Here is something to try if Lightroom CC (version 6) is REALLY slow for you.Getting straight to the point, if Lightroom CC 2015 is so slow it is really not even usable, try disabling the GPU acceleration in the software:

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Lightroom > Preferences (Mac OS).
  2. On the Performance tab un-check the “Use Graphics Processor” option
  3. Restart Lightroom

What does this do?

It makes Lr CC 2015 work more like Lr 5, sidestepping what was supposed to be a significant enhancement to improve the performance of the sliders and other tools in the Develop module – especially for 4K and 5K high resolution displays. For some having this feature enabled works, making many things in the Develop module go significantly faster. If you want some more technical details, check out this Adobe forum post. However, it seems that there are many combinations of factors that make it not work well, so disabling the new processing feature may help you get back to the speeds you saw in Lightroom 5.

Why GPU Acceleration?

If you already know what a GPU is and does, skip this section. Although I could drone on and on about how it is we got here, instead of nerding out completely see if this helps. There are two basic processing units in your computer that do work: the graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU). Both are incredible engineering accomplishments that we are all very lucky to have in our lives, even though I am sure many of you feel like you want to throw your computer out the window and watch it burst into a million pieces at times. The GPU is primarily supposed to control the pixels on your screen. The CPU does everything else. In order to draw those pixels really fast so that you can watch movies, play games, or edit photos, the GPU has specifically been engineered to be seriously good at math. Far more efficient at doing huge quantities of math better than the CPU.

When software needs to do a lot of math, if it can give that to the GPU to do then it can get the results back much faster and speed things up versus using the CPU to do that work. Most of the functions in the Develop module in Lightroom need to do a lot of math. Perfect! Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Get the Adobe developers to change Lightroom and have it send that math processing over to the GPU and we all get faster sliders/brushes. Trouble is, developers have to do some special and specific things to make the software use the GPU this way. It is pretty complicated to switch from CPU to GPU for math, and as this Lightroom release has shown, it is easy to get it wrong. Plus, sending the data over to the GPU involves some overhead to take it away from the CPU. Although not much like it actually works, you can think of it a little like having to copy the work that needs to be done from the CPU and pasting it to the GPU for work. Imagine how long that takes to do with the massive photo files we are dealing with. GPU acceleration isn’t a silver bullet, there are trade-offs.

Why is it Enabled if it Doesn’t Work?

A fair question to be sure. Why would Lightroom default to enabling GPU acceleration if it is broken on so many computers? Adobe engineers tried to make this smart for us. They know most photographers aren’t into the bits and bytes going on with their computer and software. The default option is king as most people never change any configuration options from what is delivered. So, they built a test into Lightroom CC 2015 so that when it is first launched it checks to see if the GPU in your computer is one that would make things faster. If your computer passes that test on start up, this new functionality is automatically enabled. Unfortunately, it seems the test may not be comprehensive enough and the option is being enabled on systems that don’t actually work well with it turned on.

Should Adobe Give Up on GPU?

No way! I am in complete agreement that Adobe engineers need to tap into the GPU in order to make the develop module faster – especially when we photographers are using displays that are higher resolution than HD (if you are not, you are missing out on a much better experience and need to check out this Photo Taco episode). Game developers have been doing this for years, which is why it is that the GPUs have been so specifically engineered to do huge amounts of math so well. It is absolutely the right solution to the problem and in the long-term is going to make things work a lot faster.

I think the issues we are seeing in this release of Lightroom CC 2015 is nothing more than a version 1 implementation of something that is truly hard to do. Not only is it tough to get the coding right to use the GPU instead of the CPU, think of all the different makes/models of computers out there in the world. There are GPUs from many different manufacturers (ATI/AMD, Nvidia, and Intel are the biggest), and lots of different models from each manufacturer. Each video card has a somewhat unique set of capabilities. Since it is impossible for a developer to deal with all of that variation, in 2006 the OpenCL standard was created to make them all look roughly the same to the developer – yet some support OpenCL better than others.

Maybe the sales team pushed to have the product released a little before the engineers actually got it ready. In my day job as a software developer in the financial industry I can attest to that happening as more of the rule rather than an exception. Who knows why there seems to be so many issues with this release related to GPU acceleration, but I am confident that this is the right direction to take the product and it will be really good soon.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not excusing or giving Adobe on a pass for a very problematic release. Many are finding Lightroom CC 2015 to be pretty much unusable. I would expect some trouble, but not to the scale I am seeing it be reported. The Adobe forums are ablaze with fiery posts from high end and knowledgeable users telling Adobe this release is junk. No way that should be happening. I am saying it is worth being a little patient here because the pain will be worth it. If Lr CC 2015 is not working for you use Lr 5 until you get the all clear from us here at improvephotography.com.

Give Adobe Feedback

If you want to make one of those fiery posts to the Adobe team, you are certainly welcome to do so, but I recommend you take a breath and slow down for a second. Ranting when you are looking for help doesn’t end up being very helpful in pretty much any context, and a small does of constraint in your feedback will be much better received. However, I think it is really important that as many as possible provide feedback so that Adobe hears the issues and doesn’t see the complaints as a small group of people.

You can provide your feedback on the release regarding speed issues or even features that they missed at the Official Feature Request/Bug Report Forum at http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family

Stay tuned for more information and reviews of Lightroom CC as the IP team pounds away at the product and offers real-world advice.

Original Content provided by Improve Photography

11 Comments

  1. I’m on a 2014 15″ MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM with a Retina display driven by a NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2048 MB setup.
    Touch wood, I’m not seeing any of the issues that are being reported – admittedly I’m not a power user, so the volumes of images that I’m dealing with is not vast, but this version of LR is definitely faster for me and I’ve not noticed any weird things happening with controls (yet).
    I have a professional photographer friend who is on a slightly older Apple setup, but she also reports not having had any issues – and she is a power user, processing tons of images.
    Clearly there are plenty of issues with LR 2015 (otherwise you and lots of others wouldn’t be reporting them) but for some, like me, it’s a-ok so far.

  2. @Rob,
    Thanks for letting us know that there are some who are not experiencing issues! I am not really having a lot of issues myself on a PC with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB video card. Hopefully the Adobe engineers will get the feedback they need from those who are having trouble to figure out how to patch the application to make it work well for everyone.

  3. I find that on my dell laptop with Core i7 and a NVidia 630m GPU, LR CC runs a *lot* faster with GPU support switched off

  4. I’m using Lightroom CC and updated to the latest build (2015.2.1 ?) Radeon R7 M270 4GB card, 8GB memory, i7 5th gen.. Turned on GPU and some of the develop tools are so slow.. Checked sites like this and turned off GPU, performance improved .. But… after a few minutes of editing, LR crashes! When will Adobe fix this?

  5. I’m on a MacBook Pro with retina display and even after trying this, I have the same problem. I’m unable to import photos or apply presets. Even expanding the dropdown list for the presets doesn’t work. Basically if it’s been expanded, I can’t change that and if it hasn’t been I cannot expand it. I only started having this problem during the past week.

  6. Exactly the same situation here, Amal. I really wonder what it is!

  7. I’ve come to this site because I’m experiencing severe speed issues with lightroom 6 (not CC) in my macbook pro, 13″ retina (2015/2015). I’ve already disabled GPU but there is not change in the behavior. Funny is, that when i started using it some month ago everything was fine. The problems only started about some weeks ago and I have no idea what else I could do about them

  8. I’ve got a Surface Pro 4 and I’m experiencing very slow behaviour in lightroom CC. I’ve tried disabling the GPU acceleration and that did not help. I’ve also tried to increase the size of the camera raw cache to 10Gb. That did not help. The Surface is an i7 with 16Gb of ram and Intel(R) Iris(TM) Pro Graphics 540 GPU. I’m about to give up on lightroom in search of something else. As an example creating 1:1 previews for 39 images takes about 5 minutes. Does anyone actually have the time for such a slow experience…?

  9. I was also getting very frustrated with Lightroom CC’s performance. I just tried your tip of switching off GPU acceleration, and it does seem to help. I have a PC i7 quad core CPU with Nvidia 780 2GB GPU. System RAM is 32gb. I built this beast to do photo processing, so seeing the slowness in LR CC was about to make me pull my hair out or try another application. I’ve followed your site & podcasts for a little bit now, but I missed this tip until today. Thanks, and I hope it continues to work much better.

  10. Caffie Pellegrin

    I Lightroom CC and have been unsuccessful getting past the develop mode. It crashes. I have updated the drivers for my computer. Still crashes. I have tried to uncheck GPU and I can’t past this issue, Lightroom stops responding. I have had Lightroom for 2 months and unable to use the program.

  11. Using an Nvidia Geoforce 970 results in incredible slow performance of the adjustment brush. Turning off GPU mode improves things considerably. Disappointing.

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