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Lonewolfjustin2105 Level 1 (0 points)

I am running a Macbook 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB and Aperture 3 is running terrible on it.  Constant spinning wheels and system freezes.  Actually the freezes are happening a lot without Aperture open, but I haven't been able to find what the problem is.  My question is I am looking to upgrade my computer because I am really getting serious about my photography and would like to have a computer I don't really have to wait on.  Its sad to hate having to put your photos on your computer because it is going to run so slow.  So I have been reading that there is a new iMac coming out in the next few weeks.  So does the i3, i5, i7 processors and more memory really help Aperture 3 that much?  Should I wait until the new iMacs come out or save some money by buying the older version?  I don't know what Aperture really needs but I want to make sure I am not always waiting on it to do things.  Thanks for any help in this!!!

Macbook, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Ir. Bob Level 2 (320 points)

    Laptops or notebooks, whatever you call them, are always slower then desktop machines. Aperture runs fine on my 3.06 Core 2 Duo 4 GB iMac. It runs (not fast, but it runs) on my white MacBook with only 1 GB of RAM. (Although I can't use brushes on that machine since the system then really slows to a halt)


    The fact that your machine gives you spinning balls even when not running Aperture indicates that there is something wrong with your machine. Either you have a lot of processes running at the same time, or you might have hardware that is beginning to fail (probably you hard-disk).


    Then about a new Mac, nobody knows when new Macs arrive, except maybe Steve himself. So if you need a new Mac now, then buy one now. If you're getting serious in photography I would consider a good screen the number one priority. The iMac screens are not bad, but if you have money to spend, spend it on a good screen from Eizo or Lacie etc. For the specs of the new machine, I'd probably invest more in RAM (at least 4, but preferably 8 GB) then in processor power. Aperture (contrary to most other image editing apps) seems to benefit quite a lot from the graphical card present in the machine, so you might want to consider a better card as well.

  • Lonewolfjustin2105 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Ir. Bob for the reply.  So with the new iMac rumored to have a Sandy Bridge processor and Thunderbolt, are those things that will make working with Aperture 3 better?  I am just trying to figure out if the wait is worth it or if its better to buy the older model cheaper. 


    I just replaced the hard drive about 6 months ago, so I hope the HD isn't failing.  But there is something wrong with this macbook and I can't figure it out.  I was trying to find some kind of way to diagnose a mac but wasn't successful.  I think I might take it up to a genius to see if they can help on that front. 


    I do wonder sometimes if Lightroom would work better on my machine instead of Aperture 3

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    The short answer is absolutely do not go for an older model to save money. That strategy can be appropriate for users with minimal needs (e.g. browsing and office) but not for users of hardware-intensive graphics apps.





  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Aperture's workflow rocks. However the app is hardware intensive, taking good advantage of both CPU and GPU power, and up to at least 8 GB RAM (more with heavy workflows). A good Aperture box needs four things: GPU, CPU, RAM and competent input/output (i/o).


    Note that top 2011 Macbook Pro laptops are stronger than any iMac and even most Mac Pros. iMacs are not per se stronger than laptops, they are just anchored to one place and only come with glare displays. Some folks tolerate even like the glossy but I find them unacceptable, far preferring anti-glare displays like the NEC 2490 for photos work.


    Prior to 2011 Aperture was significantly hardware-limited by all laptops and iMacs, but with the advent of Sandy Bridge boxes with Thunderbolt i/o the best laptop and (coming soon) iMac boxes will no longer be so limiting.


    IMO your first decision is what workflow you plan. Do you plan to give up your current mobility and move to a single-location desktop box, or would you like to keep mobility in your future? In the past I used a C2D Macbook Pro in the field with a Mac Pro tower at the office, but with Sandy Bridge I use a single 17" MBP with anti-glare display for field and office. The office setup just gets additional hard drives and large external display.


    Whatever you choose, stick to the high end choices for Aperture.




    -Allen Wicks

  • jetset95 Level 1 (0 points)

    Don't go for an older model Allen? Sorry but I have to disagree there, go for the one that suits you needs, I got an older iMac last year when the new ones came out, still got a quad core i7 processor, superfast graphics card which runs Aperture, video and 3D software like lightning, and paid the same price for this maching with 27" screen that i was going to pay for the basic 27" model in the new range.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    What you did last year is not this year. The new Sandy Bridge boxes with Thunderbolt are sufficiently superior to last-generation boxes to make it such that today buying last year's laptop/iMac hardware for Aperture is a bad idea because all those folks just running browsers and office apps not needing the strongest hardware will keep the old generation from getting cheap enough to justify the relatively large loss of Aperture performance vis-a-vis Sandy Bridge.


    We are on an Aperture forum, so one that suits your needs means running Aperture. All the 2010 iMacs and laptops are significantly more limiting to Aperture than the new 2011 Sandy Bridge boxes with Thunderbolt will be.


    i7 processors were already very strong, so the CPU upgrade is not IMO the big deal so much as are the 2011 graphics and connectivity. Even so, CPU improvements from 2010-2011 are much more substantial than 2009-2010. CPU scores without considering the impact of graphics and connectivity are at


    Thunderbolt alone is a huge benefit over the life of any new box, because in the past only the 17" Macbook Pro and Mac Pros had eSATA mass storage connectivity available. With Thunderbolt any new box has eSATA connectivity available.



  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    I hesitated to post the Primate Labs link above because geekbench testing measures CPU only, while the impact of graphics on Aperture performance is huge. We need to be careful not to interpret strong geekbench scores alone to imply a good Aperture box. Associated strong non-integrated graphics support is also necessary.



  • Ir. Bob Level 2 (320 points)

    If you are considering a new machine for photographic and Aperture, make up your mind about your budget. Then consider the possible machines you can buy for that amount of money. In my opinion you should give the most weight in the equation to the screen, then RAM, then GPU, then CPU, and finally I/O.


    Off course a new generation machine well be better and faster. But no one here is running those new iMacs (they aren't available yet) so nobody knows how much faster or better they are. Most of the people here have Aperture running quite smoothly. So you could perfectly buy a current machine instead of waiting for a new generation. It might even save you enough money to get a serious screen.


    I disagree at this point with the people above giving high value to the new Thunderbolt I/O. The drives available with Thunderbolt are for the moment not faster then FW800 disks. External drives will always be slower then internal drives. And furthermore, you might not even need an external drive for Aperture. (well you need at least one for backup purposes, but that doesn't need to be a fast one) Whether you need an external drive all depends on how you setup your Aperture library. External drives are probably only necessary when you use a referenced library and when you shoot such an amount of images that they cannot be contained in your internal drive. In all other cases I would recommend a managed library (which you can always transform to a referenced if you need to btw). They are easier to backup and harder to mess up then referenced libraries. They need to reside on a single volume however.


    P.s. Referenced libraries are indeed more flexible, but please keep in mind that more flexibility and thus more choices in almost all circumstances makes you're life harder and unhappier. Thus always go for the simplest solution. Aperture is flexible enough that you can always switch to a more complex more flexible setup.

  • jetset95 Level 1 (0 points)

    You're right of course that any new Mac will be superior to the old one, but as Ir. Bob discusses in more detail above this post, it's down to what you need, not what is available, otherwise I've have gone for a Pro not an iMac.


    In a past life I had full desktop state of the art (at the time) Windows machine, and the only thing I ever upgraded on it inside the box was memory. That was 5 years old when it came time to replace it, and I switched to Mac, so the question I had to ask myself was pay twice as much for a pretty Mac Pro that I probably wasn't going to open apart from adding more memory when it came time, or get an iMac which was upgradeable in the same way to that I'd done before - double the memory, add a second screen and external hard drives? I saved the money of course and I'm perfectly happy. When Aperture 4 comes out I'll probably need to upgrade the memory yes, but that's easy to do.


    You're points are all well made but miss the point, what do you need to run Aperture, not run a photography business.

  • Lonewolfjustin2105 Level 1 (0 points)

    Okay so when the new iMacs come out will they be in the same price range as the ones in the store currently?  I haven't kept up with prices when it comes to new machines when they come out versus older ones.  I have been reading rumors that the new iMacs will be out the last week on April or the first of May.  So waiting isn't a big deal, I can get by with what I have for a few more weeks.  But its about the money, and I agree with Ir. Bob that I want to get the most bang for my buck.  My budget is around $2,000 (with education program) and with that I built a pretty nice 27" iMac.  Will the new machines be a lot more for their high end models when they are first released.  And btw I really appreciate all the advice guys, that why I love apple people  

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Lonewolfjustin2105 wrote:


    Okay so when the new iMacs come out will they be in the same price range as the ones in the store currently?

    Prices tend to stay in a similar range but with increasing capability. Over time some prices fall. E.g. in 2006 I bought the best 17" C2D Macbook Pro and paid about $500 more than I just paid for the best 2011 17" MBP with SSD. And the 2006 MBP needed to be paired with a desktop box, while the 2011 MBP is a fully competent desktop replacement; I can feed money into external display rather than into a tower.


    In 2006 Core Duo MBPs were only 10 months old when I bought my Core 2 Duo MBP. I could have saved some money by buying a Core Duo. Instead I invested in the C2D and achieved a 4.5 year life cycle running difficult graphics apps. The Core Duo would have been a much less cost-effective choice.


    I am suggesting that Sandy Bridge boxes are similar to the Core Duo versus Core 2 Duo analysis, and that it is very likely that for Aperture Sandy Bridge boxes will invariably turn out to be the best laptop/iMac choices.


    ...I want to get the most bang for my buck.

    That, of course is what we are discussing. In a given price scenario older tech may or may not give best bang for the buck for a given usage, in this case Aperture. If you are giving up mobility and intend an iMac we do not yet know what the price scenario is old tech versus new tech but I expect new iMacs by June. Based on pricing of the new 2011 Macbook Pros compared to 2010 Macbook Pros IMO the 2011 Sandy Bridge MBPs are far superior Aperture boxes from a cost-effectiveness basis.


    Please note that it is NOT simply an issue of "newer is better." Folks who suggest that my comments just simplistically recommend what's new are flat wrong. At the last iMac speed bump I would have been advising you to buy the 2009 model and (if feasible) retrofit an OWC SSD to it.


    In fact another friend is upgrading her very old iMac and (after we see the new iMacs) I very likely will be recommending that she buy an older generation Imac and retrofit an SSD to it. But she does not run Aperture.


    Will the new machines be a lot more for their high end models when they are first released.  

    We will have to wait and see on iMac pricing.


    When I said "...stick to the high end choices for Aperture" I was referring to the Sandy Bridge laptops that are out now. The best 2011 MBPs have the strong graphics that Aperture thrives on. Lower end Sandy Bridge laptops have strong CPUs and Thunderbolt i/o but lack strong graphics, making them OK for use as a field box paired with a strong desktop box but inappropriate for use as a desktop replacement box.


    We will have to see how Apple configures and prices the new iMac choices. But given how totally suitable the 2010 iMacs are for everything but the heaviest graphics work (Aperture, Final Cut Pro, etc.) I very much doubt if the price of older boxes will be bid down enough to make them cost-effective choices for Aperture compared against Sandy Bridge. We will see.





  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Ir. Bob wrote:


    Most of the people here have Aperture running quite smoothly.


    I disagree. My perception is that most folks like Aperture's workflow but tolerate various performance anomalies. I include myself (2006 MBP and 2.66 GHz Mac Pro with 8 GB RAM) in that category. Aperture is not operational on my 2011 MBP yet.


    When choosing a new box IMO the goal should be to minimize the expected performance anomalies while optimizing life-cycle cost. Constrained by available cash in some cases, which may force choices that are less than ideal from a life-cycle-cost standpoint.


    So you could perfectly buy a current machine instead of waiting for a new generation. It might even save you enough money to get a serious screen.

    IMO at this point one should unequivocally wait to see new iMacs and how pricing shakes out when new iMacs are released. Then we can debate cost effectiveness of the new versus old.


    IMO SSDs are a huge benefit to performance. If - unlike previous iMacs - new Sandy Bridge iMacs have SSDs available at civilized prices (like the MBPs do) that would weigh in favor of the new generation. But we will not know unless we wait.


    I disagree at this point with the people above giving high value to the new Thunderbolt I/O. The drives available with Thunderbolt are for the moment not faster then FW800 disks.

    Incorrect. Thunderbolt is a very high bandwidth connectivity method to the computer. Via Thunderbolt one can use eSATA connectivity, which is about double what FW800 allows, or eSATAII which is about double that.


    External drives will always be slower then internal drives.

    Incorrect. SATA connection allows external drives to be as fast as internal drives. That means that extra-large-capacity drives, RAID arrays, extra-high-rpm drives, etc. can be used to full benefit by Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs. Not so with 2010 iMacs.

  might not even need an external drive for Aperture. (well you need at least one for backup purposes, but that doesn't need to be a fast one)

    Correct. And for most folks FW800 is adequate. But what a technology like Thunderbolt adds is flexibility if one develops need for good i/o in the future. E.g. if one were to get into shooting video a Thunderbolt-equipped box would be far superior to a non-Thunderbolt-equipped box.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    jetset95 wrote:


    You're right of course that any new Mac will be superior to the old one

    That is NOT what I am saying. A new Mac may or may not be a superior choice (based on life-cycle cost-effectiveness) for a given usage.


    What I am saying is that for the MBPs the Sandy Bridge MBPs are superior Aperture choices. And I expect Sandy Bridge iMacs to also be superior choices, but we have to see them first.


    For images folks Thunderbolt i/o is a HUGE benefit to previously i/o-constrained boxes like laptops and iMacs. I will be surprised if 2010 iMac prices drop low enough compared to Sandy Bridge iMac prices to override the value of Thunderbolt.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Another option that we should watch is the Mac Mini. Current Minis are almost but not quite there, but we do need to see what the Sandy Bridge Minis spec out at. A Thunderbolt Mini that could take 8 GB RAM would be a good box if the graphics were adequate. Odds are though that Apple will constrain the Mini to integrated graphics. We will see.

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