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Thread: Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

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    Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

    I was just wondering if anyone had any insights regarding the performance of Lightroom on the new Mac Pro, versus a Macbook Pro or a maxed out Mini. Apparently, the Mini is also about to be updated...
    The reason I ask is that I am currently using a six year old Mac Pro and it is still working fairly well for me, though it lags in preview generation, 1:1 views and I sorely miss the newer, faster connections like USB3 and Thunderbolt. In mid cycle I upgraded to 14gb of RAM, a fast ATI Radeon card that had 10 bit support (so much for that!!!), and I am running two SSD's...one as a boot, and the other as a scratch disk and for the Lightroom catalog. The images are all on an external eSATA RAID 5 setup from OWC.
    Still, time marches on and I was surprised when my laptop (Mid 2012 Macbook Pro Retina) beat my Mac Pro on digilloyd's benchmarks. 6 years is a good run, but I think it might be time to upgrade!

    Normally I would just get the new Mac Pro and be set for another five or six years (I have done this twice in a row now)...but this time the Mac Pro in a suitable configuration is nearly double what I paid last time. I think I paid 2999 for my previous model, and this one seems to be between 5000-6000 when spec'ed out. Seeing as I have to pay an additional 25.5% VAT on that, along with a new RAID enclosure etc, it's looking like it might not be the investment it once was. My use in this case is ONLY photography, and about 90% lightroom. I use this computer as my work computer where I do my own photography work and run a printing studio. Most of the work is standard RAW processing and light photoshop work (no layer intensive retouching etc). My image catalog is about 40,000 images, however, so good storage interfaces are important. My main camera is the Leica S2, and clients use anything and everything. I also have a significant proportion of work that is still based on 300-500mb film scans, so RAM and processing help there I guess.
    The monitor is a 27" Eizo CG275W, so an iMac is not a consideration...it has to be either a desktop or a Laptop that can run the Eizo well.
    What do you guys think? Do I really need to drop 7000 (including taxes) on a Mac Pro, or will 2000 or 3000 on a mac mini/mbp get me 90% of the way there?

    Thanks in advance!
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    Re: Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

    One of the big benefits of a nMP vs a maxed-out Mini or a MBP (in addition to the obvious maxium RAM and the processing (both CPU and graphic) grunt) would be the sheer number of Thunderbolt ports - 6 ports over 3 buses IIRC. The nMP has a massive pipeline for data in/out flow.

    I run a maxed-out 6G SSD-based MBP with 6G SSD scratch and run my LR catalogs (one per client shoot as I dislike large catalogs and it makes cloning for backup a snap) via fast Thunderbolt RAIDs with Thunderbolt and FW800 backups and everytime I shop for storage I need to be very aware of the number of ports the enclosure carries in order to maintain daisy-chain continuity off the MBP's single Thunderbolt port.

    To have 6 ports to mix and match TB chains on some, cheaper eSata or FW800 RAIDs (via adapters) for older archives on another(s), montitor(s), etc. would be worth a notable premium when dealing with a large catalog(s) of large files.

    I don't have USB3, and while it would be nice for cheaper discreet drive us, there seems to be a lack of trust among the cinematography digital tech community (folks to live & die by fast reliable storage) of USB3 as a RAID connector vs Thunderbolt or eSata.

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    Re: Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

    Thanks Rob, that is a consideration I had not fully thought out, and it is a very important one, actually. I will need at least one thunderbolt connection to deal with the display, and then another for the RAID and some way to attach my Firewire 400 scanner (X5). The printer and the display each eat up a USB port as well, so even without peripherals, it all starts to add up. I can always add hubs and daisy chain etc, but as you said then you need to start worrying about overhead etc.
    Ugh, it is sounds like the Mac Pro really is the one that makes the most sense for my studio...
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    Re: Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

    No worries. With FW vanishing, it's becoming a TB or USB 3 world - with FW or eSata or ___ via TB adapters or maybe a PCIe expansion box from OWC Helios or Sonnet.

    With the nMP ports being Thunderbolt 2 - there's lots of room for next-gen RAIDs, video, etc., but since apparently plugging a TB1 device into a TB2 port will automatically down-throttle that port / bus and everything connected to it to TB1, having the ability to have a TB1 chain on their own port(s) from TB2 units has merit.

    You could easily argue that the nMP is very video-centric and over-kill for photogs at the moment, but budget aside, to know you'll have the ability, for many years, to shovel huge (and ever increasing) numbers of large (and also increasing) files in and out for processing, selection and backup as well as the ability to handle any future video easily has a premium.

    I think part of this is talking myself into one... ;> or should that be ;< ?

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    Re: Lightroom on New Mac Pro vs MBP or Maxed out Mini

    Well, six years of usable life on my current 3000 dollar computer is enough persuasion for me. At that rate, clearly this next one will last for 14 years! Heh.

    The more I think about it, however, the more I think it is probably worth the difference in the long run to just get a mid-spec one and be done with it. Technology always moves quickly, so while it might be overkill now, a few years from now it will probably be fully-utilized. Better to buy something now that will last a while rather than have to migrate and upgrade every two-three years.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
    My lab is here: http://www.customphotolab.is and on facebook

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