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!