This article has been updated to include results from a 2015 quad-core Apple MacBook Pro.

Adobe Lightroom Classic users have been pining for a serious performance update for ages—even Adobe admitted that Lightroom performance was lackluster, and improving it was 'top priority.' Well, it looks like 'top priority' is going to pay off very soon.

Late last week, Adobe told DPReview that it has a significant Lightroom Classic performance update in the works. The update—which is "coming soon"—is supposed to improve performance across the board for anybody using a multi-core machine with at least 12GB of RAM. Or, in Adobe's own words:

In this upcoming Lightroom Classic 7.2 release, we were able to make significant strides with our partners at Intel on addressing key performance issues. We have optimized CPU and memory usage so that performance will scale better across multiple cores on computers with at least 12 GB of RAM.

Adobe claims the update will result in:

  • Faster import and preview generation
  • Faster walking of images in the Loupe View
  • Faster rendering of adjustments in Develop
  • Faster batch merge operations of HDR/Panos
  • Faster export

The company's own benchmarks back up this claim in a big way. Adobe shared these results with DPReview, revealing substantially improved export times between the current v7.1 and the upcoming v7.2.

Adobe Export Test

Adobe tested the new build on three machines:

  1. A 10-core iMac Pro with 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM, a 3GHz Intel Xeon W processor, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics card with 16GB of RAM.
  2. An 8-core Windows 10 PC with 64GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, a 3.2GHz Intel Xeon E5-1660 processor, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card with 8GB of RAM.
  3. A 16-core Windows 10 PC with 64GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, a 2.9GHz Intel Core i9 7960X processor, and an Nvidia Quodro P2000 graphics card

Each of the three showed significant speed improvements when exporting 100 heavily edited Raw files as either full-resolution JPEGs or full-resolution DNGs:

  • The 10-core iMac Pro exported JPEGs 29.5% faster and DNGs 43.7% faster
  • The 8-core Windows 10 PC exported JPEGs 32.5% faster and DNGs 32.4% faster
  • The 10-core Windows 10 PC exported JPEGs 48.3% faster and DNGs 64.7% faster

Additionally, while subsequent tests of the current version got slower and slower on the Windows, version 7.2 fixes this problem. In other words: Lightroom Classic will no longer slow down over the course of a long editing session on Windows machines.

Our own tests also showed a noticeable speed boost when it came to exporting files, and a massive increase in performance on import. Adobe gave us early access to the new build, and we tested it alongside the current version of Lightroom Classic CC twice. We ran an initial export test on a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, with 16GB Ram and a 3.3GHz dual-core i7 processor running macOS 10.12.6, and found a modest but still significant speed improvement of around 11%.

After speaking to Adobe's technical experts, we then conducted a follow-up import and export test on a Mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro. Specifically, a Retina model with a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and Intel Iris 5200 Pro graphics card. It's not exactly in the same class as the 8+ core powerhouses that Adobe seems to have lying around, but it's arguably closer to the average setup for an enthusiast or semi-professional photographer. Also, despite being an older machine, we knew that according to Adobe, more cores would give us a better chance of seeing some serious performance gains.

As such, these results replace our earlier published figures.

DPReview Import Test (2015 Quad-core MacBook Pro)

When importing 130 Raw files from the Fujifilm X-T2 (7.6GB in total) and building "Standard" previews, we saw a major performance boost in LR Classic CC 7.2 on our quad-core 2015 MacBook Pro. Roughly 80%, in fact.

  • LR 7.1 - 4:05 (245 seconds)
  • LR 7.2 - 50 seconds

DPReview Export Test (2015 Quad-core MacBook Pro)

When exporting the same 130 Raw files as JPEGs (quality level 80, Adobe RGB), after heavy edits (including exposure, shadow/highlight adjustment, lens corrections and luminance noise reduction) we saw a modest performance improvement in LR Classic CC 7.2 compared to 7.1. Roughly 10% when averaged out - very similar to the 11% performance increase we saw when we ran the earlier test on our dual-core 2013 Mac.

  • LR 7.1 - 11:08 (668 seconds)
  • LR 7.2 - 10:16 (616 seconds)

Adobe was adamant that this update is just the beginning. The company is "pleased with these performance improvements" and believes Lightroom Classic users will be please as well, but Adobe also told us it is "far from done." The company promises continued performance optimizations and improvements in future releases of Lightroom Classic CC.

For now, we're just happy to see the first fruits of that "top priority" promise Adobe made last year.