GPU Vertigo

So, after attempting to use the new Enhance Details and failing – see this post, I decided to hack my MacPro so I could use Enhance Details. That is, I purchased a new “metal-compatible” GPU – a Sapphire Pulse Radeon 580. Before you do this, let me warn you that’s not all fun and games. Bottom line, it works but there are some trade-offs.

One, the card I have is not a Mac card, it’s a PC card – it’s difficult to find an off-the-shelf GPU Mac-ready. As I said, it does work but… Feature 1 – the monitor must be turned on before the computer.(4/28/19 – this is not true as of now. Not sure what changed. ) Otherwise, I just get a white screen. Feature 2 – there are some Mac features that don’t work. Most importantly for me, things like booting while holding down the option key to select the start disk no longer work. While that might not seem to be a big deal, consider the case when your start-up disk fails. The fix? Re-install your old GPU! Then you can reboot and select another disk. If your machine manages to start, you can still use the System Preference to select a start up disk. Safe Start-up – hold down the shift key when booting doesn’t work either. I haven’t attempted resetting the parameter ram but suspect that doesn’t work either. Feature 3 – none that stuff you like to watch while the machine boots is visible and there’s no start-up sound. First image is the log-in window. That one isn’t a major loss but it is a little concerning. Still want to go on?

I installed the card with the machine still running High Sierra. I used Geekbench to check the performance and was a happy camper – the GPU came in slightly over the iMac mentioned in the post referenced above. Fat City! So, real world time. I used Enhance Detail – uh – it took over five minutes and the result was exactly the same as before – useless. Black squares at random places on the image. Hmm. I checked to make sure I had Use GPU checked in the Lightroom preferences – I did. So I unchecked that and ran Enhance Details again on the same image – same result with the time within the range of the delay of me hitting the stop button on the timer. WTF!

Posted the result on the Photoshop Family website. The response was you must have installed the latest version of Mojave. Note the iMac that does run Enhance Details is running High Sierra. Oh well; I installed Mojave. Note there might be questions about my sanity at this point. I’ve seen no result running Enhance Details that seems to be an improvement. There are one or two images that might be slightly better but in general, nope. So why am I spending all this time on it? Great question.

After installing Mojave (10.14.4) ran my test again. Now it takes 25 seconds – that’s a factor >10 better. How ’bout the result? Well, no random squares but still hard to say an image is improved. BTW, in case you don’t know, I’m a Fuji shooter and have been using X-T3 images to test. Some think the Enhance Details is just for Fuji images but, if that’s true, I sure wouldn’t advise non-Fuji folks to bother with it.

I decided to forge ahead. Adobe has long had problems with processing X-Trans images; if one is not careful, sharpening can put ‘worms’ in the image. Here’s an example:This is over the top – I used maximum sharpening and max details to make it obvious. But, it’s difficult to sharpen an image since this occurs at what would be reasonable sharpening.

I thought that, if an image was first processed using Enhance Details, then sharpened, the worm problem might not be as severe or would not occur at all. While the ‘worms’ have a slightly different look, there’s no real difference. Here’s the Enhanced Details image with the same sharpening and detail.

So my conclusion is Enhance Details isn’t a major improvement. I am running Mojave now – I guess that’s a gain. I decided to retest RAW convertors again and compare them against Enhance Details. Check back for the results.