Recommended PC Hardware for Lightroom Computers:
Like most software developers, Adobe maintains a list of system requirements for Lightroom that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system will work with Lightroom. However, most "system requirements" lists tend to cover the required hardware, not what pc hardware would actually give the best performance. In addition, some lists can be outdated, list old hardware revisions, or simply outright list sub-optimal hardware.
Because of how inconsistent those lists can be, we've taken the time to perform testing to determine what hardware runs Lightroom the best. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommended hardware for Lightroom.
The processor (or CPU) is one of the most important pieces of a Lightroom Workstation. While many other parts of the system impact performance to some degree, the CPU is the core piece of hardware that is a part of absolutely anything and everything you do in Lightroom. Choosing the right CPU is often the most difficult part of configuring a workstation, but we have done extensive in-house testing to narrow down the hundreds of options to just a handful of CPUs that we feel is the best for the majority of Lightroom users.
For most users, the Intel Core i7 8700K 6 Core that is used in our General Lightroom Workstation is a terrific choice as it is not only affordable, but also the fastest currently available for most Lightroom tasks - especially those where you are actively interacting with the software. This includes things like scrolling through images and applying effects to individual images. However, if you tend to work with a large number of images at once and find yourself constantly waiting on previews to generate or images to export, there can be a significant performance gain with one of the more expensive Core i7/i9 CPUs found on our Export Optimized Workstation. The Intel Core i7 7820X 8 core is only a few hundred dollars more than the Core i7 8700K, but it should be 30-40% faster for these tasks. For an even higher performance gain when exporting and generating previews, the Intel Core i9 7900X 10 Core or even the Intel Core i9 7940X 14 core will be anywhere from 40% faster to more than twice as fast as the Core i7 8700K.
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In Lightroom CC 2015 and Lightroom 6, the software is able to utilize the power of your GPU to improve performance when editing images in the Develop module. At the moment, the performance gains are fairly modest, although Adobe has been investing heavily in GPU acceleration. While a high-end GPU is not required to get the benefits of GPU acceleration in Lightroom, it may be a good idea to get a slightly faster GPU than you think you need to help future proof your system. Workstation video cards are not required for Lightroom, although if you will be using a 30-bit monitor you will need a NVIDIA Quadro video card as GeForce cards currently do not support 30-bit display output.
While it is likely that Adobe will increase GPU acceleration support in Lightroom in the future, the current demand on the video card is actually relatively light. We recommend either a GeForce GTX 1060 or GeForce GTX 1070 unless you also use other applications that can make heavier use of the GPU (like Premiere Pro).
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the size and number of images you will be working with, we generally recommend a minimum of 16GB for all our systems. In our experience Lightroom rarely, if ever, will need more than 16GB although if you use the machine for other things like editing large images (750MB+) in Photoshop you may need 32GB or more of system RAM.
For Lightroom, ECC memory (which can automatically detect and fix minor memory errors) is not required. ECC is almost never a bad idea but ECC memory has a small amount of overhead that makes it very slightly slower than standard RAM and also requires an Intel Xeon processor.
Storage (Hard Drives)
With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS and Lightroom itself. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot and launch applications many times faster than any traditional hard drive. If possible, locating your catalog and preview files on an SSD can slightly increase performance (around 2-8%) for a few tasks - most notably converting to DNG and exporting images. You can either purchase a second dedicated SSD for this or simply keep these files on your primary SSD.
SSDs are still more expensive than traditional drives per GB, however, so for image and long term storage we recommend having a traditional hard drive to store your source images. Keeping your images on a traditional hard drive does not greatly impact performance for any Lightroom task we have tested, although if you want to be able to transfer and move around your images more quickly you may consider using an SSD for this as well.
While most of Lightroom's default settings are just fine for the majority of users, we recommend increasing the size of your camera RAW cache from the 1GB default. This can be done in Edit -> Preferences -> Performance and can make a big difference if you work with a large number of RAW images. The exact size you want will depend on the number of images you work with, but 20GB tends to be the most common recommendation.
View Related Articles:
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- CPU Comparison: Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, Broadwell-E, Skylake, Ryzen 7
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- How Much Faster is a Modern Workstation for Adobe Lightroom CC 2017?
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- Storage Performance Analysis