Lightroom: What processor speed?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by oldracer, May 18, 2013.

  1. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    I am presently running LR 3.6 on an XP machine. Pentium D 2.8ghz processor, 3gb of RAM, 800mhx FSB. I have a similar machine running Win7 that shows a Windows Experience Index of 5.9 for the processor.

    Lightroom is fairly doggy on this machine. In particular, I often see "Loading" for up to a minute when I switch from Library to Develop mode. So I'd like something faster. I also don't want to update this old machine to Win7.

    I have the opportunity to buy a machine that is running an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 with 8GB. Windows experience scores of 7.2 for the processor and memory and 6.8 for graphics. The disk is slow, but I am not working with large enough images that swapping should be an issue.

    Question for those of you who are happy with LR performance -- "good," "snappy," etc. : What sort of Windows Experience Index numbers do you have? I am not very familiar with this metric so I don't know of the Win7 machine will be huge improvement or just an increment.

    Thanks in advance, but please no speculation from the processor specs, etc. I am a hardware designer by trade and understand the technical differences between the configuration. What I don't know is what the Index values imply for LR performance. So ... real world experience, please. :smile:
  2. voltcontrol

    voltcontrol Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2013
    "Intel® Pentium 4 processor or equivalent" From Lightroom 4's system requirements seems odd when you consider what a desktop computer or normal laptop needs in terms of OS and hardware.

    Anything from Intel's Core Duo generation onward will give good performance from my experience (I've used many systems {and ran demanding application on most of them} being employed in ICT). Maxing out RAM is always good for maximising performance for application demands.

    Editing Image files itself (broadening the scope to other soft/web-wares besides LR) in terms of system requirements are quite different. Some folks here use an Ipad only for instance (considering the screen quality and what some apps can do, are very nice option too imho. But it has it's own limitations).
  3. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus Loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    My LR 4.4 (64-bit) feels good with only very brief loading times. Mostly it's pretty fluid.

    Win 7 performance values are:
    Processor (intel i5) 6,9
    RAM (8 gigs) 6,9
    Graphics 6,5
    Primary HDD (SSD) 7,3
  4. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    I have run it on an i7 and a core2duo (2ghz, 3gb ram) with 4.6 for CPU and Ram. I can definately see the difference between them, but it is perfectly usable on the core2duo.
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    I do not take a lot of stock in Windows experience scores, but I have been using LR since v.1. Lightroom's performance depends on three main hardware components: CPU, hard disc(s) and RAM. An i5 with HT, or a quad core should minimally meet your needs. I would recommend no less than 8GB of RAM. Lightroom is also a somewhat disc intensive program, and folks have taken to using two or three discs, including the use of a SSD, to speed it up.

    Also, note that catalog size is generally not a speed issue as much as the contents of a catalog. If, for example, you are heavily into key wording, this has the potential to slow things down. Also, note that your preview cache can impact your performance.

    There are lots of trade-offs and choice to be made. Only you can decide what choices make sense for your system and budget.

    Good luck,

  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    From my understanding...

    Load up on RAM first then CPU if you are on a budget. Most of LR actions take place on a single thread until you start doing batch operations such as exports. It is then that the multiple CPUs make a rather large difference in performance. Of course, its always good to recommend more memory, more cpu, etc... but on a budget make sure you leave enough $$ left over to max out the memory.
  7. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I am running LR4 on three machines now. All are running Win7.

    Desktop: Q6700 Quad 2.66GHz + 4GB RAM + ATI Radeon HD4800
    Newer notebook: i7 2670QM 2.2GHz + 8GB RAM + Nvidia GeForce GT540M 2GB
    Old notebook: T9300 Core Duo 2.5GHz + 4GB RAM + Intel 965 integrated video

    In theory the new notebook should be by far the fastest, but LR4 seems to run better in most respects on my nearly ancient desktop, and the old notebook runs LR4 very respectably. Honestly, all three are fine.

    I sometimes use Nikon Capture NX2, which is far more resource-intensive than LR. The old notebook labors a bit with CNX2. The new notebook does a little better than the desktop with CNX2. I upgraded the video card in the desktop a few years ago, which didn't do a whole lot for LR but made a very, very dramatic improvement in CNX2 performance.
  8. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Real Name:
    That almost mirrors my experience too.

    My new Core i7 laptop with 8GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 2GB, doesn't run LR much faster, if at all, than my old Duo Core laptop with 4GB Ram and integrated Intel Graphics. I don't think it will use the Nvidia card anyway unless it is 3D type stuff, reverting to Intel integrated graphics anyway.

    I know most people say throw RAM at it (and I would too), but I can't tell that much difference in speed in LR between my old 4GB and my new 8GB - YMMV.
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Thanks, guys. I did go ahead and buy that machine. It was only $180 and I figured it would get me a noticeable improvement even if it was not stunning.

    And that's about what I got. It's a very pleasant upgrade, though the "Loading" still appears for a few seconds when I switch to Develop mode. Not objectionable like on the old machine.

    I'm a little puzzled by Replytoken's comment that LR is disk intensive. I'll have to watch that. It seems to me that 8 gig ought to be plenty to hold the current photo, the catalog, and the program with no need for paging. My photos are on relatively slow NAS drives, so that might be a limiting factor for me at some time.
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    I think those people are confusing their Photoshop and their Lightroom experiences. Lightroom really doesn't make effective use of additional memory beyond 3GB or so. As long as you have enough for the other OS components + 2-3GB for LR, you should be fine.

    Graphics cards are almost entirely irrelevant to Lightroom. It makes no use of accelerated 3D whatsoever.

    Drive speed is important for catalog browsing, but not for other tasks.

    For anything other than catalog browsing, CPU speed is critical. Also, from what I've seen, developing doesn't do much with multiple cores - those only come into play for exporting or importing.

    One easy way to speed up Lightroom is not to use Olympus RAW files. Seriously, a 16MP Panasonic or Nikon RAW file imports about 30-40% faster than a 16MP ORF (and no, DNG doesn't help)!

    Catalog browsing is disk intensive because the preview cache (what it uses when you're in catalog mode) is quite large. Easily more than 8GB for any nontrivial catalog.
  11. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    The most important things for running photo/video editing softwares generally speaking is as follows (but can change depending on the particular software your using):

    #1) CPU - # of cores (more the better)
    - Architecture of the CPU (ex. i7, C2D, PD, etc.)
    - CPU speed
    - Its generally accepted that the i5, i7 CPU's are best for editing

    #2) RAM - This one's simple, more RAM the better. Depending on the software your using however this one can fall to #3.
    - I would say 8GB is the minimum these days for a machine that will be doing any kind of editing work, however 16GB is ideal or more if you need. More tasks you run at the same time more RAM you need.

    #3) HDD/SSD - If your computer can support a multiple hard drive setup this is best. One dedicated hard drive for the applications and OS, and one hard drive for storage and scratch. Even better if you can give your computer three hard drives.... backup and store data not used all that often from drive #2 onto a 3rd external drive perhaps. Ideally, give your computer a SSD for applications and OS use and a normal 7200rpm HDD for the secondary storage drive.
    - I would go for a 128GB or more SSD for OS & application + 1TB 7200rpm HDD for storage and scratch.

    #4) GPU - While more and more softwares are using the GPU these days and if you are using one of those softwares you will benefit from having an advanced graphics card, however I still think a system with lacking CPU, RAM or HDD setup will benefit far more from upgrading those over the GPU first.
    - From what I hear Intel graphics card's are the way to go for editing over AMD and other offerings out there.

    Just my 2 cents so take it with a grain of salt as Im no computer tech, but, this is what I have gathered over the last little bit since Im looking to put together a machine for video editing which is more intensive than even photo editing.
  12. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Yes, definitely....

    Despite what almost every one else is saying on this thread about memory being important, dhazeghi has it 100% spot on.

    If you want to improve LR performance after the processor and 4G memory, invest in a FAST SSD. It is surprising how a mechanical drive slows things up.... This is an example of me browsing up and down my catalogue:


    I now keep all my images that are being processed on a very fast SSD (256G Corsair Performance Pro).
  13. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I still disagree with memory... I saw the biggest difference between 8 to 32 gb upgrade. Their cache hits disk often with lesser amounts. I dont see tremendous load except during batch import or export from RAW.

    But besides that...

    But whats the perf diff between HD vs SSD on write?
  14. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    I have to agree... for a program like Lightroom specifically more gains will be had from a SSD over RAM (assuming you have at-least 4GB).

    IMO one of the best upgrades most consumer level computer owners can make is putting a SSD in it. Again this is assuming you have at-least a "decent" CPU and 4GB of RAM (although I would really recommend 8GB now a days considering how cheap 8GB of RAM costs).
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    It really depends where you spend your time. For both importing and developing, the differences are negligible. For browsing the catalog, they tend to be more significant.
  16. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    True say...

    I find in general its important to have a computer that is "well balanced" across the board. No point in having a Hexa-core processor and then only giving the computer 2GB of RAM and a slow HDD.
  17. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Depends on the SSD ;)

    Here's the performance of my 1TB HDD:


    here's the performance of my SSD I use for import/processing. Notice the 2 orders of magnitude quicker seek times. That's what gets you the big boost in speed....

  18. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I really have to say (see my earlier post) that my experience with LR does not match any of your statements. The three machines I use cover a very wide spectrum in processor speed and it just doesn't matter. Two are set up with multiple internal hard drives and it just doesn't make a difference. Only one has 8GB of ram and, yes you hear it coming, with LR it just doesn't matter. These variables make a much more noticeable difference with CNX2, but that's not the software under discussion.

    I would guess, though, that if you're going to edit video, you need to throw everything at the task, including other things like a first class monitor. The upgrade I really covet is a big Apple display. :)
  19. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    I have a quite good computer and have run alot of apps and games, but LR is something else, it's the only app I feel are slow, strange. Must be something with the database maybe or threading

    Skickat från min LT26i via Tapatalk 2
  20. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    There was a thread here maybe a year ago with some excellent tips on making sure LR runs as well as it can on your computer. I don't have enough time to search for it right now, but I'll look tonight if someone doesn't turn it up first. :thumbup: