Premiere Pro CPU Roundup: AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 2, Intel 9th Gen, Intel X-seriesWritten on July 22, 2019 by Matt Bach
In our Photoshop and After Effects testing, we have already seen that AMD has almost entirely closed the gap with Intel when it comes to lightly threaded applications. Unlike After Effects or Photoshop where per-core performance tends to be king, however, Premiere Pro can see at least some benefit from having a higher number of CPU cores. Because of this, we have really been looking forward to testing the new Ryzen 3rd generation CPUs in Premiere Pro as it would make sense for AMD to firmly take the performance lead over Intel.
In this article, we will be looking at exactly how well the new Ryzen 3600, 3700X, 3800X, and 3900X perform in Premiere Pro. Since we expect these CPUs to shake up the market quite a bit, we also took this opportunity to do a full CPU roundup. Not only will we include results for a few of the previous generation Ryzen CPUs, but also the latest AMD Threadripper, Intel 9th Gen, and Intel X-series CPUs. And for good measure, we will throw in a 14-core iMac Pro and a current (for the moment) 2013 Mac Pro 12-core as well.
If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion.
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Test Setup & Methodology
Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:
|AMD Ryzen Test Platform|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
|CPU Cooler||AMD Wraith PRISM|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA|
|RAM||4x DDR4-3000 16GB (64GB total)|
|AMD Threadripper Test Platform|
|CPU||AMD TR 2990WX (DLM on)
AMD TR 2970WX (DLM on)
AMD TR 2950X
AMD TR 2920X
|CPU Cooler||Corsair Hydro Series H80i v2|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X399 AORUS Xtreme|
|RAM||8x DDR4-2666 16GB (128GB total)|
|Shared PC Hardware/Software|
|Video Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1903)
Premiere Pro CC 2019 (Ver 13.1.2)
Puget Systems Pr Benchmark V0.2 BETA
|Mac Test Platforms|
|iMac Pro||14-core Intel Xeon W
64GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC
Radeon Pro Vega 64 16GB
|Mac Pro (2013)||12-core, 2.7GHz
64GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
Dual AMD FirePro D700 6GB
1TB PCIe-based SSD
*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of July 2nd, 2019
Note that while most of our PC test platforms are using DDR4-2666 memory, we did switch up to DDR4-3000 for the AMD Ryzen platform. AMD CPUs can be more sensitive to RAM speed than Intel CPUs, although in our Does RAM speed affect video editing performance? testing, we found that the new Ryzen CPUs only saw modest performance gains in Creative Cloud applications when going from DDR4-2666 to even DDR4-3600 RAM.
For each platform, we used the maximum amount of RAM that is both officially supported and actually available at the frequency we tested. This does mean that the Ryzen platform ended up with only 64GB of RAM while the other platforms had 128GB, but since our Premiere Pro benchmark doesn't need more than 32GB of RAM to run, this does not actually affect performance at all. We have recently re-confirmed this in our RAM speed article linked above.
However, keep in mind that this is technically overclocking since the AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen CPUs support different RAM speeds depending on how many sticks you use and whether they are single or dual rank:
Ryzen 3rd Gen supported RAM:
- 2x DIMM: DDR4-3200
- 4x single rank DIMM: DDR4-2933
- 4x dual rank DIMM: DDR4-2667
Since we are using four sticks of dual rank RAM (almost every 16GB module available will be dual rank), we technically should limit our RAM speed to DDR4-2666 if we wanted to stay fully in spec. However, since many end users may end up using a RAM configuration that supports higher speeds, we decided to do our testing with DDR4-3000, which right in the middle of what AMD supports.
The benchmarks we will be using are the latest release of our public Premiere Pro benchmark as well as NeatBench 5. We are beginning to include more plug-ins in our testing, and Neat Video (with its terrific stand-alone benchmark utility) is an easy place to start. Full details on the benchmarks and a link to download and run it yourself are available at:
While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also wanted to provide the individual results. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, or a specific codec you use, examining the raw results is going to be much more applicable than our overall scores. Feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results if you rather get a wider view of how each CPU performs in Premiere Pro.
Looking at the overall performance in our Premiere Pro benchmark (which combines playback and export tests with the various codecs), the results are very interesting and not quite what we expected.
At the top of the charts, the Intel X-series continues to hold four of the top five spots. The AMD Threadripper 2950X takes the fourth-place spot which is impressive as it is both cheaper and faster than the Intel Core i9 9920X 12 core. However, note that the higher-end Threadripper CPUs do relatively poorly in Premiere Pro, likely due to the fact that they are actually two CPUs merged into one and have some ongoing issues with core prioritization and memory scheduling.
The comparison most readers are likely interested in is the AMD Ryzen 3rd generation versus Intel 9th Gen processors. Looking at just the overall score, AMD has a pretty decent performance lead at the bottom-end, but by the time you get up to the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs the Intel Core i9 9900K, the scores are within a percent or two of each other. However, in this case the overall score is actually masking the real story, so we need to dig into the individual results.
We know that our raw benchmark results tables are a bit of a mess, but if you take the time to really dig into them, there are two very interesting conclusions to draw. Simply put, the main difference between the AMD Ryzen and Intel 9th Gen processors is that Intel is better at processing H.264/H.265 footage, while AMD Ryzen processors are better at processing RED footage.
The Intel advantage for H.264/265 media is pretty easily explained by the fact that Premiere Pro supports hardware accelerated encoding/decoding of H.264/265 media via Intel Quick Sync. AMD does not have this feature (nor does the Intel X-series for that matter), which explains why the Intel 9th Gen CPUs are simply going to be better at processing H.264/265 footage.
In the chart above, we did pull the 8K H.265 59.94FPS results simply because that test in particular is really inconsistent, but even just looking at the 4K H.264 10-bit (27.97 and 59.94FPS) and 8K H.265 (29.97FPS) results, you can see just how much better performance can be with the Intel 9th Gen CPUs. The Core i5 9600K doesn't have a big lead over AMD (and is in fact a hair slower with 59.94FPS media), but the Core i7 9700K is on average 15% faster than the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X and the Core i9 9900K is on average 30% faster than the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.
What this means is that if you are looking to get the best possible performance from H.264/H.265 media, the Intel 9th Gen CPUs are definitely the best route to take.
Unlike h.264, RED footage, doesn't have any hardware acceleration that is unique to Intel. It is also in general pretty tough to process, which is partly why the raw power and higher core count of the Ryzen CPUs allows it to take a clear lead over the Intel 9th Gen CPUs.
Starting at the bottom end, the AMD Ryzen 7 3600 is about 60% faster than the Core i5 9600K when playing RED media, not to mention a bit cheaper to boot. Moving up the stack, the Ryzen 7 3800X is about 35% faster on average with RED footage compared to the Core i7 9700K, while the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is 20% faster on average than the i9 9900K.
One thing we do want to point out, however, is that RED has been working on an update to their SDK that will move more of the processing of RED footage from the CPU to the GPU. Rumors were that this was supposed to be included in the December update for Premiere Pro, but was pushed back for unknown reasons. When this update eventually goes live, we may find that the CPU is no longer a major factor for those that work with RED footage. If this is indeed the case (only real benchmarks will tell), then that may remove the performance benefit with RED footage that we currently see with the AMD Ryzen CPUs.
On the other hand, the new Ryzen CPUs are very new, so it is equally possible that there will be performance optimizations that will make Ryzen more attractive in other areas. There is no way to know the future, so we will simply have to wait and find out.
Neat Video Benchmark Analysis
Neat Video is a noise reduction plugin that is currently one of the more popular options available. Plug-ins in general are something we plan on taking a look at more in the future, and Neat Video is a great place to start since they have an excellent stand-alone benchmark called NeatBench. Neat Video can use either the CPU, the GPU, or combine both together, but since using the GPU often overshadows the CPU, we decided to primarily look at the "Max CPU Only" result, although we will include the CPU+GPU result for those that are interested.
If there is any test to get you excited about the new Ryzen CPUs, this is most certainly going to be it. Not only do the Ryzen CPUs out-perform the comparably priced Intel 9th Gen CPUs, they do so by around 60%! They can't quite keep up with the Intel Core i9 9960X and Core i9 9980XE, but considering the fact that those CPUs are 3-4x the cost, even the fact that this is a comparison we are making is extremely impressive.
Why the AMD Ryzen 3rd generations CPUs are so good for Neat Video, we really have no idea. With both the AMD Ryzen and Intel 9th Gen processors, we hit peak performance at around 4-6 cores, so it isn't even the higher core count that is making a difference here. But whatever the reason behind it, it is clear that if you use the Neat Video plug-in, the AMD Ryzen processors should give you a very substantial boost to performance. Even if you use H.264 media (where Intel holds a commanding performance lead), you may end up wanting to use Ryzen simply because you can use proxies for editing, but noise reduction is always going to take forever.
Are the Ryzen 3rd generation CPUs good for Premiere Pro?
Depending on how you look at it, choosing between the new AMD Ryzen CPUs and the Intel 9th Gen CPUs is either a very easy, or a very complicated, question to answer. It is easy because there is a clear winner in specific situations, but complicated because there is no single overall best choice.
From the testing we have done, it largely comes down to whether you meet one of the three following criteria:
Do you work with H.264 or H.265 media?
In this case, the Intel 9th Gen CPUs have a pretty commanding lead (especially with 10-bit footage) due to the fact that Premiere Pro supports hardware acceleration of H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) media via Intel Quick Sync. This feature isn't available on AMD processors (or on the Intel X-series), which makes CPUs like the Intel Core i9 9900K simply the best option for this type of media.
Do you work with RED footage?
Here, the higher raw performance of the new AMD Ryzen CPUs allows it to take a significant lead over the Intel 9th gen CPUs - although they can't quite catch up with the higher-end (and much more expensive) AMD Threadripper or Intel X-series CPUs. However, this is one area that is highly subject to change since RED is working on moving more of the processing of RED media from the CPU to the GPU. This is expected to be bundled into one of the next few Premiere Pro releases, at which point we may find that the CPU no longer makes more than a minor impact on performance when working with RED footage.
Do you use Neat Video for noise reduction?
If you use Neat Video, there is simply no contest: use an AMD Ryzen 3rd generation processor. Performance is up to 60% faster when using only the CPU, but even with Neat Video set to use both the CPU and GPU (with a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti) we still saw a 20-30% performance gain with Ryzen over a comparably priced Intel CPU.
Outside of these three situations, performance is going to be pretty close between the AMD Ryzen 3rd generation and the Intel 9th Gen processors. Something else to keep in mind, however, is that performance is only part of the question - there are a number of other considerations that you may want to keep in mind:
On the Intel side, the Z390 platform has been available for quite some time which means that most of the bugs and issues have been worked out. In our experience over recent years, Intel also simply tends to be more stable overall than AMD and is the only way to get Thunderbolt support that actually works. Thunderbolt can be a bad time on PC, and there are only a few motherboard brands (like Gigabyte) where we have had it actually work properly.
For AMD, the X570 platform is very new and there will be a period of time where bugs will need to be ironed out. However, AMD is much better about allowing you to use newer CPUs in older motherboards, so if upgrading your CPU is something you will likely do in the next few years, AMD is the stronger choice. In addition, X570 is currently the only platform with support for PCI-E 4.0. This won't directly affect performance in most cases, but it will open up the option to use insanely fast storage drives as they become available.
Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for Premiere Pro. If your workflow includes other software packages (We have articles for Photoshop, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, etc.), you need to consider how the processor will perform in all those applications. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles for the latest information on how these CPUs perform with a variety of software packages.
Looking for a Premiere Pro Workstation?
Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.