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27" iMac upgrade priorities for Aperture use?

1166 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Sep 29, 2013 3:55 PM by njwight RSS
njwight Calculating status...
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Mar 12, 2013 1:15 PM

I am about to pull the trigger on a new iMac 27". Current Aperture librabry is about 700GB and this is my primary computer use. Libraries currently live on a 1T Rugged drive and are shared between an 2009 21 iMac and 2010 13MBP. Things are just too slow and I want more screen space. Trying to sort out best use of funds...so, base config looks like this so far:

 

3.2GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5
16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
1TB Fusion Drive
GTX 675MX 1GB GDDR5

 

In terms of more bang for the buck, does it make  sense to upgrade to:

3.4 i7   ($200)

3T Fusion ($150)

680MX 2G ($150)

 

 

I currently have a 2T USB 3 external and a 3T Firewire external (Time Machine BU). I am thinking, given I need a mobile solution for traveling and working out of home, keeping the libraries on an external would negate the need to upgrade to a 3T fusion. My understadning of Thunderbolt and USB3 is I would not notice the difference working externally or on an internal Fusion-is this more or less correct? Better to spend the money on an external Thunderbolt when they come down a little more?

 

680MX is considered a fast gaming card...but might it also "future-proof" (if you can even do that these days!) the mac for graphics requirements to come? Or is it overkill for Aperture and PS? Again-better to spend the money elsewhere?

 

I am leaning towards the faster processor. Although I hear  mixed things, the tests I have seen do say this will give an overall boost.

 

I would welcome any insights from others who walked this path...

 

many thanks

NJ

  • William Lloyd Level 6 Level 6 (19,220 points)
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    Mar 12, 2013 1:35 PM (in response to njwight)

    The 3T Fusion drive will be a big help, because you can (and SHOULD) put your whole Aperture library on it.  That will speed all the important disk operations.  Then use that rugged drive for a vault backup (in addition to Time Machine backups... belt and suspenders and all ;-)

     

    The video card should also help.  Aperture makes use of GPU acceleration, so a faster GPU should result in faster Aperture.

     

    I'd go with those two for sure.  The CPU upgrade is pretty much a straight improvement of (3.4/3.2)% for CPU-bound operations.  Likely not noticeable.

  • William Lloyd Level 6 Level 6 (19,220 points)
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    Mar 12, 2013 2:16 PM (in response to njwight)

    The Fusion drive is very close to as fast as the SSD is.  And you get 3 TB of storage versus 768 GB.  Do some reading up on the benchmarking of the Fusion drive.  Macworld.com has a few articles.  The performance is so close to SSD and you get 4x the storage for $500 less... it's REALLY tough to find the edge cases where the 768 GB of Flash makes economic sense.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (22,830 points)
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    Mar 12, 2013 2:33 PM (in response to William Lloyd)
    The 3T Fusion drive will be a big help, because you can (and SHOULD) put your whole Aperture library on it.

     

    However the user has no direct control over what is put where. The system decides on usage. If the library (and actually not the whole library) is accessed enough than bits of it will find its way onto the SSD portion of the fusion drive.

     

    You can neither tell the OS to put something on the fusion drive or query the OS in any way to fin out what is where.

     

    Actually I see you are referring to the Fusion drive as a whole not the SSD part by itself. So what you wrote is correct.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (22,830 points)
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    Mar 12, 2013 2:31 PM (in response to njwight)

    Get the system with the minimum amount of Apple memory you can (8gb in this case I believe) and upgrade after. You'll save a bunch of money. The memory on the 27 is still user upgradeable.

  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (22,830 points)
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    Mar 13, 2013 7:38 AM (in response to njwight)

    O Canada!

     

    (bigger savings in in the states).

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (11,570 points)
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    Mar 13, 2013 10:34 AM (in response to njwight)

    I might be missing something*, but if this is correct:

    My understadning of Thunderbolt and USB3 is I would not notice the difference working externally or on an internal Fusion-is this more or less correct?

    _and_ you need to access your Library from multiple machines in multiple locations, why not just stick with the base iMac configuration you posted and put your Library on your 2 TB USB-3 drive?  As long as you are not putting the Library on the internal drive, I think your thinking here is correct:

    I am thinking, given I need a mobile solution for traveling and working out of home, keeping the libraries on an external would negate the need to upgrade to a 3T fusion.

    I run very large Libraries off external USB-3 drives (mounted to an rMBP w. 16 GB RAM and a 500 GB SSD) and find the performance is no different than when using a large Library that is stored on the SSD.  (I have seen no reason to expect external Thunderbolt drives to be noticeably faster than USB-3.)  I think the 3 TB Fusion makes sense in a laptop; for your stated needs, I wouldn't upgrade (you may have additional storage needs you didn't mention, though).

     

    I agree with William about the faster GPU -- but just on a hunch.  I think Apple's programmers have gotten expert at getting performance where they can, and one place they seem to look is the GPU.  For Aperture users, I would say about the GPU the same thing one has always said about RAM: when you buy a new machine, put in as much as (or the fastest) you can afford.  Once you have 16 GB of RAM I would spend some money on a GPU upgrade.

     

    *and if I did miss something, apologies in advance  .

  • John Purlia Level 1 Level 1 (70 points)
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    Mar 29, 2013 7:40 PM (in response to njwight)

    You may want to exercise a little caution when sharing your Aperture library between an iMac and a laptop. Even if your MBP and iMac screens are dead-on equally calibrated, you may find that images adjusted in the comfort of your living room don't look quite the same viewed on your desktop machine. Why? Because eyeballs and image adjustments will be affected by ambient room light, visual background "noise", and all kinds of other factors.

     

    I use both an iMac and MacBook,and have made a strict rule for myself to only mess with image adjustments on the iMac where room conditions are constant. Aperture use on the MacBook is limited to library management, sharing, and things like book design and layout.

     

    Oh, and I'm also contemplating an upgrade to the 27" iMac, and as others have suggested will likely stick with the 3.2 processor, minimum Apple RAM, GPU upgrade, and Fusion Drive — though here I'm leaning towas the 1 TB drive since my current iMac (destined to become my music server) has only 512 GB.

     

    Good luck!

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