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Mac Hardware setup for Lightroom

Participant ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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Hi folks, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I am buying a new Mac. system and am wondering what your thoughts might be on an optimal system for Lightroom and Photoshop. 

 

I am a commercial photographer and my current bottle neck is saving changes, image loading after ingesting into LR. Additionally my bottle neck in Photoshop is opening large layered files,  saving files, PS filters.

 

I would also like avoid OVER BUYING tech that won't speed my workflow up. 

I have a rather large library and my current system setup is iMac Pro with 1TB SSD drive where LR & PS reside. Also the LR library resides on the disk. 

I have JBOD boxes with a USB interface with hard drives  that are connected to the iMac. 

I am thinking that I would buy an iMac (M1) 27" with 64MB of RAM and the same JBOD with updated  Lightning or USB 3 interface. 

Anything I am missing? Is the proposed system over kill?

 

iMac Details:

  • 3.6GHz 10-core 10th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz
  • 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • Radeon Pro 5700 with 8GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 2TB SSD storage
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Mac, Performance

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

Adobe Community Professional , Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021
@Sanpanza wrote: I have a rather large library and my current system setup is iMac Pro with 1TB SSD drive
I don’t have any of that exact hardware since my Macs are different, although I do used a JBOD too (USB 3 at 10Gb/sec). but that iMac Pro is a good place to be in terms of Macs. The very fast iMac Pro internal storage should not be bottlenecking anything on it.
@Sanpanza wrote: I am thinking that I would buy an iMac (M1) 27" with 64MB of RAM
No such iMac currently exists. The only ...

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LEGEND , Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021
I don't know why you say you have to wait until Apple comes out with something in the future. There are plenty of Mac users who are getting good performance Lightroom Classic performance right now, and a few who are not. I don't think a dedicated SSD for the catalog is necessary, but it depends on space needs, perhaps the default SSD won't be large enough. I don't think the speed loss of putting the catalog on a non-dedicated SSD (in other words, with the OS and other software) will be a major i...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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@Sanpanza wrote:

I have a rather large library and my current system setup is iMac Pro with 1TB SSD drive


 

I don’t have any of that exact hardware since my Macs are different, although I do used a JBOD too (USB 3 at 10Gb/sec). but that iMac Pro is a good place to be in terms of Macs. The very fast iMac Pro internal storage should not be bottlenecking anything on it.

 


@Sanpanza wrote:

I am thinking that I would buy an iMac (M1) 27" with 64MB of RAM


 

No such iMac currently exists. The only iMac with the M1 processor right now is the base model 24". Its maximum RAM is 16GB. If you are looking at a current new 27" iMac with 64GB RAM, that is an Intel model. The Radeon Pro discrete graphics in your current iMac Pro might actually perform better than what is in the current low-end M1 iMac.

 

Because the current M1 Macs have replaced only the bottom of the Mac desktop and laptop lines, if you are looking for a large performance jump over your iMac Pro, my guess is that you are waiting for the next generation of Apple Silicon Macs that will replace at least the midrange and possibly the high end Macs too. Apple has not indicated how many months it will be before those arrive, but Apple has said they will transition all Macs to Apple Silicon within two years (of when the first M1 Macs were released).

 


@Sanpanza wrote:

…and the same JBOD with updated  Lightning or USB 3 interface. 


 

Mac hard drives are never attached by Lightning. Lightning is a connector for iOS (iPhone, iPad).

 

If your JBOD contains hard drives, if they are fast those max out at probably 150–200MB/sec, so they can be handled easily by the very common 5 Gb/sec USB 3 standard you might already be using, and upgrading the connection will not improve performance because the hard drives are the bottleneck.

 

If your JBOD contains SATA SSDs, those max out at around 500–600MB/sec. Upgrading from 5Gb/sec USB 3 to 10 Gb/sec USB 3 or 4 may improve things a little, but probably not noticeably.

 

If your JBOD contains NVMe SSDs, those can achieve from roughly 800 to over 3000MB/sec, comparable to the speed of Mac internal storage. The slower/cheaper kind should be connected through 10Gb/sec USB 3 or 4 to take full advantage of the SSD’s speed, while the faster/expensive kind (2000+MB/sec) should be connected by Thunderbolt, which is also expensive. These might improve editing performance if used as cache/scratch drives, but for editing photo files, a Thunderbolt connected NVMe SSD is unlikely to provide a benefit proportional to the high price, though backups and bulk transfers should go faster.

 


@Sanpanza wrote:

…my current bottle neck is saving changes, image loading after ingesting into LR. Additionally my bottle neck in Photoshop is opening large layered files,  saving files, PS filters


 

Saving changes: If from Photoshop and the files are on a hard drive in the JBOD, this might be improved by replacing the hard drive with an SSD. But Photoshop save speed can also be affected by everything from the specific file format to whether compression is on and that I think Photoshop saving is single-threaded (uses one core). So you may not be able to fix the problem completely by getting faster storage. I take advantage of Photoshop background saving, so if I hit Save I continue editing while it’s completing that save.

 

Image loading in Lightroom Classic: This is a function of how fast it can render raw to RGB, which is CPU+GPU. Storage speed is probably not the bottleneck.

 

Photoshop filters: CPU+GPU depending on how GPU-accelerated the filter is, storage speed is not the bottleneck.

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Participant ,
Jun 28, 2021 Jun 28, 2021

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OK, it looks like I may have to wait because it seems a waste of money to buy anything less than an M1 iMac. Sigh....... Maybe upgrading to a JBOD box to Thunderbolt with a an extra "NVMe SSD" might be the best I can do for the moment. 


Thank you for your knowledge. This is helpful!!!

 

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LEGEND ,
Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021

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my current bottle neck is saving changes

 

I can understand this in terms of Photoshop, but what does it mean for Lightroom Classic?

 

For Lightroom Classic:

In general, you want the fastest CPU you can afford. If you have a monitor that is 4K or larger, you want a high-end GPU as well. RAM above 16GB usually won't help Lightroom Classic, as memory is not a bottleneck. Put your catalog file on the fastest disk (usually a SSD) and it doesn't matter (beyond a trivial amount that you won't even notice) what speed the disk is that stores your photo.

 

For other software ... well I don't know, but you do know what software you have, and you'll have to judge if going beyond those statements for Lightroom Classic is needed.

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Participant ,
Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021

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Thank you dj_paige, this is also helpful. It is looking like if I want a significantly faster workflow, I may have to wait until Apple comes out with their M1 27" iMac. Sigh....... In the mean time, perhas a dedicated SSD drivce for the catologue ?

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LEGEND ,
Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021

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I don't know why you say you have to wait until Apple comes out with something in the future. There are plenty of Mac users who are getting good performance Lightroom Classic performance right now, and a few who are not.

 

I don't think a dedicated SSD for the catalog is necessary, but it depends on space needs, perhaps the default SSD won't be large enough. I don't think the speed loss of putting the catalog on a non-dedicated SSD (in other words, with the OS and other software) will be a major issue, in fact I think if there is any speed loss from putting the catalog on a non-dedicated SSD, I think it will be trivial (that's what I have, although on Windows).

 

I still don't know what you mean by "my current bottle neck is saving changes", and in most cases, disk speed is not the culprit, and not the bottle neck.

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Participant ,
Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021

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If I buy a new 27" mac now, it won't make economic sense, since Apple may come out with a new M1 27" in the coming months and therefore it would make more sense to buy the newest tech when it comes out. That is why I will wait. 

 

And, based on what you are saying now about the SSD drive, I may not even bother with it until the new tech comes out. 

 

By saving changes, I mean that when I make changes to files in Lightroom, I save the changes to all the files at once, so that if I have move all the files to continue working on them on another locaiton all the LR changes come with the files. I have noticed that when I don't save the changes, that any work I don the files don't move with the files. 

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LEGEND ,
Jun 29, 2021 Jun 29, 2021

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By saving changes, I mean that when I make changes to files in Lightroom, I save the changes to all the files at once

 

Export, or save?


Export time depends on CPU speed, not disk speed.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 30, 2021 Jun 30, 2021

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Your current setup is pretty close to as fast as you can get for Photoshop and Lightroom right now. Apple should be releasing follow-on Apple Silicon machines this summer/fall which would start replacing the higher-end iMacs. The iMac Pro is already discontinued. I would say stick with what you have for now.

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