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Adobe Lightroom Classic: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Written on March 30, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Processors for Lightroom Classic

Unlike other applications like Photoshop where the 11th Gen CPUs often perform on par with the AMD Ryzen 5000 Series, AMD maintains a firm lead in Lightroom Classic. Depending on the price-point, the AMD Ryzen CPUs are overall 12% to 15% faster than the 11th Gen Intel CPUs, with most of that coming from passive tasks like exporting and generating previews where AMD can be 30% faster (or more).

One saving grace for Intel is that if you do not work with large numbers of photos, the Intel Core i7 11700K and Core i9 11900K are roughly on par with the AMD Ryzen processors for active tasks like switching between modules, adjustment sliders, etc. They are not faster than AMD, and even the Ryzen 5600X will perform within a few percent, but at least Intel is able to close the gap for those types of tasks.

Overall, however, if you are looking for a Lightroom Classic workstation, you will want to stick with the AMD Ryzen CPUs for now.

Introduction

Earlier this month, Intel announced their new 11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Rocket Lake"). These new processors are marketed as having substantially better per-core performance compared to their previous 10th Gen Core models, but the top-end model (the Core i9 11900K) has two fewer cores than the previous generation which may hamper performance in some applications.

For Lightroom Classic, in particular, it is going to be pretty tough for Intel to catch up to AMD. For quite a while, AMD has had a fairly substantial lead in terms of performance - especially for passive tasks like exporting and generating previews. Intel has been close or slightly ahead for active tasks like scrolling through images, but they lost that advantage as well when AMD launched the Ryzen 5000 series processors back in November of 2020. The IPC improvements Intel has made might allow them to catch up again for active tasks, but there is a lot of ground to make up overall in Lightroom Classic.

If you want to read about what sets these CPUs apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for the 11th Gen Intel Core Processors.

11th Gen Intel Core Processors for Adobe Lightroom Classic

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel Core i9 11900K, i7 11700K, and i5 11600K in Lightroom Classic compared to a range of CPUs including the Intel 10th Gen and AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, and several other applications available on our article listing page.

If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion.

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

11th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 11900K ($513)
Intel Core i7 11700K ($399)
Intel Core i5 11600K ($262)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 Vision D
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
10th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 10900K ($488)
Intel Core i7 10700K ($374)
Intel Core i5 10600K ($262)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 Vision D
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X ($799)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X ($549)
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X ($449)
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X ($299)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware & Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Storage Samsung 970 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (2009)
Adobe Lightroom Classic 2021 (10.1)
PugetBench for Lightroom Classic (0.92)

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of March 15, 2021

In order to see how the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors perform in Lightroom Classic, we will be comparing them not only to the previous 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs but also to AMD's Ryzen 5000 series. For the test itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Lightroom Classic V0.92 benchmark and Lightroom Classic 10.1. This benchmark version includes the ability to upload the results to our online database, so if you want to know how your own system compares, you can download and run the benchmark yourself.

As for the setup of our testing, there is a number of things we want to point out:

First, you will note is that we are using a Z490 motherboard for both the 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPUs. There is a newer Z590 chipset that is launching alongside the 11th Gen CPUs, but we, unfortunately, did not have access to a board early enough to make it into this article. We don't expect the chipset to make much of a performance difference, but we do plan on doing a set of Z490 vs Z590 tests in the near future to make sure our assumptions are correct.

Second, the power limit settings that the motherboard and CPU are using to determine what frequency to run the CPU at under load is extremely muddy with the 11th Gen CPUs. There is the Intel "stock" settings, but also what are essentially overclocked settings that allow the CPU to maintain higher turbo limits for longer periods of time in exchange for dramatically increased CPU power draw and temperatures. The idea is that these power limits allow systems that have sufficient cooling to run the CPU at faster speeds, but we still have a lot of work to do to determine exactly what power limits we feel are safe for our workstations. For now, we opted to stick with the default on the Gigabyte Z490 board we are using, which is to run with the higher power limits. This will give Intel a bit of a boost in terms of performance, however, which is worth keeping in mind when examining the results.

On the flip side, some of the 11th Gen CPUs also support a new technology called "Intel Thermal Velocity Boost" which allows the CPUs to run at a slightly higher clock speed than Turbo Boost 2.0 or Turbo Boost 3.0 (and yes, those are independent) based on the CPU temperature and power draw. This feature is still in beta, however, so we did not opt to use it in this round of testing. Just like Z590, we will be doing follow-up testing in the future to see if it will have any measurable impact on performance.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide the individual results for you to examine. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, examining the raw results for that task is going to be much more applicable than the scores that our benchmark calculated.

Feel free to skip to the next sections for our analysis of these results to get a wider view of how each configuration performs in Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom Classic 2021 benchmark results with 11th Gen Intel Core 11900K

Lightroom Classic Performance Analysis

Unfortunately for Intel, even with the improvements, they have made to the 11th Gen CPUs, they are not able to catch up to AMD's Ryzen 5000 Series processors. From an overall standpoint, all three of the Intel 11th Gen CPUs we tested scored below even the Ryzen 5600X, keeping AMD as the clear leader for Lightroom Classic.

Starting at the bottom of the SKU stack, the Intel Core i5 11600K is a bit less expensive than the AMD Ryzen 5600X, but ended up being about 12% slower overall. The difference isn't as large in active tasks (which tend to be fairly similar regardless of CPU model), but even there the 11600K was about 5% slower than the 5600X

Going a step up to the Core i7 11700K, Intel falls behind AMD a little bit more. Here, the Ryzen 5800X is about 17% faster overall, in exchange for a 12% higher price tag over the 11700K. The good news is that for active tasks, the difference was only a few percent - so if you don't export a ton of images at once, you likely won't notice much of a difference between these two models.

Last up is the Core i9 11900K, which in our Lightroom Classic benchmark, ended up being only a few percent faster than the Core i7 11700K. Since it doesn't score significantly higher than the 11700K, that also means that it doesn't fare all that well against the Ryzen 5800X or 5900X. One thing we will point out, however, is that there is still the "Intel Thermal Velocity Boost" feature for the 11900K that we did not include in this testing since it was still in beta. We don't expect it to make a huge difference, but it may be just enough to put the 11900K in a slight lead for active tasks in particular.

Overall, this means that at pretty much every level, AMD is clearly the performance leader in Lightroom Classic. This may not be what Intel fans were hoping for, and if we look at the gen-over-gen performance, you can see that especially at the higher-end, the new 11th Gen CPUs aren't that much of an improvement in Lightroom Classic:

Intel Core 11th Gen vs 10th Gen in Lightroom Classic

Versus the previous 10th Gen Intel Core processors, the i5 level by far saw the largest performance increase in Lightroom Classic, but even then the improvement is only around 9%. That is actually fairly typical for gen-over-gen performance over the last few years from Intel, but unfortunately, the i7 and i9 models don't keep up nearly as well.

The Core i7 11700K ended up being a small amount faster than the previous generation, coming in at about 4% faster than the Core i7 10700K. The performance increase with the Core i9 11900K is even less, at just 1% faster than the Core i9 10900K, which is well within the margin of error for this type of testing.

Are the 11th Gen Intel Core Processors Good for Lightroom Classic?

Unlike other applications like Photoshop where the 11th Gen CPUs often perform on par with the AMD Ryzen 5000 Series, AMD maintains a firm lead in Lightroom Classic. Depending on the price-point, the AMD Ryzen CPUs are overall 12% to 15% faster than the 11th Gen Intel CPUs, with most of that coming from passive tasks like exporting and generating previews where AMD can be 30% faster (or more).

One saving grace for Intel is that if you do not work with large numbers of photos, the Intel Core i7 11700K and Core i9 11900K are roughly on par with the AMD Ryzen processors for active tasks like switching between modules, adjustment sliders, etc. They are not faster than AMD, and even the Ryzen 5600X will perform within a few percent, but at least Intel is able to close the gap for those types of tasks.

Overall, however, if you are looking for a Lightroom Classic workstation, you will want to stick with the AMD Ryzen CPUs for now.

Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for Lightroom Classic and that performance will vary widely in different applications. If your workflow includes other software packages (we have similar articles for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and DaVinci Resolve), you need to consider how the system will perform in those applications as well. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles to keep up to date on how all of these software packages - and more - perform with the latest CPUs.

Looking for a Lightroom Workstation?

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

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

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

Find Out More!
Tags: i9 10900K, i7 10700K, i5 10600K, AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5600X, 5800X, 5900X, 5950X, Intel 11th Gen, i9 11900K, i7 11700K, i5 11600K, Intel 10th Gen, Lightroom CLassic
Wilbur

Given the shortage of GPUs (and 5900x) units currently, do you have a view on performance of the 11900k using the IGD instead of a discrete graphics card? Clearly isnt going to give top end performance but would be interested to understand how much using the IGD alone would impact as this would be an "available" and more competitive option

Posted on 2021-04-09 06:45:17

We've never been able to measure much of a difference between any GPU in Lightroom Classic - including iGPU. From what we understand, there is some benefit for things like brush lag, but that isn't something we have been able to figure out a good way to benchmark quite yet. That also makes it very difficult to say how good an iGPU alone would be.

My gut says that if you are doing relatively light editing, an iGPU would be fine. But if you are going in and doing heavier edits on photos, you will likely want to invest in a discrete GPU.

Posted on 2021-04-13 15:44:18