Benchmarking the MacBook M1 Pro 14" 2021 in Adobe Lightroom and DaVinci Resolve

Benchmarking the MacBook M1 Pro 14" 2021 in Adobe Lightroom and DaVinci Resolve

Even though I got the MacBook Pro for software development, I wanted to explore the possibility of doing photo and video editing on it, since I couldn't do this before on my Linux laptop. I benchmarked the performance in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic, and DaVinci Resolve, and compared it to my trusty desktop PC that I built at the end of 2018.

Test bench


  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 2700x
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 2080
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 3200MHz
  • SSD: Kingston A2000 500GB NVMe M.2
  • OS: Windows 10


  • CPU: M1 Pro 8 cores
  • GPU: M1 Pro 14 cores
  • RAM: 16GB
  • SSD: 512GB
  • OS: macOS Monterey 12.0.1

All benchmarks were run 3 times and the results were averaged.

Lightroom import

I imported 21 RAW 24MP files from a Nikon D7100 and set Lighroom to organize them into folders by date. No develop settings were applied during the import, and only minimal previews were built. I used a stopwatch to measure the time from pressing the Import button to seeing the progress bar in the top left corner of Lightroom disappear.

I used a SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I 95MB/s SDHC card and a SanDisk ImageMate PRO card reader. Lightroom was at version 11.4.1, running natively on M1.

The MacBook finished the import in 37.67 seconds, 2x slower than the desktop which took only 20.36 seconds.

I used the same SanDisk card reader on both machines, connected through the bundled USB3 cable, and using a USB-A to USB-C adapter for the MacBook.

Using the MacBook's SD card reader proved very unreliable for me, with Lightroom and the Finder app hanging for considerable periods of time. It seems like this could be a widespread problem:

Lightroom export

I applied the built-in Lightroom Auto+ Retro AR10 preset to all 21 photos, and then exported them to JPEG 100 quality, resized to 16MP.

The MacBook finished the export in 13.33 seconds, 2x faster than the desktop which took 25.2 seconds.

Resolve export

I imported some clips from a DJI Mavic Air drone, shot in 2.7K H264 24FPS. I cut and edit them into a 40s timeline, and did some basic color grading. No effects, transitions, or audio tracks were used.

Exporting was done as MP4 4K 24FPS, automatic quality set to Best. I'm using the free version of Resolve, release 18.0, running natively on M1.

Note: I had the drone set to 2.7K from a previous flight, but when importing into Resolve it defaulted the timeline to 4K.

The MacBook finished the export in 20 seconds, a whopping 3.35x faster than the desktop which finished in 67 seconds.

Granted, Resolve 18 supports GPU accelerated encoding for H264 on macOS in the free version, and only in the Studio version on Windows, which makes the comparison a bit unfair. Still, it's impressive that I can get 3x more performance on the MacBook with the same software.

Closing thoughts

I'm surprised that a portable device like the MacBook Pro can run a full day on battery and comfortably beat my power hungry desktop in photo and video exports. Slower imports are a bummer, but I won't feel that as much if I do smaller imports more often while I'm out taking photos.