Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 - Retouch Artists Speed Test

While our Photoshop CS4 benchmark clearly prefers Intel's CPUs, the results aren't so clean cut. The entire Phenom II 800 and 900 lineup falls short of their competitors, but the Phenom II X3 720 can equal its rival: the Core 2 Duo E7500. It's slower than the more expensive E8400, but it's at least competitive.

This is where AMD has some potential to do well. As a result of its larger die, the 720 has one more core than Intel's svelte Core 2 Duos. In well threaded applications, the X3 could come out ahead.

DivX 8.5.3 with Xmpeg 5.0.3

Our DivX test is the same DivX / XMpeg 5.03 test we've run for the past few years now, the 1080p source file is encoded using the unconstrained DivX profile, quality/performance is set balanced at 5 and enhanced multithreading is enabled:

DivX 6.8.5 w/ Xmpeg 5.0.3 - MPEG-2 to DivX Transcode

Both the Phenom II 900 and 800 series parts are competitive here. The Phenom II X3 720 actually beats out both competitors here, the E7500 and E8400 are close but no faster than the 720. Here's a benefit of that extra core at work.

x264 HD Video Encoding Performance

Graysky's x264 HD test uses the publicly available x264 codec (open source alternative to H.264) to encode a 4Mbps 720p MPEG-2 source. The focus here is on quality rather than speed, thus the benchmark uses a 2-pass encode and reports the average frame rate in each pass.

x264 HD Encode Benchmark - 720p MPEG-2 to x264 Transcode

The first pass of the x264 benchmark is actually an analysis pass, the real encoding is done in the second pass. There are apparently quite a few unaligned cache accesses in this test which severely penalize the Core 2 processors; Core i7 is unaffected. Because of the unaligned cache access performance penalty, AMD owns the price/performance comparison here.

x264 HD Encode Benchmark - 720p MPEG-2 to x264 Transcode

The actual encode workload is much more competitive. The Phenom II 800 and 900 series chips cluster around each other, remaining competitive but not really any faster than the equivalently priced Core 2 Quads. The Phenom II X3 720 continues to be faster than its competitor thanks to its core count advantage.

Windows Media Encoder 9 x64 Advanced Profile

In order to be codec agnostic we've got a Windows Media Encoder benchmark looking at the same sort of thing we've been doing in the DivX and x264 tests, but using WME instead.

Windows Media Encoder 9 x64 - Advanced Profile Transcode

Here we've got, once again, a competitive AMD but there's something very interesting going on with the triple core 720. WME9 doesn't make use of the third core as it is hard coded to use powers of 2 for the number of processor cores. There are some applications that will exhibit this sort of behavior, although in our testing the numbers are limited. With its third core out of the picture, the 720 is slower than Intel's Core 2 Duo E7500.

SYSMark 2007 Performance 3dsmax 9, Cinebench, POV-Ray and par2 Performance
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  • thepiratebay - Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - link

    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz not 2.8 you put def procer in test and if overclockd you write oc...
    I am sure that intel is better but no so way better
    and in my opinion in the last 2 years you fav intel and nvidia more for what i am sure u have good reasons.Why i think so becas... you point just the bad sides of amd and the good of the other side on price preformance cpu mainbord you name it the diff between amd intel is tiny or amd is better.And another thing i live and work in germany and from 1000 pepole maybe 1 has core i7 pepole dont have money for maybe litle better cpu wich by the way has no software or appp maybe 5 or 10 and you compare that with ddr 2 platform from amd come on now
    Reply
  • thepiratebay - Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - link

    Do some math with me:

    * 790FX/GX motherboard 125 USD
    * Phenom II X3 720 BE 145 USD
    * 2x2GB DDR2 800 MHz 50 USD
    * Radeon HD 4850 150 USD
    * Power supply 550 Watt 55 USD
    * Chassis 50 USD
    * 500 GB HDD 55 USD

    Grand total: 630,- USD
    Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    Phenom II does not fix XP's performance problems with Phenom's CnQ, btw. Huge performance loss. Saw it first hand. Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, February 13, 2009 - link

    It is fixed on Vista and Windows 7 though... also, you need to load the new CnQ driver in XP, if you do, it works there also. Reply
  • swaaye - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    The "new" XP driver appears to be from 2007. Reply
  • otheos - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    I use a 690G based gigabyte motherboard. Gigabyte just posted new BIOS to support these AM3 CPUs (along with AM2 and AM2+) and have been wondering what would be the performance hit from using an older motherboard with slower HT speed?

    A nice review would compare the same AM3 (plus some AM2+) Phenoms on AM2, AM2+ and AM3 (wiht DDR3 Ram). This way people who only want to upgrade their CPU would know what to expect.

    After all that's what AMD have in mind for their backward compatibility of these chips.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    HT is what connects the processor to the rest of the system. High HT speed seems to be most important for multiprocessor servers and systems that use an IGP. The RAM is directly connected to the CPU, so no bottleneck there. So I doubt you'll see any tangible performance loss.
    Reply
  • corsa - Thursday, February 12, 2009 - link

    The clear cut recommendation is Phenom ..becuase its smoother :) Reply
  • Mr Roboto - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    Unreal. I mean look at where the now ancient Q6600 still ranks compared to AMD's latest and greatest. *sigh*

    I don't want an Intel monopoly. I don't want the only choices to be Intel and Microsoft. That's not a world I wanna live in! *Loads pistol*
    Reply
  • loimlo - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    Thanks for such an informative review!

    Though 790FX/790GX is very good, I think 780G with SB700 would be a better combination for X3 720/710 considering its lower price. I've to admit I may take this upgrade path. Anyway, thanks for your hard work.
    Reply

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