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Thread: Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

  1. #1
    joelogan
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    Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

    Hi Guys,

    Hope to get some advice here, as a Leica M9-P shooter working off a base model (2011) Mac Mini with 8GB RAM. I find that Aperture is a bit sluggish on this machine, taking ~ 3-4 seconds to display a RAW image when browsing through and significantly longer to apply RAW adjustments and to use Silver Efex etc.

    I also have the Apple Keyboard / Mouse and Thunderbolt Display.

    I am considering an upgrade, in order to make Aperture more responsive and reduce the downtime when post-processing.

    The options I am considering are:

    1) Mac Mini 2.7GhZ (i7 Dual Core) with 8GB RAM. This is the model with the discrete GPU.

    2) Mac Mini (Server, i7 Quad Core) again with 8GB RAM. This model although having a better CPU, reverts back to the same Intel integrated GPU that I have at the moment.

    3) Base model iMac 21.5" connected to the Thunderbolt Display. Core i5 Quad Core and Discrete GPU.

    All will approximate to a similar price +/- $100-$200

    Between the Minis, which one would give Aperture more of a performance boost? The Quad Core i7 with Intel GPU or the i7 Dual Core with the AMD GPU? In the GeekBench ratings, the Quad seems to come in very high (~9000) while the Dual lags behind (~6000). I understand that Aperture likes a discrete GPU, but the CPU jump is quite significant.

    Or would you go for the iMac, despite having a slower CPU (i5)?

    Any feedback would be much appreciated, as I am really struggling with this one!

    Thanks

    Joe

  2. #2
    BCMielke
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    Re: Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

    Aperture likes it's RAM. Especially Video RAM. I saw a nice speed increase when I upgraded my video card on my 2008 MacPro. I would go with at least the AMD Video card because it doesn't share it's RAM.

    I would however look more at the Base iMac. That has 512mb RAM.

    That is just off of the specs. Are you near an Apple store? If so bring in your HD with a small Aperture library and run it from both machines to see how it goes. That is what I did when I purchased my 2010 Macbook Pro.

  3. #3
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

    I wouldn't worry too much. The new Minis are very capable machines. I use the last of the original Minis, a 2.28 GHz Dual Core with 4MB RAM. When I tried Aperture, it was at least fast enough for my needs. Right now, I'm running a batch job that converts 900 D300 NEF files to jpegs, 800px longest side, and it take around 90 minutes. I believe the new Minis are much faster.

    The HDD speed is a limitation as well, which is probably one of the reasons why my MBA runs circles around the Mini for a large number of images. Specifying the Mini with the largest HDD with the fastest RPM is probably a good idea. The beauty of the Mini is of course its size. If you have a screen, keyboard an mouse where you're going, it slips easily into most camera bags. Not bad for a desktop computer.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

    If you want speed, then a solid state drive for your system disk will give the most bang-for-the-buck in my experience.

    And coupling that with a HDD for your data, and you will be in a different realm.

    Check out Macperformance.com; a free site run by our friend Lloyd Chambers, himself a photographer, benchmarks systems; you can get a feel of what these suggestions will do for a photographer.

    My 15" quadcore-i7, 250GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and numerous FireWire 800 drives lets Aperture run previews etc. instantly. Let us know how you go.

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    Re: Mac Mini / iMac for Aperture Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by joelogan View Post
    Or would you go for the iMac, despite having a slower CPU (i5)?

    Any feedback would be much appreciated, as I am really struggling with this one!
    I think the advice you've received is pretty spot on. A better GPU helps and the SSD makes a big difference. I wouldn't buy another machine without one after getting my Macbook Air. I'd try loading your library on a Macbook Air to see if the speed is better, with the GPU is comparable to your machine. If that's too expensive an external firewire or thunderbolt drive would likely perform better than your internal drive.

    I'd probably go for the iMac, but I'd question if the current model would provide enough of a boost for the money. Getting the model up with an SSD would be preferable, but at considerable cost. Can you sell your Mini to cover some of the cost?

    Also take a look at the Mac Buyers Guide. The iMac is due for an update in the next months. I'd hold off on buying one until then. You are likely to see better processors, faster video and hopefully cheaper SSDs upgrades. (adding one of your own is an option, but complicated with the current models)
    Charles - flickr

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