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2016 MacBook Pro: diglloyd Adobe Photoshop Benchmarks

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

MPG tested a fully-loaded 2016 MacBook Pro with 2TB SSD.

These three benchmarks test the speed of Photoshop (any version). Tests here utilized Photoshop CC 2017.0.0.

diglloydSpeed1

The diglloyd Speed1 benchmark uses a mix of the most commonly used Photoshop operations with a file size that allows everything to stay in memory. Hence it accurately represents what one might expect in everyday use of Adobe Photoshop CC. Specialty operations such as Liquify and other GPU-intensive tasks are just that—specialty, and are not included in this suite.

The aging 2013 Mac Pro with D700 GPUs rocks, perhaps reflecting the increased support for the GPU that has been steadily enhanced in Photoshop. But the iMac 5K is not far off, and the MacBook Pro only about 20% slower.

The 2016 MacBook Pro 15" is slower than both the 2013 and 2015 models. The 2016 MacBook Pro 13" does remarkably well considering it ony has two CPU cores, but that is explained by the fact that Photoshop does not use even four CPU cores fully most of the time.

After waiting 3 years and spending about $4800 (with AppleCare) for the 2016 MBP, this is hardly a compelling argument for upgrading to the 2016 MacBook Pro, which as tested here is the maxed-out fastest possible variant.

See also my most crucial Photoshop workflow task, which behaves similarly.

diglloydSpeed1 Photoshop benchmark for 2016 MacBook Pro vs others

diglloydMedium

The diglloyd Medium benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a moderately larger file size that exceeds what most users are likely to use, taking about 15GB of memory usage in Photoshop. This puts it right on the edge of what a Mac with 16GB of memory can manage.

The aging 2013 Mac Pro with D700 GPUs rocks, trouncing the iMac 5K, and perhaps reflecting the increased support for the GPU that has been steadily enhanced in Photoshop.

Neither MacBook Pro could get through this test without severe Photoshop swapping, and that’s on top of about 2.7GB of compressed memory at the OS level. The results are slower than when tested in 2013 and again in 2015 showing that the combination of macOS 10.12.1 and Photoshop CC 2017 has degraded real world performance by somehow scarfing up more memory than is available with a 16GB machine.

Repeatedly running the test did cause the OS to swap out just about everything else (non Photoshop stuff), and the 2016 model was able to get down to about 13.5 seconds in one test and 15 seconds in another, showing that if only it had enough memory it would be substantially faster. Those figures are hit and miss ( mostly miss) with the vast majority of runs never getting below 20 seconds. Quitting the Finder (to free up memory) and trying 70% vs 80% memory usage in Photoshop had no meaningful effect. Bottom line is that a 16GB machine for more intensive Photoshop work is a disaster. Moreover, if one is running additional apps besides Photoshop, memory pressure is going to be much higher.

Because this test ends up doing intensive Photoshop swapping, the results reflect drive speed, excepting the Mac Pro and iMac, both of which have 64GB of memory. That is why even the dual-core 2016 MacBook Pro 13" model beats the 2013 MacBook Pro—the SSD in the 2016 models is 3X to 4.5X times faster.

Shame on Apple for shipping a 'pro' machine with no 32GB option: this is NOT a pro machine and certainly is not a substitute for a desktop with 32GB or 64GB for more demanding users. The diglloydHuge benchmark only tells a worse story.

diglloydMedium Photoshop benchmark for 2016 MacBook Pro vs others

diglloydHuge

The diglloyd Huge benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a file size that requires about 56GB of memory usage in Photoshop, far beyond what most users are likely to encounter.

This is an outstanding example of how (a) too little memory is hugely negative for performance and (b) how a fast SSD can compensate more than enough for a dual-core machine (13" 2016 MBP) to beat out a quad-core machine with a faster clock speed (15" 2013 MBP).

The iMac 5K rocks here, presumably due to faster swapping from is SSD (2X to 3X faster SSD than the 2013 Mac Pro). That’s because while both the Mac Pro and iMac 5K tested here had 64GB memory, that’s still not quite enough for this test.

Because this test ends up doing intensive Photoshop swapping, the results reflect drive speed, excepting the Mac Pro and iMac, both of which have 64GB of memory. That is why even the dual-core 2016 MacBook Pro 13" model beats the 2013 MacBook Pro—the SSD in the 2016 models is 3X to 4.5X times faster.

diglloydHuge Photoshop benchmark for 2016 MacBook Pro vs others

Conclusions

The 2016 MacBook Pro does not have the chops for larger Photoshop tasks. Moreover the performance of the fastest possible 2016 MacBook Pro is scarcely faster than the 2013 model fo in-memory work. This is not an upgrade at all in terms of getting work done!

There is thus absolutely no argument for upgrading for a Photoshop user excepting really large editing jobs in Photoshop, in which case the faster SSD of the 2016 MacBook Pro helps a great deal. But anyone doing that on a regular basis should be using a Mac Pro or iMac 5K.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Test machine notes

All systems are/were the fastest available in their category excepting the 13" 2016 MBP.

Unfortunate twist due to machine availability: the 2015 MacBook Pro and 13" 2016 MacBook Pro were run with macOS 10.12.2. All other Macs with 10.12.1. Retesting the mac Pro did not suggest that the system version matters, but it cannot be ruled out.

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