dual core or quad core for photo processing?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by shaktimage, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. shaktimage macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2009
    hi there,
    my macbookpro just died (the motherboard, only 2 years old, no apple care...) so now i have to get another one. my question is: in the 2.0 ghz intel i7 quad core faster than the 2.7 ghz intel i7 dual core WHEN PROCESSING PHOTOS WITH LIGHTROOM AND PHOTOSHOP No gaming, no video. It is getting so technical, i just cant figured out... Any clue very welcome...
  2. pullman, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011

    pullman macrumors 6502


    Feb 11, 2008
    What do you mean by "processing"?

    Typically, for PS at least though I would imagine it goes for LR too, the processor will only affect processor-intensive tasks, such as applying complex filters or, possibly, opening large amounts of RAW files.

    Check for instance http://www.macperformanceguide.com/index_topics.html for ideas on how to improve PS performance.

    For other work in PS, the amount of RAM will have the decisive impact. When you've maxed out the RAM, then the speed of the scratch disk (HDDs in raid 0 or SSD) will be important. I happily stand to be corrected re two vs four cores on the same i7 processor but the speed difference in processor will be virtually negligible for most work in PS. FYI the two-core 2.7 GHz i7 geekbenches 6796 and the four-core 2.0 GHz i7 geekbenches 8804 (http://www.primatelabs.ca/blog/2011/02/macbookpro-benchmarks-early-2011). It is unknown how that will translate into real-life performance, given how PS works.

    I guess your choice also depends on which screen you want to have for photo work?

  3. Hansr macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2007
    It's on par pretty much. I'm sure updates to both applications will make the 2.0 quad outperform going forwards.
  4. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I suspect you'll find the quad core models are faster at the photo processing you are doing. Lightroom and Photoshop will both hit all 4 cores on an i7.

    What I'd really recommend though is waiting a little longer for Anand's review of the new MacBook Pros. He always includes excellent benchmarks of Photoshop performance which I suspect will provide the only definitive answer to your question.
  5. Grouchy Bob macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    AssWipe, New Mexico
    Your bottleneck with these 2 apps has been (and always will be) the HDD. I'm sure you've noticed the extended read times when LR has to access the JPEG information stored in each RAW file to display images. (Especially if your files are 18mp @ 15-20mb each)

    Same goes for PhotoShop when it loads these things. While extra CPU muscle will help with PS actions and filters (like Noiseware or Portraiture), a SSD will will get these massive files open and ready to process much quicker.

    If you live inside these 2 applications like I do, the SSD is a no-brainer.
  6. Shady Pioneer macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2011
    Somerset, UK
    I haven't got my base 15" yet (tomorrow hopefully), but I upgraded the HDD to a 500GB 7200rpm one. I've been reading up and looking into things like this because I use the 'shop of Photo a lot, along with InDesign and Illustrator, so the Optibay mod looks set to be on the cards soon enough, I'd like a 128GB realistically but I think a 64GB SDD will suffice.
  7. Vantage Point, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011

    Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    I'm a big Photoshop CS5 user user that also uses other software like Aperture, Topaz plugins, PTGui for panorama creation and Unified Color's Expose for HDR. The new iX processors are significantly better than the C2D for all of the above. Even my i5 2.4 is faster than a previous 3.06 GHx C2D.

    The thing is that all editing programs do not make complete use of quad cores and for those programs that only work well on dual cores might be faster than quad cores - and that extends to many other types of software. Movie editing I believe is difference and takes greater advantage of quad cores.

    I think you can't go wrong with either one, especially if you can get a deal on a 2010 model. The key is RAM, max it out to 8GB. Then the hard drive becomes important after the RAM. The reason is that RAM is used as scratch and went that is taped out the software uses the hard drive as scratch and a HDD is much slower than a SSD. That is the only time the hard drive will make a difference - after you tap out you ram. The exception is loading the program and loading/opening a file as that is more about the drive and it takes only one core to load a file (so a faster core may make a slight difference). But, opening a file on mine (2010 2.4 i5) is almost instantaneous. On mine it takes Photoshop CS5 up to 7 seconds to load the first time after booting - and 1-2 seconds tops the second time once it is stores in RAM. (note - I am still using the stock drive of 320gb at 5400rpm but plan to upgrade to a 750GB 7200rpm drive soon) That's not bad and nothing to complain about. Stitching 10-12 16-bit 12MB files into a full size 16-bit panorama with '32-bit PTGui' only takes about 75 seconds - my old PC might take about 30 minutes.

    Personally, I am very pleased with my Arrandale CPU and have no need to upgrade. However, the next refresh might be much more interesting, not so much for the CPU's but because I believe they might be able to handle 16GB ram instead of 8Gb. That is worth the upgrade and for myself will be better to have 16GB ram and a large hard drive will plenty of storage - like 750 - 1000GB instead of a small, expensive SSD. Yeah, the SSD will load and wake faster than a HDD but I don't care about that too much. Also, it is rumored that the next refresh may include at least 16GB of flash memory to store frequently accessed programs (like the Seagate Momentus XT is supposed to do) so that bottleneck will no longer exist.

    Attached Files:

  8. digitalfrog macrumors regular


    Nov 26, 2007
    I was in the same situation after my early 2008 laptop died. (RIP)

    I was considering the new quad cores but decided to save a bunch buying a brand new 2010 i7 2.66 with the high-res matte scream.

    One of the key factor in my decision (aside the experience around disk/ram been key) was the Photoshop CS5 action benchmark results here:


  9. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Lightroom actually is very CPU dependent when performing three main functions:

    - converting while importing
    - generating the full size preview
    - exporting to JPG

    As all LR users know, those are the three main pain points of the program. The rest of the program is hard drive bottlenecked and having an SSD certainly does make everything feel better such as flipping through images.

    I would get an SSD before I'd get a faster processor, but a faster processor is definitely still helpful in LR.
  10. dime21 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2010
  11. sydenham macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2010
  12. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
  13. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

    Nov 3, 2009
  14. shaktimage thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2009
    thanks for all your answers... YES i live inside these 2 applications, and i would say 80% of the time in LR3 And YES, the loading time is sometimes insane when many adjustments done on a 21mpx photo... So the HD is important YES but i still have to choose a cpu. Most of answers tend to say that the quad is the winner; does someone knows FOR SURE that Lightroom and photoshop can use efficiently the 4 cores?
  15. shaktimage thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2009
    RIGHT!!! i'm not familiar... i suppose these test are quite reliable? The aperture benchmark result also give favor to the dual core, wich could (?) be compare to lightroom 3. So a dual core 2.7ghz with a SSD must be a dream...
  16. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    No question about it get a quad. I just sold my 2010 I7 core with same drives i am 53 percent faster processing in Capture One with a 40 mpx back. For instance take 20 40 mpx images in a batch processing. My old machine which is basically the same with 2 cores though 6:21 in time new machine with same drives with the Quad cores 3:05 in time. Lightroom will give you about 45 percent increase in speed . Now this is running in Raid 0 or even single OWC 200gb Sata II drive. When I put in a Sata 3 drive in than I may not pick up any more processing speed since most of it is core based but CS5 will run faster on bigger files and saves. Not to mention run actions since CS5 is more Ram,CPU and Drive based. Obviously get 8gb of Ram.

    FYI I am a working Pro that also teaches Photography. No question about it forget everything you hear get the quads. I bought the 2.3 15 just because I am a pig and you can't upgrade the MHZ later. I travel a lot and i need the most horsepower possible on a laptop since it is my only machine also.

  17. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Get the quad.

    I have a 2011 17" and I couldn't get CS4 to use all of the cores -- right now -- but maybe that has been improved in CS5. I ran a test for you with CS4 and a CPU core monitor so I could see if it took advantage of the horsepower available.

    First, it was tough to stress this machine out. I ended up loading a 19000 px wide panorama that was stitched from about a dozen 1DS2 raws. It does a 30-radius gaussian blur on it without even bringing up the stopwatch or the progress bar. So I tried a ridiculous smart blur radius on high and it disappointingly was only using 1 thread on the CPU. However, this is just CS4.

    Lightroom 3, on the other hand, brilliantly distributed itself equally among the processor threads. Running an export to .jpg WHILE CS4 was still finishing up the smart blur was utterly painless thanks to the SSD and the available cores that Photoshop left open. So if you spend your day in Lightroom, the quad is certainly the right choice.

    SSD first, processor second, though, as nothing makes more of a difference in Lightroom than getting your LR catalog and Adobe RAW cache on the SSD.
  18. shaktimage thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2009
    Woao Thanks Guy, this is really useful info! Now what is your opinion about the drive? Witch one did you pick? the HDD 7500rpm? SSD is quite expensive... Like you i travel a lot and it is my only machine (www.shaktimage.org)
  19. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    Its a tough question , right now I am getting those numbers on a Sata II port with a OWC 200gb SSD but even with the the spinning drive you will get close. It really is the cores that are doing the heavy lifting here although drive speed does not count as much here it will with CS5 and other programs. I am going to get a Sata 3 drive but I'm a pig also or throttle junky as some would say. I would at least get the quads and 8gbs of ram to get you started and at least a 7200 drive as your initial purchase. Start there and see how it goes and you can always add a SSD after the fact when more money comes in. SSD are very fast and very nice on opening programs and moving data around quickly, not to mention fast boot times. But processing has more to do with the quads, ram and processor so do max those out and the drive can come later.

    Even though we have a Sata 3 controller in the HD area, you can certainly get a Sata II drive at most likely a very low cost as those prices will drop to the floor when the Sata 3's hit he street. The difference between Sata II and Sata III will have very little effect on processing . You will get faster saves but it will be marginal.

    BTW you can save a little by buying Ram from a 3rd party. What you need to get from Apple itself is the fastest processor since you can't do that later. Drives, Ram you can do very easily yourself and save money there. I went with a 2.3 processor instead of the 2.2 but for most folks that difference is extremely marginal like maybe 4 percent faster so many will not buy that option. What is so exciting here is the Quads and I have been trying to go fast for so long on a laptop with the fastest of everything and only marginal increases along the way it is the quads that put it over the top. 50 percent increase in speed is unheard of in the computer world. So Lightroom , Adobe Raw , Capture One will all take advantage of that to some percentage . C1 is very heavy quad based as Lightroom I think it is like 43 percent increase.

    BTW nice work
  20. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    The main problem I have with this is that it means your photo collection should be living on your SSD, and unless your paying for a 240+GB drive, that's not reasonable to do.
  21. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    Have not used LR in a long time but I believe you can keep you catalog on the SSD and the images on a external.
  22. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    Yup as Guy said, the "catalog" is separate from the actual media (RAW/DNG) files. The catalog is what tracks your adjustments and that is what needs to be on the faster drive; it flies once you put that and the Adobe RAW Cache on the SSD. My media is separate on an internal 640 GB and on an external FreeBSD server w/ RAID.
  23. Grouchy Bob macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    AssWipe, New Mexico
    Ditto Guy & Hoff.

    I use the SSD for current projects only then offload a lot of my photos to an external but keep the LR library on the SSD.

    My SSD workflow is based on "editing" though. When I'm done with a client's project I really don't need to access the RAW/PP'd files anymore so off to an external they go.
  24. Guy Mancuso macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2009
    Yes for me I will process my raws in Capture One off the SSD than it gets offloaded from there. This does two things that are very important first you are not storing images on you desktop in case you have a failure you have everything backed up somewhere and in LR case you lose your catalog it really is not a big deal than losing the images. Although during a normal backup to external as everyone should do you can get your catalog back but might need a update in worst case scenario. Also keeping this stuff off your desktop gives your system room to play which is important you don't want to be working with filled hard drives as it will slow the system. So good rule of thumb is always keep your desktop clean after processing and in return you will be backing your images up off it. It's like a religion stick to a process and don't change it. I have lost more files and seen others go down in a blaze of hell losing images on there systems.
  25. aznguyen316 macrumors 68020


    Oct 1, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    Same here! Got a i7 + AG screen and basically saved $500 from the new quads since I was only considering base 15" quad. With those savings, I also bought my brother's iPad + some accessories for the MBP.

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