1 Reply Latest reply: Feb 17, 2013 5:33 AM by SierraDragon
prohtex Level 1 (20 points)

I've been using Aperture for many years on a variety of Mac hardware. I have 5 or 6 image libraries, ranging in size from 50gb to 250gb. I have no referenced images, do not use "faces" or other CPU-intensive features, and often perform tasks which reportedly improve Aperture performance (deleting caches, repairing/rebuilding libraries, defragging hard drives. deleting prefs). While these tricks often result in a snappy experience on relaunch, Aperture returns to its sluggish ways after a few minutes of work.


My workflow is very simple -- I plug in my camera, download photos to the HD, and then edit them, which consists of adjustments such as exposure, white balance, sharpening, rotating, cropping. I don't do much retouching, red eye, or other fancy editing. Occasionally I use the "external" edit feature to retouch in Photoshop. I shot for many years with a Canon Rebel, 14MP I believe, and recently got a Nikon D800. I am finding the performance going through D800 raw files (not even editing, just flipping through them) unacceptable. For example, if I go to hybrid list/preview view, and press the "down" key 10 or 15 times, by the 5th image, there is a very noticeable lag, and often the display beachballs for 10 seconds or more before it gets to the bottom of the list. Basic tasks such as cropping or rotating often lock the display for long periods of time.


For many years, I blamed Aperture's awful performance on my hardware. I worked on a series of Mac laptops. Although I usually had the latest hardware, they were no desktop. Recently, I bought a Mac Pro with a 3.2GHz Quad-Core Xeon processor, 16GB of ram, an OWC SSD (for the system -- the libraries are on a 7200RPM drive), and a ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card. I was dismayed to find out that Aperture is STILL unbearably slow. If I can't simply flip through some photos on a top of the line Mac Pro, what is this program good for?


My question now is, would I see a significant performance gain if I were to upgrade yet again to a faster graphics card, such as the Radeon 7950? I've been reading up on these cards, and it seems like native support is coming in 10.8.3. While I hesitate to pour more money into my quest for a useable Aperture system, I wonder if this would finally show some significant performance gains. I've read conflicting reports from other users who've upgraded the graphics card. Is the advantage mainly for 3D or gaming applications or would this help Aperture too?


Thanks in advance for any replies!

Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.5), Mac Pro 3.2GHz/16G Ram/Radeon 5770
  • SierraDragon Level 4 (2,695 points)

    In the past Aperture has been very GPU-dependent. The very best G5 tower would bog on Aperture unless the stock GPU card had been upgraded. I expect current Aperture also to benefit from a stronger GPU but I do not have absolute info on that. And your existing 5770 is not a lame card.


    I know 16 GB RAM seems like a lot, but with D800 files and an Aperture/Photoshop workflow you may still be paging out to disk. My Aperture/Photoshop workflow paged out at 8 GB RAM with files 1/3 the size of the D800 files.


    You should evaluate whether or not you have adequate RAM:


    Look at the Page Outs number under System Memory on the Activity Monitor app before starting a typical Aperture/Photoshop work session and write the number down. Recheck the Page Outs count after working for a few hours and write the number down again. If the page outs change (manual calculation of ending page outs number minus starting page outs number) is not zero your workflow is RAM-starved.


    Ignore the pie charts and other info in Activity Monitor because they are often misleading regarding RAM usage. For RAM analysis, count page outs.


    If your test shows that page outs increase at all during operation you should add RAM. RAM is dirt cheap and use of additional RAM a very desirable characteristic for an Aperture/Photoshop workflow. If it was me I would double to 32 GB RAM and set PS (PS Preferences/Performance/Memory) to use 16 GB of RAM.


    Hard drives slow as they fill so make sure none of your hard drives are overfilled. I suggest 70% full as an arbitrary maximum but even less full is preferable for speed. If your Library drive exceeds 60% full I suggest setting a RAID 0 array on two or more identical drives to get extra capacity and speed. Of course pay careful attention to frequent Library backup.


    Some apps like browsers are notorious for "leaking" memory so when doing serious images work keep non-essential applications closed. A SSD drive for boot helps because when apps open in just 3 seconds there is no reason to keep extraneous apps open.






    P.S. I strongly recommend that original images be fully backed up before importing into Aperture or any other images management application.


    P.P.S. Makhe sure you have a properly set PS Scratch Disk assigned on a fast underfilled drive, and empty the scratch disk routinely.