Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator are programs that consume high GPU resources. Low GPU will result in poor graphics output. Therefore, you have to invest in a high-end PC to make use of these programs.
However, you don’t always have to buy a new PC for a better GPU. You can simply upgrade your graphics card if your PC allows it. There are factors you should consider when purchasing a graphics card.
We’ll get to that later. First, here are the top 10 best graphics cards for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator that you can buy:
The ZOTAC GeForce RTX 30 Series is based on the architecture of NVIDIA Ampere. It’s primarily a gaming graphics card but will work just as well for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. It incorporates Boost Clock 1807 MHz, PCI-e 4.0, and 12GB 192-bit GDDR6.
This is a high-performing graphics card as it features a high-speed GDDR6 memory, enhanced RT cores and Tensor cores, and new multiprocessors. The RT cores are 2nd generation and deliver 2x throughput.
The tensor cores are 3rd generation and also deliver up to 2x throughout. You enjoy real-time cinematic-quality rendering as the graphics card supports Ray tracing. With this, you can edit your photos and videos in the best quality.
The graphics card uses NVIDIA DLSS AI rendering. It uses artificial intelligence to boost frame rates without affecting the output quality. You can adjust your resolutions and other display settings to much higher levels.
You don’t have to worry about overheating thanks to the IceStorm 2.0 advanced cooling system. There’s an 11-blade fan, active fan control, and freeze fan stop. Also featured are an improved heat pipe layout and a wide aluminum array heatsink.
This is a super-compact graphics card from Zotac. It’s a new-generation graphics based on NVIDIA Turing architecture and with ultra-fast memory.
The Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 OC graphics card has impressive specifications. This includes 4GB GDDR6 VRAM, 896 CUDA cores, Boost: 1620 MHz Engine Clock, 12 Gbps Memory clock, and a 3.0 PCI Express.
In addition, the graphics card supports HDCP, Triple Display, and 4.6 OpenGL. The recommended power supply is 350W while the power consumption is 75W. Light electrical consumption is one of the main reasons customers buy this graphics card.
The Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 OC is a dual-slot and 4K-ready graphics card. It measures just 5.9 inches and fits 99 percent of systems. Hence, there’s a high chance that it’ll be compatible with your PC.
This graphics card uses a single fan cooling system. The fan is 90mm in size with stripped blades. It also features a sunflower heat disk for even heat distribution which encourages efficient cooling.
Furthermore, the graphics feature the all-new Zotac Firestorm interface. This is a minimal and intuitive interface that makes it easy for you to adjust settings and monitor hardware status.
The number three product on this list of best graphics cards for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator is from XFX. This Radeon RX 580 is an 8GB VRAM graphics card based on the latest Polaris architecture.
It features 4th Gen GCN graphics cores, new multimedia cores, a brand new display engine, and the Next FinFET 14 process technology. You get advanced performance and efficiency.
The graphics card specifications include 1366 MHZ true clock, 8000 MHZ memory clock, 256-bit memory, and 2304 stream processors. Notably, it uses the XFX True Clock Technology which is hardware controlled.
The XFX True Clock Technology ensures that the graphics card is always performing at optimal speed. Furthermore, the graphics card features XFX Zero dB Auto Load Sensing Fans.
The autoload sensing fans not only prevent overheating but also lower RPM when necessary to avoid annoying fan noise. It reaches as low as Zero RPM and will speed up when necessary.
With this graphics card, you can edit images and videos in 4K quality. Furthermore, the XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition graphics card comes with XFX’s 3-year warranty. You’ll get a refund or replacement for any manufacturing defects on the card.
Here’s another graphics card based on Nvidia Ampere Architecture. It features the new SM with 2X FP32 throughput. It also features 2nd generation RT cores and 3rd generation tensor cores.
This 8GB VRAM graphics card makes use of DLSS AI acceleration. This ensures maximum quality and FPS which you’ll appreciate when editing high-quality videos with Lightroom.
In addition, it supports Ray tracing for cinematic-quality rendering. You can easily control and monitor settings with MSI’s dragon center software. This is the software for all MSI graphics cards and the interface is user-friendly.
This graphics card uses the Tri Frozr 2 thermal system. The system ensures a balance between cooling and quietness so fan speeds don’t disturb you as you work.
There’s an Airflow Control for improving airflow dynamics and the deflectors direct air to the right places that need cooling. In addition, the precision-machined core pipes spread heat evenly across the heatsink for optimal cooling.
The Zero Frozr feature stops the fan at a very low temperature and automatically starts when the heat is on. The graphics card also features several thermal pads for efficient heat distribution. It’s almost impossible to experience overheating with this MSI GeForce RTX 3070 LHR graphics card.
You get both value and functionality with the VisionTek Radeon 5450 2GB DDR3 graphics card. The VisionTek Radeon 5450 2GB DDR3 graphics card is compact, measuring 5.9 inches in length and 0.6 inches in height.
The Radeon 5450 graphics engine and 2GB memory are good enough for GPU rendering on Photoshop and Lightroom. It supports HDMI, VGA, and DVI-I. To install the graphics card, you need a minimum of just 1GB of system memory.
An interesting feature of the graphics card is the AMD Avivo HD Video & Display Technology. While gamers will appreciate it more, it offers advanced image processing with 5000 series graphics processors.
This guarantees seamless output as you apply heavy effects and filters while editing images and videos. Another notable feature is the AMD PowerPlay Technology.
The main advantage of the AMD PowerPlay Technology is that it reduces power consumption if you’re working with heavy graphics; it balances power and performance.
When you buy the VisionTek Radeon 5450 2GB DDR3 graphics card, you get a three-year limited warranty if registered within 30 days of purchase. If you don’t register, the warranty period is only valid for one year.
This is a relatively popular graphics card and one of the best in terms of durability. It features a dual ball-bearing which makes it 2x longer than most other graphics cards.
In addition, the graphics card features a strong backplate that protects the sensitive components on the rear side. This also provides extra protection for the circuit board.
The graphics card features the NVIDIA chipset with clock speeds of 7008 MHz and PCI Express 3.0 Interface. It supports the NVIDIA GPU Boost that dynamically maximizes clock speed according to your workload.
Two optimized fans offer 2x greater airflow performance. You can load heavy effects and graphics and not worry about overheating thanks to the enhanced cooling.
The fans also have longer lifespans. They are certified dust-resistant by the International Protection Marking (IP code). This also certifies that the fans can operate in very severe conditions.
Thanks to the 3+1 Phase Super Alloy Power II, the graphics card doesn’t consume too much power and also won’t produce much noise when under full load.
Finally, the ASUS GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB is one of the most affordable graphics cards for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator.
This 8GB graphics card from EVGA features enhanced tensor cores and RT cores. It has a super-fast G6X memory with new multiprocessors. Also, it has a relatively high I/0 data rate.
Notable features of the EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti FTW3 graphics card include a PCIe 4.0 bus, 6144 CUDA cores, 256 memory bit width, 19000 MHZ memory clock, and 1860 MHZ Boost Clock.
The graphics card is based on NVIDIA Ampere Architecture like most other products on this list. It uses DLSS AI Acceleration to boost frame rates. This allows you to edit pictures in high resolutions without affecting their quality.
The graphics card is powerful enough to handle complex 3D rendering and also edit 8k video. It has many innovative features to prevent overheating. There are airflow pockets that allow proper airflow around the heatsink and a new 180 degrees heatpipe.
Furthermore, the graphics card features three fans which increases cooling performance without making too much noise. Once your system is below 55 degrees, the fans go off automatically producing zero noise.
The second MSI product to make this list is the GeForce GTX 1660. This graphics card has a recommended power supply of 450 watts and power consumption of 120 watts. It offers 1.4x power efficiency than most other MSI GeForce GTX 1660.
It has a 6GB GDDR VRAM with a 192-bit memory interface with an 1830 MHz Boost Clock. It uses NVIDIA Architecture and features the NVIDIA Turing shaders for maximum performance.
A unique feature of the graphics card is the RGB lightning support in the Dragon Center. You can choose from thousands of lightning effects and colors to give your images and videos unique appearances while editing.
Like most other MSI graphics cards, this one features the Twin Frozr 7 Thermal Design. Hence, it has a dispersion fan blade that accelerates airflow and a traditional fan blade that directs air to the heat sink.
The heatsink is well-optimized with efficient heat dissipation to minimize temperature even at maximum performance. Furthermore, Zero Frozr technology will stop the fan automatically once the load reduces.
The AMD Radeon RX 550 from MAXSUN is a 4GB capacity graphics card. It features Microsoft DirectX 12 (DX12) technology which guarantees fast performance and high frames per second. The card size is perfect for almost any case.
This graphics card comes with a DVI, an HDMI, and a DP port. Also, it has 512 stream processors, a 6000MHz memory clock, PCI Express X16 3.0 bus, with a 50W TDP.
This is because it features the Vulkan API. The Vulkan API supports close-to-metal control which means all-around better performance. It’s hard to find a graphics card API that beats the Vulkan API.
You can adjust the settings of the graphics card via the AMD Radeon software. It’s possible to edit straight from your Photoshop or Lightroom environment with the ALT+R hotkey.
Thanks to AMD Radeon Chill, you’ll hardly have heating problems with this graphics card. It’s a power-saving feature that regulates frame rates based on your workload. It automatically lowers the FPS when you’re not doing heavy work which saves power consumption.
At number 10, concluding the list is the PowerColor Hellhound Spectral White AMD graphics card. The white color design already makes the graphics card stand out from others.
It’s a high-end graphics card with 12GB GDDR6 Video Memory, 2560 stream processor, 2424MHz game clock, up to 2581MHz boost clock, and 16 Gbps memory clock. You enjoy enhanced performance thanks to the two 8-pin PCI-E connectors and high-quality polymer capacitors.
The graphics card features a triple fan design, cooler heat pipes, and a nickel-plated copper base to improve heat dissipation. It’s a durable card as the cooling fan features two ball bearings for 4x longevity.
Notably, the card features a white LED lightning that turns on once the fan is running. You can easily turn off the LED light with a switch. The mute fan technology automatically turns the fan once the temperature hits below 60 degrees. This helps reduce power consumption and also fan noise.
You can’t just hit the market and purchase any graphics. You must ensure that it’ll give you what you want and, most importantly, that it’s compatible with your PC.
Below are what you should consider:
Many laptops come with built-in graphics cards that are soldered to the motherboard and cannot be removed. This is most common on Mac laptops.
Therefore, you should check your system’s manual or open it to see the graphics card’s interface – the sort of slot it uses to connect to the motherboard. Then check if it’s possible to upgrade your graphics card.
Graphics cards also vary in size. You should measure your case’s space and compare it to the graphics cards you plan on purchasing if it’ll fit.
Finally, graphics cards have different power specifications. You can find this on the sticker on the unit or the system’s documentation. Check and compare with your power supply’s capacity if it’s compatible.
Graphics cards come in a variety of specifications. While some details are more vital than others, you should check them all while deciding on which to buy. Here are some of the most important specifications about graphics cards and computer performance.
This is the GPU’s RAM (Random Access Memory) capacity. High graphics programs demand graphics cards with at least 4GB of memory, with 6GB or more preferable for 1080p output at high settings.
Generally, more memory means higher performance. Nevertheless, other features such as memory speed also impact PC performance.
Memory or bandwidth speed tells you how fast a graphics card’s RAM can work. This is crucial because cards with the same amount of memory but different speeds might function quite differently.
When buying a graphics card, make sure your power supply can connect to it. As mentioned earlier, graphics cards have different power specifications.
Most dedicated graphics cards need more power than a PCIe slot’s 75 Watts. More power is possible using a 6- or 8-pin power connector that connects the PC’s power supply directly to the GPU.
Thermal Design Power measures how much power and heat a GPU consumes. A high TDP means a graphics card will consume more power.
Most GPUs come with a specific wattage recommendation from the manufacturer. The TDP can also help you determine your system’s cooling needs.
Graphics cards are measured by their length and the number of PCI-e slots they occupy in the computer’s chassis. The size of your graphics card is important for numerous reasons but primarily so it fits in your case.
Check to be sure that your PC’s motherboard has enough room for your GPU. Almost all discrete GPUs today use PCIe slots, most of which are 16x. GPUs come in single, double, and even triple slot layouts.
You must examine any other components that will be connected to the GPU, especially if they will require a PCI-e slot. Ensure your case is big enough to hold the components you’re installing. Insufficient space might lead to improper cooling and poor performance.
Fortunately, as computers and technology evolve, more graphics cards become compatible with most software. Even yet, not all graphics cards are compatible.
Adobe has different GPU requirements for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. You must check this too if you want to buy the best graphics card; it depends on the program you’re most interested in.
Take Photoshop, for instance, Adobe lists the following requirements for GPU;
- It was released in 2014 or after.
- It contains a 512 MB VRAM graphics processor. the bare minimum for Photoshop.
Photoshop requires 2 GB or more of VRAM for best performance. So, if you want Photoshop to run at its best, you should go for a graphics card with a higher VRAM.
Similarly, Adobe also lists out unsupported graphics card series for Photoshop. Some examples include:
- AMD/ATI 100, 200, 3000, and 4000 series
- Older Intel HD cards; 2000, 3000, or 4000 series
- NVIDIA GeForce 7000, 8000, 9000, 100, 200, 300 series
Finally, make sure you choose a card that meets your budget. Fortunately, you can get a good graphics card for your Adobe programs without spending over $500.
Nevertheless, graphics cards with very high capacity cost $1,000 and higher. If you have the money, you can still go for a high-capacity graphics card that exceeds your current needs. It may come in handy in the future.
You can use these designing programs without a powerful graphics card but it won’t be as efficient as when you use one. In addition, you won’t be able to access all features without a graphics card.
Several complex features require a GPU. A popular example is GPU acceleration. GPU acceleration involves using the GPU and CPU to speed the playing of video in real-time. This feature will come in handy most especially if you’re a video editor.
Using a suitable GPU can significantly increase performance on high-resolution TVs like 4K and 5K. That being said, if you only use these programs for a few easy tasks, you could get away with a low-end graphics card.
Note that the efficiency and performance quality of these editing apps aren’t dependent on graphics alone. There are other important aspects too like memory, storage, written, and read speed.
The best graphics card will make Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator editing swifter and easier.
It’s important to consider the specs and requirements when purchasing a graphics card to be sure it’ll work with your PC.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.