Boost Lightroom Classic performance on systems with NVIDIA graphics chip

The single most important Adobe Lightroom Classic performance setting is not in the application itself but in the NVIDIA Control Panel. With version 8.4 of Lightroom Classic, you still need one adjustment in Lightroom preferences.

This tutorial applies only to Microsoft Windows desktops, laptops and tablets with NVIDIA graphics chip: such as GeForce 950 or 1080, Titan, etc.

Adobe Lightroom has had graphics acceleration support for years, but its effect on devices with NVIDIA display adapters is minimal by default. It can even lower performance noticeably while using the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic (black squares, photos updating for several seconds, etc). That’s why I’ve had graphics processor support off in Lightroom for most of the time until late August of 2019.

But the problem is not usually on Adobe’s side, it’s NVIDIA’s default power management mode instead.

First, get the latest NVIDIA drivers for your device’s graphics chip from www.nvidia.com. Older drivers up to version 374.x are not supported by Lightroom Classic/CC/6, and older versions are known to have critical security vulnerabilities.

Tuning Adobe Lightroom settings in the NVIDIA Control Panel

To boost Lightroom performance in real life, you need to open the NVIDIA Control Panel.

The first and quickest method is to right-click or touch and hold on an empty area of Windows Desktop and choose NVIDIA Control Panel from the menu.

Windows desktop right-click menu, NVIDIA Control Panel

Alternatively, open Start menu, type control and launch Control Panel. Yup, just typing in Start begins looking for programs, apps, settings, documents, photos, etc.

In Control Panel, look for the View by dropdown on the top right, and choose either Small icons or Large icons from there.
Then open NVIDIA Control Panel.

Windows, Control Panel, View by icons, NVIDIA Control Panel

From the left pane, open Manage 3D settings, make sure the Global settings tab is open and scroll down to the Power management mode setting.
The default here is Optimal power, but it just does not work that well for Adobe Lightroom. Choose the Prefer maximum performance option and click Apply.

NVIDIA Control Panel, Manage 3D settings, Power management mode

Please do note that the maximum performance setting is more power hungry and can reduce battery runtime of your laptop or tablet. For desktop computers, this is not an issue.

Enabling GPU acceleration in Adobe Lightroom Classic preferences

Move back to Adobe Lightroom Classic to verify that the support for graphics processor has been enabled. Either use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+, (comma), or open Edit menu and choose Preferences.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, Edit menu, Preferences

Since version 8.4 of Lightroom Classic, set the Use Graphics Processor dropdown to Custom and then turn on the Use GPU for image processing option. As long as images in your Lightroom catalog are set to Process Version 5 or later, full graphics acceleration should work fine.

Lightroom Classic CC, Preferences, Performance tab. Set the ‘Use Graphics Processor’ option to ‘Custom’, then enable the ‘Use GPU for image processing’ checkbox. This should provide better performance with non-Intel GPUs. Also, images in your Lightroom catalog need to be set to Process Version 5 or higher.

In older versions of Lightroom Classic’s Preferences window, open the Performance tab and tick the Use Graphics Processor checkbox.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC before version 8.4, Preferences, Performance tab

And these two steps should boost Lightroom performance quite a lot.

If you encounter problems or slowdowns with GPU acceleration in Lightroom, then try clearing the Use Graphics Processor check box, restart Lightroom and edit a few images to see if performance is better. In case it is, leave the 3D acceleration disabled. In some LR versions, graphics processor really helps, in other versions, it just slows everything down.

Other important Lightroom Classic performance settings

Please check other important performance settings in Lightroom preferences:

  • increase Camera Raw cache size to at least 20-40 GB and store the cache on your fastest internal drive only,
  • disable Hover preview of presets in Loupe (this really helps some people),
  • use Smart Previews for image editing – you cannot go wrong with this one!

Finally, check the Catalog settings of Lightroom Classic:

  • set the Standard Preview Size to less than offered by Auto – for example, 1680px instead of 1920px,
  • limit Preview Quality to Medium,
  • disable automatic face detection.

This post was last modified on 2019/08/30 09:45

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