Graphics Good Enough For Photo Editing?

Started Jun 3, 2011 | Discussions thread
ptodd
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Re: Is the SandyBridge K Integrated Graphics Good Enough For Photo Editing?
In reply to TomHeaven, Aug 26, 2011

TomHeaven wrote:

It seems to be as I thought, then...there is little or nothing to be gained in Lightroom or Photoshop by getting a GPU/Video card.

Astoundingly, yes.

In fact, it is reported that the SandyBridge CPU's Integrated Graphics is superior to any discrete video card for video encoding.

That's because they have very specific dedicated fixed-function hardware for h264 encoding. IIRC I saw for example some tests where they were much faster but producing lower quality results, not sure how they really compare like-for-like. They should be good, though, it is true.

It is also highly dependent on software being written to take advantage of the very specific QuickSync instructions. I don't have anything that is, so even though I have the hardware I don't seem to be able to easily take advantage of it.

Someone recently told me however, that Photoshop's Liquify command worked in some way that made discrete GPU processing an advantage.

There are perhaps only a few specific things in PS that really take advantage at the moment, perhaps liquify is one... however, I maintain that almost everything the program does that isn't bound by speed of disks etc aught to be able to benefit massively from GPU, even if it doesn't yet.

High power GPUs, in addition to their initial cost, seem to use a lot of electric power too, even when idling. And they apparently waste a lot of power in heat, as evidenced by the need to install built-in cooling fans on them.

In general, modern GPUs are pretty efficient when idling. However this changes dramatically as soon as you attach a second screen; in my case, I measure an extra 40W draw (not counting the screens themselves) when I plug a second screen into my GPU. Fortunately, I chose a Z68 chipset which means that I can seamlessly run one display from the GPU and another from IGP without wasting nearly so much power. It also means I can use the QuickSync functionality as well as having the benefits of a discrete GPU.

For Photoshop & Lightroom though, you are right that there is not much benefit in discrete GPU at the moment. You are also right that you will save some power by not having it, and will not suffer in terms of image quality etc.

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Peter

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