12 Replies Latest reply: Sep 29, 2013 3:55 PM by njwight
njwight Level 1 (0 points)

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
1TB Fusion Drive


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


  • William Lloyd Level 7 (21,030 points)

    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.

  • njwight Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks William. That would mean I would still need to duplicate the libraries on a drive for mobile use though...not the end of the world.  A lot of what I am reading says move towards SSD internally and files externally. The 768 flash storage option for the iMac is pretty costly howeever. +$500 from the 1T Fusion...


    You and many other say to priortize the cpu upgrade last...


    Appreciate your input.



  • William Lloyd Level 7 (21,030 points)

    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 (25,715 points)
    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 (25,715 points)

    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.

  • njwight Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks again. William, I have read the benchmarks-on the drives as well as the CPU, although on the later, some still say the i7 is the way to go. I agree the $ per GB makes more sense getting the 3T...but on top of that I will need a bigger BU drive (I currently use a 3T) and I will still need a mobile solution... If only money was no object! On the 3T drive...I have no experience here, but would partiioning this drive exclusively for the libraries make sense? Not sure how the SSD portion works with partitions. Like I said-no experience with this bit.

    Frank-the savings does not seem to be huge for me in Canada-at least not going from 8 to 16. On 32 it would make far more sense. Thaks for the tip though...


    Again, appreciate the guidance. Big purchase-I want to get it right. Or as right as you can get a tech purchase these days. :-)



  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 (25,715 points)

    O Canada!


    (bigger savings in in the states).

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    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  .

  • njwight Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks both all of you. My current machines have 500 GB and without photos, they are not full, so 1T should be fine if libraries are external.


    Actually Kirby, you bring up what my original struggle was-whether to buy a 15 rMBP and a 27" monitor and use it as my workstation with the ability to work remote or in the living room, which I enjoy. I got convinced that for the money, the iMac gave me much more computer with a likely longer shelf life. Without, however, solving my eventual travel needs as my 13" MBP needs to be handed down to my partner. I have been thinking the 11" imac could solve my travel needs one day, which is seriously impacted by weight. I assume the rMBP is not your primary machine...?


    As for speed, I started on an Apple LC with 4 mb and a 40mb drive. 12 machines later I like to remind myself that speed is all relative. I don't need the fastest thing out there, I just want to put my money on the things that will make the biggest difference and extend the life expectancy. GPU and RAM seem to be more bullet proof in that regard.


    Thanks again.

  • John Purlia Level 1 (90 points)

    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!

  • njwight Level 1 (0 points)

    Good points John. Anything I do for print or and important adjutments I do on the desktop. I may do a FB post from the laptop but have been pretty comfortable with that. I think I will do a little test now though, as I had not thought much about this. '


    I pulled the trigger last week and am very happy. I actually did get the faster processor and the faster graphics card. I found a good Canadian relsser to buy an 8GB ram upgrade from (that covered most of the CPU upgrade) and I went with the 1T drive, given I am going to be relying on externals. I am very, very happy so far!

    (and will be happier still if I can sell my 21" iMac!)


    As for coalibrating, several years ago (3?) I bought an EYE One. I have never felt comofrtbale with the interface and subsequently, have not trusted the outcome. WHat do you use?


    Lots of great advice from everyone on this-thanks!

  • njwight Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Kirby,

    This is likely buried and may not surface...but I thought it was worth a try. I have added a 13" retinal to my 27" Imac setup, planning on using the 2T USB 3 drive I was previously using between the imac and the Powerbook. But the drive fails to mount on the Retina...it will still mount on other machines with usb 2. But the usb 3 is not working. WOn't mount directly on iMac either-but will on the hub. (usb 2) So, my solution for using this drive between the two computers seems to have gone astray. I am reading alot of issues with retinas and USB 3...

    (I did post here: https://discussions.apple.com/message/23217102?ac_cid=op123456#23217102


    I came back to this forum as USB 3 seems to be a vialble solution for so many...


    Any thoughts?