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Adobe Lightroom Classic: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Written on April 5, 2022 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: Intel Core i9 12900KS performance in Lightroom Classic

Intel already holds a firm lead over AMD in terms of Lightroom Classic performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS does further it by a small amount. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 3% faster in Lightroom Classic, which puts it a solid 16% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For most users, this small increase in performance probably isn't worth the $140 higher MSRP price tag over the 12900K. Intel is still likely the way to go for Lightroom Classic, but anything less than 5% is going to be extremely hard to notice in the real world. There certainly are users who are willing to spend an extra few hundred dollars to get the best possible performance, but the return on investment for the Core i9 12900KS is very slim for Lightroom Classic.

Introduction

When Intel launched their 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Alder Lake") in November of 2021, they showed a terrific performance improvement over previous generations. They also made some significant changes to how their CPUs fundamentally worked, primarily through their hybrid architecture which utilizes a mix of Performance and Efficient-cores.

Since then, the wider availability of DDR5 memory and improvements in thread scheduling have allowed them to expand their performance lead over AMD in a number of workflows. And today, Intel is launching yet another model to their 12th Intel Core lineup: the Intel Core i9 12900KS.

Intel Core i9 12900KS for Adobe Lightroom Classic

On paper, the 12900KS appears to simply be a higher binned version of the Core i9 12900K. It has the same number of cores and the same cache, but the frequency is slightly higher. The exact amount depends on which kind of core is being used as well as what type of Turbo, but at most we are looking at about a 6% increase in Turbo frequency.

To handle the higher frequency, the 12900KS has a slightly higher base power draw of 150W versus the 125W of the 12900K. Interestingly, the maximum Turbo power is the same at 241W, which means that it may not actually run much hotter under heavy load situations.

The last difference is, of course, the price. With an MSRP of $739, the 12900KS is $140 more expensive than the 12900K. This is still a bit below the $799 MSRP of the AMD Ryzen 5950X, but it certainly brings Intel and AMD closer in terms of pricing at the top of their consumer CPU lines.

CPU Model Core i9 12900K Core i9 12900KS
Total Cores/Threads 16/24 16/24
Performance Cores 8 8
Efficient Cores 8 8
Max Turbo Frequency 5.2 GHz 5.5 GHz
P-Core Max Turbo Frequency 5.1 GHz 5.2 GHz
E-Core Max Turbo Frequency 3.9 GHz 4.0 GHz
Cache 30 MB 30 MB
Processor Base Power 125 W 150 W
Maximum Turbo Power 241 W 241 W
MSRP $599 $739

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel Core i9 12900KS compared to the 12900K, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5950X. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, you can check out the summary of all our testing results - and links to more detailed analysis - in our Intel Core i9 12900KS Review Roundup article.

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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 12900KS 8+8 Core ($739)
Intel Core i9 12900K 8+8 Core ($589)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12A
Motherboard Asus ProArt Z690-Creator WiFi
RAM 2x DDR5-4800 32GB (64GB total)
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core ($799)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core ($549)
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
Hard Drive Samsung 980 Pro 2TB
Software Windows 11 Pro 64-bit (2009)
Adobe Lightroom Classic 11.2
PugetBench for Lightroom Classic

*Latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware as of March 31st, 2022

In order to see how the new Intel Core i9 12900KS performs in Lightroom Classic, we will be comparing it to the Core i9 12900K, AMD Ryzen 5900X, and AMD Ryzen 5950X. For the test itself, we will be using our PugetBench for Lightroom Classic benchmark and the latest 11.2 version of Lightroom Classic. Our benchmark 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 want to point out that due to the wider availability of DDR5 RAM, all our testing is now using DDR5 on any platform that supports it (currently just Intel Z690). We try to stay within spec for memory speed whenever possible, which is why we are using 2x32GB of DDR5-4800 RAM on the Intel platform. While the move from DDR4 to DDR5 can improve performance by a decent margin, the speed of the RAM doesn't make a big difference in most content creation applications. If you want to read more about the impact of DDR5 RAM speed, we recommend checking out our Impact of DDR5 Speed on Content Creation Performance article.

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.

Intel Core i9 12900KS Lightroom Classic benchmark performance

Lightroom Classic Performance Analysis

  • Core i9 12900KS Lightroom Classic benchmark overall score
  • Core i9 12900KS Lightroom Classic benchmark active score
  • Core i9 12900KS Lightroom Classic benchmark passive score

Lightroom Classic is an interesting application to look at since until recently, AMD had a very solid lead - especially in passive tasks like exporting and generating previews. However, the move to a hybrid architecture with the Intel Core 12th Gen CPUs allowed Intel to jump past AMD for almost every task in Lightroom Classic.

With the Core i9 12900KS, Intel does extend their lead a little bit, but it is only by a fairly small amount. In terms of overall performance, the 12900KS clocked in at about 3% faster than the Core i9 12900K, which puts it about 16% faster than the AMD Ryzen 5900X/5950X.

3% is not a big difference, and technically within the margin of error for real world testing like this. We do enough runs to be sure that we are not seeing a fluke result, but either way, 3% is going to be pretty hard to notice in your everyday work. Even considering an extreme example like an export that takes an hour, using the 12900KS over the 12900K would save you less than 2 minutes.

Is the Intel Core i9 12900KS Processor Good for Lightroom Classic?

Intel already holds a firm lead over AMD in terms of Lightroom Classic performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS does further it by a small amount. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 3% faster in Lightroom Classic, which puts it a solid 16% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For most users, this small increase in performance probably isn't worth the $140 higher MSRP price tag over the 12900K. Intel is still likely the way to go for Lightroom Classic, but anything less than 5% is going to be extremely hard to notice in the real world. There certainly are users who are willing to spend an extra few hundred dollars to get the best possible performance, but the return on investment for the Core i9 12900KS is very slim for Lightroom Classic.

Going into our testing, we were a bit worried about the higher base power draw of the 12900KS, but throughout our testing, we didn't notice any issues. Our standard 120mm Noctua heatsink was still more than enough to keep this CPU cool, and there was no noticeable increase in fan noise.

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 a number of other applications that can be found in our Intel Core i9 12900KS Review Roundup article), 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.

Computer System

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 technician talking with customer

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, 5900X, 5950X, Intel 12th Gen, i9 12900K, Photoshop, 12900KS, Lightroom
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