Previous 1 2 Next 21 Replies Latest reply: Jul 26, 2011 4:04 PM by SierraDragon
oraziosimone Level 1 (0 points)

I've a budget around 1900-2000 euro (more or less the same price in US dollars for the US market)

The choice would be either one of the new iMac or a MacBookPro ...


In both cases there is some level of choice whether to invest money on:

1) either go for the model with more performing video card

2) either the model with more performing CPU or more RAM or (even) a solid-state disk


Just to make it clear: I'm not a pro, I've been able to use Aperture, till now, on a 2007 MacBook

and I didn't feel so bad as regards managing previews, while I'd like some more horsepower

while editing single images (as soon as the list of adjustments applied gets long, the spinning

beach ball takes home on my screen and I have to wait more and more time !)

... The time needed to zoom in at 100% is annoying to ...


So the question is: are these operations (adjustments, zooming into the image) demanding more

on CPU, or on GPU or ... what else ?


To make an example: would a MacBookPro be performing more fast than an iMac

(I don't care of the smaller screen size, since I'm used to adjust images at 100% zoom) ?


Is it worth going to the MacBookPro with Radeon HD 6750M and 1GB memory, or would

a Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB perform as well, investing the saved money in more



Speaking of photo applications I'd naively suppose it's better to go with a more performing GPU,

but probably most of the GPU power is reserved for film encoding/decoding, not for photo adjustments ...


Thank you for your help

  • Armagh Mac Level 1 (10 points)

    I really do think it is an Aperture issue and im my opinion/ experience the computer that runs it 100% has still not been invented.


    If you want to update your computer go ahead using any other consideration but just don't expect it to get rid of all Aperture's Issues and bugs.

  • oraziosimone Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you,


    I do not expect to get rid of any issue with Aperture.

    What I just wanted to know is what it is most demanded by Aperture: more CPU power or more video power ? When the application is rendering the image (for a 100% zoom or immediately after adding an adjustment) is it using the GPU or the CPU to make computations ?

  • zarathu Level 2 (260 points)

    Aperture 3 has several factors which are necessary to make it run at top speed, both hardware and software related:


    Hardware:  Aperture 3 is a GPU dependent program.  Lightroom and Photoshop are CPU dependent programs.  This means that your bottleneck on a mac is most likely to be the video card.  Go with the fastest video card you can afford, and your CPU will probably come along. 


    Secondly, A 3 is a ram memory hog.  While it will operate in a system that has 2 gb ram,  to really fly the program itself needs about 4.5 gb of ram.  So you you need a total of 8 gb or more to be able to run the OS and A3 at the same time.


    Software:  There are things you need to do to keep A3 running smoothly:


    1.  Delete all files in the following three folders:

    Hard Drive/Library/Caches

    Hard Drive/System/Library/Caches

    Hard Drive/Users/[your user name]/Library/Cashes


    You might want to make up a back up first, but you are just dealing with caches here


    Also delete:  Hard Drive/Users/[your user name]/Library/Preferences/


    2.  Unless you have 12 gb of RAM, close down everything you don't need to use while you are using Aperture 3, BEFORE YOU start up A3

  • John Kitchen Level 3 (645 points)

    oraziosimone wrote:


    Thank you,


    I do not expect to get rid of any issue with Aperture.

    What I just wanted to know is what it is most demanded by Aperture: more CPU power or more video power ? When the application is rendering the image (for a 100% zoom or immediately after adding an adjustment) is it using the GPU or the CPU to make computations ?

    I have an iMac i7 3.4GHz (12GBs) and when viewing RAW photos in full screen mode in quick succession, I see CPU utilizations approaching 400% (4 cores).  So CPU power is certainly a factor.  I have the larger (2GB) graphics option, but I have no way of knowing how busy or full it may be.


    I also have an SSD.


    The combination of fast graphics, large RAM and fast I/O is probably pushing the bottleneck to the CPU, so my advice is that "the best" has all of these things.


    My preference is the iMac over the MBP for probably more cost-effective computing, but certainly more expandability.  Longer term, you'll probably want to upgrade to 12, 16 or more GBs of RAM, and to the best of my knowledge, MBPs are still limited to 8.  I may be wrong.


    You have your MacBook for portability, and could even use it to screen share into the iMac.


    I have both MBP and iMac and have used screen sharing to use the power of the iMac on my lap.

  • oraziosimone Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, so GPU is the first before CPU and RAM, but both are important ...

    I'm bit scared about deleting the caches, since I use spotlight a lot and I know it takes

    time to rebuild the database. Do you delete the cached each time before starting AIII ?

  • oraziosimone Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, you indeed have a very powerful iMac (quite beyond my target price ... ) But I'm not a pro, just looking for the best "compromize" to improve the speed ...

    I agree that I don't need the MBP: the only (maybe silly) doubt I had was whether the MBP would make better usage of the GPU power to render the RAWs, since it has a lower number of pixels to master...


    Do you keep the system (and the Applications folder) on the SSD and the RAWs in the HD ? Or did you try moving the RAWs you need to process (maybe referenced) on the SSD ?



  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Whatever you get you want an SSD. That makes iMacs relatively very expensive.


    Mobility is a HUGE benefit. iMacs lack mobility.


    Top 2011 MBPs with SSD are true desktop replacement boxes. Very strong performance and Thunderbolt removes the achilles heel of past laptops, i/o. Previously I had a Mac Pro plus Macbook Pro workflow and it worked. Now I have a desktop-replacement 2011 MBP and it is way better. If you sell your current laptop and apply the money to a new MBP + external display the MBP comparison price gets very attractive as compared to MBP plus iMac.


    Aperture runs well on 8 GB RAM, and in any event 2011 MBPs will take 16 GB RAM. Currently prices are unacceptably high for the required 8 GB DIMMs but the capability is there when prices fall, which they will. As you do your analyses include RAM to 8 GB (post-purchase via third party, much cheaper).


    iMacs have glossy-only displays. Many image pros including me find those displays unacceptable. MBPs have matte displays available. New Macbook Airs (MBAs) are glossy too, but seem to present less glare than iMacs do. Each individual needs to visually compare displays before purchasing.


    MBAs are the low end for heavy graphics apps like Aperture, not recommended.


    I own a 17" 2011 MBP with SSD and 8 GB RAM and Aperture flies on it. Adding SSD to a top 2011 MBP costs only +$100, and the optical drive can inexpensively be replaced with a third-party hard drive of up to 1000 GB (1 TB) when necessary. IMO an SSD is a necessity, not an option.


    During desktop use fast external hard drives like Promise Thunderbolt RAID arrays can be added, as can quality non-glossy displays like the $300 Viewsonic VP2365wb or the better NEC 2490. I have the Viewsonic aligned above a 17" MBP and it is a nice combination. Two displays IMO is much preferable for graphics work.


    SSD is a huge boost. I put OS, apps, Library and Referenced Masters on the SSD, then relocate the Masters to external drives when editing is complete. Aperture performance is essentially instant.

  has relative graphics performance tests up at:


    Insights from Rob Art Morgan at Barefeats:

    "Though more than adequate for mere mortal tasks (Safari, Mail, etc.), the 2011 MacBook Air remains at the bottom of the Mac "food chain" when running apps that stress the CPU, GPU, and memory. This will be further illustrated with soon-to-be posted tests using After Effects, Aperture, Final Cut Pro, etc."


    From an earlier post of mine regarding Aperture hardware:


    Aperture is a hardware hog: GPU, CPU, i/o, RAM. Although many Macs will run Aperture, those intending Aperture as an important app will do far better with the strongest available hardware in a given category.


    All new Macs have Thunderbolt, so as of 2011 we can scratch i/o as a performance limiter (except see SSD comments below).


    Aperture (3.1.2, OS 10.6.8) seems to like about 4 GB of RAM all to itself. On  2011 boxes 8 GB RAM generally works well with multiple concurrent apps. From the standpoint of cost-effective upgrading, adding third party RAM to achieve 8 GB or more is something every Aperture user should do. By the time we reach v4 Aperture I would bet that having more than 8 GB RAM on board will be useful; it may be already with Lion, but I have not been running Lion due to known issues with Adobe apps.


    Graphics in 2011 Macs vary widely, so IMO the graphics processing unit (GPU) may be the most important variable for comparing new Aperture boxes in 2011 . The GPU itself is important, but even more importantly evaluating the GPU strength turns out to be a pretty good way to compare 2011 Mac Aperture performance.


    Relatively real-world 2011 graphics hardware test results on pro applications have been performed by well-respected testers, see below. I have not yet seen meaningful Aperture-specific tests, however experience since v1 Aperture has been that Aperture performance has been keenly dependent upon the strength of the graphics processor. E.g. a Mac Pro with lame graphics card will underperform on Aperture.


    In my experience (2011 17" MBP) the benefits of SSDs are huge. I consider the fastest Aperture workflow to have both Library and Referenced Masters on SSD, then when work on a Project is complete the Referenced Masters are relocated to hard drives. I am doing that now and everything on the box is essentially instant.


    Comparative Final Cut Pro test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others are up at



    Comparative Motion test results for the 2011 MBPs vs. others also are up at



    Comparative 2011 MBP Graphics test results at



    INSIGHTS from

    "1. The 2011 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz MacBook Pro with Radeon 6750M graphics (1GB GDDR5) is a 'different animal' from the 2011 2.0GHz MacBook Pro with the Radeon 6490M graphics (256MB GDDR5). Is it worth $300 more (comparably equipped). Yes, when you consider you are getting a faster CPU and much faster GPU.

    2. The 2011 2.7GHz MacBook Pro with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics does little or nothing to improve the 3D graphics performance compared to the GeForce 320M integrated graphics in the 2010 MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro."




    -Allen Wicks

  • zarathu Level 2 (260 points)

    SSD's are big static ram cards like the 30 gb one in my Canon 50D.  As such they require maintenance.  There is nothing to keep those little electrons from leaking out of the chip over time.  They are much  much less stable than a hard drive which is less stable than a DVD back up. But most people know that  you can store your stuff on a dvd back up and come back 6 years later even after keeping it in a cool dark place and find it totally unreadable.


    Canon recommends that every month or after uploading all the photos, that you reformat the card. 


    The reality is that you need to do the same on any large static ram card or even a flash drive.  Are you prepared to re-format the SSD every 1-3 months, and put whatever you had in it back into the drive from some other 250gb HD back up storage somewhere else?  And if so, it would be good if you had a thunderbolt back up drive to make this as painless as possible.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Apple has had SSDs successfully in Mac laptops since 2008. The 2011 Mac SSDs are excellent mass storage, more reliable than hard drives.


    There is NO recommendation to routinely reformat 2011 Mac SSDs.


    But yes, drives do fail. ALL hard drives fail. Both SSDs and hard drives should be fully backed up against catastrophic failure at all times.


    -Allen Wicks

  • John Kitchen Level 3 (645 points)

    @oraziosimone,  I'm not a pro either, but an enthusiastic amateur with an SLR, and about 40,000 images.  I was finding that my 15" MBP (late 2008) with 8GBs of RAM and 512GB 7200 rpm hard drive had these limitations when using Aperture:-


    It was slow, and even at 8GBs of RAM was paging a lot.  I could have done things like turning off preview sharing, which has been said to reduce RAM demand, but I choose not to cut out that functionality.


    Of more importance, the HDD is too small to hold all my files and photos, which required that I externalize data to a slower storage device and suffer the inconvenience of being tethered to an external drive.


    Hence the iMac with SSD and HDD.


    The SSD has the system (including page/swap space of course), the apps, recently created files, and my Aperture Library.


    The Aperture Library is a combination of Managed and Referenced Masters.  When I import into Aperture, I import the images as Managed, so they are on the SSD.  Older images are referenced, and reside on the HDD.  My rationale is that recently imported images will represent most of the ones that I do work on, so they get the fastest storage.


    Older images are Referenced.  I haven't done this, but I might - if I want to work fast on an old project, I MAY use Relocate Masters to bring them to the SSD for the speed.  I certainly WILL use Relocate Masters to move the older Masters to the HDD as the Aperture Library grows.  I try to keep my SSD under about 75% full.


    When I moved my Aperture Library from the MBP to the iMac, I copied the consolidated library to the HDD, then opened that library on the iMac.  Next step was to select all images older than a certain date, and Relocate Masters into a folder on the same HDD.  The result was a Library and a Folder of Masters.  This process was amazingly quick, and I was worried until I realized that Aperture was not copying all the Masters, it was just changing the file system to reflect their new location.


    Then I copied the Aperture Library to the SSD, which was very fast too, since the 2TB HDD is very fast for sequential transfers, and the SSD is fast for writes.  Then I opened the SSD-resident Library and threw away the one on the HDD.


    Of course, I have skipped over the steps I took to make sure I had two backups of everything at every stage in the process, but this post is long enough without having you burdened by the details of my paranoia!


    Bottom line, I wanted to have my hobby unconstrained by frustrating slowness, or complicated configurations.


    Hope this helps!

  • el-nico Level 1 (0 points)

    Well, it sure helped me, almost ready to change from MacBook to iMac, much because of work with Aperture.

  • John Kitchen Level 3 (645 points)

    There is a reason why Flash memory cards for cameras are byte-for-byte cheaper than the SSDs used in Macs, which, in turn are cheaper than the Flash drives used in enterprise-class storage arrays.  While the technology sounds the same, the internal redundancies are totally different, the performance is different and the duty cycle life is different.


    Also, there is a lot of management intelligence added as you go up the tree.


    You don't need to wipe a Mac's SSD every few months, and the probability, on average, of failure causing data loss is likely much lower on the SSD than on HDDs.


    That said, you may be lucky or unlucky, and having an adequate backup strategy is important if your images are important to you! 

  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    John Kitchen wrote:


    Of more importance, the HDD is too small to hold all my files and photos, which required that I externalize data to a slower storage device and suffer the inconvenience of being tethered to an external drive.


    That is what any desktop box does, force one to suffer the inconvenience of being tethered... to the desk! If one accepts being tethered to the desk then 2011MBPs have mass storage available to them (Promise Thunderbolt RAID arrays) the full-speed equal of what is available with Mac Pros or iMacs.


    A MBP can be cheaply ordered with SSD and also have full-speed desktop hard drive storage as well as a hard drive in the Superdrive slot if desired.


    The top end iMacs are the strongest current Aperture boxes (until new Mac Pros come out soon), but top MBPs are very, very strong performers.



  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    el-nico wrote:


    Well, it sure helped me, almost ready to change from MacBook to iMac, much because of work with Aperture.

    No need to give up essential mobility. The better 2011 MBPs are full-strength. 



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