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Image Sharpness in Photoshop CS6 with/without the GPU Enabled

GPU settings in Photoshop CS6

I’ve traditionally turned off graphics process support in Photoshop because of its unreliable operation and the fact that it does exactly *zero* to speed anything up. In fact it slows down common operations just a hair, at least it did in CS5. In Photoshop CS6, it is improved in reliability, but it still has some visual glitches and visual ticks from time to time. And still does nothing to speed up common operations (sharpening, blurring, etc).

But there is one show-stopper problem with the GPU; I was puzzled why my images looked so blurry; I kept having to zoom-in to actual pixels because other sizes were so blurry.

Shown below are two screen grabs from the fit-to-window view on my 30" display (toggle to compare).

  • With GPU support enabled: a badly-blurred image, impossible to evaluate at fit-to-window.
  • With GPU support disabled, the image is sharp and accurately reflects image sharpness.

Note that this is a display issue only. I’m not saying anything about the actual image.

Some users report better results with the GPU on at other scaling factors. This is not my experience, but it is certainly possible. For me, a good rendition at fit-to-window is essential, and the GPU does not deliver that.

I tried other cache level settings with no effect. It seems to be a GPU problem. And the issue might relate to a complex combination of screen resolution, image resolution and cache levels or other factors (I don’t know). But it just won’t look good on my 30" display with the GPU enabled.

One more reason to ignore the video card. I can’t evaluate images quickly except by using fit-to-window frequently (coarse sort). The GPU just kills that, so it’s now turned off and will stay that way.

Toggle the two views to compare.

Crop from fit-to-window view in Photoshop CS6
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