Apple Thunderbolt 27" Display vs. today's options?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by DHart, May 5, 2019.

  1. DHart macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #1
    I am using an Apple Thunderbolt 27" display and enjoying it immensely for Lightroom, Photoshop, GarageBand, and office productivity apps. Beautiful display that performs flawlessly.

    And I have a new MacMini i7 on the way from Apple to run the Thunderbolt 27".

    This Thunderbolt Display was made in 2012, so I was wondering - do the best of today's 27" displays offer any significantly compelling reason(s) for me to sell my Thunderbolt 27" and buy a new 27" monitor - for the applications that I listed above?

    I have no interest in displays larger than 27", as the 27" size is just right for where I run the machine.
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #2
    Well, resolution. You can get a 5K panel these days, which increases sharpness immensely. And for photos, well that's quite a big deal. In camera terms, you'd be going from somewhere around 3.5MP to more than 14.5MP.

    If you get the right panel, there's HDR as well.

    I would probably advice waiting until we see what the next ProDisplay from Apple is. Rumours suggest it'll be bigger and 6K, but it'd surprise me if they don't also have a 27" model, likely keeping the 5K resolution but upping the game in other factors, like adding HDR, maybe something like ProMotion. Increased colour gamut could be interesting too, going beyond P3, and perhaps a true 10 bit panel, not dithered like the iMac panels.

    Oh yeah, actually now that I was writing that, the LG 5K Apple officially touts as the spiritual successor to your panel, it supports the P3 colour space. That's also a consideration.
     
  3. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #3
    Thanks for your comments, casperes. Would the 5k resolution be a positive improvement in all respects over what I have now - without any drawbacks?

    Everything would be sharper and crisper: text, graphics, webpages, and all. And would there be ease in increasing the size of text and webpages if the finer resolution makes everything smaller than it appears to me now?

    It sounds like going for a new monitor would be a significantly positive move?

    I guess with the Thunderbolt Display, I am enjoying it so much that I don't know what I'm missing.
     
  4. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #4
    Well there is a single drawback. But it's not really about the display - The display is an improvement in all resolution related aspects, and with the right panel, essentially all other aspects too. The LG Apple colaborated on however does have worse design and material from an external build-quality perspective, but the panel itself is excellent. Anyways, back to that one drawback.

    You're going to be pushing a hell of a lot more pixels. 4x more in fact. That means the GPU will spend more time drawing what you see on the screen, and less time being available for other processing tasks. But I'd say it's a worthwile tradeoff.

    So the way this works, is that pixel-doubling (on each axis) is used for the objects. That is, when you develop an application these days, you include all assets in @1x, @2x and in some cases even @3x. So everything will have the same size on a 27" 5K as on a 27" 2560x1440 like the Thunderbolt panel, because it's just switching over to the @2x assets for higher quality at the same size! The is called integer scaling, because for each pixel on a 2560x1440 asset, we now have a whole number, i.e. 2 per axis, more pixels to deal with, so everything can just be doubled (on each axis). This also means that anything that doesn't have an @2x asset, can still easily get sized properly. it won't be as sharp, because the system will just take the @1x asset and scale it linearly, but it won't be an issue (... Unless you like Windows. They've not been so good at doing this, getting inconsistently sized objects on screen with terrible visuals - though it has gotten better).

    macOS does however also support non-integer scaling. If you find the elements are too small or too big (although the default is the same as you're seeing now), you can choose to render everything at, let's say 2.25x or 1.75x, or something else. Display preferences has a "Scaled" setting for picking this, when attached to a Hi-DPI monitor. It'll still use the full resolution of the panel, but it'll alter the internal rendering resolution. Now, any of these options are harder for the GPU, since it renders an even larger image internally and downsamples to fit the display.
    Picking larger sized objects will dedicate more pixels per object, increasing sharpness in that respect, but since each pixel is no longer mapped 1:2 or similar, interpolation will be used, which will decrease visual quality near the edges, as the display won't always have exact information about how to paint a specific pixel, as its coordinates may be between data. So it'll use ( I think) bicubic interpolation. Instead of the perfect integer matching of @2x. This is really hard to see on such a sharp display anyway, but it's just something to consider about the scaling options.
    Same also goes for smaller scaling - less pixels per object + not a 1:1, 1:2 or other integer matching.

    Again, almost imperciptible since it's so sharp anyway, but just pointing out the details.

    So in conclusion, yes, you can pick the size of things, but if what you have now works, this will too. It'll just be way sharper.
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---

    The Thunderbolt Display is also still a great monitor that's better than most of what's on the market. But if you look at the top of the line of monitors, like the 5Ks, there are better displays out there. But if you look at the mid range and below, your Thunderbolt panel still smashes the crap out of most of it. QHD is still a good resolution, the Thunderbolt display was very colour accurate, and yours likely still is, especially if you've calibrated it. The brightness and contrast levels are great, and it's overall still an excellent panel; But there are better options - especially in the resolution department.

    Back in its day though, it was basically the best sRGB panel there was. There were of course better if you were looking for Adobe RGB panels, or for gamers - super high refresh.

    Similarly, the LG 5K isn't the best panel in the whole world - It doesn't support Adobe RGB for instance. - But it's among the best - if not The best 5K P3 panel. It's a shame with the material and build, but hey, it isn't all Apple this time around.
     
  5. treekram macrumors 68000

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    #5
    Be aware, if you're not already, that you need a Thunderbolt 3-to-2 adapter to use the Thunderbolt Display with the 2018 Mini. This will apply as well if you have a TB3 dock unless the dock has a TB2 port, and I haven't seen any that does although I may not be current on that. The Apple version of the adapter is $50 new, less if used or refurbished from Apple. I didn't see any refurbished on the Apple site but the chances are that any refurbished adapter from Apple comes from people who misunderstood what the adapter does and promptly returned it. Adapters from other manufacturers typically cost more. So you should factor that into your cost comparisons. If you want to keep the 27" size, I would just keep the display if it still works well.
     
  6. DHart, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 5, 2019

    DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #6
    casperes... wonderful, detailed responses. Thank you very much for that!

    And I understand why I still love this Thunderbolt monitor so much. It is a gorgeous device with a great display.

    Does the new iMac 27" use the same panel as the LG that you mentioned Apple was collaborating on?

    I also have an iMac 27" from late 2012 that is still smashingly great. But if the new 27" iMac display is the same as that LG you were mentioning... well, there's some more upgrading for me to consider.
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---
    treekram... yes indeed, I have the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter already and have tested it out, driving my 27" Thunderbolt Display with both my new MacBook Pro and new MacBookAir laptops (which both have USB3/TB3 ports - and, it works perfectly as hoped for.

    This is the year I'm upgrading ALL of my Macs, which have served me well for a good number of years. These are such incredible machines. And I am an Apple devote since my first Macintosh 512k back around 1982, I think it was. I've been using Macs ever since then - with many upgrades to the machines all along the way. Had I kept them all, I could open a Macintosh history museum. :D

    Can't wait to see how the new MacMini 6-core i7 feels. It will have 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. I will be using an external Samsung T5 1TB SSD for my music and image files. It will be used to record in GarageBand and edit image files in Lightroom and Photoshop. Also for basic business uses with Excel, Word, surfing the web, etc.
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---
    Do you think I would notice any slowness (vs. using the 27" Thunderbolt Display) with the new MacMini and i7 processor due to having to process/support 5k or 6k worth of pixels?
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---
    And, another question comes to mind... 4k vs. 5k... is the extra resolution likely to be a significant difference for my applications?
     
  7. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #7
    You're welcome, matey. Sometimes I feel a bit like the geek version of Spiderman... With great geekiness, comes great responsibilities for replying well on MacRumors, haha.

    Essentially, yes. LG makes the panels Apple use for the 5K iMacs, and based on their characteristics I'm willing to say the panels for both displays come from the same assembly line.
    There may be minute differences still though, like the anti-glare coating used and whatnot. But the panels themselves are for all intents and purposes the same.

    In terms of CPU; Not at all. If you do anything GPU intensive though, you could see UI stuttering. The Mac mini has a brillant CPU, but no GPU to speak of, and it's the GPU that gets pushed the most when the pixel count increases.
    But I don't really think it'll be that big an issue, and I'd personally rather have the UI stutter a tiny tiny bit once in a blue moon than a less sharp panel.
    I'll add that the apps you've mentioned that you'll be using are primarily CPU dependant, not GPU. So it's less of a concern in that respect. Some tools in LR/PS are GPU accelerated, so there it will matter to an extend, but it's mostly CPU driven

    Well that depends a bit; I'm going to say for the purposes of this discussion that we're talking the same sized screen but with differing resolutions.

    The "k"-notation makes it seem like less of a difference than it actually is. A typical UHD (commonly called 4K even though it isn't really) display, boasts just a hair over 8 million pixels. As noted before that's quite far from the more than 14.5 million pixels a 5K panel provides. Though still substantially more than the roughly 2 million of Full HD, or ≈3.5 million of QHD (2560x1440).

    When most cameras shoot images with even higher resolutions than even the 5K - and some cameras much, much higher, you'll see more accurate photo-representations on screen the more pixels you have to work with.
    For office-productivity, GarageBand and regular usage, the difference isn't massive. It's more that you can increase the effective screen space while maintaining clean integer scaling that's a benefit at that point. But for Lightroom, Photoshop and other image work, I would actually say the 5K brings significant value.
    I'll add that whilst I say it doesn't add significant value to office workloads, I do personally appreciate the brillant resolution greatly when I do long sessions of programming (I study computer science at university). 4K would also work well, but I can have more code on screen at once and maintain clarity, which is nice.

    If you feel in doubt, I would recommend visiting an Apple reseller and having a look at the 5K LG or iMac, and then having a look at a 4K panel to see if it's something you personally think matters.
    The huge win for the 5K though is also the added screen space for editing workflows - I've done a lot of video work as well, and to show full resolution Full HD, QHD or even (though more limited) 4K, you have room/pixels to spare for your editing UI. Meaning you can have a full resolution image, as well as your color tools or whatnot, for adjusting details and seeing a 1:1 pixel mapped representation of the output at once.
     
  8. Hessel89 macrumors regular

    Hessel89

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    #8
    I've owned both the Thunderbolt Display, a 5K iMac and now have an LG Ultrafine 5K and what I can say is although the LG is amazingly sharp (same panel as the iMac 5K) It's still not quite up there with Apple's own displays. The Ultrafines are notorious for having image retention (had to exchange mine as the first one had it) and they all have this purpleish tint on them which looks quite ugly with black backgrounds. It's not the actual panel but it's the polarizing layer which is made from a plastic-y material as opposed to glass on the iMacs and TBDs. I'm statisfied with it but it's definitely not perfect.

    If you want something similar to the Thunderbolt Display there are definitely some more budget-friendly display out there like the Dell U2719D which has exactly the same panel, only matte. I advised my wife to go for that since she's on a 2012 Mac Mini.
     
  9. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #9
    Casperes... you do an amazing job of understanding the subject matter and communicating various aspects of it with great clarity. Thanks so much for that. (In addition to programming, I'll bet you would make a great teacher, as well!)

    At one point I thought I might enjoy a 32" or 34" display. Then, I sat at my workspace, looking at my 27" and held up a tape measure at the actual width of a 32" and 34" display and realized that I didn't want nor need to have a display that wide - too much head turning for my liking. It would actually bother me, because I don't need that kind of width on a display.

    The 27" is just right for me! So, I'll give some thought to the 4k and 5k 27" displays, but since I'm in no hurry and I'm enjoying my 27" Thunderbolt Display so much... I'll wait and see if Apple comes out with an updated 27" display. I do really like how Apple does things (most of the time!). I have a hunch that even a 4k 27" display would be quite pleasing and meet my needs quite well. But I'd want a top of the line model, for sure - like an Apple Display.

    MacMini ORDER
    I got an email that the MacMini I ordered from Apple just shipped from Shenzen, China by FedEx, to arrive day after tomorrow. Apparently, a MacMini i7 with 16GB of ram and a 512GB SSD is not in stock in any warehouse in the USA and is made-to-order at the factory in China! Perhaps they only keep the base models in stock in most of the USA, except for 3rd party resellers, like B&H in NYC, who preorders some high end MacMinis to have in stock. I needed to buy directly from Apple because I turned in an old MacMini, and old MacBookAir, and two old iPads through their GiveBack program - resulting in Gift Cards only good directly with Apple. Otherwise, I probably would have ordered from B&H, who has the i7/16GB/512GB model in stock.
     
  10. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #10
    Thanks for the compliment - Don't think I'd fair super well as a teacher though. I'm not as good verbally as I am when I have time to think and formulate text. But hey, maybe. Guess if I wind up not enjoying whatever jobs I find myself in after my CS degree, I could look into teaching CS or video production or something instead ;)

    Yeah, I get that. I think it's very much a matter of what workflow suits the individual. I'd say that a majority of the time, I'm very happy with just having my 27" monitor. Perhaps 30" would be even better, but not really more than that I think... But that's the majority of the time... for the remaining parts, when I'm sitting with an API reference guide, operational semantics and three different scala files containing definitions for classes; Well, I wish I had 6 displays, hehe. Though I will say that Spaces on macOS greatly reduces the "need" for extra monitors, and makes working with just one basically as efficient as a two display setup would be without Spaces.

    But all of that only applies to workflows that benefits from multiple displays anyway, and not all workflows do. When I do my hobbyist photo editing, more displays would be a negative, not a positive. It would be needless distractions.

    Addendum to the use of Spaces in macOS;
    Windows 10 introduced a similar feature to Windows with multiple desktops. I personally don't think the implementation is anywhere near as good, and thus doesn't improve work effeciency at all essentially, but it's a good move.
    And other Unix platforms have had the feature for a long time too - CDE even had the option for 4 workspaces (CDE being Common Desktop Environment for Unix platforms. - An old attempt at trying to unify the graphical environment accross different Unix operating systems that had partial success. - These days most Unix systems are either Gnome or KDE, or based on derivatives using either GTK+ or QT frameworks that Gnome and KDE are respectively also built upon)
    Just a bit of a history lesson to add to anybody reading this who's interested; Although perhaps a bit out of place in the discussion, but I got myself ranting, hehe.

    Sounds like a good plan.
    Apple has been out of the display market for a while, but will officially be re-entering the Pro Display market soon. They have a new Mac Pro in the works for this year, and a new Pro Display would likely come alongside it.

    Think it's a smart idea to stick to the higher end of displays. A great 2560x1440 panel will beat the pants off a low end 4K. It ain't all about resolution. Colour accuracy, viewing angles, brightness etc. all impact the experience. Apple has for a long long time now been very picky about only selecting the best of the best display panels.
    And when it comes to displays, buying in the high end also means you can rely on the product for many years. Displays don't grow outdated as quickly as many other technologies in this space - especially not if it's a standalone. The iMac is a bit of a different beast, since it doesn't matter so much that the display is in great shape, of the computer behind the display is kicking the dust. Though I still enjoy my iMac immensely - i just wish I could replace the GPU with a faster and cooler running option. And easily clean it for dust bunnies... If it weren't so expensive to get both a 5K and a Mac Pro it would probably have been a better route, and if the next Mac Pro can be had for a lower price more affordable for people who don't make money with the machine, well, I'll probably swing that way next time. My iMac GPU is getting hot to the point that it has put the computer to sleep to prevent overheating a few times now. And that's with fan speeds much higher than what the maximum were when I got it. Though I do also have a model that was notorious for these things, and the later models haven't had as many or as severe reports of heat issues, so YMMV.
    So yeah, overall happy with the iMac, but still wish I had a more accessible device in terms of hardware, since with the iMac the display will way outlast the computer and that seems a bit wasteful.

    Sounds good. - I don't really think they keep non base variants of any Mac in regular stock.
     
  11. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #11
    Yes, I have a late 2012 27" iMac, 16GB RAM, 3.4 GHz QUAD-Core i7 that has served me exceptionally well and continues to do so to this day. I don't have any super-duty demands on it - large Photoshop files and large Lightroom databases are the heaviest tax on it and it handles that with ease. Never gotten too hot. I think PS and LR are quite RAM dependent, so having a minimum of 16GB for those apps seems to work well. I went with 32GB in my recent MacBookPro, which I'll likely never approach using up, but I often run a lot of apps and internet tabs simultaneously - and having that much RAM is great for that.

    I agree and I'm tempted to replace my 27" iMac - when the time comes - with another high-end MacMini and a high-end 27" display - rather than buying another iMac. I love the iMac concept, and they're great computers, but I think you're right that having the display separate from the computer makes good sense. I don't think a Mac Pro would do anything significant - for me - that a top-of-the-line MacMini with 16GB or 32GB of RAM couldn't do. And with TB-3/USB-3 connectivity, external SSDs offer plenty of read/write speed.
     
  12. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #12

    Based on your described usage, I would tend to agree. The 2014 Mac mini would perhaps be a bit limiting for you, but since Apple refreshed them, they've gone back to offering desktop parts, like 4-6 core CPUs, and as mentioned, the tasks you'ver described are mostly CPU dependant (and can chew RAM too like you also point out) - But none of that is anything the Mac mini can't handle.
    In fact, of Apple's current lineup, for that reason, it's the one most often used in server-like workloads. Its small form-factor and good CPU makes it quite nice in headless circumstances (headless - Running CPU tasks for other systems in a way where it needs no attached display)
    It can of course also work well under "regular" usage and is overall a great offering.

    What makes me tend more towards potentially getting a Mac Pro if it's more affordable next round, and more expandable than last, is that a lot of what I do relies on GPU performance as well, which is the one weakpoint of the Mac mini. GPUs are also the one part in computers (typically) that produces the most heat, so it makes sense it wasn't a priority for the mini. iMacs are better, but have the issues mentioned before - Plus GPUs are still currently among the parts that become outdated the fastest on a generational performance increase metric. - In a tower like system like the old 5.1 Mac Pro and earlier, replacing the GPU was easy and fast, and I'd like something like that.
    Both for recreational use, like games and what is now only hobby video editing, and for writing GPU compute kernels. Most of the academic world currently focusses its efforts on CUDA as the platform for GPGPU research. - I'm not at that point in my study yet, but it's one of many things I'd potentially be interested in examining closer, and if I want code compatability with a lot of what my peers are working on it needs to be an Nvidia GPU with CUDA support - Though for its advantages in terms of applying not just to GPUs, but CPUs and FPGAs as well, I might also just see about doing a rewrite to OpenCL if it gets to that - That's for the future anyways :)

    Anyways, returning to this thread - Hope you feel your display inquiries have been resolved and you're at a happy place computationally speaking.
     
  13. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #13
    Indeed they have been well-resolved, with much appreciation to you for explaining the resolution aspects, and I'm really well situated with my Macs these days. It's a happy place to be!

    I'm eagerly awaiting my new MacMini. My last MacMini was a Late 2012 MacMini Server 2.3 GHz i7, 16BG RAM, Two-1TB HDDs. The new one is 3.2 GHz Six-Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 500GB SSD. I'm expecting that to be a pretty nice upgrade.

    I'll be using a Samsung T5 1TB SSD external drive, as an alternate start-up drive (clone, including all apps) and for image and music files. I've really been enjoying the speed and form-factor of the Samsung T5 SSDs - I rarely spin up any of my HDDs anymore - thankfully!

    Speaking of which... is there a noticeable difference in read/write speeds using a Samsung T5 external SSD, via TB-3/USB-3, vs. the internal SSD that Apple ships with?
     
  14. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #14
    In terms of objective, measurable speed differences; Yes. Yes there is. You'd need the speed of two T5s to be in the speed-neighbourhood of the internal Apple SSD.

    That said; with SSD speeds, "real world" noticable improvements drop off a cliff above the 400-500MB/s mark. So if you run heavy duty read/write workloads, sure it does make a substantial difference.
    But if you gave "average Joe" a computer running off of each drive for a week and asked him which was the faster of the two, he'd probably just say "It's about the same".
     
  15. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #15
    I had a feeling that was the case.

    I'll be using the internal 512GB SSD for the OS, all the Apps, and my most current working files. All else is on the external Samsung T5 1TB SSD. Plenty fast enough for my moderate needs.

    The MacMini arrived today from Shenzen. Beautiful little machine! Set up was quick (all I needed to do is clone an external start-up SSD, which had the current OS and all of my apps and essential files). Off and running flawlessly in a hot hurry. So far, I love this MacMini!

    Opening Lightroom, Photoshop, Safari with a few tabs, Mail, Excel, Spotify, and Activity Monitor showed that I was pushing right at 16GB, so I guess going to 32GB might be in my future. That said, I don't really NEED all of those apps to be open at one time. We shall see.
     
  16. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #16
    Sounds good :). For ease (though not necessarily reliability, since one drive dying would crash all data), you could optionally create a Fusion Drive to have the OS manage what goes where on a block level.

    Hmmm. What exactly did Activity Monitor say? I'll just point out that seeing little "free" memory isn't necessarily a sign that you're close to using what you have. macOS will intentionally try and use as much as is available, even if it isn't necessary, because free memory is wasted memory. So it'll cache things it think you might want in the future.
    That's why unless you know how to really read the numbers, like page ins/outs, the pressure graph is the best way to see what your RAM needs are looking like.

    An easy way is also to look at the "swap used" metric. It tells you whenever data is written to disk from the virtual memory system. Now this may also happen before you entirely run out of RAM, as a preparatory meassure if the system think it could happen, but it's a lot better of an indicator than "free memory".
     
  17. DHart, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019

    DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    #17
    casperes... thanks, once again, you offer some great advice!

    As for data preservation.. I learned, decades ago, to have redundant copies of important files in numerous different places. Way back in the day, I learned the lesson that a HDD could perform well for a long time and then unexpectedly fail - I learned this lesson well.

    Since then, I save everything I do in multiple locations. These days, I save to the local drive and then send a copy up to my iCloud Drive. Then, when I jump on any of my other Macs, I do a quick save of the new files back down from the iCloud Drive to the local drive of that machine... so, I've got copies of everything important to me on five local Macs (with SSDs) AND up on the iCloud Drive. Taking no chances with data loss!

    You're right, I was just looking at the amount of used vs. unused memory. And at one point did notice what I seem to remember being about 250-500MB of data "swapped".

    So, if I understand you right, that status, showing that perhaps 250MB-500MB was swapped, isn't necessarily an indicator that I need to get more memory?

    I see that little window labeled Memory Pressure; but have no idea how to use it and interpret the significance of what it shows. Now looking at a Help page which describes how to use Activity Monitor - thanks for prompting me to look deeper into how this app functions!

    Also, I've noticed that some web pages (tabs that I forgot were even open) seem to suck quite a LOT of memory, especially if there is any video data involved.
     
  18. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #18
    Very true.
    I use iCloud Drive myself to preserve some data off-site, along with a Time Capsule, and data existing on both my Macs. But if, knock on wood, my house were to burn down, it would likely take everything not on iCloud all at once - hence why off-site is an ideal state. - I feel like 99% of the data I have that isn't on iCloud is reproducible though.

    Anyways, just for the sake of information completeness, if you or anyone else reading along feel they have enough data backups elsewhere, and want to merge two drives, the way to do so under APFS, is to boot through Internet Recovery, a USB installer or other bootable medium not part of the drives to be fused, and run the command
    diskutil apfs createContainer -main [disk1] -secondary [disk2]
    where [disk1] is the fast one and [disk2] is the slow one. -main and -secondary can be omitted and the system will try and automatically assign roles, but it can sometimes make incorrect decisions.

    Not necessarily no. Even if the 500MB of swap are actively used swap files, it may still not be an issue in real world cases.
    Here's an example situation. You have 30 tabs in Safari. You switch over to Photos, where you are editing a photo. The tabs the system deems it least likely you'll visit soon again are written to disk. to free up more memory for the edit, if it becomes necessary. Now let's say it does become necessary, and the Safari tabs are removed from meory, so the system will have to retrieve them from disk when it needs them again.
    Now when you go back to Safari, it's on the tab you last left it at, which is crucially still in memory. Now the memory manager sees Safari is in the foreground again, and before you go to the tab that has been paged to disk, it is already in the process of getting it from disk, so it's back in memory before you consider maybe going there.
    To do this, it pages out some of the intermediate results of your edits, so maybe if you click undo 100 times it'll take a little extra to load, but otherwise everything else is in memory.

    Hope this illustrates how memory management systems have gotten really intelligent, especially in macOS and Linux (and increasingly under Window, but still not quite to the same degree). The downside is it's a tad harder to determine when more memory really would help in a real world scenario, but that's why Apple made the memory pressure graph - to help people see how much the system is relying on pulling things from disk. If it gets yellow, more memory could help speed up to a certain degree, and in the red you barely/don't have enough memory for active apps.
    If it's in the green, you'll probably see close to 0 improvement, perhaps outside of caching a bit extra for "maybe you'll need this sometime in future", but even then, with the speed of the SSDs and the expectation of cold storage for unlaunched apps and whatnot it's likely not a massive difference there either.

    Speaking of the speed of the SSD; RAM is still many times faster than the SSD, but if the data that needs to be retrieved is a small chunk here and there, the speed of the SSD can mean that even if you don't have enough RAM and you're going to something that needs immediate access to something on disk, it may happen quickly enough that it doesn't really make a big difference.

    For larger chunks of data it starts mattering more and more. Can't remember the newer speeds, but dual channel DDR3-1333MHZ at CL11 gives around 25.6GB/s, which is a heck of a lot more than even the best SSDs reaching just around 3GB/s. But if what you're retrieving from disk is a 4MB chunk of data, it may not be a very big percieved effect.
    And remember, even if you have 500MB of VM data stored on disk, A) Not all of it may be needed or accessed in a manner that's meaningful - like with the example I gave of hidden accesses. And 2) It's likely not 500MB of data that's all required in one singular place. It can be tiny chunks spread accross multiple places, so Spotify may swap 2MB, Safari 10MB, Photoshop 100 and so on. And in some cases they may never need that memory again. It may be thumbnails that were allocated to virtual memory "just in case" or something.
     
  19. DHart, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019

    DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #19
    All I can say is WOW - I hope others here are able to learn from what you've posted. You really know your stuff AND you have the ability to explain it so clearly!

    I've been using Macs since the early eighties, quite intensively as a professional/commercial photographer (very heavy Photoshop use and Lightroom use for decades) and commercial studio owner - also for business applications and in recent years using DAWs for my music recording. And yet, in all that time, much of what you've described has been going on behind the scenes that I was not only unaware of, but didn't even really understand. All I can say is thank you, again for sharing your deep knowledge and conveying it so clearly!

    As for off-premises data storage - I completely agree, a bad fire could easily destroy all storage devices on premises. It's important to have critical data stored both onsite, and off-site, as well!

    Now that I understand memory and memory management better, I'll keep a closer eye on Activity Monitor and know much better if I actually DO need more memory. Thanks, casperes! :) I think 16GB may serve me well.
     
  20. smirking macrumors 68020

    smirking

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #20
    I don't really consider the pedestrian design to be an issue. I have a 5K. I have it mounted on a VESA plate and a floating arm so really it's just a floating black square in my office.

    The main drawback to the 5K display is as already mentioned by @casperes1996 is that it's a lot of pixels. You could find some of your programs that were snappy on the 27" Thunderbolt to be laggy and unstable even with a proper graphics card.

    I use Capture One Pro. I was on Capture One Pro 10 and a Unibody 2012 MBP with a 30" ACD display and everything was fast and snappy. Then I moved to a 2016 MBP with a 5K external monitor and Capture One Pro became so slow that it was barely usable. Part of that had to do with the software. A few months later, Capture One Pro started to work better, but I'm now using a Vega 20 2018 MBP with Capture One Pro 12 and the same 27" 5K monitor and it STILL isn't as snappy as things were with my 2012 Unibody and 30" ACD.

    It's fast enough, but it's still a half step behind what I already had with a lower density display. Still, I wouldn't go back. My eyes feel so much better looking at a 5K display (which was the reason why I wanted a 5K display). If you stare at the screen for many hours a day and you find your eyes stinging from fatigue, a 5K monitor may do wonders for you.
     
  21. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #21
    No doubt the image quality of 5k is impressive. That said, I'm still impressed with my 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display! :eek:

    So, for myself, if and when I upgrade from the 27" TBD, I think a 4k might just be the right compromise for me - giving great image quality, without being so demanding on the graphics card that I notice any sluggishness.
     
  22. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #22
    Again, thanks for the compliments :). Though I would be a bit disappointed in my ongoing computer science degree if I didn't understand these things, hehe ;). I actually just worked on the mathematics of paging between memory and disk, and when it would be cost efficient to do so and when not (cost being a measure of time, not money)

    Whilst happy about my skillset, I think I'd also be envious if I saw a glimpse into the skills you've picked up along the way in the creative apps. As I've mentioned I enjoy photography and video as a hobbyist, so I really do appreciate the skills required to work with the tools in these creative fields to create brillant products :).
    You being unaware of what goes on behind the scenes is just showing that things work well though. Programmers hide the machine ticking so you don't have to worry about it, and can get your work done.
    My professor once had a fun little image on one of his slides, with a character sitting by the computer saying "As I write in my text editor, my CPU is handling billions of x86 micro-ops every second, so the XNU kernel can negotiate system calls with the app layers above it, for the cocoa framework to draw on screen anything I type... I am a God!"

    Brillant :). Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask if you need anything
     
  23. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #23
    Indeed... the fact that I have gleefully been a heavy-duty Photoshop user (my first version of PS was v.2.1) for all those years... and then jumped onto the Lightroom platform when it was introduced... with little "behind the scenes" computer workings knowledge, other than buying machines with fast processors and plenty of memory (for the time they were released), speaks volume for the power and elegance of the work done by designer, engineering, and programming professionals like you!
     
  24. DHart, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019

    DHart thread starter macrumors 6502

    DHart

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    #24
    casperes... if I may confirm something... is the Intel UHD Graphics 630 unit in the new MacMini easily up to the task of driving a 27" 4k display?

    What about driving a 5k display?

    I'm not sure what an eGPU is and I don't think I even want to know. :rolleyes:


    Apple state the following, so my guess is that I shouldn't expect any difficulties driving a single 4k display?

    Video Support
    Support for the following combination of maximum concurrent display setups:
    • Up to three displays:
    • Two displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0
    • or
    • Up to two displays:
    • One display with 5120-by-2880 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0
    Thunderbolt 3 digital video output supports
    • Native DisplayPort output over USB-C
    • Thunderbolt 2, DVI, and VGA output supported using adapters (sold separately)
    HDMI 2.0 display video output
    • Support for one display with 4096-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz
    • DVI output using HDMI to DVI Adapter (sold separately)
     
  25. Hessel89 macrumors regular

    Hessel89

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Location:
    Arnhem
    #25

    The LG Ultrafine 5K is.. 5K...

    It drives both my 5K and 4K screen perferctly at the same time. No lag or stutter. Just make sure you add atleast 16GBs of RAM as the Intel UHD Graphics 630 shares it's VRAM with your normal ram and with 8GB you get stuttering. You don't need an eGPU.
     

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26 May 5, 2019