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Does AMD Threadripper Dynamic Local Mode improve photo editing performance?

Written on November 5, 2018 by Matt Bach


AMD's Threadripper 2970WX and 2990WX are incredible CPUs with a staggering 24 and 32 cores respectively. However, in order to get to those high core counts, these processors actually have four processor dies: two with direct access to the system RAM and two that have to access the RAM by going through the other dies. The downside to this approach is that the system does not always prioritize the cores with direct memory access which can at times result in less than optimal performance.

AMD's solution to this is a new setting in the Ryzen Master software called "Local Dynamic Mode". You can read more about it is AMD's blog post Previewing Dynamic Local Mode for the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper WX Series Processors, but the short of it is that this setting will attempt to prioritize the cores that have direct access to your system memory. In theory, this should increase performance in applications that cannot take full advantage of the high core counts of these CPUs, so we wanted to see exactly how well it works in photo editing applications like Lightroom Classic and Photoshop.

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

Test Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the two platforms we will be using in our testing:

Test Hardware    
Motherboard: Gigabyte X299 Designare EX MSI MEG X399 Creation
CPU: Intel Core i9 7960X 2.8GHz
(4.2/4.4GHz Turbo) 16 Core

Intel Core i9 7980XE 2.6GHz
(4.2/4.4GHz Turbo) 18 Core
AMD Threadripper 2990WX 3.0GHz
(4.2GHz Turbo) 32 Core

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12DX i4 Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2
RAM: 8x DDR4-2666 16GB
(128GB total)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Hard Drive: Samsung 960 Pro 1TB M.2 PCI-E x4 NVMe SSD
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Software: Lightroom Classic CC 2019 (ver. 8.0)
Photoshop CC 2019 (ver. 20.0.0)
Ryzen Master Utility (ver. 1.5)

We are primarily concerned with the performance of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX with Local Dynamic Mode both on and off, but we decided to also include the Intel Core i9 7960X and 7980XE. We are doing this since Intel tends to have the performance lead right now for photo editing, and this way we will be able to see if any performance gain via Local Dynamic Mode is enough to make AMD Threadripper faster than Intel X-series. Note that none of these CPUs are going to be the best for these applications, that crown goes to the Core i9 9900K as you can see in our recent articles for both Lightroom and Photoshop.

In the interest of keeping this article short, we are not going to list our test procedure here. Instead, you can view how and what we tested in one of our recent Lightroom and Photoshop articles.

Lightroom Classic CC 2019 - Raw Benchmark Results

[Click Here] to skip ahead to Conclusion

Photoshop CC 2019 - Raw Benchmark Results

[Click Here] to skip ahead to Conclusion

Does Dynamic Local Mode improve Lightroom and Photoshop performance?

Dynamic Local Mode does appear to help a tiny bit in Lightroom Classic, but only by about 2% which is small enough that you are unlikely to notice the difference. In Photoshop, we actually saw a tiny drop in performance which means that this feature does not improve performance at all.

AMD Dynamic Local Mode benchmark for photo editing Lightroom Classic Photoshop
If you already have a Threadripper 2970WX or 2990WX, we don't see any reason not to enable Local Dynamic Mode - although all the warnings the Ryzen Master software gives you about system damage, instability, etc. will be a bit disconcerting for some users. The performance gain for Lightroom Classic and Photoshop is not much, but at least for Lightroom is it essentially free performance.

Overall, however, it doesn't look like this setting is going to alter any of our CPU recommendations. AMD's Threadripper CPUs are simply not that great for Lightroom or Photoshop, so an Intel 9th Gen or X-series CPU are still going to be the best choice for a photo editing workstation.

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Tags: AMD, Threadripper, Dynamic Local Mode, Premiere Pro, 2990WX, 7960X, 7980XE