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Adobe Lightroom Classic - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 & 3090 Performance

Written on October 29, 2020 by Matt Bach

TL;DR: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 & 3090 performance in Lightroom Classic

Adobe has been steadily adding GPU support into Lightroom Classic over the last few versions, but for the tasks we currently test, there is little advantage to using a powerful GPU like the new GeForce RTX 3070 8GB, 3080 10GB or 3090 24GB. In fact, there is almost no appreciable difference between the fastest GPU we tested and having no GPU at all.
Excerpt from "Labs Open Office Hour: Labs Lads Discuss the New RTX 3070" live stream on 10/30/2020


On September 1st, NVIDIA launched the new GeForce RTX 30 Series, touting major advancements in performance and efficiency. While gaming is almost always a major focus during these launches, professional applications like Lightroom Classic are becoming more and more important for NVIDIA's GeForce line of cards. Due to the significant improvements, Adobe has made around GPU acceleration in Lightroom Classic, this is the first time we will be doing GPU-focused testing for Lightroom Classic, Because of this, we are very interested to see what kind of performance delta we will see between the various cards we will be testing.

Lightroom Classic GPU Performance Benchmark - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB, 3080 10GB & RTX 3090 24GB

If you want to see the full specs for the new GeForce RTX 3070, 3080, and 3090 cards, we recommend checking out NVIDIAs page for the new 30 series cards. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:

VRAM CUDA Cores Boost Clock Power MSRP
RTX 2070S 8GB 2,560 1.77 GHz 215W $499
RTX 3070 8GB 5,888 1.70 GHz 220W $499
RTX 2080 Ti 11GB 4,352 1.55 GHz 250W $1,199
RTX 3080 10GB 8,704 1.71 GHz 320W $699
Titan RTX 24GB 4,608 1.77 GHz 280W $2,499
RTX 3090 24GB 10,496 1.73 GHz 350W $1,499

While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, it is a great sign that NVIDIA has doubled the number of CUDA cores compared to the comparable RTX 20 series cards with only a small drop in the boost clock. At the same time, the RTX 3080 and 3090 are also $500-1000 less expensive than the previous generation depending on which models you are comparing them to.

With the launch of the RTX 3070, we can update our previous Adobe Lightroom Classic - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 & 3090 Performance article with results for the 3070.

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Test Setup

Listed below is the specifications of the system we will be using for our testing:

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of September 7th, 2020

To test each GPU, we will be using the fastest platform currently available for the "Active Tasks" in Lightroom Classic - most notably the Intel Core i9 10900K. We overall recommend AMD Ryzen or Threadripper CPUs for Lightroom Classic due to their significantly higher performance for "Passive Tasks" like generating previews and exporting, but since the GPU is not significantly used for any of those tasks, we decided to use the 10900K to minimize the impact of the processor for the tasks that use the GPU. Even with this, however, be aware that there typically isn't much variation in performance between different video cards in Lightroom Classic.

We will also include results for the integrated graphics built into the Intel Core i9 10900K and with GPU acceleration disabled to see how much the recently added GPU acceleration features improve performance.

For the testing itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Lightroom Classic benchmark. This tests a number of range of effects and tasks in Lightroom Classic including importing, exporting, and tests simulating culling tasks. If you wish to run our benchmark yourself, you can download the benchmark and compare your results to thousands of user-submitted results in our PugetBench database.

While Adobe has recently released a new update to Lightroom Classic (version 10.0), since this is essentially just an update to our previous RTX 3000-series articles, we will be sticking with version 9.4 for now. Our current plan is to re-do all our GPU testing with the latest version of Lightroom Classic once AMD launches their new Radon 6000-series GPUs in November. Although, given the results of this testing, we might opt to skip on any further GPU testing in Lightroom Classic until our benchmark can more accurately test the tasks that can take advantage of the GPU.

Raw Benchmark Results

While we are going to go through our analysis of the testing in the next section, we always like to provide the raw results for those that want to dig into the details. If there is a specific task that tends to be a bottleneck in your workflow, examining the raw results is going to be much more applicable than our more general analysis.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB, 3080 10GB & 3090 24GB Lightroom Classic GPU Performance Benchmark

Lightroom Classic Performance Analysis

Since this is the first time we are specifically testing GPU performance in Lightroom Classic, we do not yet have a specific "GPU Score" built into our benchmark. In fact, there are several tasks that we hope to include in the future (such as slider and brush lag) that should be an even better indicator of GPU performance than the tasks we currently test.

However, we should be able to see at least some indication of relative GPU performance with our current tests.

Overall, we didn't see much of a difference between the various GPUs we tested, or even the test using just Intel integrated graphics and GPU acceleration disabled entirely. NVIDIA is definitely a hair faster than AMD (which oddly was slower than having no GPU acceleration at all), but the performance between each NVIDIA GPU is close enough to be within the margin of error. In fact, Lightroom Classic tends to have a larger margin of error than our other benchmarks, and anything within ~5% we would consider to be effectively the same.

We could go into our results in more detail, but what we are taking from this is that for what we are testing, the GPU has almost no impact. As we mentioned earlier in this post, we do hope to include a number of other tests that should be a better indicator of GPU performance, but this simply reinforces that your GPU is a low priority relative to your CPU, RAM, and storage.

How well does the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 & 3090 perform in Lightroom Classic?

Adobe has been steadily adding GPU support into Lightroom Classic over the last few versions, but the different cards we tested all performed roughly the same. NVIDIA has a small lead over AMD, but the fact that having GPU acceleration disabled was also faster than the AMD cards tells us that GPU acceleration in Lightroom Classic is still somewhat early in its development.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are a number of tasks that we currently do not test that should leverage the GPU quite a bit more (such as slider/brush lag) that we hope to add to our benchmark in the future. We are unfortunately limited to what is possible via the Lightroom Classic API, but with luck, we will be able to improve our GPU-specific testing in the future. However, without significant changes to the Lightroom Classic, we don't expect there to be any reason to invest in a high-end GPU any time in the near future.

As always, keep in mind that these results are strictly for Lightroom Classic. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a range of applications perform with the new RTX 3070, 3080 and 3090 GPUs, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.

Lightroom Classic Workstations

Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

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Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

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Tags: NVIDIA, NVIDIA vs AMD, AMD, Vega 64, Radeon RX 5700 XT, RTX 2060 SUPER, RTX 2070 SUPER, RTX 2080 SUPER, RTX 2080 Ti, Titan RTX, RTX 3080, Lightroom CLassic, RTX 3090, RTX 3070