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Lightroom CC 2015.12 CPU Performance: Core i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K

Written on October 5, 2017 by Matt Bach


Lightroom is an interesting application as it is somewhat divided in terms of what kind of CPU is best. For a majority of tasks, we have found that a lower core count CPU with a high operating frequency gives the best performance. But for exporting images in particular, a higher number of cores can often give decent performance gains. The new Coffee Lake 8th Gen CPUs from Intel have up to six cores (up from the previous generation's four) but the clock speeds have stayed roughly the same. Because of this, these new CPUs should do very well in an application like Lightroom which contains a mix if heavily and lightly threaded tasks.

While Intel is releasing a number of "Coffee Lake" 8th Generation CPUs, in this article we are primarily going to focus on the Core i7 8700K, Core i5 8600K, and Core i3 8350K to see how they perform in Lightroon. If you wish to read one of our other Coffee Lake articles to see how they perform in applications like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and After Effects, you can view a full list here.

While we have not developed a way to test everything in Lightroom, our current test suite includes the following tasks:

  1. Importing images
  2. Exporting images
  3. Convert RAW to DNG
  4. Generate 100 Smart & 1:1 Previews
  5. Scroll through images in the Develop Module
  6. Create HDR image
  7. Create Panorama image

If you would like to skip over our test setup and individual benchmarks, feel free to jump right to the conclusion section.

Test Setup

Listed below are the four test platforms we will be using in our testing. The two most important are the Z370 platform with the new 8th Gen CPUs alongside the previous generation Z270 platform with the Core i7 7700K:

To act as additional comparison points, we will also be including four Skylake-X CPUs on the X299 platform and two Ryzen CPUs on the X370 platform. The Ryzen CPUs are an obvious comparison we wanted to make since they are the direct competitors from AMD. The Skylake-X CPUs, on the other hand, are not really competitors but do to the higher core count they excel at exporting images in Lightroom.

On thing we want to note is that we are technically overclocking the Ryzen platform by using DDR4-2666 memory since we are using four sticks of dual rank RAM. According to this blog post - which we have confirmation from AMD that it is still accurate even with the new AGESA BIOS - the highest RAM speed that is officially supported with our four sticks of dual rank RAM is just DDR4-1866. Our previous Ryzen testing was performed with DDR4-2400 RAM, but even then we received a lot of comments about how we were artificially limiting the performance of Ryzen even though we were actually overclocking the platform. As you will see in the results, however, using DDR4-2666 RAM doesn't really make AMD better than Intel so we opted to go ahead and use the faster RAM. We're sure some will say we should use even faster DDR4-3200 RAM, but there is a limit to what we are willing to use considering our testing is first and foremost to ensure that we are offering the right hardware to our customers. Since DDR4-3200 is well beyond what we consider to be acceptably stable for most end-users, it is extremely unlikely to be a part of our testing in the near future.

The images and settings we used in our testing were:

Test Images

18MP (5184x3456)
Taken on a Canon EOS REBEL T3i

HDR settings

5x 18MP RAW (5184x3456)

Auto Align, Auto Tone, No Deghost

Panorama settings

11x 18MP RAW (5184x3456)
Merged to 187MP (48085x3898)

Spherical Projection, No Crop

Benchmark Results

In most of our articles we spend quite a bit of time going through the individual results test by test, but the performance across each of the tasks we tested in Lightroom was remarkably consistent. In fact, only exporting images (and importing to a lesser degree) were greatly different from the other tasks as they tend to favor CPUs with a higher core count.

Feel free to analyze the individual results in more detail if you wish, but due to this consistency we are going to skip straight to our conclusion to examine the results.


Lightroom Coffee Lake Core i7-8700K i5-8600K i3-8350K Overall Benchmark Results

As we expected from the higher core count, the biggest are of improvement was when exporting image. For this task, we saw a 25% performance bump with the Core i7 8700K over the previous generation Core i7 7700K which is a terrific result and much more than you would typically see from one generation to the next. However, the performance for everything else in Lightroom only saw an average 5% performance increase. This is still an OK increase all things considered, but not really a significant improvement. The Core i5 8600K is also a pretty decent performer overall, coming in at just a hair slower than the more expensive Core i7 7700K.

The main users who will benefit from the new Coffee Lake 8th Gen CPUs are those that export a large number of images, but also want the best performance when generating previews, applying corrections, or almost anything else in Lightroom. For this kind of user, the Core i7 8700K in particular is an excellent CPU since you not only get a small performance increase for general tasks, but also a large 25% increase in performance when exporting. Those that are simply looking to get their export times down as much as possible may want to consider a CPU like the Core i7 7820X or even the Core i9 7900X since they are significantly faster for exporting, but we would consider the Core i7 8700K to be the more balanced option for the average Lightroom user.

Overall, these new CPUs are very decent for Lightroom, but most users likely won't see a major benefit from upgrading unless your machine is more than two years old. If you are already in the market for a new workstation, however, these are excellent CPUs and definitely should definitely be used over the older 7th Gen CPUs whenever possible.

Tags: Lightroom, Coffee Lake, 8th Gen, i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K
Jakub Badełek

Woah, that was quick ;) thanks for the tests! it looks like 8700K is really ood choice. A pity you didn't include older 6-core X99 chips like 6800 or 6850. Anyway, can't wait for Adobe Premiere test ;)

Posted on 2017-10-05 14:00:52

Hey Jakub, some of our older articles use a slightly older version of Lightroom, but the testing methodology is largely unchanged so the results should translate pretty well between them. You have to do a bit of math and it won't be exactly perfect due to the different software versions, but I would guess it will be within a few percent. In this article: https://www.pugetsystems.co... we found that the Core i7 7800X is almost identical in performance to the Core i7 6850K. We never tested the 6800, however. That CPU was kind of odd and not one we ever sold more than a handful of.

Comparing the two articles, the Core i7 8700K should be about 18% faster for most tasks in Lightroom compared to the Core i7 6850K, but about 15% slower for exporting.

Posted on 2017-10-05 16:28:08
Jakub Badełek

Hi Matt! many thanks for your response - I didn't expect such level of professionalism :D but there it is... I think some people with limited budget (like me ;) ) may wonder weather they should think of 6-core X99 or 6-core Coffee Lake (6850K with budget X99 mobo is right now cheaper than CL) but I think you just dispelled any doubts :) and all the "soldered IHS" and "more PCIe lanes" talk on the internet seems very insignificant.

Posted on 2017-10-06 06:53:29

Hi, could you maybe test also Xenon ? We made a extremly fast CAD workstation based on this CPU https://ark.intel.com/produ...

Posted on 2018-08-26 20:31:51

I'm curious about the develop scroll tests. Why are the coffee lake I5 and I3 slower with smart previews, while i7 is faster. Kaby lake review did not show such a difference between i7 and i5, why would it be the case with coffee lake?

Posted on 2017-10-05 17:50:09

Honestly, the answer is... no idea. That seemed weird to us as well, but we double checked the results and it is accurate. The AMD Ryzen CPUs also saw the same thing so it may have something to do with single threaded performance - the better your single threaded performance the faster you can scroll with Smart Previews.

Edit: I just went back and looked at our "CPU Comparison: Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, Broadwell-E, Skylake, Ryzen 7" article and in that article the AMD Ryzen CPUs are faster with Smart Previews. So... I have no idea at all. Most likely, there is something wonky or buggy in Lightroom 2015.12 that wasn't a problem in the previous version. We do multiple runs for our testing (a minimum of three, more if the results aren't consistent) so I am still confident that the results are accurate at least with this version of Lightroom. Weird, but accurate.

Posted on 2017-10-05 17:54:41

Could it be a lightoom issue, because I just looked at the original Ryzen review and there even Ryzens were faster with smart previews than without (20 sec with smart previews and about 30sec without), while in the current test they are also slower (28sec with smart previews and 24 without). So the current test shows completely different results with smart previews substantially slower than before for several cpus.
Not sure about the single threaded performance thought, since i5 7600k should not be faster than i5 8600k even in singlethreaded performance, yet in original review it performed very similar to i7.
I'm going to update my PC soon and i'm on the fence between the 8700K and 8600K (i intend to overclock, so the default clockspeed difference is meaningless for me), so i'm very interested in the results and it seems strange.

Posted on 2017-10-05 18:09:12

Yea, I think it is just Lightroom being... Lightroom. I think I was editing my comment when you were typing your reply, but I noticed the same thing too. Worst case, you buy an i5 8600K and performance is a bit low with Smart Previews until the next version. Things like this typically get fixed pretty quickly or just magically disappear so I wouldn't worry about that result too much to be honest.

Posted on 2017-10-05 18:50:00

Anyways, thanks for the reviews, i have not found a review site that reviews hardware for Lightroom and Photoshop (the places where i need processing power) indepth like you do, so it was my go-to-place once coffee lake reviews got released.
Now if only you'ld test for Hyper-threading efficiency (i7 vs i5 fixed to the same clockspeed for those interested in oc'ing or even simply i7 with HT on/off), it'd be, well, ideal.... ;)

Posted on 2017-10-05 19:09:23

This settles it. My next computer will surely have an 8700K.

Posted on 2017-10-05 22:04:17

Matt, always happy when you post your pro reviews. I have recently moved to capture one from Lr, i run a dual xeon system with realtively low corespeed and capture one is so much smoother and so much better threaded than lightroom, the performance difference is crazy. I don't know about user base but C1 is a nice alternative. But you have enough to test as it is ;)

Posted on 2017-10-06 09:27:08
Jakub Badełek

Adobe is rumored to release Lr 7 soon - maybe they'll bring better performance with higher core processors...

Posted on 2017-10-06 10:57:29

How much does Lightroom utilize the GPU? I'd like to see with/without GPU acceleration to see if it would make more sense to upgrade that than the CPU.

With the exception of the Export benchmark, the 8700K and 7700K are getting fairly similar results. That's disappointing. The Ryzens win here as well, so it looks like that takes advantage of the extra cores?

I am hoping LR7 will really push multi-threading.

If that is the case though, then maybe the 8 core Ryzens will be the way to go?

Thanks for the quick testing and I will be looking forward to the LR7 tests!

Posted on 2017-10-06 16:42:31

Nice post.But can you change the popular raw file(from canon 5d3 or Nikon d810 d850 etc.) instead of old fashion raw file Canon EOS REBEL T3i running on the 8th intel cores.

Posted on 2017-10-08 07:30:42

Updating our Lightroom testing has been on the to-do list, but it seems like that list is constantly getting longer rather than shorter. The biggest hurdle is usually simply getting our hands on test images that we have permission to use in our testing (including screenshots of the test, etc). If you think you could send us 100 random sample images (for things like import/export/previews) along with a set of images for both HDR and Panorama testing, toss us an email at labs@pugetsystems.com . Once we get those files, I'm pretty sure we could update before the next Lightroom testing we do.

Posted on 2017-10-09 17:53:14
Joe Geske

Matt, hey my name is Joe Geske, I own and operate Salt and Pine Photography in the Seattle area. I would be thrilled to send over some raw files for you guys to test with. My question for you is this, would you prefer photos from a real session or wedding? Landscape shots? A mix? I have access to an A7rII, D750, D800, D600, and 5DII. I could provide images from a mix of those, although the 5dII would have to be older images since it died a few years back. Let me know, because I would love to help out with test images that would be a bit more realistic, if you want stuff from a real session or wedding, I could provide samples from both an a7rii and D750, and get permission from our clients.

Posted on 2017-10-15 19:54:08

Hey Joe, I'm talking to someone already about getting some image sets, but definitely shoot me an email at labs@pugetsystems.com . Especially since you are roughly in the same area as us, that can often make things much easier! I'm on a trip right now, but I'll be able to get back to you next week and we can talk about raw files would be the most useful

Posted on 2017-10-17 19:58:09

So based on these tests. If your budget minded and don't mind going for a cup of coffee during your exports the i5-8600k is a better than the i7-7800x or i7-7820x? Any idea where the i7-8700 with it's slightly lower clock? Maybe about equal to the i7-7700k?

Looking at finally upgrading from an i7-2600k / Z77 system,

Posted on 2017-10-15 16:16:18

Any chance of getting a more budget minded build tested? Say the i5-8600k, i7-8700, or i5-7600K with 16bg of RAM, the GTX 1060 and standard SSD?

I'm mainly interested in development mode speed improvements where it seems core clock speed is more important then the number of cores.

Current config:
32gb RAM (really only seems to be useful when I open images in PS)
SSD for OS and APPs
HDD for images, catalogs, etc in RAID 1

Adding separate SSD for catalogs and previews
changing RAID 1 to RAID 0 with application to keep the array in sync with separate drive every few hours

Posted on 2017-10-18 16:24:11
Joe Geske

Do you have any thoughts as to why the 7800x seems to be significantly faster than the 8700k in export tasks? Seems like the 8700k should still be the faster cpu for that task with it's higher base clock for all cores, and faster turbo clock. Are we seeing that much of an improvement with the mesh architecture? or perhaps the quad channel memory is finally useful for something? I like many other am still waiting for my 8700k to ship, but I am getting tired of waiting, and from what you are showing here, a 7800 or 7820x overclocked to 8700k speeds would be faster than the 8700k rather than equal to it, which isn't what I expected.

Posted on 2017-10-15 19:59:09

PCIE lanes? The 7800x has 28 and the 8700k has 16. Just a guess.

I'm looking for development module improvements the most.

Posted on 2017-10-16 02:58:52

Really hard to know. It most likely has something to do with the underlying architecture - maybe even mesh like you mentioned or maybe something that isn't even really public. Quad channel RAM is probably the most likely culprit though.

You could overclock a 7800X or 7820X, but remember that you can also overclock the 8700K. So if you really want to get into doing things like that, comparing a stock CPU to an overclocked on isn't really a fair comparison.

Posted on 2017-10-17 19:50:57

gosh adobe suit is terrible

Posted on 2017-10-17 19:34:11

Can someone please test how the newly-announced Lightroom Classic CC uses multicore CPUs? I'm really curious how Adobe is achieving this claimed performance boost.

Posted on 2017-10-18 15:38:41
Adam Palmer

Me too! Posted the same thing before I saw your post

Posted on 2017-10-18 23:20:18

We will test it, but it might not be for a little bit. From what I've read, it sounds like they simply turned off some of the "fluff" that used to be there which results in better performance. So while the overall performance will be better, I'm not sure if it is going to really change the relative performance between different CPUs or make higher core count CPUs more viable. Impossible to say for sure without actually benchmarking it, however, so at this point that is just my guess.

Posted on 2017-10-19 16:49:34

On import LR Classic CC now maxes out every core in my system when in LR6 clearly previews were done with single CPU core. It is significantly faster now. Please test now the import/export CPU cores scalability. My bet is that i7 7940X and i7 8700K will swap places in the 1:1 preview generation chart.

Posted on 2017-10-19 21:11:35

I've been looking for information about what Adobe changed. They used to be fairly open about the improvements, but this recent update seems strangely secretive.

Posted on 2017-10-20 04:42:34

According to an article by Victoria Bampton aka "Lightroom Queen" one of the speed enhancements is a a new embedded preview workflow:


Posted on 2017-10-20 12:53:18

Hey Mclaren, just spamming through the comments to let you know we have our Lightroom Classic CC article up! https://www.pugetsystems.co...

Posted on 2017-10-26 00:02:39
Jakub Badełek

LR Classic CC (LR 7?) is just out - I can't wait for your tests, Matt ;)

Posted on 2017-10-18 20:14:46

Hey Jakub, just spamming through the comments to let you know we have our Lightroom Classic CC article up! https://www.pugetsystems.co...

Posted on 2017-10-26 00:02:24
Jakub Badełek

I like this type of "spam" ;) thanks!

Posted on 2017-10-27 08:58:31
Adam Palmer

Can't wait to see if the new lightroom classic has any better results with 6 or 8 core machines

Posted on 2017-10-18 23:19:29

Hey Adam, just spamming through the comments to let you know we have our Lightroom Classic CC article up! https://www.pugetsystems.co...

Posted on 2017-10-26 00:02:15
Adam Palmer

Thanks-- that was an interesting article. No more smart previews for me

Posted on 2017-10-26 22:21:17

Hi, would the integrated gpu of the 8700k be a good choice or is it reasonable to buy an additional graphics card? The one you use for the benchmark it quite expensive for 'just lighroom'. If the Igpu is too slow for the develop module (4k resolution), which card would you recommend? I'm not gaming at all, and it should be reasonable priced and quiet.

Posted on 2017-11-20 17:41:24

I've read a few places that recommend getting at least the one of the ##60 cards (760/960/1060). I went with a GTX 1060 / 6gb version. I'm only currently running a 2k monitor but I figure the 6gb will be worth it if/when I go to 4k.

Posted on 2017-11-22 17:22:24

Just anybody is interested in this. I compared the Igpu with a 1050 ti I got for a reasonable price. There is a difference when you heavily move the develop sliders, which simply feels a bit more smooth. I'm using the card instead of the Igpu of this. But I do not think that a faster card is needed. The 4gb on board memory are more than enough (about 2 GB used) for my 4k plus full HD dual screen setup.

Posted on 2017-12-12 08:06:56
Josh Silver

This is interesting. I'm looking at building a rig. I have a 2560 x 1440 monitor. You're saying I would be fine with just integrated graphics? That would save me a lot of $.

Posted on 2018-01-02 07:18:58

I would rather say a cheap gpu like the rx560 or 1050 ti (around 100€ models) are more than enough. The Igpu is OK, but a dedicated just feels a bit smoother.. At least for me with a 4k and full HD display.

Posted on 2018-01-03 22:54:14
Josh Silver

Ok thanks, that makes sense to me.

Posted on 2018-01-03 23:07:55
Daniel Lopez

Thank you very much for your work. My old i7 3770k at stock clocks (3.5 ghz, turbo 3,9 ghz), exports 100 images from Canon 600D (Rebel 3Ti) in 4 min 18 sec. I can´t believe the i7 8700k is more than 4 times faster. I used Lightroom Classic CC.

Posted on 2017-12-11 14:31:01
Phil Davies

I have a capable yet elderly PC which I want to upgrade from (i7-920, EX58-UD5, 24GB). Where should my money go for Photoshop/LR/Adobe CC use (not really a PP/AE user).....X299 for i7-7820X or X370 for i7-8700? - I'd look at probably installing 64GB on either platform (or is also overkill?)....your thoughts appreciated...

Posted on 2018-03-06 19:53:02

If you work with large numbers of images at once, then I would go with the X299 w/ Core i7 7820X since it will be faster for generating previews, exporting, and things like that. If previews and exporting isn't a major bottleneck and want to prioritize general "snappiness" in Lightroom and Photoshop, then go with the Z370 w/ Core i7 8700 (or even better a Core i7 8700K). You might want to check out our newer article that included the 7820X and 8700K with the latest version of Lightroom: https://www.pugetsystems.co... . A lot changed in 7.2 which might affect your decision.

Posted on 2018-03-06 19:57:19
Phil Davies

Thanks Matt......I shoot quite a bit of sport, so can return to process a good number of images after a shoot, so I'll take a look at X299...presumably 64GB will be of benefit over 32GB for previews and exporting too?

Posted on 2018-03-06 20:19:13

Lightroom isn't actually very heavy on RAM usage, so 32GB should be plenty even if you have a very large number of images. I don't think 64GB is going to be necessary or give you any sort of performance increase, but one thing you could do is simply make sure you have some RAM slots open to allow for future expansion.

Posted on 2018-03-06 20:29:00

By any chance, have you tested how AMD Threadripper stands in these Lightroom tests? I will be setting up a new build for Lightroom and a bit of gaming and am considering 8700K vs x299 vs AMD threadripper 1950x, and was wondering if it is wotrth the extra buck (ca 800 GBP)

Posted on 2018-04-11 11:53:09

We included the 1950x in our latest testing: https://www.pugetsystems.co... . Make sure to look at the second chart in the conclusion since that is the one that is comparing CPU performance in Lightroom Classic CC 7.2. Overall, Thereadripper is OK in Lightroom, but the Intel CPUs of the same price are faster. So if you really want to upgrade from a 8700k, you are better off using the Core i9 7900X instead (unless you find some big sale or something like that). Be aware that the 8700k will actually be faster for many tasks, so "upgrading" the CPU won't make everything faster in LR, some things will actually be slower.

Posted on 2018-04-11 14:37:36

Thanks for the swift response. I am building new system, actually upgrading from it 2500K 😀. My question is, is it worth to invest in x299 platform or threadripper or the 8700k will be future proof...

Posted on 2018-04-11 15:11:17

It depends on what you do. If you work with thousands of images at a time and need better export speed or speed when generating previews then x299 can give you a noticeable performance bump. If you spend more time on individual images in the develop panel, then a 8700k is the better option. Hard to know what will be better for future-proofing, but GPU acceleration is probably the biggest thing that will change in the future so either platform should be great for that.

Posted on 2018-04-11 15:18:35

All right. I operateoperateos5lt on a couple hundred imported pictures, devolping one by one and exporting up to a hundred at a time. I'm planning a gtx1080ti and 32gb of ram. Considering how powerful 8700k is, and that it will save me around 800 quid, I might decide on that than. Thanks for your help.

Posted on 2018-04-11 15:27:43