i5 or i7 for Photography

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Hammie, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Hammie macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    I'm not a professional, but I do enjoy photography as a hobby. I currently use Lightroom on an older (2 years old) Dell laptop. I'm considering moving to a MBP (probably a 17" but the jury is still out). My question is whether I will see enough performance increase to justify the i7 version over the i5 one.

    Any suggestions or experience will be greatly appreciated.
  2. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    Only a VERY minimal dif. Spend your $'s on more RAM or an SSD.

  3. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
  4. Hammie thread starter macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    Thanks, I'll save myself some money and go with the i5.

    No, I don't charge by the hour.

    One additional thing. Is the AppleCare worth it? I thought these things were pretty dependable???
  5. C64 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    They are, usually, but it's still hardware and it can fail. It's a nice feeling to have Apple Care and three years of full service. It's "pointless" if nothing happens, but when your screen stops working after a year, or something else just breaks down, having Apple Care is pretty useful. If you buy through a top seller from eBay you might get it for like $150 instead of 250-300 if you buy directly from Apple.
  6. tekmoe macrumors 68000

    Feb 12, 2005
    Save your money and stick with the i5 man. I'm using mine for photo editing and dj'ing. It's more than enough. Even my previous C2D really had no problem keeping up with my software I use. But this i5 is definitely faster.
  7. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    Go with the i5 and save some cash. I used Adobe and other programs on an "old" iMac 2.16 and it flew like an eagle.
  8. CFYG macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2009
    As someone that did NOT purchase AppleCare on her Powerbook, and severely regretted it... I can say get the AppleCare. I told myself I'd purchase it within the 1 year I had, and then when my 1 year expired, I was without a job and couldn't afford it. And man would I have liked to have it.

    Your new laptop should last you for several years, and the AppleCare warranty gets rave reviews. Even if you plan on upgrading in a year, having AppleCare on the computer helps it's resale value on the secondary market.
  9. Kadman macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2007
    I think AppleCare is worth it, however, if given the choice at purchase time I'd put the money towards the i7 (maybe it gives you a bit more life out of the machine and/or helps resale a bit) and plan for the AppleCare purchase next year before your 1 year runs out.
  10. BrianMR macrumors regular


    Apr 3, 2007
    To AppleCare or not is probably the subject of quite a few threads around here. Its paid off many times over on my current MBP, which is both good and bad. Good, I've had it repaired when it went wrong, bad that I needed the repairs -- much more problematic than the Thinkpads I've owned. Still, love the machine and I just consider AppleCare as part of the cost and don't think twice about it.

    I'll tell ya, there are two conversations you could have at the Genius Bar after your one year warranty is up -- you want the conversation that has you saying "yes, I have AppleCare" when they ask. Its all smooth sailing then.

    One reason I buy Macs is to hold one company accountable fully and wholly for the computer, and not get the "its the OS, its the HW" run-around. AppleCare extend that period of time of accountability.
  11. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Haha, an i5 is way faster than my 2.4ghz C2D. I don't have any problems editing RAW photos in CS4. Now it is starting to get slower when I have tons of things open, like when I'm working on a high-res poster for class that has tons of layers 11x17" @ 300dpi, but for photography its fine.

    Also, the benchmarks from CS5 64-bit are so far promising. If you were to upgrade, it seems that you could see performance increases anywhere from 30-60% for many tasks, according to John Nack of Adobe.
  12. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I say upgrade to the i7. You can upgrade the RAM or drive later. You will be stuck with this CPU the entire time you own your MBP.

    Also, buy the AppleCare when it's about eleven months old. There is no reason to buy the AppleCare now, as you only have to activate it by the time it turns one year old. In addition, look for AppleCare on sale. Most of the time it can be had for about half the price Apple charges.
  13. tcphoto macrumors 6502a


    Feb 23, 2005
    Madison, GA
    I have no problem processing files with an original unibody MBP. I would spend your money on an i5 plus memory from a third party and CS5 update.
  14. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2009
    I've fairly extensively studied the price and performance difference of the iMac i5 and i7, and the only difference I've found is that the i7 lets you use the computer about 5-6 months longer for the same monthly cost. I went with the i7 to prolong the amount of time until I needed to purchase another computer. Plus you get the higher performance from day 1, which is a nice benefit. There are times when I wish I had an even faster computer for photography, but the speed nowadays seems to be limited more by the hard drive than by the CPU. I wish they offered an SSD option for the iMac! Considering that the 128 GB SSD for the MBP is the same cost as upgrading to the i7, it might be worth going with the i5 and getting the 128 GB SSD instead. You would probably notice a higher overall performance boost, but at the added expense of needing to archive to an external drive occasionally. 1 to 2 TB external hard drives are pretty cheap nowadays so depending on your preference that type of setup could work well.
  15. tmiw macrumors 68000

    Jun 26, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    I'm in a similar situation and that's what I'm thinking. The highest level GPU support in CS4 requires more than 256MB of video RAM, although I don't seem to edit more than a few images at a time and it seems to remain well within my 128 MB of video RAM on my current MBP. Thoughts?
  16. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    For Lightroom and Photoshop, the i5 should be enough. The difference for maybe a thousand pictures may be a minute or so at most.
  17. agtoau macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2006
    Silicon Valley, CA
    i7 + 8GB RAM, with a 128GB SSD in the optical bay for system/applications and a 1TB hard drive (for data) would be a killer combination for photography. External drives can be purchased for storage. OWC and Diglloyd (of MacPerformanceGuide) have teamed up to offer some configurations.
  18. sweetice2007 macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2007
    I just ordered a i5 17" MacBook pro the other day - waiting for delivery. However, I will be using this laptop for professional photography & webdesign / graphic design projects. Currently I use a 3 and half year old iMac running 2.14ghz processor which is intel core 2 duo, and 1gb ram using a 250gb hard drive. I used this mac through uni and plus my usage in general fir personal work is ridiculously high, just a few months ago - feb exactly - that i started doing professional photography and back into freelance / business venture. The iMac has lasted me absolutely fine until just recently even when running adobe Photoshop, flash, aperture 3 and spreadsheets whilst browsing the Internet music etc.

    For me I stuck to the i5 17" and upgraded the drive to be 500gb 7200rpm and went for anti glare option and went for Applecare as I'll be travelling this year and my laptop will be coming with me! The operating system boosts performance in itself and I think you'll be fine with the i5 17" the 8gb ram would be great but I will do that myself later as it cost me £1568 or so for the comp and wacom tablet.

    Hope it helps
  19. mattrothcline macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2009
    First: the CPUs in the MBP are the mobile versions of the i5 and i7. The difference between the mobile i5 and the mobile i7 are much less than the difference between the desktop versions.

    Second: you can use any computer for any length of time. The question is what you do with it, and whether it's still fast enough to meet your needs.

    Finally: you are right that the disk is the bottleneck. You will *probably* see a greater increase in performance by staying with an i5 and getting an Intel SSD (or a faster HDD) than you will see by going from an i5 to an i7.

    I would wait for Macworld (and others) to actually benchmark the new i5 vs i7 chips in the MBPs. You don't want to base a decision like this on rumors and folk "wisdom" - you want to base it on data. Until we have comparative benchmarks, we don't have real data.
  20. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2009
    Correct. That was why I was careful to point out that I had only looked at the iMac i5 and i7 CPUs as of my posting. That said, it looks like there are now some MBP i5 and i7 benchmarks on the Geekbench website (here for MBP i5, and here for MBP i7).
  21. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    Go with the i7 if you don't care about money. Definitely go for Applecare from day one. Yes, you can wait till later but what if you forget? This is all about being safe. In addition to hardware problems Applecare covers the battery which might go out in three years.
  22. nicksmac macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2010
    i would totally go for the 17 inch for photography because it has a bigger screen and you can see your pictures and they look better but thats about it otherwise there the exact same thing:apple:
  23. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Either 17" MBP will have the better VRAM. In the 15" MBP, I would buy the higher end with the 512 MB VRAM.

    I would go Core i7 and 512 MB VRAM if I were buying either a 15" or 17" MBP. The drive and RAM can always be upgraded later, but to get the most from your MBP when you plan to use it for work or more intensive stuff, get the best CPU and graphics possible when it cannot be upgraded later. It will ensure the MBP lasts you as long as possible.
  24. NoBob macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Couldn't decide between the 15" 2.4 i5 or the 15" 2.66 i7

    Then read this


    Q. How much RAM do I need on my display card to run faster in Photoshop CS4?
    A. For basic OpenGL functionality, you should have at least 128 MB of RAM on your display card. If you're running Windows XP in general, OpenGL will work best if you have 256 MB RAM on your display card. Most Photoshop work will run faster with between 256 - 512 MB of display RAM. If you do a lot of 3D work, you use Panoramas or large images, or you need to have multiple applications open at the same time that use the GPU, you might benefit by having 512 MB or more RAM on the display card.

    I process large images and sometimes panoramas, so it'll be the i7 for me.

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