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2017 MacBook Pro: diglloyd Adobe Photoshop Benchmarks

Mac wish list •  all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2017 models •  MPG gets credit if you buy through those links. Suggested accessories include the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and 1TB Envoy Pro EX.

MPG tested a fully-loaded 2017 MacBook Pro with 1TB SSD.

These four benchmarks test the speed of Photoshop with different size workloads.

The late 2016 MacBook Pro was a performance disappointment, turning in inferior numbers to its predecessor.

The 2017 MacBook Pro utilizes a new chipset and higher clock speed CPU, so it might be expected to not only close the performance gap, but fix it. Yes the 2017 MBP does close the performance gap, but the disappointing fact is that the 2017 MacBook Pro remains inferior in performance to the 2015 MacBook Pro, at least on these Photoshop tests. This is probably due to its decline in performance under load; see the bursty-vs-sustained load discussion.

Started together, one could watch the 2017 MacBook Pro fall behind in the test suite, lagging the 2015 MacBook Pro—no graphs or charts needed. The 2016 and 2017 models both suffer from the same performance problem: any sustained load quickly has the chipset throttling the CPU to slower speeds than advertised. These are not “pro” designs; under sustained load they revert to performance seen 4 years ago.

Tests here utilized Photoshop CC 20170425.r.252 with macOS 10.12.5.

Note: speeds shown for the 2016 MBP were re-used from the November 2016 tests which utilized earlier releases of macOS and Photoshop (no 2016 model was available for retesting). The numbers could be different if re-tested, in particular virtual memory swapping.

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 2017 iMac 5K leads the pack, but not by a huge amount in this CPU/GPU centric task (not much memory usage).

The 2017 MBP is slightly faster than the 2016 MBP, but cannot beat the 2015 MBP.

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

diglloydSpeed1 Photoshop benchmark for 2017 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 2017 iMac 5K leads the pack again.

The 2017 MBP is substantially faster than the 2016 model, but the macOS version is newer, this could be reduced memory swapping at work!.

In any case, the 2015 MBP wins beats the 2017 MBP by about 7%.

diglloydMedium Photoshop benchmark for 2017 MacBook Pro vs others

diglloydLarge

The diglloyd Large Photoshop benchmark uses a mix of the core Photoshop operations with a large file size that exceeds what most users are likely to use, using about 30GB of memory in Photoshop.

The amount of memory dominates here in huge favor for the iMac 5K.

This benchmark causes a great deal of disk I/O, so one might expect the faster SSD of the 2017 MacBook Pro to win out. But it is not so—the 2015 MacBook Pro handily beats the 2017 MBP.

diglloydLarge Photoshop benchmark for 2017 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.

The amount of memory dominates here in overwhelming favor of the iMac 5K.

This benchmark causes a great deal of disk I/O, so one might expect the faster SSD of the 2017 MacBook Pro to win out. But it is not so—the 2015 MacBook Pro handily beats the 2017 MBP.

diglloydHuge Photoshop benchmark for 2017 MacBook Pro vs others

Conclusions

The 2017 MacBook Pro does not have the chops for larger Photoshop tasks. Moreover the 2015 model is all-around faster for this type of job. The 2017 MBP disappoints.

There is no argument for upgrading to the 2017 MacBook Pro for a Photoshop user excepting really large editing jobs in Photoshop, in which case the faster SSD of the 2017 MacBook Pro can help in some cases. But that argument strongly favors the iMac 5K, which trounces the laptops. Worth noting is that the top-end iMac 5K costs less than the top-end 2017 MacBook Pro. Unless a laptop is mandatory, the iMac 5K is a hugely better deal.

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