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Video Cards for Adobe SpeedGrade CS6 and CC

Video Cards Photoshop

Article Updated on 03/04/2014

Copyright 2014, Studio 1 Productions
Written by David Knarr of Studio 1 Productions

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Adobe SpeedGrade is Adobe's new color grading software and it offers GPU accelerated performance.

Adobe SpeedGrade uses OpenGL 2.0 or higher.  While Adobe recommends using a NVIDIA Quadro 4000, 5000, or 6000, I ran some tests with different video cards and I have found in the testing, it works fine with other video cards, even an older GeForce GT240.

In addition, it also works with most of the AMD/ATI video cards.

Video Card Drivers
This is the key to making SpeedGrade CS6 or CC work successfully.  You MUST use the latest video card drivers for your video card.

Please go to the NVidia website or the AMD/ATI website and download the latest drivers for your video card.

Do NOT use auto-updates for the video card drivers, they don't always have access to the latest version.  You need to go directly to the manufacturers website yourself and download the drivers directly from them.

Video Card Requirements

  • You need a Video Card with 1 Gig of memory or more
  • The video card must support OpenGL 2.0 or higher
  • You MUST have the latest video card drivers for your video card.
  • The wider the memory bandwidth the better
  • If you need SDI output then you will need a Quadro card, otherwise any video card that meets the specs above will be fine.

SpeedGrade CS6 does NOT need any mods or hacks to a video card list to use the GPU.  All SpeedGrade needs is a video card with 1 gig of memory and it must support OpenGL 2.0 or higher.

Computer System Requirements (What Adobe Recommends)

  • Window 7 64bit
  • Adobe recommends an Intel I7 Processor
  • Adobe recommends 4GB of RAM min. (8GB or more is preferred)
  • 1680x1050 display required, however a 1920x1080 display and second professionally calibrated monitor recommended

First Test System
The computer I used for testing SpeedGrade was a

  • HP Computer with an AMD Phenom II X4 (quad core)
  • running at 3.2 Ghz
  • with 8 gigs of RAM
  • 19" HP Monitor with a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024

Far below what Adobe recommends.  However, SpeedGrade ran fine on my system with the clips I was color grading.

All of the clips I worked with were 1 to 10 minutes in length.  All of the clips, were in QuickTime Photo JPG 100% Quality format.

I have tested SpeedGrade CS6 with the following video cards.

NVidia Card Memory
Quadro 4000 256 bit 475 MHz 750 MHz
NVidia GT 240 128 bit 550 MHz 1340 MHz
NVidia GT 440 128 bit 810 MHz 1620 MHz
NVidia GT 640 128 bit 900 MHz 900 MHz
NVidia GTX 470 320 bit 607 MHz 1215 MHz
NVidia GTX 550 Ti 192 bit 822 MHz 1645 MHz
NVidia GTX 570 320 bit 732 MHz 1464 MHz
NVidia GTX 660 192 bit 980 MHz 980 MHz
NVidia GTX 680 256 bit 1006-1058 MHz 1006-1058 MHz

The Results:
In my tests I did some basic color grading to each clip.  All of the video cards gave me real time color grading adjustment and a smooth playback in the playback window with our test footage.

I had a couple of other people with me when we tested the video cards and our conclusions were the same, all of the video cards performed very well.  The higher end cards, such as the GTX 470, GTX 570 and GTX 680, were slightly faster with more complex color grading.

As far as the Quadro 4000, none of us though it was worth the money for SpeedGrade, Photoshop, Premiere or After Effects.

Generally, video cards with a wider memory interface will give you a little better performance.  For example, the GTX 470 and GTX 570 offer a much wider memory interface of 320 bits, while the GT240 and GT440 only have a 128 bit memory bandwidth.  Having a 320 bit bandwidth will allow the data to be move faster than a 128 bit card.

Think of it this way, the 128 bit memory interface is a 4 lane highway, a 256 bit is a 8 lane highway and a 320 bit a 10 lane highway.  The cars on the road is the data. The speed limit on the roads is the Graphics Clock Speed.  While the speed limit is a little lower on the GTX 570, it has more lanes to move more cars.  Where the GT 440 has a higher speed limit, it only has 4 lanes to move the cars.

I know this is a very simplistic way of describing it, but for a lot people this helps them understand the technical side better.

With the GTX 600 series of video cards, even though the memory interface and memory bandwidth have lower specs than the GTX 500 series, they gave us the same performance.  This is due to the chipset and design of the 600 series video cards.

With our test footage and what we were doing with SpeedGrade CS6, as long as the video card supports OpenGL 2.0 or higher and you have 1 gig of video ram memory on the video card, you will be okay.

Second Test System
The second computer I used for testing SpeedGrade was a

  • HP Computer with an I7-2600 (quad core) processor
  • running at 3.4 Ghz
  • with 8 gigs of RAM
  • 22" HP Monitor with a screen resolution of 1680 X 1050

This is what Adobe recommends.

Using the same video cards as above, with the same video clips, again we did some basic color grading.

Once again, all of the video cards gave us real time color grading and smooth playback and the higher end cards, such as the GTX 470, GTX 570 and GTX 680, were slightly faster with more complex color grading.

AMD/ATI Video Cards
While I have not tested them myself, I have received a few emails from people who are using the AMD/ATI video cards with SpeedGrade CS6 and they have reported they work fine as long as they are running the latest video card drivers for their video card.

If you have any more information that you would like to add to this article, please email me by clicking on the Contact Us button at the top of the page.

Making Your Computer Run Better and Faster for SpeedGrade
There are two things you can do to keep your computer performing well.  First, use a good program for defragmenting the disk, not the disk defrag program that comes with Windows.  By keep your hard disk defragmented, file and programs will load faster.  Second, run a Registry Cleaner at least once a month.

There are two programs that I use and recommend and they are from and they are FREE.  For more information about them and how to set them up for your computer, just watch the video on our blog page.

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