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Can You Realy Use Integrated Graphics Cards For Photoshop?

Integrated graphics cards from Intel or Ryzen processors are becoming more and more powerful, this makes them suited to be used on some applications where in the past you needed a dedicated graphics card.

In fact, on many laptops, the operating system will use the integrated card for most graphical tasks (watching high-resolution videos, photo editing, etc.) even if you have a dedicated one without the user even knowing.

Most integrated graphics cards that come with Intel or Ryzen CPUs can be used to run Photoshop and will allow you to complete almost any task as a dedicated card, the main difference is in speed. Photoshop will run a lot smoother on a dedicated graphics card than on an integrated one.

In this article, I will discuss if an integrated graphics card has enough power to handle Photoshop photo editing and what are the pros and cons of using Photoshop on an integrated graphics card, so keep reading!

Is an Integrated Graphics Card Good Enough For Photoshop?

Photoshop editing

Modern processors come with improved integrated graphics cards that can handle more complex tasks like photo editing in Photoshop but they can’t offer you the same level of performance as the dedicated cards can. So they will be slower but will still offer decent performance.

In the past using Photoshop on the integrated graphics card ended up being a horrible experience, but now this isn’t the case anymore. The main reason for this was that you couldn’t activate the graphics processor in Photoshop Settings and you didn’t have OpenCL acceleration.

Most of the Photoshop features don’t even need the graphics processor but using Photoshop without the graphics processor enabled will leave you frustrated because Photoshop will be slow and very clunky.

Now on the newer Intel and Rysen processors, you can activate the graphics processor and so Photoshop will work like in the case in which you have a dedicated graphics card, this is true if you have enough CPU processing power and enough RAM memory to have at least 2 GB of RAM dedicated as VRAM.

If you want Photoshop to work smoothly on the integrated graphics card of your laptop then you need to have a high clock processor (single-core performance is important for Photoshop) and you need to have at least 16 GB of RAM.

Now let us see is the experience of using Photoshop on an RYZEN 5 PC on the integrated graphics card:

PC – RAM MemoryRAM for system RAM used as VRAM Photoshop experience
8 GB RAM7.5 GB0.5 BGBad, glitchy, sometimes not even starting
16 GB RAM 14 GB2 GBGood, it runs smoothly
32 GB RAM 28 GB4 GBIt runs smoothly

As you can see if you have enough RAM memory and a good CPU then you can run Photoshop with no problem, you need at least 16 GB of ram so that the integrated graphics card will allocate 2 GB of RAM as VRAM and so it has the minimum requirements for Photoshop.

What Photoshop Features That Benefit From a Graphics Processor?

The graphical processor is very essential to be able to run Photoshop smoothly, without it Photoshop will run with glitches and will be very slow when you use some features, but the worst part is that some features won’t even work if you can’t activate the graphics processor of your graphics card in Photoshop.

Now let us examine what Photoshop features depend on the graphical processor:

Features that require a GPU for accelerationFeatures that won’t work without a GPU
Artboards3D features
Blur Gallery – OpenCL acceleratedOil Paint
Neural FiltersRender – Flame, Picture Frame, and Tree
Select FocusBirds Eye View
Image Size – Preserve DetailsFlick Panning
Select and Mask – OpenCL acceleratedPerspective Warp
Smart Sharpen – OpenCL acceleratedScrubby Zoom
Lens BlurSmooth Brush Resizing
Camera Raw 

Pros And Cons Of Running Photoshop On An Integrated Graphics Card

Now let us see what are the pros and cons of using an integrated graphics card for Photoshop:

PROSCONS
You save moneyYou lose speed
(it will run slower)
You can have a slimmer laptop
and this will increase its portability
You need at least 16 GB of RAM
It will run quieter, no need to
ventilate a dedicated graphics card
A part of your RAM memory will be used as VRAM

Are Integrated Graphics Cards Recommended By Adobe?

On the Adobe official site, they state that the minimum requirement for a graphics card is to have 2 GB of VRAM and that it needs to be DirectX 12 compatible.

Your integrated graphics card has very little VRAM memory but it uses your RAM memory to extend it, for this reason, you need at least 16 GB of RAM on your machine so that 2 GB would be used as VRAM.

As for which integrated cards are compatible with DirectX 12, I will list the processor family below:

  • Celeron 2000 series processors and newer
  • Pentium 3000 and newer
  • Core series processors 4 gen and newer

Of course, all these integrated graphics cards will work just fine if you have enough RAM memory, the official Adobe recommendation is to consult the PassMark’s GPU Computer Benchmark Chart and consider the graphics cards with an Average Ops/Sec of 2000 or higher.

If you consult the benchmark chart there is no integrated graphics card that has an Average Ops/Sec of 2000 or higher, practically Intel Coffee Lake UHD has an Average Ops/Sec of 1247 and that is one of the highest integrated ones on the list. So integrated graphics cards aren’t officially recommended by Adobe.

Can Intel Graphics Run Photoshop?

Most definitely Intel integrated graphics cards can run Photoshop but it will need to use at least 2 GB of your PC memory as VRAM. One more thing you need to consider is if your processor isn’t too old to be supported by DirectX 12, but if the integrated graphics card is DirectX 12 compatible you are good to go.

If it isn’t activated by default, you need to activate the graphics processor from Photoshop settings:

  • Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences > Performance (macOS: Photoshop > Preferences > Performance).
  • Performance panel: select Use Graphics Processor in the Graphics Processor Settings section.
  • Advanced Settings: Use OpenCL: Enable to accelerate the new Blur Gallery filters, Smart Sharpen, Select Focus Area or Image Size with Preserve Details selected

Are Intel UHD Graphics Good For Photoshop?

Intel UHD Graphics are good for Photoshop as long as you have at least 16 GB of RAM because if you have less RAM memory on your PC there will not be enough of it used as VRAM and you will end up with less than the recommended 2 GG of video memory.

If you have at least 16 GB of ram you won’t believe how smoothly will Photoshop run on your machine, be aware that if you will work on very large pictures you may need more of your RAM to be allocated as VRAM, in this case, 16 GB of RAM memory could be insufficient.

Conclusion

I hope that by now you know that you can definitely use an integrated graphics card for Photoshop if you have enough RAM memory and if the integrated graphics card is Direct 12 compatible.

Buying an expensive graphics card just for Photoshop usage isn’t a requirement in our days when integrated graphics cards are becoming more and more powerful.

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Sources:

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.