New Macbook or just add more RAM to edit RAW files.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by alexxk, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    #1
    Hello all!!

    I have a 2011 Macbook Pro 13 Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge 2.4 GHZ with 4 GB Ram an upgraded HD Momentus XT Hybrid Drive

    Now.. with this config I'm having a hard time editing photos on Aperture, Lightroom and Photoshop specially when messing with RAW files and multiple layers.

    Adding RAm up to 16GB will help or should I sell it and get a new Macbook Pro.. probably the new one coming with the HD5000 and 8GB Ram? How much should I ask for if selling is good idea?

    Help appreciated!!
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    #2
    Just upgrade the RAM. 4GB is pretty low. You'll be swapping to disk like crazy.

    8GB is doable and I used to edit on a 2009 MBP with 8GB.

    16GB is ideal. I can have LR5, Photoshop CS6, and Premiere CS6 up with files loaded and not be using swap space.
     
  3. macrumors 65816

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  4. macrumors 6502

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    In Hell
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    #5
    I remember reading a set of tests that showed that the best bang for the buck for PS CS5.5 (i think that's the version) was 16 GB of RAM for the tests being run. 24 GB was even better, but the improvement wasn't as great.

    There's also this:

    But with 16GB instead of 8GB, the test time is almost cut in half with CS5 set to use 75% of system memory, and cut by a whopping 72% when set to use 90% of system memory!
    (from http://macperformanceguide.com/blog/2011/20110309_3-Photoshop-MBP-16GB--news.html )

    That's a pretty good indication of where the bottleneck is.
     
  6. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    I'd rather have the older computer with 16MB than a newer one with only 8GB.
    The more RAM the better

    4GB is not nearly enough for what you are doing.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #7
    I'd say upgrade ram to 16GB and consider going full ssd.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Location:
    Metro Kansas City
    #8
    Just like everyone else says, more RAM should fix it immensely. I have a 2008 iMac and use Aperture frequently. It had 4GB which meant it continuously wrote to disk. I eventually upgraded it to 6GB (max for this machine) and even though that helped, I still page out when using brushes, sharpen, and/or zoom to 100% on an image with a lot of edits. 8GB would be the bare minimum you'd be able to get by with.

    I also have 2012 and 2013 MBAs, both with 8GB. I don't recall ever paging out on them when using Aperture.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    tgara

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
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    #9
    As others have said, more RAM will help.

    But another thing to consider is Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU. This chip has taken on increased significance in recent years, especially since digital photography and video work has resulted in very large files that contain lots of data. Some commentators have said that for photography, the GPU is more important than the CPU.

    My advice would be to increase the amount of RAM you have in your current machine, and when the time comes to look at a new machine, consider carefully the GPU options and sizes. If you intend to do much photography or video work, get the machine with the best and largest GPU you can afford.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Menge

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    #10
    When editing images (Lightroom), it is important to have enough RAM. If you already have enough RAM (I'd recommend 8GB), then CPU is your next bottleneck. Adding more RAM is irrelevant if you won't occupy it. Usually Lightroom doesn't need over 8GB.

    Disk speed is almost irrelevant (I tested by upgrading a computer with 16GB of RAM from a HD to an SSD and the difference in speed is neglectable).

    You can check in Activity Monitor if you're using up all your RAM. If you have plenty of free RAM, then you need a CPU upgrade (which means buy a new computer). But if you're consuming all your RAM, then get more and see how that feels for you. I really recommend 8GB. I have 16GB and have yet to actually use over 8GB for editing photos.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    #11
    Actually, HD speed even with 8GB of RAM does make a difference. I noticed this back in the LR3 days. It seems like LR became more disk I/O intensive starting in LR3 when it comes to saving history on actions. So if you do things like a lot of spot heals, LR will write out to disk quickly as opposed to queuing up the changes in memory and writing it out later on.

    I wrote about it a few years back: http://www.ocabj.net/slow-lightroom-3-performance-on-macbook-pro-solved-disk-io/
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Menge

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #12
    Well, like I said before: I just upgraded from a regular laptop HD to a Crucial M4 SSD hoping I would get a big performance boost in Lightroom file loading. I didn't. Most of the time is spent waiting for the computer to finish rendering the large RAW files... The disk gets pegged for a microsecond, and from then on, it's all CPU spikes. So no: modern disk speed is not the bottleneck in editing RAW files. CPU is, if you have enough RAM to fit the image.

    And action history (undo history) is not saved to disk. They're not persistent. They're kept in RAM and are, by definition, very small. The way Lightroom works is all it keeps on disk is the original file and the cumulative changes made to that file (and those are small, look at the size of a LR catalog file). It doesn't save a file history. The undo history is just for your benefit while you're in your current edit session. That's RAM only.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    I have 16gb and Lightroom regularly uses all of it. As in only a few hundred meg free. Particularly when using lots of brushes. Also, exporting will happen in memory if you have it available.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Location:
    montreal
    #14
    I finally stepped up to Aperture this year to make the most of shooting in RAW, only to find that my early 2011 15" MBP was having a terrible time of it. At first I thought it was because all these RAW photos were filling up my HD, but I fixed that issue by putting most of my library onto an externa HD. MEanwhile I was getting tons of Page Outs. Sure enough, I stepped up from 4GB to 16GB, and now it's like a brand new computer. I highly recommend the RAM!
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    tgara

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    #15
    Aperture is GPU intensive, as well as CPU. Most technically inclined photographers opt for the best GPU they can get.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Menge

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    #16
    Nope it is not. Lightroom makes absolutely no specific use of the GPU according to Adobe's engineers at the Adobe support forums. They claim its rendering pipeline is too long to be implemented for a GPU. Don't confuse with Photoshop – which does make use of the GPU for many tasks.

    So basically Lightroom's bottlenecks are: RAM, CPU, Disk.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    #17
    All answers much appreciated.. thanks ALL!!

    I will upgrade my macbook with 16GB RAM from Amazon..

    :)
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #18
    I have the same MacBook. It has no trouble with 36MP files in LR and PS. You will be happy with the upgrade.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    tgara

    Joined:
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    #19
    I was referring to Aperture, but it's good to know about the GPU bit on Lightroom and Photoshop. Thanks for this.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Menge

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    #20
    Crap sorry. Was too entrenched in the "Lightroom" word. I know nothing of Aperture :p
     
  21. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2004
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #21
    I was just thinking about that the other day, wondering if GPU was used at all by Aperture, and it got me to thinking about my settings. Not sure where the OP's system is in the history of this setting, but, check out this page (random Google) on setting your system to the "better" GPU. At some point back in history I had set mine to better battery life. I'm sure it was a reasonable thought I had back then. But I've set it back to higher performance, and, while I haven't done any benchmarking, maybe it's just psychosomatic, but Aperture does seem to sit at the "loading" state of RAW files for less time now that I've made the change.

    Though I heartily agree that RAM is always a worthwhile upgrade as well. :)
     
  22. macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #22
    Up to 16GB of RAM and replace the mechanical drive with an SSD. Then cry tears of joy when you open Aperture for the first time.

    I use my MBP only for backups of RAW files in the field and rarely do mobile processing, but when I upgraded my Mac Pro to 32GB of RAM and an SSD for my Aperture libraries, I nearly wet myself at how fast it runs now.
     

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