STUCK- mac mini or studio for photoshop? how much RAM really needed to future proof?

New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Hello,

I appreciate your help with this.

My Mac Pro 2010 is now obsolete. I used it very happily with photoshop version 5.5 and the raw files from my Canon camera (CR2).   I guess I did most of the work in camera so tweaking with camera raw  and then a little bit of work in photoshop has usually been enough.

But last year  I got a new camera- a Canon 90 D with a new raw file format ( CR 3) which my old version of photoshop can't work with  and of course I am unable to update to the newest version of photoshop/subscription as my operating system can't go past a certain point.

 

Having spoken to Apple they recommended the Mac mini with upgraded RAM to 16 GB and upgraded storage to 1 TB - telling me that this would be ample for now and future proof my set up (as I explained that  I like things to last- I do not enjoy constantly changing my kit.)  I was also very relieved as this is more realistic for me financially. 

However I have started to worry-a lot.

My concern is because I will be forced into constantly upgrading photoshop versions (and from what I understand it will be getting hungrier and hungrier each iteration,) will this 16GB RAM be enough in years to come? I hoped to have my new machine last 10 years or so like my old one.

It feels impossible to gauge from my experience; as mentioned I used an older version of photoshop with my Mac pro that I owned outright and wasn't constantly growing- I just don't know how to account for this.

Also, my usage is pretty basic - as described above but I do sometimes dive in to more advanced projects and am hoping to start selling my work so may have need for heavier use in the future.

 

 Of course I've looked at the MAC studio-the basic option with the M1 chip and 32 GB unified memory & 1 TB. That tipped me into an extra thousand pounds!

 

I could do without having to spend that however I also don't want a system that only works well for a short time.

 

I'm torn between thinking maybe I should just go for the Mac mini and accept the fact that no matter what I'm going to have to upgrade in a shorter time span, (again hard to gauge if that'd be 2 or 5 years?) or get the MAC studio and hope it really will last 10 years… That's of course if Apple keep supporting it!

 

 Also; I understand that RAM is important and from having a look at some other threads that scratch disks are important. I don't know how you know what scratch disk you get as this isn't mentioned in the Apple description?

Also- I understand that the mac mini is now 2 years old and perhaps I should be more worried about that... I considered waiting for the new minis but undersatnd I could be waiting ages and I am really stuck without a new machine.

 You can probably tell this is not my area of expertise-I've no embarrassment in admitting that , I LOVE to be creative but I get fed up pretty quickly thinking about all this stuff, I am out of my depth knowledge wise and have been looking for ages and STILL feel out of my depth & just wish it could be simpler and that companies would give their machines and software longer lives. Lol- rant over- I do accept I need a new machine and appreciate any advice onthe above. I'd love to avoid an expensive mistake - either monetarily or by giving myself a pain inthe neck and having to upgrade super soon. 

 

Thanks in advance!! : )

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New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Ooops- meant to mention that my camera produces RAW files in the region of 35-43 MB if thats helpful to know. thx again!!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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That’s a hard place to be [trusted old hardware becoming obsolete] and it's possibly unlikely that an SSD in any computer will last 10 years.

Cannot you use a third party application to convert your camera's RAW files and keep working in Photoshop? On your existing machine, or maybe a more recent used one?

An SSD is pretty much vital for any version of Mac OS since Sierra as I understand it. But they are not known to be long term reliable. [which is why I like my 2012 Mac Mini Server [used as a desktop mac] as it has user replaceable hard discs (yes room for 2) and user upgradable RAM too. Mind, 2012 is getting to be a long time ago. 

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer:: co-author: 'getting colour right'
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management

 

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New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Hey, thanks Neil,

I tried this- spent quite some time looking at these options but sadly cant get the right version of DNG. For a while I hobbled along using the canon free software to view and sort then converted to TIFF to move over to photoshop but its very very very slow and so bumpy with too many crashes by the canon software... I want to do more photography and this workslow is probably at least 5 x slower & frustrating... ! I would not recommend.

 

I wasn't sure what you meant by 'SSD'?

thanks!

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New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Hi again- Just googled SSD! Thats interesting that they're not likely to last 10 years- seems like longevity is even less likely which makes me question spending the extra thousand pounds on the more powerful machine/ Studio if its not likely to last long anyway...  

perhaps my main issue is just accepting that these arent meant to last a long time and letting go of that!

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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I have 32GB RAM on my old 2012 iMac (it's on it's last legs) and 32 on my 2020iMac Pro in addition to 1TB storage. I use a 4TB external for all of my images. It's a tough call right now, I was looking at the new Macs and nothing jumped out as the one. I would upgrade as much as you can - they say the new M1 is fine with 16gb ram. 



Melissa Piccone | Adobe Certified Instructor | Pluralsight Author | Fine Artist

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New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Thanks Melissa,

"they say the new M1 is fine with 16gb ram." That sounds promising- thats the cheaper mac mini then- so it sounds like people are suing it happliy for photoshop?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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The RAM requirement can vary a lot depending on two things:

 

• The file size of the Photoshop documents you normally edit. If your Photoshop documents were on the smaller side, like under 16 megapixels, and usually just one or two layers, then the 16GB limit of the Mac mini would be more likely to work for years. But your Canon 90D is on the high side, at 32.5 megapixels, so there is justification for having more than 16GB unified memory in the Mac. If you tend to add a lot of layers, you definitely want more tban 16GB memory. 

 

• The number of applications you want to run at the same time. If you need to have multiple large Photoshop documents or multiple applications open at the same time (e.g., Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, a video editor…) then 32GB or more of unified memory is recommended.

 

If you need more than 16GB of unified memory, you must move up to the base model Mac Studio, which is actually a great base model because it already includes 32GB unified memory and more processing power than the current version of Photoshop can use (good for future-proofing). If you wanted to lower the cost of storage, put more files on an inexpensive external drive. The reason Apple internal storage costs so much is that it is the fastest available, but for photography, less expensive external USB storage is fast enough. That would let you buy the base Mac Studio as is, without paying more for upgrades.

 

If you simply cannot afford the base model Mac Studio, buy that Mac mini with 16GB unified memory, and if it turns out to be too constraining for your Canon 90D files or if Macs advance a lot in 2 to 4 years, you don’t have to be stuck with that Mac mini forever…trade it in for whatever model is out then.

 

Ir’s hard to predict how to future-proof for more than a couple of years out, partly because things are changing so fast for both the hardware and software. 10 years is really stretching it. Seven years is more of the current limit, because after about seven years Apple puts a Mac on the Obsolete list, which means the next major upgrade or macOS probably can’t be installed on it, and hardware can no longer get Apple repairs. That’s what puts you in your current situation where you have a new camera, but the updates that support it cannot be installed. Apple and Adobe provide software updates for only the last three major versions of macOS.

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New Here ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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Thanks Conrad....yes agreed I am starting to think I am being ambitious on the 10 year front...  wanting machines to last til the hardware konks out is not in sync with the industry and whatever I think of it environmentally and finacially, I do need to accept it is what it is...

 

Thats really useful to know about my camera & the RAM needed  - and I may use a more powerful camera sometimes... 

But does seem like my lesson here is to accept nothing is guaranteed to last : (

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 04, 2022 Apr 04, 2022

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The hardware could last decades. Even SSDs…you rarely (never?) hear of anyone actually using up the write limit of an SSD before the time they decide they need a new computer anyway. (See also: “Consumer SSDs benchmarked to death—and last far longer than rated”) The actual practical limit is how long software support lasts for macOS and the applications. If there is a problem with any part of the hardware, things are not necessarily worse then before. In one way things are better now:

 

Up until recently, if any part of a Mac failed after one year (standard warranty) or three years (AppleCare extended warranty), the only way to get it repaired was to pay for it out of pocket, and if Apple did it, that was expensive. It could be cheap if what failed was a RAM module or internal storage, in the models that you could replace yourself. But even in those so-called “user repairable” years, I had Macs that died because what failed was not RAM or storage, it was another part integrated on the motherboard that was traditionally not user-replaceable on Mac or PC. (They cannot possibly make all of those user-serviceable unless you want the computer to be the size of a file cabinet or house.)

 

Today, there is a new Apple option that could help…at a (modest) cost. You can now keep the AppleCare warranty going after 3 years, as long as you choose to continue paying an annual fee. For US$35 a year for the Mac mini, or US$60/yr for the Mac Studio, any problem Apple can fix can still be fixed years later. I do not know if this can still help after a Mac is declared obsolete, but it means it is now possible to count on Apple repair service for more years and less money than it was possible in the past. Because without this, a motherboard replacement by Apple can cost many hundreds of dollars. So with this extension of AppleCare, it’s easier to rely on a Mac for more years than in the past, taking care of more areas of the hardware than the few that the user could have maintained themselves before.

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Explorer ,
May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022

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So, I purchased my M1 MAc mini last year -- I bouhght the 16GB ram and 2 TB hard drive -- mainly I was using this for video edtiing and now have moved over all my graphic design work to it. While it is an amazing machine and depending on your workflow it may be a great machine for you. It handles photoshop like a beast - the only problem I have is when I have Phostoshop, Illutrator and InDesign open it does slow down a bit - funny thing is the program that runs terrible on it is Adobe Acrobat 🙂  

 

Im a graphic designer and dont use RAW but I did find a RAW file to open and see how it works -- it opened the camera raw editor in .5 secs -- making adjustments is instant and when done it opens in photoshop super quick.  I attached the photo I used.  If you have any questions or would like me to run some tests on the file I attached let me know.

My machine specs are :
Intel Core i7 - 9700F CPU @ 3.00 GHZ 8 core 64 GB of ram 64 bit operating system NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 164 MB memory Monitor is BenQ PD3200U 4K UHD - hooked up via HDMI

and
Mac mini (M1, 2020) - 16GB Ram - 2TB SSD

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022

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If you want ten years, get the Studio with at least 64GB of RAM since you can't add RAM later. That is US$2400 but that will last 2-3 times what the mini would last.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022

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I think Conrad has an excellent point above: it's not really the hardware specs you should worry about, it's the hardware generation and what it will support x years ahead. If you can't install the latest OS and therefore not the latest application version, 64 GB of working RAM is a moot point. Actually, you could just as well argue that it's wasted.

 

Ten years is probably unrealistic, for the above reasons. The hardware will still work, but you may be limping along with a lot of software limitations. It shouldn't be like that, god knows we throw away far too much perfectly functional stuff, but unfortunately that's how the computer industry works nowadays, and you have no choice but to play along.

 

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Explorer ,
May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022

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agreee with this -- I have a room full of Apple Computers that just couldnt handle new versions of Adobe etc. 

My machine specs are :
Intel Core i7 - 9700F CPU @ 3.00 GHZ 8 core 64 GB of ram 64 bit operating system NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 164 MB memory Monitor is BenQ PD3200U 4K UHD - hooked up via HDMI

and
Mac mini (M1, 2020) - 16GB Ram - 2TB SSD

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022

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I have an early 2011 13" MacBook Pro that still works great, its only been a couple of years since support for High Sierra ended. And that was a lower-end machine. A high-end box like a Mac Studio should have a useful life somewhere around 7-10 years in production.

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