Lightroom Gets GPU Acceleration for Image Editing

One of the biggest complaints many of us photographers have towards Lightroom, is its slow performance when doing basic tasks, such as image culling or using specific tools when editing photos.

It looks like Adobe is beginning to address some of the complaints, specifically when it comes to image editing with the latest Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera RAW updates. The LR Classic 8.4 and ACR 8.4 now gain the ability to use the power of your graphics card for editing images. While LR Classic previously already had support for some GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) acceleration, it was mostly beneficial for image playback when using high resolution screens. When it comes to editing images, only some of the tools were GPU-accelerated, such as Crop & Straighten, Graduated and Radial filters.

Adobe does not specifically mention which editing tools have added GPU acceleration in the new release, so it is unclear if other tools such as Spot Healing and Adjustment Brush are supposed to work faster.

I tested Lightroom Classic 8.4 on my MacBook Pro 2016 and iMac Pro and I could not see any differences in performance of these tools. I tested one image with 50 spot healing adjustments, then I attempted to add an adjustment brush layer on top. Both LR Classic 8.3 and LR Classic 8.4 were equally as slow.

However, other things seem to be a bit more responsive, such as when going through folders, moving sliders in the develop module and adjusting existing masks (based on my limited testing).

So far, this seems like a step in the right direction, but how long will it take for Adobe to make Lightroom take a full advantage of the GPU? I was hoping this release would make the Develop tools like Spot Healing more responsive, but it does not seem to be the case. In comparison, Capture One is so much faster when working with different layers and applying adjustments – it is not even a comparison…

How to Enable GPU Acceleration for Editing

To enable GPU acceleration for image editing, please follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to Preferences -> Performance
  2. Click the “Use Graphics Processor” dropdown and select “Custom”
  3. Make sure that “Use GPU for Display” is checked
  4. Click on the “Use GPU for image processing (Process Version 5 or higher) checkmark.

The screen should look like this:


Did you notice any drastic improvements in Lightroom performance after the update? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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