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Premiere Pro CC 2017.1.2 CPU Comparison: Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, Broadwell-E, Kaby Lake, Ryzen 7

Written on June 26, 2017 by Matt Bach
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Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction
  2. Test Setup
  3. Rendering Previews
  4. Exporting
  5. Warp Stabilize
  6. Live Playback
  7. Conclusion
  8. Where are your X299 systems?
  9. Premiere Pro Workstations

Introduction

AMD's launch of Ryzen in March marked the first time in years that Intel was seriously challenged in the enthusiast CPU market. Now, with the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs officially launched, we get our first taste of Intel's response. It is really just a taste, however, since Intel has only released their 4, 6, 8, and 10 core CPUs so far. According to Intel's E3 press release, there will be a 12 core CPU available in August along with 14, 16, and 18 core CPUs in October. Because of this, we won't be able to look at the entire Skylake-X line-up today, but what we can do is see how the CPUs that are currently available compare to Intel's previous generation CPUs as well as AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs.

There are a wide variety of tasks we could test in Premiere Pro to see how these new CPUs perform, but in this article we will specifically be looking at:

  1. Rendering previews
  2. Exporting
  3. Performing a Warp Stabilization
  4. Live playback performance

Our testing includes test footage with resolutions of 4K, 6K, and 8K using six different codecs (more information in the test setup section). In total, we ran nearly 90 unique tests on 10 different CPUs resulting in almost 900 data points. If you would rather skip over our analysis of the individual benchmarks, feel free to jump right to the conclusion section.

Test Setup

Since the new processors include two different CPU architectures, our testing platform is less straightforward than normal. Most of the new CPUs support DDR4-2666 RAM, although the Intel Core i7 7740X (Kaby Lake-X) CPU only supports four sticks of RAM rather than eight. In addition, the Intel Core i7 7800X (Skylake-X) only supports DDR4-2400 RAM for some odd reason. We opted to test with the highest officially supported RAM configuration for each CPU, so components used in our X299 test platform requires an entire table just for itself:

To act as a comparison to the new CPUs, we will also be testing AMD's Ryzen 7 1700X/1800X CPUs as well as the Intel Core i7 7700K (Kaby Lake) and Intel Core i7 6850K/6900K/6950X (Broadwell-E) CPUs. Again, we will be testing with the best officially supported RAM configuration for each CPU.

Inconsistent RAM aside, one thing we do want to point out is how much more affordable the Skylake-X CPUs are compared to the previous generation Broadwell-E CPUs. Where a six core CPU from Intel used to cost over $600, you can now purchase an eight core CPU for roughly the same cost. In fact, the i7 7820X is even a hair less expensive than AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs. This means that regardless of any performance gains we may see, Skylake-X is at the very least a big deal in terms of cost.

Before getting into our testing, we also want to point out is that while our test platforms are using a single hard drive, that is not actually what we would typically recommend to our customers. We have found in our testing that using at least a two drive configuration with the media cache and scratch files on a secondary drive can make a big impact when it comes to importing footage and tasks like conforming audio. However, since we will not be testing any of these actions in this article we opted to use a single drive simply to cut down on the number of variables.

Most of the media we will be using is available from the Sample R3D Files and were transcoded to the various codecs we wanted to test.

4K

EPIC DRAGON
3840x2160
23.976 FPS

6K

WEAPON 6K
6144x3077
23.976 FPS

8K

WEAPON 8K S35
8192 x 3456
50 FPS

To test exporting and rendering previews we used a moderately complex timeline involving multiple clips, Lumetri Color, multicam footage, and some other effects like a logo overlay, Gaussian Blur and Cross Dissolves. If you want a more in-depth look at what our timelines look like, we recorded a short video explaining our test process:

Our 4K VR testing was performed using the "Sample 1 - Ring road motorbike ride" footage from the Autopano Video Benchmarking page. We tested using both some built-in Premiere Pro effects (Lumetri Color, text overlay, and cross dissolve) as well as using the Mettle Skybox 360 VR Tools and Skybox 360/VR Transitions plug-ins to apply a number of effects such as Denoise, Rotate Sphere, Sharpen, and Iris Wipe. We typically try to avoid using plug-ins in our testing, but since Premiere Pro only has basic support for VR at the moment we felt it made sense to also look at the popular Mettle plug-in for VR projects. In addition, Adobe recently acquired Mettle Skybox which means all Creative Cloud customers will be able to use this plugin for free by the end of the year.

Rendering Previews

Rendering previews is something you never want to have to do since it interrupts your workflow, but if you do complex editing it is sometimes unavoidable. Because of this, being able to render previews as quickly as possible is often an important part of a Premiere Pro workstation.

Premiere Pro Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Render Previews Benchmark

[+] Show Raw Results

Since we are comparing 10 different CPUs across 16 different projects that include a range of resolutions and source codecs, it would take us a long time to go through the results one by one. Because of this, we decided to compile all the results into an overall average for each CPU compared to the Intel Core i7 6850K. This CPU has long been our entry recommendation for most video editing workstations which should make it a great point to compare the other CPUs against. If you wish to examine the raw results yourself, you can do so by clicking on the "Show Raw Results" link under the chart.

Even with the results averaged, there is a lot to discuss. Starting at the bottom of the chart with the quad core CPUs, the Intel Core i7 7740X ended up being about 5% faster than the Core i7 7770K. This is more than we expected given that they have the same maximum Turbo Boost frequency, but the higher base clock and support for DDR4-2666 RAM made a bigger difference than we expected. However, for only another $50 the Core i7 7800X is about 13% faster than the Core i7 7740X. In fact, it is even a bit faster than AMD's Ryzen 7 1700X for a few dollars less, and only a few percent slower than the Ryzen 7 1800X.

Moving up to the Core i7 7820X, we saw a really nice 17% jump in performance over the Core i7 7800X. This makes it both cheaper and 20% faster than the similarly priced Core i7 6850K and fares well compared to the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X from price-to-performance viewpoint.

At the (current) top of Intel's new CPU stack, the Core i9 7900X was a bit faster than the Core i7 7820X but only by about 5%. For a $400 price premium that isn't all that great, but compared to Intel's previous generation processors it is about 6% better than you could previously get at almost half the cost.

Exporting

Exporting is one of the biggest time sinks for a Premiere Pro user and is often the go-to metric for measuring performance. For this test, we looked at 35 different combinations of source footage and export settings. This includes 4K, 6K, and 8K resolutions along with H.264, DNxHR HQ, ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 4444, RED, and H.265 codecs. In addition, we will also be looking at VR projects using both built-in effects as well as with the popular Mettle plugin.

Premiere Pro Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Exporting Benchmark

[+] Show Raw Results

Just like in the previous section, since we are comparing 10 different CPUs across 35 different projects that use a range of resolutions, source codecs, and export settings, we decided to compile all the results into an overall average for each CPU compared to the Intel Core i7 6850K. If you have the time and will, feel free to examine the raw results yourself by clicking on the "Show Raw Results" link below the chart.

The results for exporting are not much different than what we saw when rendering previews, but again starting with the quad core CPUs we saw about a 6% performance gain with the Core i7 7740X compared to the Core i7 7770K. For a small price increase, however, the Core i7 7800X is even faster - coming in at about 14% faster than the Core i7 7740X. This also makes it a hair faster than AMD's Ryzen 7 1700X for a few dollars less and only 3% slower than the Ryzen 7 1800X.

Moving up to the Core i7 7820X, we saw a terrific 20% performance gain over the Core i7 7800X which makes it both cheaper and significantly faster than any of the previous generation Core i7 6XXX CPUs. Even compared to the i7 6950X the Core i7 7820X should be noticeably faster when exporting projects while being less than a third the cost!

The performance gain isn't quite as large with the Core i9 7900X, but it was still about 6% faster than the Core i7 7820X on average. If you dig into our raw results, you will notice that this performance gain was mostly from the projects that used either RED or VR footage. If your work involves either of these types of footage, you will likely notice a large improvement in performance but otherwise there is not a large difference in export speeds compared to the i7 7820X.

Warp Stabilize

While exporting and rendering previews may be the easiest and most common thing to benchmark in Premiere Pro, we have received a lot of feedback that performing a warp stabilize is another task where high performance is important. We have found that the time it takes to complete a warp stabilize analysis does not vary much on the source codec, but the resolution does make a big difference so we will be testing with a 4K H.264 clip as well as a 8K ProRes 4444 clip.

Since warp stabilize is not well threaded (meaning that it does not take great advantage of multiple CPU cores), we also opted to split our test clip into multiple parts and analyze all of them at the same time in order to force Premiere into making more effective use of all the CPU cores. This is a trick some people use to speed up the time it takes to analyze a single clip, but it is also a great indicator of performance when you have multiple clips that need to be stabilized. With this in mind, we not only timed how long it takes to apply a warp stabilization effect to a single 10 second clip, but also how long it takes if the clip is split into 2, 4, 8, and 16 "sub-clips" that are all analyzed at the same time.

Premiere Pro Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Warp Stabilize Benchmark

[+] Show Raw Results

While we were able to get away with an overall average in the last two sections, the results for warp stabilize depends so heavily on the number of clips you are analyzing that we decided to show both the average result with a single clip and with 16 clips. Feel free to examine the raw results if you would like to see the results for 2, 4, and 8 clips, but the results for those fell between the single and 16 clip results exactly as you would expect so we opted to not muddy the chart with even more data.

Starting with a single clip, all of the 6-10 core CPUs (both Broadwell-E and the new Skylake-X) performed roughly on par with each other. There was really no advantage to using a Broadwell-E CPU or a Skylake-X one. However, due to the higher single-threaded performance of the Core i7 7740X and 7770K, both of those CPUs gave excellent results coming in at 20-27% faster than the higher core count Intel CPUs. Between those two CPUs, the Kaby Lake-X Core i7 7740X was about 7% faster than the Core i7 7770K.

Upping the clip count to 16, however, gives us vastly different results. With this many clips, the higher core count CPUs are able to really take advantage of all their cores. Starting with the Core i7 7800X, we found that it performed roughly on par with the previous generation Core i7 6850K even though it is only about 60% the cost. Moving up to the Core i7 7820X, we saw about a 19% performance gain over the i7 7800X. The Core i9 7900X was a further 8% faster than the i7 7820X, outperforming or matching the more expensive i7 6900K and 6950X.

Live Playback

Live playback performance is a challenge for us to accurately test since whether you can play a timeline at full, half, quarter, etc. resolution is highly dependent not only on your source footage but also what effects you have applied to the timeline. To try to keep things universally applicable, we opted to test 10 different projects using 4K, 6K, and 8K footage with multiple codecs across three relatively simple timelines. What we wanted to see was if we would be able to play the timeline at either full or half resolution without dropping any frames - even if it was just one or two at the very start of playback.

Basic

  • 4 clips in series
  • No effects
  • No transitions

Lumetri Color

  • 4 clips via multicam sequence
  • Lumetri Color Correction
  • No transitions

Lumetri & Cross Dissolve

  • 4 clips via multicam sequence
  • Lumetri Color Correction
  • Cross dissolve

Premiere Pro Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Live Playback Benchmark

[+] Show Raw Results

If there is a codec you typically use that we happened to use it in our testing, we recommend taking a look at the raw results to see how each CPU performed for that specific codec. For a more general overview, we created a scoring& system based on how many timelines each CPU was able to run at either full or half resolution. Every successful playback without dropping any frames at full resolution is 1 point while every playback at half resolution is .5 points. This isn't a perfect system by any means, and if you have any recommendation on a better method we would love to hear it in the comments!

Using our score-based system, you can get a pretty decent idea of how each CPU might affect live playback performance. Honestly, the results were a lot closer than we expected. The Core i7 7800X and 7820X both had a score of 20 while the i9 7900X had a core of 21.5 since it was able to play an additional three timelines at half resolution - the 6K RED Basic and Lumetri timelines along with the 8K ProRes 4444 Basic timeline. This means that the i9 7900X is slightly better than the previous generation CPUs for live playback, but the i7 7800X and i7 7820X are really about the same.

Conclusion

New CPUs are always exciting to test, but the new Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs are a bit odd since only about half the CPUs are currently available. At the moment, we have four, six, eight, and ten core options with a 12 core CPU due to arrive in August. After that, there are another three CPUs coming in October with 14, 16, and 18 cores.

This means that we really only have the low and mid-range CPUs available right now which were only moderately faster than the CPUs they are replacing. What is different, however, is the pricing of these CPUs. Looking at the overall performance including rendering previews, exporting, warp stabilize, and live playback, we saw the following average performance from the CPUs we tested:

Premiere Pro Skylake-X 7900X 7820X 7800X Overall Benchmark Results

If you simply compare the new CPUs to the ones from the previous generation that have similar core counts, the average performance gains are only around 5%. However, there were a few times not shown in the average where Skylake-X did have a significant nice bump in performance - namely if you work with RED or VR footage. In these cases, we found that the Core i9 7900X was about 20% faster than the Core i7 6950X when exporting and about 10% faster when rendering previews. The i9 7900X was also better at playing back 6K RED footage live - it was the only CPU tested that was able to play two of our three 6K RED timelines at half resolution without dropping any frames.

Pricing may not be as exciting as raw performance, but cost is really the bigger story here. In most cases you should be able to get about 5% higher performance for just a bit more than half the cost! This also affects the ever on-going "AMD vs Intel" debate. When we looked at the Premiere Pro performance of AMD's Ryzen CPUs back in March, the AMD CPUs were able to hold their own pretty well against the Intel CPUs. While the AMD Ryzen CPUs have seen performance gains since then (due to driver/BIOS and software improvements), the lower price of Intel's Skylake-X CPUs puts them firmly in the lead at the moment.

If you examine the individual results from each section, you will find that the Intel Core i7 7800X is a hair cheaper than the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X while being slightly faster for exporting/rendering previews and about 24% faster for warp stabilize. Averaged out, this makes the i7 7800X about 10% faster overall for $10 less. One step up from that, the Intel Core i7 7820X is a bit more expensive than the Ryzen 7 1800X, but in exchange it is a solid 17% faster at exporting, 15% faster at rendering previews, 32% faster at warp stabilize, and better at live playback. On average, this makes the i7 7820X about 18% faster than the AMD 7 1800X for $100 more. X299 motherboards do tend to be around $120 more than the lowest end AMD motherboard which will negate most of this pricing advantage, but keep in mind that the more affordable AMD motherboards are often lacking in features like WiFi or USB 3.1 and often use lower quality components to achieve the low price points. In addition, the AMD Ryzen CPUs only support 64GB of RAM and 24 PCI-E lanes while the Intel 6-10 cores support up to 128GB officially (or up to 512GB on X299 boards that support Registered RAM) and have either 28 or 44 PCI-E lanes.

The bottom line is that these new Intel CPUs are attractive more due to their pricing than their raw performance. They showed nice performance gains with RED and VR footage, but overall they are only about 5% faster than the previous generation Broadwell-E CPUs. This may change when the higher core count CPUs are launched later this year, but for now there is little reason to upgrade to Skylake-X if you have a Broadwell-E CPU. On the other hand, if you are already in the market for a new workstation the large drops in price means that you should be able to get much higher performance for your dollar than you could with the previous generation Intel CPUs.

Where are your X299 systems?

We plan on moving our workstations to X299 in the near future, but we are currently still evaluating and qualifying the different motherboards, CPUs, and related hardware. Puget Systems is committed to only bringing a product to market that is mature and reliable so we rarely offer new hardware immediately at launch. If you are interested in X299 and wish to be notified when we have completed our qualification process, feel free to save a configuration from one of our Premiere Pro workstations listed below with notes in the comment field expressing your interest in X299. Or simply send us an email at sales@pugetsystems.com

Tags: Premiere Pro, Skylake-X, Ryzen 7, Broadwell-E, Kaby Lake-X
CASEYV

Hi Matt, Can you advise what CPU cooling you were using for these benchmarks? And also if you experienced any super high CPU temperatures whilst running the tests?

Posted on 2017-06-30 23:31:28
AlbertS

"According to Intel's E3 press release, there will be a 12 core CPU available in August along with 14, 16, and 18 core CPUs in October. Because of this, we won't be able to look at the entire Skylake-X line-up today, but what we can do is see how the CPUs that are currently available compare to Intel's previous generation CPUs as well as AMD's Ryzen 7 CPUs."
Thanks again for your comprehensive testing. I am amazed at the effort you put into it.. I understand individual workflow and source camera formats will determine best user CPU/GPU and averages can be misleading - but there is a declining value return on more cores vs CPU clock speed due to parallelism limitations in a single app. In your Overall Average it's interesting to note that the i7-7800X 6 core @ $389 is 102% vs the i7-7900X 10 core @ $999 is 113% is only 16% more performance for 257% more money. That 16% may also be due, in part, to the fact that the 7800X is missing Intel's Turbo Boost 3 which is present only in the 8 & 10 core CPUs. Likewise, the 7820X 8 core vs 7900X 10 core is shows only 5% more performance for 167% more money. 12-18 core Xeons (SkylakeX is based on existing Xeons with ECC removed) always performed best as server CPUs as HEDT apps can't use the extra cores. Do you expect to see much, if any, further performance gains going from 10 cores at $999 to 18 cores at $2000+?
I do see an advantage of new Intel 6 vs 4 cores at a similar cost but it's clear that the 4 core 7740X 4.3-4.5Ghz @ $339 matches the the 8 core Ryzen 1800X 3.6-4Ghz @ $499 performance at 95% where faster clock speed offsets the advantage of double the number of cores.
For my next 4K edit PC, I would like to see the new 8th gen 6 core Coffee Lake i7-8700K (due soon) tested as Intel now claims it's 30% faster than Kaby Lake at a similar price and retains socket 1151 so motherboard cost will be lower than X99 and use something like the Asus Prime Z270A used in your Kaby Lake benchmark. You may be able to offer a consumer priced HEDT for 4K editing which would appeal to a larger market.
http://www.trustedreviews.c...

Posted on 2017-07-20 08:27:25

The issue with CPUs like the i7 7700K and (presumably) the new Coffe Lake CPUs is that they are limited to 64GB of RAM. For people doing basic work in Premiere Pro or hobbyists that is probably just fine but for anyone doing 4K that is really the minimum amount of RAM we would recommend. If you use Photoshop, After Effects, or even have a lot of internet browser tabs open at the same time, you should probably upgrade to 128GB of RAM since 64GB isn't quite enough in most cases.

Also, I doubt Intel's claim of a 30% performance improvement will apply to everything. That will probably be true for heavily threaded applications like 3D rendering, but probably not Premiere Pro or similar applications. If they have to reduce the frequency too much to compensate for the higher core count, it is entirely possible that the 6 core will actually be slower in Premiere Pro than the quad core. That probably won't be the case, but I would expect a closer to 10-15% performance gain in Premiere. That's just a complete guess, however, since there is no real way to know until we can run actual benchmarks.

Posted on 2017-07-20 17:24:18