For some of us, graphics cards (GPUs) can be a bit of a dark art. As long as we can plug a monitor into our PCs and see what we're doing, then we're good to go, right?
But in fact, the graphics cards in our PCs could be holding us back. Even GPUs that can handle the latest games and high-definition movies may not be able to properly display colours that are so essential to editing in Photoshop CS6.
For that, you're going to need a professional graphics card.
Pro for pennies
Sometimes it can feel like 'professional' is synonymous with 'expensive', but with the FirePro V5900 from AMD we've got a mid-priced card that offers professional-level performance.
With 2GB of GDDR5 memory dedicated to graphics, the AMD FirePro V5900 takes a lot of the pressure off the rest of your PC while photo editing. This means Photoshop opens and closes quickly, while our test PC was able to run other programs, such as web browsers and email programs, without problems, even when editing large Raw images.
The fact that our PC was plugged into a huge 30-in Dell 3007WFP monitor, running at a resolution of 2560x1600 was even more impressive. Two DisplayPorts and one DVI port mean that the AMD FirePro V5900 can support up to three monitors at once.
Our benchmark tests returned great results. In our OpenGL tests, we used Cinebench to see how accurately the card reproduced the reference image. It scored a very high 99.3%, slightly lower than the NVIDIA Quadro FX 5800 (which costs about £2500). The V5900 result is fantastic for a card in this price range.
Plug it in
The card is slim and doesn't require extra power, which means installing it in a PC is easy, even for novices. A CrossFire Pro cable is supplied so you can connect two AMD FirePro V5900s for even better results. It may be overkill for some, but two V5900s still costs just a third of one NVIDIA Quadro FX5800.
Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic upgrade for your PC. It speeds up Photoshop, reproduces colours well, and gives your whole computer a shot in the arm.
- Price: £344
- Manufacturer: AMD
- Platforms: Windows, Linux
- Features: 2GB GDDR5 memory, 512 stream processors, two DisplayPort connectors, Dual-link DVI connector, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1 Advanced Features, OpenCL 1.1, Full 30-bit display pipeline, AMD Eyefinity Technology
This review first appeared in Practical Photoshop magazine, the number one magazine for lovers of photography and image-editing.