Which graphics card for Adobe Photoshop and digiKam

I am running two HP Z640 machines without any problems until now when I was asked to run Photoshop by colleague who had forgotten his laptop. Since the Z640 machines have windoze installed by default and thinking it would be an easy and quick solution for a temporary problem helped out by going to the dark side and running native windoze 10. His problem was solved without a required GPU being available but it left me with a question:-

When I tried to run Photoshop the program advised that 3 of the 4 criteria required to run a GPU were not available so no GPU was used. The Photoshop GPU compatibility check wanted:
VRAM 1500MB+

Sine I have two perfectly serviceable machines I am writing to ask what I am missing if a GPU is to be used?

The cards in my machines are an AMD Radeon HD6450 Caicos and an NVIDIA Quadro NVS 295, both quite old as are the machines, but working fine. Please could tell me what card I should put in if I need this GPU capability. Since I am not a gamer and ignorant on all matters GPU, what would be an affordable card which meets the Photoshop required criteria?

I am assuming if I get a new card that I can then run a VM and benefit from the Photoshop requirements if this is ever likely again but more importantly if I start using digiKam on openSUSE then the GPU may speed things up.
All advice welcome.


If Linux then, use digiKam.

If Adobe Photoshop, use an Apple Mac – preferably a newer one with a M.2 CPU/GPU …
[HR][/HR]Yes, you can run Adobe Photoshop on a Redmond machine but, the biggest problem is the colour calibration – which you also have to do for the case of Linux and digiKam.

  • Apple Macs are colour calibrated in the factory …

[HR][/HR]You don’t mention the work related to photography to be done.

  • If Digital Asset Management then, digiKam is more than sufficient.
  • If light-weight to heavy editing of photos then, digiKam is OK but, most professionals will prefer to use Adobe Photoshop.
  • For heavy-weight professional editing of photos then, Adobe Photoshop – despite the fact that, digiKam actually does quite a good job in this area but, the professionals are mostly trained to use the Adobe Photoshop methods …

Hi dcurtisfra,

Thanks for the related info. Not what I expected, I was only asking for a colleague and he doesn’t have a Mac and neither do I.

I do use digiKam from time to time but I am only a happy snapper and leave the clever stuff to my photographer daughter. All I want is a card which is slightly newer that the ones I have so it works more quickly. I have no knowledge of M.2 etc. so thanks for the info and I will continue searching.

I suspect the vram amount is the issue, the AMD only has 512MB and the Quadro 256MB, from your info you need cards with 2GB minimum… I’m running a Quadro T400 in my Z440, it’s an RTX mobile, was cheap added bonus of encoders/decoders, can run the open source driver and works fine as an offload device (As in start applications to use just that gpu).

Hi Malcolm,
Very many thanks. As I feared it is quite a big ticket item but may be worth it for the one machine I am likely to use for graphics.
Out of interest what is the AMD equivalent, are there any benefits and are there any issues with linux and drivers of which I should be aware?

Well I got my T400 cheap… was US$120 total, they are running around US$160 now, but plan to get either a T600 (~US$220) or T1000 (~US$340) if/when prices drop… :wink:

My primary GPU is a AMD RX550 which also has 2GB of VRAM, I got this particular model because it has 4 HDMI outputs, the T400 has 3 mini display ports and did have it running my three screens last week with the G06 (well I install the hard way - 515.65.01) first off with the OSS driver, but it has power management issues, so switched back to the proprietary driver and all was good, but it worked fine with my DE (GNOME).

I use the T400 for offload and functions as required with the likes of ffmpeg5 (my own build) as it uses the gpu encoders/decoders, minecraft, lc0 etc…

All miles beyond my experience but I see that the AMD Radeon RX550 is available
Radeon RX 550 4GB GDDR5 Gaming Graphics Card PCI-E AMD Chipset for £115.00 whereas the T400 is slightly more. It is possible that gamers’ machines are often available as the keen gamers keep upgrading. Whatever the case I have plenty of time so with your help which should I get?

The NVIDIA T400 series are professional Workstation cards – not gaming …

  • The 2 GB T400 cards are about 50 € cheaper than the 4 GB cards.

The eBay offers for used AMD RX 550 4 GB cards seem to be comparable to the NVIDIA T400 2 GB prices.

The more gpu memory will be the best.
You also have to consider the amount of gpu memory that the display will take.
I am not using photoshop as I have no windows but in blender display is a factor also
in using gpu. Just my 2 cents worth.

If your colleague was happy with Adobe Photoshop running without OpenGL (GLX) and OpenCL, was he simply converting RAW or DNG images to JPEG?

  • If that was so, then, the Linux tool “ufraw
    ” is more than sufficient for many, if not most, purposes – and, it runs in batch mode – give it a (long) list of RAW or DNG images to convert and, wait a minute or two …

[HR][/HR]BTW: “Metal” is a Mac issue – <https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205073>

  • According to the Adobe support page for Photoshop, for Windows & Co. “DirectX 12” support is sufficient.
    Which may be available at some time in OpenGL by means of “D3D12” compute support …

Which is what the OP wanted, graphics? It runs fine for minecraft :wink: Plus has encoders/decoder. This is the one I have: https://www.pny.com/nvidia-t400

Edit: This is the other one I’m looking at if go all AMD: https://www.amd.com/en/products/professional-graphics/radeon-pro-wx-3200

Hi Malcolm et al,
Many thanks for the great advice. Not rushing to spend yet but I know which direction to take.

FYI I had also asked a similar question in the digiKam forum, from which I had unsubscribed a couple of years ago. It took a while but having renewed my subscription the advice was that digiKam does not yet used GPU so even less important for me. If my colleague needs to use Photoshop more frequently then we can consider cost implications for upgrading the “spare” Z640. I am not going to give up my newly improved machine!!!

Many thanks again to all.

AMD is in process of dropping Polaris architecture. Use RDNA2 or newer.

Right now just sit and wait - prices will drop dramatically in the next 12 months.
digiKam is not using OpenCL by default.
Alternatives for Photoshop are: GIMP, Krita, Darktable, Inkscape, Pixelitor.

You can use Photoshop with Linux.
Minimum and recommended system requirements for Photoshop: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/system-requirements.html

For OpenCL with AMD you need GCN1 or newer. For AMD OpenCL official support you need GCN5+.
For Nvidia use Maxwell-generation GPU or newer (GM) with proprietary driver.

Possibly you don’t need OpenCL acceleration for not-everyday use.