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Should you upgrade to Windows 11 for Photography?

Written on October 15, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: Is Windows 11 ready for photography?

Performance in Windows 11 is likely to change quite a bit over the coming months as new drivers and updates come out, but at the moment we would hesitate to recommend photographers move up to Windows 11 at this time. Photoshop is actually one of the most consistent applications we have tested when it comes to performance in Windows 11, but even there, the overall trend was that it was no faster than Windows 10 for most CPUs.

Lightroom Classic, on the other hand, saw some dramatic performance issues with certain CPUs. If you have a CPU with 16 or fewer cores, you probably won't see much of a difference with Windows 11, but the 32 Core and higher processors at times saw a 20-30% performance drop when using Windows 11.

Windows 10 vs Windows 11 for photography

Introduction

Windows 11 is finally here, featuring an updated UI, better support for virtual desktops, improved window snapping, and a wealth of other changes. However, a new OS often has a number of bugs and issues at launch, and it takes some time before applications have full support.

In this article, we will be looking at a few of the most popular photo editing applications to see how they perform and behave in Windows 11 - namely Photoshop and Lightroom Classic. The nice thing about these two applications is that they already have official Windows 11 support - unlike the similar testing we did for video editing that included Premiere Pro and After Effects. However, on Adobe's "Can I run my Adobe apps in Windows 11?" page there is a note that "There may be some performance issues when running these apps in Windows 11".

So even though Windows 11 is officially supported, we want to see if there are currently any performance concerns for those looking to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

Intel Core 11th Gen Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 11900K 8 Core
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 Vision D
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 32GB (128GB total)
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 32GB (128GB total)
AMD Threadripper 3000 Series Platform
CPU AMD TR 3970X 32 Core
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Intel Xeon W Test Platform
CPU Intel Xeon W-3375 38 Core
Intel Xeon W-3365 32 Core
(High Performance Power Profile)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Supermicro X12SPA-TF 64L
RAM 8x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (128GB total)
AMD Threadripper PRO 3000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD TR Pro 3995WX 64 Core
AMD TR Pro 3975WX 32 Core
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Asus Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI
RAM 8x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (128GB total)
Shared PC Hardware/Software
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Storage Samsung 980 Pro 2TB
Software Windows 10 Pro (Ver. 2009)
Windows 11 Pro (Ver. 2009)
Photoshop 22.5.1
Lightroom Classic 10.4

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of October 4th, 2021

To examine photo editing performance in Windows 11, we will be using our PugetBench series of benchmarks for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic. To look at a wide range of system platforms, we are testing one CPU from the Intel Core 11th Gen, AMD Ryzen 5000 series, and AMD Threadripper 3000 series of processors. We will also be looking at two CPUs from the Intel Xeon W-3300 and AMD Threadripper Pro 3000 series (a 32 core model, and a 38/64 core model) in order to see if Windows 11 handles CPUs with >32 cores better than Windows 10. CPUs with more than 32 cores have to be split into multiple logical processor groups by Windows, which can often introduce performance issues, and we are curious to see if Windows 11 has improved this behavior.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop Windows 10 vs Windows 11

Starting off with performance in Photoshop, in most cases the performance difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is well within the margin of error. Typically, anything less than a 5% difference can be considered to be effectively the same, and the majority of our results were actually within just 1-2% of each other.

However, there are two exceptions. First, the Intel Xeon W-3375 38 Core saw a small increase in performance of 6%. This isn't much (and the performance of that CPU is still overall very poor for Photoshop), but it did technically see a measurable improvement.

The second exception is the AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX 64 Core. Unfortunately, in this case the performance was actually about 6% lower in Windows 11. The good news is that this is not the kind of CPU you would be using in the first place if you are looking for the best performance in Photoshop, so a small drop like this isn't going to be a serious concern for most users. It would of course be better to see an increase in performance, but at least the only CPU we tested that showed a measurable drop in performance is one that few Photoshop users are going to have.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic Windows 11 performance

Unlike the previous section, in Lightroom Classic we saw some very large performance differences with Windows 11. Unfortunately, they were mostly in the wrong direction.

About half of the CPUs we tested saw minimal difference in Windows 11, with the performance variation being within the margin of error for real-world testing like this. However, three of the CPUs (AMD TR 3970X, AMD TR Pro 3995WX, and Intel Xeon W-3375) saw a major drop in performance. It varied based on the CPU, but the performance was anywhere from 20% to 30% lower in Windows 11.

This performance drop is something we have seen on the CPUs with more than 32 cores in other applications, so while it is certainly not good, it also isn't completely unexpected. The odd one is the AMD Threadripper 3970X 32 Core since this is the only time we have seen a significant performance difference with that CPU in Windows 11. It is also odd that the AMD Threadripper 3975WX 32 Core did not see a significant change in performance even though it is in many ways a very similar CPU. However, we verified these results multiple times, and the results were consistent.

Should you Upgrade to Windows 11 for Photography?

Performance in Windows 11 is likely to change quite a bit over the coming months as new drivers and updates come out, but at the moment we would hesitate to recommend photographer move up to Windows 11 at this time. Photoshop is actually one of the most consistent applications we have tested when it comes to performance in Windows 11, but even there, the overall trend was that it was no faster than Windows 10 for most CPUs.

Lightroom Classic, on the other hand, saw some dramatic performance issues with certain CPUs. If you have a CPU with 16 or fewer cores, you probably won't see much of a difference with Windows 11, but the 32 Core and higher processors at times saw a 20-30% performance drop when using Windows 11.

Adobe may officially support Windows 11 in these two applications, but their asterisk that there may still be performance issues is very much true. Unless you have a very defined reason to switch to Windows 11, we highly recommend on waiting until these performance issues (and other bugs) are worked out.

If you want to learn more about Windows 11, we have a Windows 11 FAQ article that we are keeping up to date as more questions and information comes up. In addition, we have a growing number of Windows 11 support guides available to help guide you when you decide to upgrade to Windows 11.

Looking for a Photography Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5950X, AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series, 3970X, 3975WX, 3995WX, W-3365, W-3375, i9 11900K, Photoshop, Lightroom CLassic
Avatar wei lu

AMD processors fix performance bugs, will you retest them?

Posted on 2021-10-24 15:47:48

Future articles will have the Windows update and new chipset drivers, but we have done spot checks and so far, we haven't seen a significant performance difference in these apps (or any of the other Adobe apps we test). As others have shown, they certainly can help in other situations, but so far, it is looking like Adobe wasn't one of the ones majorly impacted by those performance bugs.

Posted on 2021-10-25 16:56:14
Avatar wei lu

Thanks for feedback

Posted on 2021-10-26 05:48:50