How much importance is a dGPU for Photo Editing ?

stillcrazyman

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I have an aging Late 2012 iMac 27" with 32GB and an nVidia 2GB dGpu. Researching a replacement leads me to have a look at the new Mini. It has an integrated gpu instead of a dedicated one. Will that make any real world difference to my use of DxO and On1 and all the other apps I use for photo editing ? I thought I'd need to get an eGpu like the Blackmagic one (or something like it) so that I'd have enough graphics power on hand for the Mini.

I've had 4 iMacs over the last 20 years but only in the last few have I got serious with my photos.
Just looking for some advice.
 
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MacNut

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I'm in this same quandary with the MBP, do I need the i9 or can I get by with the i7.
 

stillcrazyman

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From what I’ve read so far, it’s more about the cores. The difference between the i7 and the i9 might be dependent on the device...

I’ve even considered a refurb iMac Pro.
Or wait for next year’s iMac.
Or the Mini with a nice monitor and maybe an eGpu.
Or...... who knows.
 

MacNut

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I know my 2010 MBP won't go much longer and definitely can't handle these new editing apps. I will be taking the plunge soon I'm just not sure if I need to spend the extra money on the i9.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I remember having this same struggle with Lightroom on my classic Mac Pro. I found only a modest improvement with a Metal-capable and much more powerful GPU. I found more value in a larger display, as zooming was the main source of the lag for me. What programs are you specifically using? DXO seems to have very modest system requirements.

I should also add that the 27” iMacs have pretty good GPUs in them already. Once you start getting into eGPUs, you are looking at a pretty big investment. It’s a shame Apple didn’t bump the iMac with coffee lake CPUs this year, as I think that would make it a pretty solid choice.
 
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Laird Knox

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When I build my PC (Ivy Core vintage) the Adobe apps did not use the extra cores and hyperthreading very well. Not sure how they stack up today. Putting in OK GPUs helped quite a bit but it was the RAM that was the biggest score.

Based on my experience I would order the upgrades as Memory > GPU > CPU. Of course that is just my single data point with 2011 vintage PC (32GB) and 2011 Mackbook Pro (16GB). Also a solid state scratch disk fits in there somewhere.

My next build will use a motherboard capable of no less than 64GB RAM.
 

Moakesy

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I upgraded a while ago and, as I was coming from a 2012 MBP, I was hoping for a really significant speed bump from my shiny new machine (MBP with Touch Bar and dedicated GPU). I shoot local bike races, so import/process something like 500 to 750 images at a time in LightRoom. The reality of upgrading was OK, but not the performance leap that I'd hoped.

SSD performance was certainly noticeable, but once loaded then doing edits was virtually the same.

If you're looking at a Mini, then I'd say the faster SSD would make the most difference to you. Make sure you have a decent amount of memory and you'll be good to go.

A dGPU would make a bigger difference with gaming or video than it would photo editing. When you think about it, with photo editing most of the time your screen is displaying a fixed image as you tweak settings here or there.

Why not get the mini you want, along with a good quality screen (if you don't already have one) and then see if you need the dGPU? Personally, I'd say not, but give it a go without first and then see what your needs are.
 
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stillcrazyman

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I’ve been doing a lot more reading. An eGpu doesn’t look like it will be of much value for my needs. So, that makes purchasing a Mini and a nice display more attractive.

Nothing against iMacs as I’ve had several over the years. I find the static position of the iMac display to be uncomfortable. That’s more to do with my neck and back problems than anything.
 

tizeye

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For photography, it is not that important depending on the level/quantity of photography you process. Video is critical, unless you like long - go have dinner - rendering time. That said, I wouldn't build a PC without dedicated memory. Even my futile attempt at a hackintosh (tried to put a spare SSD to use and dual boot) had dedicated memory. Most critical are SSD and total system memory. Even an i5 is sufficient for photography with i7 preferable and mandatory for video. i9 is overkill - save your money. Lightroom is a memory hog so the more system memory the better. Even with a dedicated 'gaming level' memory card I still have loading lag of large RAW files initially appearing out of focus.

While I use a PC desktop as my preference for photo processing which I personally built several years ago, (Core i7 4.0Ghz, 512 GB SSD + 4TB hard drive) I've never upgraded memory to motherboard max, running 16GB. However is paired with a Nvidia GTX with 4 GB memory. Upgrading to a Mini vs iMac has been a quandry, but ruled out the previous Mini as insufficient for FCPX. Haven't researched the new one, but lack of dedicated memory could be critical for FCPX.

While I don't like to do photo processing on the notebook, I obviously can only use FCPX on the MBP and is part of my dump Adobe campaign. As such, it wasn't your basic (late 2013) MBP. I think I left one option off - which ironically was dedicated memory, but is Intel Core Graphics 1536 MB memory paired with a 2.3 ghz core i7 and 16 GB memory. I really don't have any problem running Lightroom or FCPX with that configuration. Not surprising, as looking at a CNET review of the 2014 MBP with the same Intel graphics and the compared it to their prior reviews, including a 2013 MBP with the Nvidia dedicated memory, and the graphic performance was almost identical on the two MBPs.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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Would these new Vega chips make much difference or stick with the 560?
You would need to elaborate on what you’re asking about. Mobile 560 vs mobile Vega? What do you plan to do? Vega will be considerably more powerful, but that might just be money wasted if you don’t need that kind of power.
 

MacNut

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You would need to elaborate on what you’re asking about. Mobile 560 vs mobile Vega? What do you plan to do? Vega will be considerably more powerful, but that might just be money wasted if you don’t need that kind of power.
Lightroom and some Final Cut.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Lightroom and some Final Cut.
From what I can see, FCP benefits from faster GPUs when exporting. Searching for “your program” + “GPU acceleration” will give you an idea of just how much it will benefit from a better GPU.
 
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MacNut

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From what I can see, FCP benefits from faster GPUs when exporting. Searching for “your program” + “GPU acceleration” will give you an idea of just how much it will benefit from a better GPU.
Will the i9 be overkill or is the i7 enough.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Will the i9 be overkill or is the i7 enough.
Are you talking about MBP? I don’t believe the mini has the i9 option. If you’re talking MBP, I think the thermal limits are such that it’s hard to justify the i9. It just can’t stretch it’s legs. I’d spend the money on more RAM.
 

MacNut

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Are you talking about MBP? I don’t believe the mini has the i9 option. If you’re talking MBP, I think the thermal limits are such that it’s hard to justify the i9. It just can’t stretch it’s legs. I’d spend the money on more RAM.
Ya my plan is to max out the RAM and 1tb HD.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Ya my plan is to max out the RAM and 1tb HD.
I’d hold out for some reviews on the Vega 16/20 they just announced. The performance will be better than the 560X, but how much is hard to tell (Apple says up to 60% faster). The 560X is not very powerful, and if you forgo the i9, you could invest that in the Vega 16 or 20. Should be a more balanced performer.
 

MacNut

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I’d hold out for some reviews on the Vega 16/20 they just announced. The performance will be better than the 560X, but how much is hard to tell (Apple says up to 60% faster). The 560X is not very powerful, and if you forgo the i9, you could invest that in the Vega 16 or 20. Should be a more balanced performer.
That's what I'm wondering, do we know any speed difference from the 16 and 20. I assume the i7 will run cooler helping the graphics chip run better.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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That's what I'm wondering, do we know any speed difference from the 16 and 20. I assume the i7 will run cooler helping the graphics chip run better.
In Vega terms, I believe the number should represent the amount of CUs each has, so, 16 vs 20. I would suspect the 16 would be about 20% slower than the 20.