Aperture 3 on iMac or MBP? Which iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by elapid, May 17, 2011.

  1. elapid macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2009
    I have a 2006 MacBook and a 2006 iMac (2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB memory). Working with photos on Aperture 3 on my iMac is painfully slow, regardless if other programs are open or not. I would like to upgrade my iMac and/or laptop. Other than Aperture 3, I do not use hungry programs, usually just word processing, spreadsheets, web design with iWeb, email and surfing the net. After much consideration and advice on the Apple form, I am deciding on the following options:

    iMac 27" and use my old MacBook
    MacBook Pro 15" + Apple LED Cinema Display

    I am an amateur photographer and otherwise do not use a laptop for field work or use either computer for my line of work, so I really just want a computer that will do a good job without having to pay too much for upgrades which do not provide a great deal of real life differences in performance. My current laptop is OK for my purposes away from home. My Aperture library is at almost 400GB and will increase by 300GB when I upload old photos (currently stored on an external 1TB HD).

    I am likely to buy the 27" iMac, but if anyone has strong opinions on the 15" MBP then I am very open to suggestions.

    My questions other than the best computer to run Aperture 3, are:

    I will upgrade to at least 8GB RAM - should I do this through the Apple Store or buy RAM from another store and install myself? Is there any difference between memory brought through Apple or another store?

    I will upgrade to the 2TB SATA HD. What difference will the 256GB SSD make to performance? Is this an upgrade I can do later, especially if prices come down?

    How much real world difference will I see in performance between the 3.1GHz quad-core i5 and 3.4GHz quad-core i7 processors?

    How much real world difference will I see in performance between the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB GDDR5 and the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5 graphics processors?

    Any other comments or recommendations on either my options or upgrades?

  2. kevin2223 macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2010
    Some of my thoughts/personal opinion:

    1. Upgrade RAM through OWC or other reputable sellers. You can add 8GB (2x4GB) for a total of 12GB, less than $100, whereas you would pay $200 from Apple. If you are in need of more than 8GB, the iMac is the way to go. An even bigger savings comes if you want to upgrade to 16GB (removing 4GB of iMac RAM) - less than $200 third-party, $600 from Apple. RAM is nearly all identical and most include a lifetime warranty.

    2. If we compare two similarly priced 15" and 27" computers ($2199 3.4GHz i7 iMac and 2.2GHz i7 MacBook Pro), the iMac comes out roughly 15% faster in Geekbench (although synthetic benchmark). Heat will be less of a problem in the iMac than the MacBook Pro in any intensive tasks.

    Many put the value of the iMac display between $800-1000, which you would buy separately with the laptop.

    3. There is about a 30% difference between the i5 and i7 on the iMacs. The i7 also has Hyper-Threading (eight virtual cores), which is mainly useful in video production and apps that can take advantage of this.

    4. Wait for external Thunderbolt SSD solutions, which should start shipping within the next three months to a year. Apple's SSD is slower than many of the newer SATA III drives and you won't be able to use the drive in a new computer without opening the iMac. The SSD/HDD upgrade on iMacs can void the warranty quickly and isn't recommended.

    The 2TB hard drive, while an expensive upgrade, is beneficial if you are storing a lot of content on the iMac. Otherwise, it might be more cost-effective to get a 2TB FireWire 800 drive for ~$150 for media storage and backup.

    5. Relatively few applications would use more than 1GB of VRAM, people choose this if they plan on using the iMac for gaming or driving multiple large displays.

    I hope this helps.
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  4. elapid thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2009
    Thanks Kevin and Badger. Both of your replies have helped a lot.

    Badger - I am in Ontario, Canada, so unfortunately cannot get the benefits of the i5 deals. But I am intrigued by the link you provided and am now wondering whether a switch to Lightroom from Aperture may also be a sensible move considering that the most frustration I have with Aperture is processing times rather than loading times.
  5. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got a 1 1/2 year old 27" i7 iMac and use Aperture 3. It's quite snappy processing and much faster than my previous C2D iMac (which was probably about the same as yours). Aperture does seem to use all the cores when processing images. It also uses the GPU.

    If you have a store nearby then go and play with Aperture on a new system. If money is a concern, consider a refurbished last generation or wait a month or two for the current generation iMacs to hit the refurbished store.
  6. bakura macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2011
    I'm using Aperture 3 since I switched one week ago to Mac. I have an iMac 27' i7 8 Go, and seriously, it works like a charm (I used to use Lightroom 3 on PC).

    A friend of mine told me that Aperture 3 take advantage of i7 so I took this processor instead of i5. Plugins like Photomatix HDR are also soooo fast.

    However, I use 15 MP RAW files (I can't imagine if you have a 5D Mark II :D) and it uses a lot of RAM, so I think 8 Go is very useful for this program.

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