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Premiere Pro CC 2017.1.2 CPU Performance: Core i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K

Written on October 6, 2017 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

Higher CPU core counts have been an ongoing theme this year and while consumer CPUs have been stuck on four cores for a long time, Intel is not about to leave their Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs out to dry. We won't be seeing monster 18 core CPUs like the X-series Core i9 7980XE, but the new 8th Gen CPUs do sport an additional two cores across the board. That may not seem like all that much, but considering that for the i5 and i7 CPUs this equates to a 50% increase while on the i3 CPUs this is a straight doubling of core count, it is actually a very significant increase. What is even better is that the clock speeds have not been significantly reduced and the Turbo Boost 2.0 speeds are actually a bit higher! This should result in terrific gains in an application like Premiere Pro where more cores can help, but keeping a high operating frequency is also important.

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 Premiere Pro. If you wish to read one of our other Coffee Lake articles to see how they perform in applications like Photoshop, Lightroom, and After Effects, you can view a full list here.

There are a wide variety of tasks we could test in Premiere Pro to see how these 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 more than 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

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 we wanted to include a number of CPUs that we consider to be among the best options for a Premiere Pro workstation regardless of budget. This will allow us to evaluate the new Coffee Lake CPUs against similarly priced options as well as against the overall top performers.

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. DDR4-2666 RAM should only make a few percent difference, 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.

One other thing we 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 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

The first task in Premiere Pro we want to look at is rendering previews. This is something you never really 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 Coffee Lake Core i7 8700K Core i5 8600K Core i3 8350K 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 7700K. As the highest-end CPU from the previous 7th Gen CPU line, it should be a great comparison point to judge the new 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.

Overall, the new CPUs performed extremely well. In fact, this might be the highest performance increase we have seen over a single generation in a very long time. For a small $20 increase in price, we saw a massive 31% increase in performance with the Core i7 8700K compared to the old Core i7 7700K. This puts this CPU solidly above both the AMD Ryzen CPUs as well as the Core i7 7800X. It isn't quite to the level of the Core i7 7820X, but it is within shouting distance.

Moving one CPU down, the 8% higher performance from the Core i5 8600K versus the Core i7 7700K is what we would typically expect from one CPU generation to the next. However, this 8% gain is comparing a Core i5 CPU to the previous generation's top-end Core i7 CPU so this really isn't fair to the Core i5 8600K. The fact that a Core i5 CPU is out-performing the best Core i7 from the previous generation is terrific.

The Core i3 8350K lagged behind a bit as we expected, but even that CPU was very respectable considering it's low price point.

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 Coffee Lake Core i7 8700K Core i5 8600K Core i3 8350K 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 7700K. 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.

Once again, the new CPUs showed some very impressive performance gains. This time, the Core i7 8700K was an even larger 36% faster than the Core i7 7700K! We said it in the previous section, but it is worth saying again that this kind of performance gain from a single CPU generation in an application like Premiere Pro is extremely rare to see.

The Core i5 8600K and Core i3 8350K performed about as well as they did in the previous section, although the Core i5 8600K managed to beat the Core i7 7700K by a few more percentage points.

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 for some users. 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 an 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 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 Coffee Lake Core i7 8700K Core i5 8600K Core i3 8350K 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 about as you would expect so we opted to not muddy the chart with even more data.

The performance gains are not as large as they were in the previous two sections, but the Core i7 8700K was still a decent 5% faster than the Core i7 7700K for a single clip and an excellent 31% faster for a 16 clips. The Core i5 8600K was able to roughly match the Core i7 7700K for a single clip, but was a good 13% faster for 16 clips. At the bottom end of our CPU line, the Core i3 8350K was only slightly slower than the Core i7 7700K for a single clip but suffered a bit with 16 clips, coming in at 13% slower than the i7 7700K. Still, the fact that we are even talking about a Core i3 CPU being in the same ballpark as a Core i7 CPU is impressive.

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 is 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 Coffee Lake Core i7 8700K Core i5 8600K Core i3 8350K Live Playback Benchmark

[+] Show Raw Results

For a general overview of how each CPU performed for live playback, 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. However, if there is a codec you typically use that we happened to include in our testing, we highly recommend looking at the raw results to see how each CPU performed for that specific codec.

Using our score-based system, you can get a pretty decent idea of how each CPU might affect live playback performance. Overall, this is really the least exciting portion of our testing with the Core i7 8700K doing just as well as the Core i7 7700K. You could view this as a disappointment, but consider the fact that this means it also performed the same as the more expensive Core i7 7820X and beat the AMD Ryzen CPUs by a small margin.

The Core i5 8600K also did fairly and only fell behind a bit with 4K RED footage that included Lumetri Color Correction and cross dissolves. Even then, the fact that it can play that kind of project at half resolution without dropping any frames is pretty good.

Conclusion

Some of our recent Premiere Pro testing (such as our look at the Core i9 7940X, 7960X, and 7980XE) has been pretty underwhelming with only minor gains from new CPUs. As Intel and AMD are getting into the 12+ core range, we simply are not seeing a significant benefit from having more CPU cores. However, what is different with these Coffee Lake CPUs is that we are nowhere near the point of diminishing returns in Premiere Pro. These CPUs may not be as powerful as some of the X-series CPUs, but compared to the CPUs they are replacing they are amazing.

Premiere Pro Coffee Lake Core i7 8700K Core i5 8600K Core i3 8350K Overall Benchmark Results

Starting with the Core i7 8700K, we saw huge performance gains compared to the Core i7 7700K. A 31% gain when rendering previews and a 36% gain when exporting is a staggering increase in performance. Even warp stabilize was on average 24% faster than the Core i7 7700K! Live playback didn't improve much, but this makes the Core i7 8700K a terrific CPU for those on a budget. There are certainly higher performing CPUs available like the Core i7 7820X, Core i9 7900X, and Core i9 7940X, but considering the price point of the Core i7 8700K this is a very impressive result.

The Core i5 8600K isn't quite as amazing at first glance, but with the exception of live playback performance even this CPU was a solid 8-14% faster than the Core i7 7700K. Keep in mind that this is comparing a Core i5 CPU to the top-end Core i7 CPU from the previous generation so a 8-14% performance difference here is especially good.

At the bottom end of the CPUs we tested, the Core i3 8350K held up pretty well but it certainly isn't in the same league as the Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs. It has been a while since we have tested other Core i5 and i3 CPUs in Premiere Pro, but based on our older testing we would say that the Core i3 8350K should perform just a bit below a previous generation Core i5 7600K.

So are any of these CPUs something we would recommend for Premiere Pro? That is a hard question to answer, especially since Premiere Pro has a very wide user base. For those that only work with 1080p or 4K footage and are on a tight budget, the performance you get for the price is certainly excellent. If you have a bit higher budget, however, there are higher end options available that will give you significantly more performance.

An additional consideration is the fact that these CPUs are limited to 64GB of RAM. That is plenty for 1080p or 4K footage, but if you are a professional that is planning to use 6K or 8K footage in the future then 64GB is likely not enough. This RAM limitation is the main reason we would not recommend these CPUs to most video editing professionals, but for more of a hobbyist or those just dabbling in Premiere Pro, the Core i7 8700K would be an excellent choice.

Overall, the performance we saw from these new CPUs in Premiere Pro is very impressive - up to a 36% performance improvement compared to the previous generation! If that doesn't make you say "wow", we don't know what will. They may not be the right choice for professional video editors, but if you are on a budget and don't work with 6K or 8K footage they are certainly prime CPUs to consider.

Tags: Premiere Pro, Coffee Lake, 8th Gen, i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K
Reginald Appiah

Hello Matt! Thank you for this detailed article! After reading this, I payed the most keen attention to live playback. As an editor, I value that MOST because its key to perfecting my work scrubbing the timeline and expecting little to no stuttering. Judging by the article, it seems a balanced ratio of high core count and core clock increases live playback performance. Anyways though, I feel I cannot assume the same results for a program like Sony Vegas 9. Which leads me to another question: How can one gain the most playback performance in an OpenCL program like Sony Vegas? I have been curious about this for years, experiencing constant preview lag. It would be a pleasure to find out.

Posted on 2017-10-19 06:43:14
AlbertS

Thanks Matt - Please add the x370 m/board to your workstation configure links above :)

Posted on 2017-10-19 16:50:29