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Jeff Stubbers (Technology Consultant Lead)

I run both Lightroom and Photoshop, which hardware should I choose?

Written on February 24, 2020 by Jeff Stubbers


At Puget Systems we test software against available hardware to see which hardware is best for a given program. We then write articles that we share on our website, and create recommended system configuration pages for these programs based off these test results to provide our customers the best hardware for each program. This is great for those running just one of the programs we test, but what about those of us who run multiple programs? How do we choose?


Performance Articles

One way to compare hardware performance against different software is to take a look at the Articles section listed under "Publications" menu on our website. Then in the left column, you can choose filters by which hardware or software you are most interested in. Here are quick links to Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop articles:

Adobe Lightroom | Adobe Photoshop

Gold nugget

Hardware Recommendations

For those who like to get the answers more quickly without having to read an article, one of the golden nuggets on our Recommended Systems configuration pages is the "Hardware Recommendations" tab. It is often overlooked, and is listed just below the title on our Recommended Systems pages. You will see "View", "System Overview", then "Hardware Recommendations". Clicking on "Hardware Recommendations" tab will bring up our cheat-sheet if you will. It lists a quick breakdown of which CPU, Video Card, RAM, and Storage is recommended for the selected program. It often will show graphs comparing different components compared to one another for the selected program. For example, our Lightroom Classic CC Hardware Recommendations tab shows a graph for the CPUs that we have tested against this program.

Which hardware platform should I choose for both Photoshop and Lightroom use?

If we look at the graphs listed in the Hardware Recommendations tabs for both Photoshop and Lightroom, we can see a couple CPU platforms start to stand out.

When using both Photoshop and Lightroom, the AMD Ryzen 9 platform looks to offer very good performance when combining the use of both these programs on a single system. The AMD Threadripper platform also looks very good, however, due to the price point of the Threadripper platform, I would lean toward considering the AMD Ryzen 9 platform as a system for users of both Lightroom and Photoshop on the same system. Other hardware needs (RAM, Video Card, Storage) can be similarly compared in either our Articles, or our Hardware Recommendations tabs on our Recommended Systems configuration pages listed under our Solutions menu on our website. You can also do this with any combination of software you plan to run on a system to get the best overall solution for your specific needs.

You may have astutely noticed our Recommended System for Photoshop uses the Core i9 9900K processor and associated platform. This is due to the performance between it and the AMD Ryzen 9 are so close to one another, yet the Intel Core i9 setup will save you around a couple hundred dollars, so it becomes the better value for that program alone. It is also worth noting that with each iteration of our testing, software versions, and drivers the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 9 3950X processors can swap performance spots for a given program as they are within the margin of error, so for use with Photoshop and Lightroom (at least today), you may want to consider the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X since it is more affordable, and better value for these two programs.

I hope this helps!

Tags: AMD, Ryzen, Processor, CPU, Photoshop, lightroom
bill bane

While the 3960x threadripper system costs more than the 3950x systems, it has more and better core technical specs.

In the future, when you guys hopefullybenchmark "roundtripping" of photos between Photoshop, Lightroom, and one or more of Topaz's, Luminar's, DxO's options, I am guessing that the 3960x will blitz the 3950x, especially if one has browsers with lots of tabs open.

Am nearing completion of a build of 3960x + Gigabyte Aoris Extreme MBO (wanted 10GBE & extra SATA ports and extra AIC card) + 8x16 Ram + Noctura air cooler.

I know it will blitz my old 4770K system. Will be trying to create a set of "roundtripping" actions. Some of them might serve as a starter benchmark.

Obviously, you guy could do 10x better than me, but you also have many fish to fry, while I have only one :-)


Posted on 2020-03-04 16:41:34
Bill Naiman

I also would like to see "roundtripping" benchmarks. I don't shoot weddings and senior portraits. Rather I am a serious hobbyist who shoots wildlife, landscape, city scenes, architecture, infrared, sports, etc. I also am a volunteer photographer for a local ballet. The latter is the only shooting that really generates a large image set to sort and import. Batch processing with fixed settings is not well suited for the ballet work since lighting intensity and color can vary so much from shot to shot. For most outings, I use FastStone Image viewer to quickly cull loosers from the candidates that are then imported into Lightroom.

For the vast majority of images for all outings, an import preset does allow me to view candidates more carefully in LIghtroom. If LIghtroom adjustments including mask oriented brushes and ellipse/gradients give a result I like, I am done and can generate an export or print from the raw file using LIghtroom.

Other images require further processing in Photoshop. Sometime Photoshop and its add-in actions is all that is needed and the image can saved back to Lightroom.. Other times, I use Photoshop as a hub for plugins such as Topaz Studio 2 Apps, NIK, Luminar, among others. I should mention that panorama and HDR merges are also occasional processing steps in my "roundtripping".

Exports are not a major concern, since my exports mostly are in small batches and don't really challenge my 5 yr old Dell XPS all that much. However, the editing of any single image is where I can watch and wait and wait and wait..

My current raw files are 45-50MP from a Nikon Z7. Any system I would consider, needs to address the "roundttipping" not only for my current workload, but also will easily handle raw files generated by 60MP sensor cameras which will be more common by fall.

Bill N

Posted on 2020-03-11 00:40:37