About a month ago I released a video in which I discussed whether us creatives should be considering the new RTX 3080 or even the absolutely insane GPU that is the RTX 3090 for our creative applications. And I came to the conclusion that we almost certainly won’t need one unless our hardware is seriously outdated. Well, we now have a definite answer as to whether we should upgrade or not. And I don’t think it will necessarily surprise you.
The source for everything mentioned in this article are the excellent and really thorough people over at Puget Systems. You can definitely trust them and there’s a brilliant Linus Tech Tips video on how they work, for those interested.
I’ll once again run through the most common photo and video editors. Unfortunately, there are no benchmark results for Capture One, so it won’t be featured.
I’ll start with the most common photo editing applications. Lightroom Classic has started using the GPU a bit more often in recent releases. But does the raw power of your GPU make any noticeable difference? Is more always better? As it turns out, it doesn’t and isn’t.
In fact, Puget’s benchmark results show that running Lightroom Classic with no dedicated GPU at all and just using the integrated graphics on Intel CPUs leads to almost no difference in performance compared to running it with an RTX 3090 installed.
There is one exception though. And that is whether you are using the Enhanced Details feature. They’ve not tested the latest GPUs yet, or at least I couldn’t find anything, but having more GPU power does speed up the enhancing of details. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be upgrading your RTX 2070 or 2060, the performance benefits will most likely be negligible.
But if you’ve got a GTX 980 Ti, or a 1060 or anything slower, now might be the time to consider upgrading to one of the previous generations GPUs. Even an RTX 2060 will be noticeably faster. Of course, only upgrade if your system is feeling slow.
On to Photoshop as it is very often used in conjunction with Lightroom Classic. There are Photoshop effects which will use your GPU and here at least having a GPU will actually make Photoshop run faster. But anything from a GTX 1080 Ti upwards will more or less give you the same performance. So if you’re running anything from the last generation, there’s absolutely no need to update whatsoever. An RTX 2060 Super will in most cases perform just a bit worse than a 3090.
So if you’re running anything worse than a GTX 1080 and you feel that Photoshop should be running faster you might want to consider upgrading… to a GPU from the previous generation. For most of us, there is absolutely no need for an RTX 3080 or 3090.
On to video editors and I’ll start with DaVinci Resolve because that is the one I know least about. I was aware that DaVinci Resolve makes very good use out of graphics cards so I was expecting really good results for the new kids on the block. And I wasn’t let down. For tasks that rely heavily on the GPU, for example, noise reduction or using OpenFX primarily, the RTX 3080 is more than 60% faster than an RTX 2080 SUPER. And the RTX 3090 is just barely slower than two RTX 2080 Tis. Now that’s pretty amazing.
That means that if you can afford one of these new cards and you want to experience a significant bump in performance, that is of course unless you already have two RTX 2080 Tis in your system, these new cards are made for you.
There is one little caveat to this though. And this isn’t coming from me, it’s something that Puget mentioned. If you are planning on running multiple GPUs in your system you might want to wait for blower-style cards. The cooling solution of currently available RTX 3080 and 3090 cards will not like being placed next to each other.
On to the last two contestants. Premiere Pro and After Effects. I’ll start with the former. For certain GPU accelerated tasks, the RTX 3080 and 3090 can provide a healthy boost in performance. With the more expensive card delivering better results. But it’s way less drastic than what we saw with DaVinci Resolve. But if we go back two generations to the 1080 Ti we’ll see that the performance of that card is way behind anything from the RTX 20 series.
Taking everything into consideration an upgrade from an RTX 20 series to an RTX 30 series card won’t give you a huge bump in performance and most likely isn’t worth the cost. Yes, it’ll be a bit faster but nothing drastic. But if you’re running a card from the GTX 10 series or older anything from an RTX 2060 SUPER upwards will make a massive difference to your editing and exporting experience.
And finally, we have After Effects. Here we once again can see a slight improvement, around 12% to be more precise, when comparing the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 to the RTX 2080 Ti. Funnily enough, there’s basically no difference between the 3080 and 3090. Compared to a 1080 Ti you’ll gain about 20% in performance, which might be significant to some.
Here’s the thing with After Effects though. If you’re running anything but the highest-end CPU that will almost certainly be your bottleneck. So if you’re debating whether to upgrade your CPU or GPU for After Effects, go for the CPU if you’re already running a more recent GPU.
Should you upgrade to an RTX 3080 or RTX 3090?
To sum it up, should you upgrade to an RTX 30 series GPU?
- Lightroom: No, unless you rely on Enhance Details in which case a previous generation card will most likely suffice.
- Photoshop: If you’re running anything better than a 1080 Ti there is absolutely no reason to upgrade.
- DaVinci Resolve: Do it if you can, you’ll like it.
- Premiere Pro: If you’re a GTX 10 series card seriously consider it but an RTX 20 series might do you.
- After Effects: Upgrade your CPU first. Then consider an RTX 3080 if you need top performance.
Products mentioned in this article
RTX 2060 Super
Base core clock: 1470 MHz
Boost core clock: 1650 MHz
CUDA cores: 2176
Tensor FLOPS: 57.4 TFLOPS
RTX 2070 Super
Base core clock: 1605 MHz
Boost core clock: 1770 MHz
CUDA cores: 2560
Tensor FLOPS: 72 TFLOPS
RTX 2080 Super
Base core clock: 1515 MHz
Boost core clock: 1710 MHz
CUDA cores: 2944
Tensor FLOPS: 80.5 TFLOPS
Base core clock: 1500 MHz
Boost core clock: 1730 MHz
CUDA cores: 5888
Base core clock: 1440 MHz
Boost core clock: 1710 MHz
CUDA cores: 8704
Base core clock: 1700 MHz
Boost core clock: 1700 MHz
CUDA cores: 10496