After the launch of the new Macbook Pro, I upgraded my laptop from a Macbook M1 to a stunning Macbook Pro M1 MAX (64 Gb memory). The large photos (Sony A1 RAWs) require quite a bit of performance, for example when quickly flipping through all my photos for the first selection.
After using the new Macbook Pro for a few weeks now, I'm a little disappointed. I think the specs are much better, but I'm not sure if Lightroom uses all this performance. Has anyone experienced the same?
I think the specs are much better, but I'm not sure if Lightroom uses all this performance. Has anyone experienced the same?
The specs of the M1 Max are much better. But context is important. One question is, how much do those specs relate to Lightroom Classic specifically? Another question is, what’s the reference for measuring improvement?
To the first question, some of the improvements in the M1 Max vs the M1 MacBook Air are:
A. Four more performance cores than the M1 (twice as many)
B. A lot more GPU cores
C. More RAM
D. Faster storage speed
E. Two powerful video encode/decode engines
Now let’s look at what Lightroom Classic can use there:
A. Yes, more performance cores can be useful if the proper preferences are set.
B. Lightroom Classic uses GPU in the Develop module only, so if you are flipping through images in the Library module, it doesn’t matter how much GPU you throw at it, it’s not going to make any difference.
C. More RAM is helpful, but only to a point, I rarely see Lightroom Classic use more than 24GB on its own and it’s usually under 20GB.
D. Faster storage speed is again, helpful only to a point.
E. The video encode/decode engines are of no use to Lightroom Classic, except maybe when playing back video files or exporting a slideshow to video.
In my view the M1 Max is like the Mac Pro desktop: The high performance is the most noticeable to those doing intensive high end video editing, 3D, and other things that really slam the CPU, storage, and GPU constantly. But the performance components that serve those tasks don’t necessarily improve photo editing as much, at least not until more photo applications rewrite how they do things.
for example when quickly flipping through all my photos for the first selection.
Flipping through photos in the Library module has to do with building and retrieving previews for those images. If Embedded and Sidecar was not selected in the Import dialog box, Lightroom Classic will build a preview before showing you an image you selected. Building them uses CPU (not GPU). And one important note about the M1 vs M1 Pro/Max is that there is little difference in single-core CPU performance, so it should help to select “Generate Previews in Parallel” in Lightroom Classic Preferences (Performance tab), because that is supposed to ask available CPU cores to build more previews faster. Another thing to try is enabling the “Replace embedded previews with standard previews at idle time” preference (General tab); when nothing else is going on, that should use the CPU cores to build previews in advance.
Keep in mind that the superior GPU, storage speed, and powerful video encoders/decoders of the M1 Max don’t help with preview building.
Recent versions of Lightroom Classic has gradually made better use of more CPU cores and GPU power, so the situation might improve in the future.
To the second question, you might be seeing less of an improvement because you were previously using an M1, which was already impressively fast and a big step up from Intel Macs. People moving from an Intel Mac to an M1 Pro/Max are probably perceiving bigger jumps in performance. (That’s me…I went from an Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro to an M1 Pro MacBook Pro, and that is a major improvement.) Lightroom Classic preview building on an M1 Max has been measured as being closer to a Mac Pro tower than any other Mac ever made (see graph below). If you are seeing an improvement proportional to the one in the graph between the M1 and M1 Max then it’s working as well as it should.
Thank you Conrad for your excellent answer! Helps a lot.
I fully agree that I think further improvements are possible as Adobe further optimizes their software. To be precise; I'm using Lightroom CC (not the Classic) with the "Use Graphic Processor" option on auto. So I hope Adobe will optimize this version.
What I noticed is that after a few minutes of using Lightroom CC (for example, when quickly going through my newly imported photos for the first selection) it slows down. Only after closing and reopening Lightroom can I continue without getting frustrated with the speed 😉