in search of perspective on photo editing hardware

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wilhelmreems, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. wilhelmreems macrumors member

    May 25, 2010

    I'm purchasing a new iMac with the intention of using primarily for photo editing. I've been trying to decide between the i5 3.6 and the i5 quad core, as well as the 1gb graphics card and the 512mb graphics card.

    Most people tell me to just get the higher powered hardware regardless, but, for using lightroom for editing photos, is all that power really needed compared to the 3.6 i5 and the 512mb card?

    I don't want to overpay for hardware not needed since I do see myself looking to upgrade the glass for my DSLR in the next year or two as well.

    If there's anyone out there with Lightroom on similarly configured iMacs that can share their input I would be extremely grateful.

  2. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I edit all day long in LR3 on a 2.5GHz Penryn MBP, and I have no complaints at all about the speed. Virtually any current iMac is faster than my machine.

    The two absolutely most important factors that govern LR3 performance on a modern Mac (read: made in the last 2-3 years) are RAM and hard drive speed, in that order.

    Get as much RAM as you can afford. LR3 will thank you for it, and if you have Photoshop AND LR3 open at the same time (which I do all the time), you'll need it. I would consider 4GB to be the absolute bare minimum for this type of use (ie. concurrent LR/PS use), and 6GB or more is better.

    Get the fastest HD you can find, and connect to it by the fastest bus you have. On an iMac, this means either the internal drive or FW800, unless you go for one of the OWC eSATA modifications ( LR3 needs to make previews of your images, and the faster it can access the data, the sooner you can get around to editing them.

    So, if I were you, I'd spend my money on getting adequate RAM (6GB or more), a fast external FW800 or eSATA drive, and then, if there's money left over, go for the quad-core.
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    ^ what he said. depending on how much editing you do, and how important your time is (i.e. do you do this for pay) 6GB RAM is minimum, but 8-12 is better. LR and PS don't depend much on the video card, so I wouldn't bother looking at that.

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