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Adobe Lightroom Classic: 12th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Written on November 4, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: 12th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Processors for Lightroom Classic

The new 12th Gen CPUs from Intel represent a major shift in CPU performance for Lightroom Classic. For the last few generations, AMD has been the dominant choice, but with these new CPUs, Intel has taken a commanding lead. The performance between Intel and AMD is closer at the top-end, but the i9 12900K still manages to pull ahead of the Ryzen 5900X by a small 6% with DDR4, or by 15% when using DDR5 memory. At the i5 and i7 level, however, the Core i7 12700K and Core i5 12600K perform about 15% faster than the Ryzen 5800X and 5600X respectively, which should only further increase once DDR5 becomes widely available.

This now makes Intel the clear choice for Lightroom Classic when it comes to performance. Even better, this is true both for active tasks like image culling, and for passive tasks like exporting. All around, the 12th Gen CPUs are simply a solid investment for photographers using Lightroom Classic that are in the market for a new workstation.

Introduction

Last week, Intel announced their 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Alder Lake") with the most notable feature being the new hybrid architecture which utilizes a mix of Performance and Efficient-cores. The Performance-cores (P-cores) are what you typically would think of when it comes to a CPU core, and are designed to maximize performance for heavier workloads. The Efficient-cores (E-cores), on the other hand, are intended either for tasks that can be run in parallel, or for background tasks where higher performance isn't necessary.

The benefit of this type of hybrid setup primarily comes down to the fact that the E-cores take up significantly less room on the CPU die, along with having much lower power requirements. Because of this, Intel is able to pack a higher number of total cores into their processors which should give them a nice boost to multi-threading performance.

However, the difficulty is that the system needs to be able to dynamically choose what tasks are run on each type of core. For example, it would be less than ideal if Photoshop was to run on an E-core because your web browser decided to take up all the P-cores. To account for this, Intel has also launched a technology called Thread Director, which works with the OS in order to dynamically adjust which processes are run on each core.

This new hybrid architecture should, in theory, allow the 12th Gen Intel CPUs to excel at both lightly and highly threaded tasks, but that is not the only change they made. Among various architecture improvements, the 12th Gen CPUs also have support for both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, as well as having 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0. Both DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 likely won't have much of an impact at launch since they are very new technologies that need time to evolve before we will see their full potential, but all of these improvements together should help give the 12th Gen CPUs a big boost over previous generations.

If you want to read about what sets these CPUs apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for the 12th Gen Intel Core Processors, or if you want to see performance across a range of applications, you can read our 12th Gen Intel Core CPU Review Roundup article.

12th Gen Intel Core Processors for Adobe Lightroom Classic

Because of how many things have changed, we were not quite sure how these CPUs would end up performing. If everything goes as planned, the performance should be terrific, but there is a lot of new technology that could potentially cause problems if something does not work right.

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel Core i9 12900K, i7 12700K, and i5 12600K in Lightroom Classic compared to a range of CPUs including the Intel 11th 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. Or, you can check out the summary of all our results in our overarching 12th Gen Intel Core CPU Review Roundup article.

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:

12th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 12900K 8+8 Core ($589)
Intel Core i7 12700K 8+4 Core ($409)
Intel Core i5 12600K 6+4 Core ($289)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12A
Motherboard Gigabyte Z690 UD AX DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 UD AC-Y1 DDR5
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
4x DDR5-4800 16GB (64GB total) @ 4400MHz
11th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 11900K 8 Core ($513)
Intel Core i7 11700K 8 Core ($409)
Intel Core i5 11600K 6 Core ($272)
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 16 Core ($799)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core ($549)
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8 Core ($449)
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6 Core ($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 980 Pro 2TB
Software Windows 11 Pro 64-bit (22000)
Adobe Lightroom Classic 11.0
PugetBench for Lightroom Classic

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of October 27th, 2021

In order to see how the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors perform in Lightroom Classic, we will be comparing them not only to the previous 11th 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 benchmark and the new 11.0 version of Lightroom Classic. 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 test platforms we will be using, there are a number of things we want to point out:

First, you will note that we are using Windows 11 rather than Windows 10. Windows 11 includes features that work closely with the Intel Thread Scheduler, which may be necessary to get the full performance possible from the 12th Gen Intel CPUs. VBS was left disabled, and all chipset and Windows updates were applied to fix a number of AMD performance issues.

Windows 11 had a rocky start with AMD CPUs and processors with more than 32 cores, but with the latest updates, we found the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 with these Ryzen CPUs to be negligible for Photoshop. We will have those results, and similar testing examining Intel 12th Gen performance on Windows 10, in an upcoming "12th Gen Intel Core - Windows 11 vs Windows 10" article.

Beyond the OS, we will be primarily using DDR4 RAM because, at least for the immediate future, DDR5 is expected to be largely unavailable. We did get in a set of Kingston DDR5-4800 16GB sticks early enough that allowed us to get some initial numbers, however, which we will include in the results. Note that while the RAM itself is rated for 4800MHz, the 12th Gen platform only officially supports that speed on motherboards that have just two physical RAM slots. In the cases where four sticks are being used, the supported RAM speed is 4400MHz, which is what the Gigabyte board we used defaulted to when we left the RAM speed on Auto.

The DDR5 RAM we are using is very much intended for stability over raw speed, and has fairly loose CL40 timings. However, we tend to be fairly conservative on RAM speed, so this is actually a good comparison to use against the DDR4-3200 CL22 RAM we are using for the rest of our tests.

Like any early launch content, keep in mind that performance is likely to change over time. Especially in this case where there is still work to be done for Windows 11, the thread scheduler, and DDR5, performance is likely to increase slightly as the technology is developed.

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.

Intel Core 12th Gen Lightroom Classic benchmark results

Lightroom Classic Performance Analysis

Moving to a hybrid architecture is a big change, but at least for Lightroom Classic, it is clearly paying off. If you are not familiar with CPU performance in Lightroom Classic, seeing Intel on top like this is not at all the norm. For at least the last several generations, AMD has had a stranglehold in Lightroom Classic primarily due to how much faster they were for passive tasks like exporting and generating previews.

For example, if you look at the performance delta between the AMD Ryzen 5900X and the previous generation Intel Core i9 10900K, AMD comes out on top by 21% overall, or by a huge 42% if you only look at passive tasks. With the new Intel Core i9 12900K, however, Intel passes the AMD Ryzen 5900X, coming in at 6% faster overall and 4% faster for passive tasks. And if you factor in what we will see once DDR5 is more widely available, this increases to 15% higher performance with the i9 12900K overall, or 19% for passive tasks.

While this is a great showing from the i9 12900K, the other 12th Gen CPUs are actually even better. The Core i7 12700K is a larger 16% faster overall than the comparable Ryzen 5800X, while the Core i5 12600K is 15% faster than the Ryzen 5600X.

If one thing is clear, it is that Intel is finally a solid choice for Lightroom Classic. At the very top end (i9 12900K vs Ryzen 5900X), Intel is only a bit faster unless you are able to use DDR5 memory, but the i7 12700K and i5 12600K are both significantly faster than similarly priced options from AMD even when using DDR4.

12th Gen vs 11th Gen Lightroom Classic Performance

Intel Core 12th Gen vs 11th Gen in Lightroom Classic

We've mentioned how much of a performance gain the new 12th Gen CPUs saw in Lightroom Classic, but to show just how large it is, we wanted to specifically pull out the results for the 12th Gen and 11th Gen CPUs.

Across the board, the performance gain is among the largest we have ever seen from a single generation, with the 12th Gen CPUs performing anywhere from 24 to 29% faster than the previous generation 11th Gen CPUs with DDR4. And while DDR5 is likely to take a while before it is easily accessible, it will further push the envelope with the 12th Gen CPUs by around another 10%.

Are the 12th Gen Intel Core Processors Good for Lightroom Classic?

The new 12th Gen CPUs from Intel represent a major shift in CPU performance for Lightroom Classic. For the last few generations, AMD has been the dominant choice, but with these new CPUs, Intel has taken a commanding lead. The performance between Intel and AMD is closer at the top-end, but the i9 12900K still manages to pull ahead of the Ryzen 5900X by a small 6% with DDR4, or by 15% when using DDR5 memory. At the i5 and i7 level, however, the Core i7 12700K and Core i5 12600K perform about 15% faster than the Ryzen 5800X and 5600X respectively, which should only further increase once DDR5 becomes widely available.

This now makes Intel the clear choice for Lightroom Classic when it comes to performance. Even better, this is true both for active tasks like image culling, and for passive tasks like exporting. All around, the 12th Gen CPUs are simply a solid investment for photographers using Lightroom Classic that are in the market for a new workstation.

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.

Want to be notified when Intel Core 12th Gen systems are available?


Looking for a Lightroom Classic Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful 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: AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5600X, 5800X, 5900X, 5950X, Intel 11th Gen, i9 11900K, i7 11700K, i5 11600K, Intel 10th Gen, Intel 12th Gen, i5 12600K, i7 12700K, i9 12900K, Lightroom
Sam

I would be very interested to see how these 12 gen processors score with only the integrated graphics.

Posted on 2021-11-07 17:19:43