What Is GPU Acceleration?
GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is a chip that fits onto the graphics card and aims to boost the use of images on your display. This chip is programmable and allows you to work with 2D and 3D photos alike.
It helps your photographic workflow by making certain processes faster. Zooming in and panning images is made faster by shorter rendering and loading time. This is especially helpful when trying to load large files.
The most substantial benefit here is that a GPU can perform parallel tasks. This is helpful when working on different platforms at the same time. For example, when I work on Lightroom, I often have Photoshop open, allowing me to work on both if needed.
How to Enable GPU Acceleration
Enabling GPU acceleration in Lightroom is very simple. Go to Edit>Preferences. Go to the Performance tab, and then click on Use Graphics Processor and then finally, OK.
It will show you information about your graphics card. for more information about your system, you can click on System Info.
Does Lightroom Use GPU Acceleration?
Adobe Lightroom added Graphics Processing Unit acceleration to its editing software back in 2017. It was a long-awaited process that benefits photographers and their workflow.
It helped users get through their images faster as larger and larger file sizes were slowing down the Lightroom workflow.
However, many users experienced either little or no improvement.
When it comes to the GPU to use, Adobe recommends three vendors for these video cards. They are AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel. They have the latest drivers already installed. They do point out though that even with GPU acceleration, it doesn’t necessarily make Lightroom faster.
Some users experience glitches or a slower process. This is usually down to GPU’s not being powerful enough. Here, they use more power than they give out, making them the koalas of the processing world.
Generally, you will need a newer and powerful GPU to see an improvement in your workflow. But these come at a cost. Note that Virtual RAM (Random Access Memory), CUDA Cores/Stream Processors are important.
Although it can help your photography process, this is something that isn’t entirely reliable. Testing needs to be done before you try to use it. If it doesn’t benefit you and your workflow, try a newer or more powerful GPU.
Does Lightroom Need a GPU?
Generally, Lightroom doesn’t need a GPU if you are using JPEGs or smaller files. But, as sensor sizes increase, so do the files that come with it. With the Sony A7R IV, you can expect file sizes of around 120MB.
This has the potential to slow down your workflow substantially. With the newer camera models, both DSLR and mirrorless, you’ll benefit from having a GPU. This can make the process of going through hundreds of images a breeze.
No doubt you’ve experienced the problems of slow rendering images in Lightroom. Even when importing images at 1:1 Previews, you might find that loading takes a while. A GPU helps with this, but only to a certain degree.
Any software that you run on your computer needs hardware to match. A GPU is one piece of hardware, but it isn’t going to solve all of your problems.
Put it this way. A GPU isn’t going to work properly if you don’t have a motherboard that can handle it. On top of that, you need memory for it to work. As the GPU works as a visual aid, you’ll need other items to get the full benefit.
For one, you need a 4K monitor to see the full range of detail from your high-end camera. Otherwise, what is the point? Some users of GPUs have found that an external GPU is something you need, as the internal chips don’t offer the same amount of processing power.
Besides, most processes in Lightroom are added when you export your images. They queue up when you add adjustments and are worked through at the end. This means a faster export, where most people might not see a difference.
Personally, when exporting, I find something else to do. That way, it doesn’t really matter if it takes 30 mins or three times that length.
Currently, GPU acceleration only works in the Develop module, meaning that the Library, Map, or any other module will not benefit. Even in the Develop module, not all processes are included. You’ll see a huge benefit in a GPU when using the texture slider, for example.
Here you’ll see instantaneous changes. Without it, you’ll be left wondering if the slider did anything at all. If there are problems with the brush tool, or preview images vanishing, turn off the GPU acceleration to see if that is causing the issue.
You might have run out of memory, or use a version of Lightroom that isn’t compatible with your operating system.
Is Photoshop GPU Accelerated?
Adobe Photoshop works slightly differently to Adobe Lightroom in a number of ways. The most important, and this plays a big part in how a GPU works, are scratch disks.
If you don’t have enough memory, you’ll get a popup from Photoshop telling you your action will not process. This is an even bigger problem when you find out you can’t save your images.
There is a stronger and better GPU acceleration support in Photoshop as it needs the extra juice. Lightroom works just fine with low memory. That doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from faster previews from some sliders.
How Do I Make Lightroom Run Faster?
There are many things you can do to ensure Lightroom runs as fast as it can. For one, a GPU can be of great help.
However, this is only in the Develop module, as importing images will take just as long as it did without any hardware help.
When it comes to photographic editing software, RAM is way more important. This is especially true for Photoshop, where you’ll need it to process images and save them. An SSD will help in the important areas, where the GPU will help you see the images better, in greater detail.
To make Lightroom faster, you might not need any internal or external hardware. Even a few setting changes or changing the way you work through your images might be the answer.
When I import images into Adobe Lightroom, I always render 1:1 previews. I then use the smart previews and even add presets on import. That way, the images load fast from the start, and most are processed closer from the get-go.
For me, I prefer it to take longer at the beginning than while I work. This way, I can do something else while I wait. Then, when they are finally imported, I can work unhindered.
You can increase your ACR cache, which makes your quick access memory load your images and adjustments faster. It is set to 1GB by default, but raising it to over 20GB could be enough for a faster process.
Optimizing your catalog and making sure you are organized is also a great way to keep the clutter down. The last thing we recommend for making Lightroom run faster is converting your files.
Raw files take a lot of space. Converting them to an Adobe file format allows you to work faster at an increased performance. DNGs were created by Adobe, so it makes sense that they allow faster workflows.