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Best GPUs for photo editing in 2024 – Our top picks

The top picks for photo editing
Last Updated on April 15, 2024
Best GPUs for photo editing
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When it comes to photo editing, having the best GPU for photo editing can make a world of difference in your workflow and the overall quality of your work. A powerful graphics card not only accelerates the processing of your images but also ensures smooth performance while working with multiple high-resolution images and applying complex edits. In this article, we’ll explore the top GPUs for photo editing, helping you find the perfect fit to enhance your creative process and produce stunning results. We’ve had plenty of hands on with the latest cards, so this list will include some newer cards, as well as some less-powerful older ones if you’re after a more budget-friendly option.

How we selected the best GPUs for photo editing

Our selection process for the best GPUs for photo editing involved thorough research, and analyzing the specifications and performance of various graphics cards available in the market. We considered factors such as performance, VRAM capacity, compatibility, display support, and overall value for money. We also took into account user reviews, our own testing and expert opinions to ensure that our recommendations cater to a wide range of photo editing needs, from casual hobbyists to professional photographers.

As part of our hands on reviews, we conducted testing of GPUs to achieve benchmark results. In order to see how we went about this process, make sure you check our dedicated GPU testing page. Additionally, if you are in the market for a GPU, head over our best graphics card guide for all the latest and greatest choices.

Asus TUF RTX 4060 Ti
The ASUS TUF RTX 4060 Ti graphics cards, one of our top picks for photo editing – Image © BGFG

Best GPUs for photo editing

Best GPU for Photo Editing
01
  • ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 4060 Ti OC graphics card with its packaging box.
Best in Class
Specifications
  • GPU: AD106
  • CUDA cores: 4352
  • VRAM: 8 GB
  • Memory bus width: 128-bit
  • Bandwidth: 288.0 GB/s
  • Base Clock Speed: 2310 MHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 2535 MHz
Reasons to Buy
  • Powerful enough for the likes of Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Supports NVIDIA DLSS and is great for 1080p gaming
  • Decent for video editing also thanks to 8GB of speedy VRAM
Reasons to Avoid
  • May be overkill if you’re just using it for photo editing
  • A near-entry level 4000 Series card – so don’t consider if you’re after more of an all rouder

For its price point (RTX 4060 Ti), there’s a lot of value further bolstered by the support of DLSS 3 Frame Generation and other current-gen technologies.

PC Guide

The Nvidia 4060 Ti may have fallen down the 4000 Series pecking order following the Super launches, but – as we found in our 4060 Ti review – it’s still a versatile all-rounder that makes this an easy top pick. Under the hood you’ve got an ample 8GB of VRAM. This ensures smooth sailing for photo and even video editing. Why we’ve given it the top spot, however, is because of its prowess in other areas, too. For one, our benchmarking data revealed solid performance at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions across a number of our games, not to mention impressive encoding times in HandBrake’s Tears of Steel 4K render and Cinebench r24. In other words, the 4060Ti is a fantastic all rounder for those wanting a PC that can work hard and play hard.

Best Workstation GPU for Photo Editing
02
  • Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card for workstations.
Reasons to Buy
  • Designed specifically for professional workflows
  • Advanced features like ECC memory
  • Optimized performance for professional photo editing applications
Reasons to Avoid
  • Not ideal for casual users
  • May require a workstation-grade PC setup
  • Not the right choice for those wanting a gaming PC

For professionals who demand the highest level of performance and reliability in their photo editing workflow, the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 is the ideal choice. Designed specifically for workstation use, this high-end graphics card features 8GB of high-speed GDDR6 memory, 2,304 CUDA cores, and dedicated RT and Tensor cores for ray tracing and AI-accelerated tasks.

The Quadro RTX 4000 is optimized for professional applications, ensuring compatibility and stability with industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Suite, CorelDRAW, and Capture One. It also supports 10-bit color depth for accurate color reproduction and HDR editing, allowing you to work with a broader range of colors and deliver more realistic and vivid images. With advanced features like ECC memory and hardware-based video encoding, the Quadro RTX 4000 provides exceptional performance and reliability, making it the perfect choice for professional photo editors who need a powerful, stable, and efficient GPU to handle their most demanding projects.

Best VRAM GPU for Photo Editing
03
  • MSI GeForce RTX 3060 - perfect for gaming enthusiasts.
Specifications
  • GPU: GA106
  • VRAM: 12 GB
  • Bandwidth: 360.0 GB/s
  • Memory bus width: 192-bit
  • Base Clock Speed: 1320 MHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 1777 MHz
  • CUDA cores: 3584
Reasons to Buy
  • Energy-efficient design and won’t require a beefy PSU
  • 12GB GDDR6 memory – plenty for both work and play
  • Supports ray tracing and DLSS (although not the latest version of the latter)
Reasons to Avoid
  • Less powerful than the RTX 3070, which is worth opting for if budget allows
  • Slightly cheaper than some of the other cards, but older tech

If energy efficiency and budget is a priority for you, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 could well be the best option. This eco-friendly graphics card is built on Nvidia’s last-generation but well-respected Ampere architecture and features 12GB of GDDR6 memory and 3,584 CUDA cores, delivering impressive performance for a wide range of photo editing tasks.

The RTX 3060 supports ray tracing and DLSS, which improve performance in GPU-accelerated photo editing applications. Note, the card does not support the latest version of DLSS – DLSS 3.0. Not that this really matters for creatives, but for those wanting a card for work and play, we recommend opting for a 4000 Series card such as the 4060 Ti. On the plus side, the 3060’s energy-efficient design helps reduce power consumption and heat generation, ensuring a quieter and more sustainable workstation that won’t require a top-end PSU.

Considerations for the best GPUs for photo editing

When choosing the best GPU for photo editing, it’s crucial to consider the features that will impact your editing experience. First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure that the graphics card you choose offers excellent performance for handling large image files and running photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Look for GPUs with a good amount of VRAM, as this will allow you to work with multiple high-resolution images simultaneously without slowing down your system. If you’re looking just for a GPU that can run Photoshop well, you can find our top picks in the best GPU for Photoshop guide we’ve created.

Another important aspect to consider is the GPU’s compatibility with your existing hardware and software. Make sure the graphics card you choose is compatible with your computer’s motherboard, power supply, and the photo editing software you use. Additionally, check if the GPU supports the latest display technologies, such as high-resolution monitors and multiple displays, as this can greatly enhance your editing workspace.

Verdict

In conclusion, finding the best GPU for photo editing depends on your specific needs, budget, and level of performance you require. Our top picks offer various options that cater to different users, from the RTX 4060 Ti , which delivers excellent performance and features, to the GeForce RTX 3060, which provides a good balance between performance and energy efficiency. Ultimately, selecting the right GPU for your photo editing needs will ensure smoother workflows, faster processing times, and a more enjoyable experience overall.

FAQs

What size GPU do I need for photo editing?

The size of the GPU you need for photo editing depends on the complexity of your projects and the software you use. In most cases, a mid-range GPU with at least 8 GB of VRAM should be sufficient for handling basic to moderately complex photo editing tasks. However, if you work with high-resolution images, multiple layers, or use GPU-intensive filters and effects, you might benefit from a more powerful GPU with 16 GB or more VRAM.

Does GPU affect photo editing?

The GPU can significantly impact photo editing performance. A powerful GPU can accelerate various tasks such as applying filters, rendering effects, and processing high-resolution images, leading to a smoother and more efficient workflow. Many modern photo editing software applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, utilize GPU acceleration to enhance performance. Therefore, investing in a good GPU can result in a better overall experience and faster processing times when working with photo editing software.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows