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With the launch of Lightroom Classic CC, the developers at Adobe made a bit of a statement by dramatically improving performance for almost every task. With the 7.2 update in particular, we saw a big improvement in how well Lightroom was able to take advantage of higher core count CPUs. However, the new Threadripper 2950X 16 core and in particular the 2990WX 32 core CPUs have extremely high core counts, so it is time to see if Lightroom Classic is able to take advantage of this many cores or if we have reached the point of diminishing returns.
If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark result/analysis sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion section.
Test Setup & Methodology
Listed below are the test platforms we will be using in our testing:
To thoroughly benchmark each processor, we will be using two sets of images: one set of 22MP.CR2 RAW images taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a set of 45MB .NEF RAW images taken on a Nikon D850.
- Export to JPEG
- Build Smart Previews
- Convert to DNG
- Library Module Loupe Scroll
- Develop Module Loupe Scroll
- Library to Develop switch
- Panorama Merge
- HDR Merge
We are currently working on putting up an alpha version of our benchmark for public download (similar to our Photoshop Benchmark) which will have a much more in-depth description of each of these tests. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks (or months)!
The Scores shown in the chart above are relative to the best possible performance for each task with a Core i7 8700K CPU and a NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti 8GB GPU. In essence, a score of "90" would mean that it gave 90% the performance of the reference system while a score of "110" would mean it was 10% faster.
In the photomerge and module tasks, there was actually surprisingly little difference between all the Intel CPUs we tested. The Core i7 8700K was at the top due to its high per-clock performance, but the other Intel CPUs were only a few percent slower for the module tasks and about 10% slower for photomerge. The AMD Threadripper CPUs, however, fared pretty well for photomerge but were ~8% slower than our reference system in the module tasks.
What was really interesting were the bulk tasks like exporting and generating smart previews. Most of the Threadripper CPUs were in line with a similarly priced Intel CPU except for the 2990WX. Unfortunately, it looks like Lightroom simply can't take advantage of the 32 cores in that CPU which means that the relatively low clock speed starts to hinder performance.
Is Threadripper 2 good for Lightroom Classic?
AMD's Threadripper 2 CPUs are a bit of a mixed bag for Lightroom Classic. The 2950X is slightly faster than Intel for photomerge, but falls a bit behind for things like scrolling through images in the Library and Develop modules. The 2990WX, on the other hand, sees pretty significant performance issues across the board.
The chart above is a summary of all our results, so keep in mind that if you care more about a single type of task you may want to view the chart in the previous section that is divided by task type. This chart gives a great overview of each CPU performs in Lightroom Classic, but there are three primary comparisons we should be looking at based on the rough price of each CPU:
AMD Threadripper 2990WX vs Intel Core i9 7980XE for Lightroom Classic
The Threadripper 2990WX actually performs very poorly in Lightroom Classic, so this is an easy win for the Core i9 7980XE. Across the board, 7980XE was anywhere from slightly faster to 20% faster depending on the task.
AMD Threadripper 2950X vs Intel Core i9 7900X for Lightroom Classic
Overall, the difference between the Core i9 7900X and Threadripper 2950X is small enough that most users won't notice the difference. The i9 7900X has a slight lead when scrolling through images or switching between the Library and Develop module, but the 2950X is slightly better for photomerge.
AMD Threadripper 1920X vs Intel Core i7 7820X for Lightroom Classic
Once again, these CPUs are very neck-in-neck. The i9 7820X is better when scrolling through images or switching between the Library and Develop module, but the 1920X will be slightly better for bulk tasks like exporting or generating previews.
If we had to declare a winner between the Intel X-series and AMD Threadripper CPUs for Lightroom Classic, we would really call it a tie except at the highest end since the 2990WX has clear performance issues in Lightroom. This means that which CPU you should purchase is likely going to depend on the other applications you use (like Photoshop) and which CPU ends up being better for those software packages. To help answer that question, be sure to check out some of our other recent Threadripper articles to help give you an idea of how each CPU might perform in a variety of applications.
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