Gaming vs HD Video & HiRes Photo Editing -- which is more SSD and GPU intensive?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by redirector, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. redirector macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2012
    Looking for GPU guidance from those who can compare Gaming vs Hi-Res video/photo editing with pro apps.

    GPU benchmarks on Apple's new iMac Features page use games to demonstrate the improvement in performance of the new 680MX vs the previous Radeon HD 6970M, but don't show performance gains on FCP-X or Aperture. Are there any?

    -- Is it accurate to say that rendering a game continuously in high detail for hours on end is more intensive for GPU performance than editing a massive uncompressed video file in FCP-X?

    -- Is it accurate to say that the improved speed/power of the SSD and CPU (vs my old circa 2009 HDD and lowly Core-2-Duo) will be a bigger factor for overall performance for FCP-X and Aperture tasks?

    How much performance impact would there be to upgrade to the 680MX/2GB GPU from the 675MX/1GB GPU for the purposes of commercial hi-res photo and video editing? In other words, if there is some performance improvement available, I can assess it against the upgrade cost (which I expect to be significant), but if the new 680MX only benefits the Gaming user, then there is no need for it from my view.

    GPU aside, I am looking at Fusion or the big SSD, and 16GB RAM along with the i7 upgrade.

    Screenshot from iMac Page

  2. jablko macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    I probably won't be able to answer all your questions fully, but I'll try.


    Question 1: Will there be performance gains in FCP-X or Aperture?
    Yes. Both use OpenCL, which depends on video card performance and video RAM. To what extent and which features use the video card, I can't answer for Aperture, but FCP-X seems to use it for nearly everything.


    Question 2: Do games reflect more intensive GPU usage than media production?
    Yes. However, they are quite different too. My guess is video editing doesn't require the constant performance of a game, but in order to edit in real-time, you'll need a lot of performance in bursts. I'm not a videographer though.


    Question 3: What value does upgrading to the 680mx have over the 675mx for video and photo editing?

    Video RAM definitely makes a difference. Programs like Bridge use VRAM to generate thumbnails as you browse, and the more, the better. Any GPU-accelerated task in Photoshop, Final Cut or any other program will use VRAM for that transformation rather than your system RAM. Aside from having more VRAM, the 680mx has faster VRAM than the 675mx (2500mhz vs 1800mhz, 160gb/s bandwidth vs. 115.2gb/s). Four years ago, very little outside of games actually used large amounts of VRAM. To just use your 2560x1440 display for 2d graphics only requires 15 megs of VRAM. But with OpenCL and other methods of moving computation to the supercomputers we call video cards, now you can really see a difference.

    Cores matter. The 680mx has 1536 cores running at 720mhz. The 675mx has 960 cores running at 600mhz. I haven't seen any benchmarks yet, but my guess is the 680mx will be able to do math-intensive tasks (such as rendering effects in Photoshop or FCP-X) about twice as fast as the 675mx ... but even the 675mx can probably perform those tasks hundreds of times faster than your CPU. For small (~12 megapixel) images in Photoshop, you might not really notice the difference since even the 675 is pretty fast, but if you deal with 36 megapixel images from a D800, it will probably be a visibly longer wait for transformations with the 675mx (though I can't say whether the wait would be long enough to be annoying). Any speed difference will be multiplied in video editing since it has to process each frame.


    At work, I have a 2008 Mac Pro that is in desperate need of replacement. At home, I have a newer Windows laptop with a Quadro video card in it. The Mac Pro doesn't support OpenCL, and the laptop does. Since getting a Nikon D800, I loathe editing photos on the Mac Pro since it's so much faster on my laptop. That's all down to video card.

    I have the budget this year to replace my Mac Pro, and rather than waiting for the new Mac Pros (and having to get a low-end one), I'll use the budget instead for an iMac with every option fully loaded. It's not that I think I need all that power now for what I do (as I said before, I'm not a videographer, just photography, design and web). However, in three years when I still have another year before my next upgrade, I think I will be less frustrated than if I saved money now.
  3. redirector thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2012
    Thank you!

    Compadre! Thank you. I also have a D800, and that is what is driving this entire scenario. I also have a Canon XA10 so there are often duplicate video files to process using the Multi-cam feature on FCP-X (including the need for USB3 to offload 60GB per job). You hit all the points I was struggling to assess.

    Many thanks for the thoughtful explanation.

    I will likely end up maxxing out for the full Monty iMac, and am contemplating a new Drobo 5D for storage and TB-driven media scratch disk, leaving OSX and Apps on the SSD/Fusion.

    Just gotta get to December. Will be a great 2013 for new client work.

    Again, thank you.

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