Premeir Pro is taking 2.5 hours to render 7 minutes of basic video and audio. WTF. Previous versions of Premeir did not take this kind of time.... This is untenable. Earlier versions of Premeir came with settings that worked for most people. The settings in Premier Pro are exactly the opposite. Why do I have to spend hours trying to find help with a product I'm paying for monthly?
What settings are you using to render with? And just for clarity are you talking about a timeline render or exporting the video? I'm not sure which settings were available previously that aren't available now. It just sounds like something is wrong.
Is the GPU active for the software? Updated with studio drivers?
Do you have any effects going on that aren't mentioned?
What sort of source footage are you working with?
A cache clear and prefs reset are good things to try, but knowing some of this other stuff might help people figure out if something else is up. Does a different version work better? You can have two different versions installed at the same time, so maybe sending an XML to a 2021 version and trying that out would work.