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TL;DR: Intel Core 10th Gen vs AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen for Lightroom Classic
In Adobe Lightroom Classic, the Intel Core 10th Gen processors such as the i9 10900K and i7 10700K do very well in active tasks like scrolling through images and switch modules – coming in at about 5% faster than a similarly priced AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen CPU.
However, Lightroom Classic currently heavily favors AMD processors for passive tasks like exporting which allows the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3800X to be around 25-30% faster than the Core i9 10900K and i7 10700K respectively. For most users, this makes the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen processors a much better overall choice for a Lightroom Classic workstation.
Adobe Lightroom Classic is an interesting application when it comes to CPU performance since it has some very interesting performance quirks – chief among them the fact that AMD processors are overwhelming faster than Intel for a number of tasks like exporting and generating smart previews. As far as we are aware, there has not been an official explanation as to why this is from Adobe, Intel, or AMD, but the fact of the matter is that if exporting is a bottleneck in your workflow, going with AMD can make exporting significantly faster.
However, with the launch of Intel's new 10th Gen desktop processors, it is possible that Intel has fixed whatever is causing this performance issue (assuming that it is even related to the processor at all and not something in the software). Even if the exporting performance still isn't on par with AMD, it is also possible that these new processors will be significantly faster for active tasks like scrolling through images, switching modules, applying adjustments, etc, which may make them ideal for photographers that do heavier edits on a smaller number of images.
In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel 10th Gen Core i9 10900K, i7 10700K, and i5 10600K in Lightroom Classic compared to a range of CPUs including the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, Intel X-10000 Series, AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, as well as the previous generation Intel 9th Gen processors. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, 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.
Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:
|AMD Ryzen Test Platform|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)|
|AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen Test Platform|
|CPU||AMD TR 3990X ($3,990)
AMD TR 3970X ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X ($1,399)
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI|
|RAM||4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)|
In order to see how each of these configurations performs in Lightroom Classic, we will be using our PugetBench for Lightroom Classic V0.9 benchmark and Lightroom Classic 2020 (9.3). 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.
One thing we want to note is that the pre-launch motherboards we received from Gigabyte (and multiple other manufacturers) were not using Intel's specified power limits in their default BIOS settings. This isn't anything new, but now that Intel is being more aggressive about adding cores and pushing the frequency, this is resulting in much higher power draw (and heat) than you would expect from a 125W processor – often resulting in 100c temperatures after only a few seconds of load. Because of this, we decided to manually set the PL1 and PL2 power limits in the BIOS. We used a value of 125W for the PL1 setting on all three Intel 10th Gen CPUs we tested along with the following PL2 limits according to Intel's specifications:
- Core i9 10900K: 250W
- Core i7 10700K: 229W
- Core i5 10600K: 182W
Setting these power limits made our Noctua NH-U12S more than enough to keep these CPUs properly cooled and helps match our philosophy here at Puget Systems of prioritizing stability and reliability over raw performance in our workstations.
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.
Benchmark Analysis: Intel Core 10th Gen vs AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen
To start off our analysis of the Intel 10th Gen desktop processors we are going to look at the performance in Lightroom Classic versus AMD's 3rd Gen Ryzen processors. This is likely to be what the majority of readers are going to be interested in, so we decided to pull these results out from the full slew of results that are in the next section.
From an overall perspective, AMD continues to maintain a solid performance lead in Lightroom Classic. However, if we dig into the results a bit deeper, we find that most of this performance advantage comes from passive tasks like exporting and generating previews. For these types of tasks, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is on average about 35% faster than the new Intel Core i9 10900K while the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X is 23% faster than the Intel Core i7 10700K.
However, things are a bit different for active tasks like scrolling through images, switching modules and applying adjustments. For these tasks, the Intel 10th Gen processors take the lead with the Intel Core i9 10900K and i5 10700K beating the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and 3800X by a small 5% respectively.
Overall, this will likely make the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen processors a more attractive option for most Lightroom Classic users, although if exporting is not at all a problem in your workflow, the Intel 10th Gen processors can be a great choice as well.
How does Intel 10th Gen stack up overall?
Looking at how the Intel 10th Gen processors compare against a wider range of CPUs, there are a couple of key points we want to note:
First, compared to the previous 9th Gen processors, we are looking at about a 3-7% performance gain with the new 10th Gen models. This may not be all that exciting, but this is fairly typical for CPU launches from Intel over the last few years.
Next, if passive tasks like exporting is a concern for your workflow, you really can't beat the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen or (if you have the budget for it) the more expensive AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen processors. Until Lightroom Classic makes changes to their code that allows Intel to catch up in performance, AMD is simply the better choice for these kinds of tasks. It isn't by a small amount either – AMD can at times be up to 2x faster than a similarly priced Intel CPU!
For active tasks, however, the new Intel Core i9 10900K and Core i7 10700K both beat comparable or significantly more expensive AMD and Intel options. The performance gain over AMD's Ryzen 3rd Gen processors may be only ~5%, but if you spend the vast majority of your time tweaking images in Lightroom and a relatively small amount of time exporting, these processors are a solid choice.
Is the Intel Core 10th Gen or AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen better for Lightroom Classic?
Between the Intel 10th Gen and AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen CPUs, most users are likely going to want an AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen processor due to their significantly better performance in tasks like exporting. The Intel 10th Gen Core i9 10900K and i7 10700K are a bit better for active tasks, but for most, it will be worth giving up a barely noticeable performance gain in these tasks for close to a 2x improvement in export performance.
Overall, this makes AMD's Ryzen 3rd Gen processors our current recommendation for Lightroom Classic. If you export an unusually high number of images every day and have the budget for it, the AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen CPUs (in particular the 3960X) may also be worth a look as they can export images up to 2x faster than a Ryzen processor, but you would likely need to be exporting images for a significant portion of your day for one of those processors to be worth the investment.
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, and Photoshop), 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.