Building my new PC for Lightroom with Ryzen 7 (Part 3: Overclock and Lightroom performance)

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After tons of preparation, comparison and assembly work, the new PC is finally ready. It takes more than a week to solve the hardware, software, drivers and Win10 problems, that’s totally out of my expectation while previous build only takes me only 1-2 days only.

Overclock (OC)

Ryzen 7 1700 has higher performance/price ratio when compared to Ryzen 7 1800x. Tests have shown R7 1700 can be overclocked to 3.9GHZ easily without any heat or stability issue. On the other hand, if you don’t want to overclock and prefer to preserve the default working environment of your CPU, R7 1800x will be a good choice for your.

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You can find demonstrations of different OC methodology in youtube and personally I have tired two different methods (1) with BLCK boosted and (2) without boosted BLCK. Per my experience, I can OC my system to 3.9GHz using either method (1) or (2). Finally I opt for method (2), because the RAID Card (PCIe) is not working properly in method (1). Maybe I push the BLCK too high (>110, while default is 100), although it posts successfully, the system cannot recognize my RAID card if BLCK is boosted.

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So the system runs at 3.9 GHz and Ram speed is 3200 (dual channel).

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RAID

As mentioned in previous post, the x370 chip of MB has been equipped with RAID function. I have compared the performance of between (1)RAID by X370, (2)Win10 storage device or software RAID and (3)Independent RAID card. The result shows that an independent RAID card is leading in I/O speed. Therefore a RAID 0 setup (strip) of 3 x 2T HDD= 6T has been built. IMAG1439.jpg

CPU utilization and LR

This build is primarily aimed to increase the efficiency of using LR. Unfortunately Ryzen has been revealed in many tests that it is not LR friendly.  Why?

Well, the answer is unknown !!

However Ryzen user has commonly observed CPU utilization is always below 50% when running LR export.

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SOURCE

So, if we can improve the CPU utilization, the LR efficiency should be improved too.

I follow some sharing on the web and it significantly helps to improve the CPU utilization as shown below:

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Still, LR can’t reach 100% throughout the whole export process but with 8 core-16 thread works at 80% or above is good enough for me.

Conclusion

This new build is not perfect but it does meet my expectation to boost the system performance especially in using LR.

The raise of Ryzen is a good news to photographer who today relies heavily on PC for post processing and file management. Lightroom has announced a new version is coming and beta testing is undergoing. I hope LR can address the speed issue and fine tune the system not only for Intel but AMD platform.

I think this report has come to an end, let’s re-cap some points:

  1. Overclock R7 1700 to 3.9GHz – > improve overall performance
  2. AMD compatible Ram (3200) – > improve CPU infinity fabrics
  3. Choose a mother board with good power supply design – > provide a stable platform for overclocking.
  4. Disable Win10 HPET – >unleash the full potential of CPU
  5. Use independent RAID card – > alleviate the loading of MB chip
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Building my new PC for Lightroom with Ryzen 7 (Part 2: MB, RAM, RAID and more)

Last post has shared why I finally opt for Ryzen, not Intel.  Now I am going to go a step further, sharing the info I gathered from google search.

Ryzen model

1There were three Ryzen models I was considering; Ryzen 7 1700, 1700x, 1800x. All three of them are from the Ryzen 7 family, their design and architecture are similar.

Initially I prefer 1800x, the “x” implies higher capacity for overclocking. However I was wrong again……

After reading a detailed review on 1700, I think this is the one I am looking for:

Text version: https://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreviews/2827-amd-r7-1700-review-amd-competes-with-its-1800x

Per the review above and my own experience, the Ryzen 7 1700 can easily be overclocked to 4GHz, also it can sustain a 24-7 operation as well as stress test. The overclocking capacity of 1800x seems failed to meet my expectation which can mostly achieve 4.2GHz (max). Of course, if you do not prefer overclocking, 1800x should be a good choice, the payoff is additional 50% premium price.

Motherboard and OC

Three motherboard chipsets are offered by AMD namely X370, B350 and A320. Well B350 should be fine for most user and there should be no observable difference between X370 and B350 in overclocking performance. However most overclocking enabled MB have been positioned as the tier-one MB by manufacturer, so if you go for OC, then very likely you will need to buy the most expensive model, i.e. the X370 MB.

I choose the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero (aka C6H). For an OC MB, I will pay special attention to its power phase design which is critical to maintain sustained system stability. How is this C6H compared to other brand? Honestly I can’t tell. I have been using ASUS MB for years since I build my Intel Core2Due system, so far so good.

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By the way, the average MB price of Ryzen family is significantly lower than that of Intel family. So if you plan to build an Intel system, be prepared to pay more not only for your CPU but the MB.

RAM and AMD’s Infinity Fabric

Be award of the dual channel design of AMD Ryzen architecture. For example, if you install 32G DD4 Ram in Dual Channel+Dual Rank +8G x 4, then the max memory speed support is 1866. In Ryzen, memory speed is related to Infinity Fabric, in short RAM speed will have direct influence on Ryzen CPU performance.  So pay attention when you decide what memory to be installed.

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Source: 

There are growing test revealing the impact of Ram speed on Ryzen CPU performance.

DDR4 Memory Scaling on AMD AM4 Platform – The Best Memory Kit For AMD Ryzen CPUs http://www.legitreviews.com/ddr4-memory-scaling-amd-am4-platform-best-memory-kit-amd-ryzen-cpus_192259

Unlike Intel, Ryzen is new to market therefore some users report compatibility issue on Ram. It seems the issue has been addressed with bios upgrade however I still prefer those models with tested compatibility, just make sure nothing will go wrong. I pick the Gskill Flare DDR4-3200 (F4-3200C14D-16GFX) and the system successfully posted with no extra setting is needed, the MB just recognize this 3200 RAM automatically.

Remark: RGB Ram murdered !!
The design of Ram should be CPU neutral, technically speaking the compatibility issue on Ryzen does not exist. However for RGB Ram, some users have reported RAM killed by Ryzen system. As told, after installed for several days, the motherboard suddenly fails to recognize the RGB ram and apparently the ram is dead !!!!!! You can find out more cases on youtube. Finally the reason has been revealed: It seems some setting within the RGB ram have been altered by the system (software?) and it finally leads to compatibility issue. It can be fixed by revising the SPD info of the RAM however this procedure takes extra time and cost.

Cooling

For OC player, an advanced cooling system is a must. I use Corsair Hydro Series™ H100i GTX which is migrated from my old PC. Before the migration, I realize that the latest Ryzen is not supported by my cooler without a new socket (AM4) mount. The service of local dealer is good and it offers me a new mount for free however it takes me a week to wait.

M.2 and RAID

In Ryzen architecture, the M.2, PCIe x16 (2 lanes) and USB port (some) communicate directly to the CPU and bypass the MB chip. Even-though I have no proof, I expect this arrangement implies a higher transfer rate of those devices. Therefore I install the OS (win10 pro) on M.2

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SSD is good but still cannot replace traditional HDD which can provide several TB storage in an affordable price. For a photographer, there are tons of files to be handled and we need every measures to speed up the file management process. In this regard, RAID has been the common solution. The HDD RAID system can be setup either by hardware controller (i.e. MB chip X370) or software controller (Win10, storage device function). I uses to setup my RAID system via the MB chip.

Remark: tedious RAID setup in ASUS C6H
Like many other user who suffered from loop of failure in setting up the RAID system in C6H, I have spent days to figure out the solution (http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-3395597/setting-raid-ryzen-asus-crosshair-hero.html). The system will keep showing the blue screen with warning “inaccessible device”. There is no way to setup the RAID without a clean installation of win!! Alright so a clean installation is done and the RAID 0 has been setup successfully. Unfortunately, my win10 pro fails to recognize the two SSD (SATA connected) installed. Freaked out!!

When the system is growing, there are many more peripheral devices to be installed (e.g. HDD). I want to alleviate the loading of my MB chip and hopefully promote the RAID speed a step further. Therefore a dedicated RAID controller card is installed.

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After days of effort, the system is ready finally !!
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I think that’s enough for hardware selection. Next post will be about the performance of this new setup and some tricks to push the Lightroom to her limit.

Building my new PC for Lightroom with Ryzen 7 (Part 1: LR and CPU)

My current PC system was built in 2 – 3 years ago and it worked fine.

Current system config
CPU: Intel i7 3770k (OC to 4.5GHz)
MB: Asus P8z77
RAM: DDR3 32G
Storage: up to 10T (3T RAID 0, 256 SSD and 6T HDD)

As the resolution of camera is climbing, the file size (I shoot raw) is gaining too. Storage is gradually occupied and the system becomes too slow. That’s why a new build is planned.

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(a) System design tailored for Lightroom

Lightroom is picky. Even your system scores beautifully in bench-marking software, Lightroom may not exhibit the same level of efficiency in practical use. For example, Lightroom is not optimized for multi-core CPU therefore a 4-core 4GHz CPU may outrun a 8-core 3.5GHz setup.

Reference:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Lightroom-CC-6-Multi-Core-Performance-649/
https://orpheuslau.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/lightroom-6-%E5%8F%AF%E4%BB%A5%E5%BF%AB%E4%B8%80%E9%BB%9E%E5%97%8E-%E5%AF%A6%E6%B8%AC7%E7%A8%AE%E4%B8%8D%E5%90%8C%E6%8F%90%E9%80%9F%E8%A8%AD%E5%AE%9A/

Lightroom is my primary software for post processing therefore the design of my system must be tailored for it.  Based on review and sharing, here is the suggested PC setup in response to different essential Lightroom procedures:

File Import: It is not a CPU demanding procedure. Using faster storage media (e.g. SSD, USB 3.0) the better.

Building preview: During post-processing, e.g. using brush, we need to zoom in 1:1 so that we can see every detail of the image. However it usually takes a couple seconds to zoom in one single image (e.g. A99ii raw). If you have considerable number of images to be processed, you can imagine how frustrating it can be. Therefore some people uses to build 1:1 preview when importing. This idea of batch processing can save you time however this process can still take 20-30mins or more depending on your PC. Again using a multi-core CPU has no significant effect on zooming in instead it wants a CPU running in higher clock speed (GHZ).

1:1 zoom in: Instead of building 1:1 preview for all imported image, once files are imported, I will screen and move them into quick selection first. Post-processing will be done within the quick selection category. Using GPU acceleration can speed up the 1:1 zoom-in. With the acceleration enabled in my GTX980ti, I can zoom in a A99ii Raw file instantly. However this acceleration only applies in Develop module.

Reference: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/lightroom-gpu-faq.html

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Export to jpg: This is the most time consuming part. Per previous test result, the size of lightroom cache and location of catalog have no significant impact. On the other hand, this process can be benefited by multi-threaded processing and higher CPU clock speed. CPU utilization can maintain at 100% during the export therefore this procedure is CPU demanding.

(b) Intel or AMD?

The analysis above suggests CPU plays a vital role in an efficient system. So what we are looking for is a CPU with (1) High clock speed, (2)Multi-cored, Six Core or above. After years of waiting, there is another CPU brand other than Intel in the market.

Long story short, however, Intel is still a preferable choice.

Reference: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Lightroom-CC-2015-10-1-CPU-Comparison-Skylake-X-Kaby-Lake-X-Broadwell-E-Kaby-Lake-Ryzen-7-973/

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The latest Intel 7800x Kaby Lake is a 6C 3.5GHz CPU (~US$375) which shows impressive result in most Lightroom tests. Another choice comes from AMD Ryzen family. The Ryzen series, on the other hand, shows the highest C/P value:

Ryzen 7 1700X, 8C 3.4GHz, US$ 300
Vs
Intel 7800x, 6C 3.5GHz, US$ 375

Although Ryzen 1700x outperforms Intel 7800x in many CPU benchmarking test, in Lightroom that’s totally different story .

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Source: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Lightroom-CC-2015-10-1-CPU-Comparison-Skylake-X-Kaby-Lake-X-Broadwell-E-Kaby-Lake-Ryzen-7-973/

There are also some real demonstrations in Youtube

Those reviews repeatedly come to one conclusion “Intel is a better choice for Lightroom”. As everyone knows,  Intel has been the only PC CPU manufacturer during past several years; so I guess the programming of Lightroom is optimized for Intel chip. That explains why Intel CPU shares substantial advantage over AMD in lightroom test even the later one is doing much better in most CPU benchmarking.

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So, if you want to choose the latest Ryzen family, you must look for some other measures to compensate the software(Lightroom) preference. Luckily, i do. Through CPU overclocking, ram selection and system tuning, I am convinced that Ryzen can be a good choice for my PC system. So how to do it? Details will be shared in Part II, stay tuned.