Is a dedicated graphics card needed to run Aperture well?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by eyeluvmyimac, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. eyeluvmyimac macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2002
    #1
    I'm planning to buy a new laptop soon and I'd really prefer to get a Macbook (not a Pro). I don't have much first hand knowledge about Aperture's perforance, so my one main concern prior to my purchase is whether I'll need the dedicated graphics card that the MBP offers to run Aperture well, or will the Macbook's NVIDIA GeForce 320M will be able to handle it.

    One note, if I get the Macbook I'm planning to upgrade to 8GB RAM and swap the HDD with an OWC SSD. Without any experience with Aperture, I feel like those 2 changes will be enough to run it well - even without a real graphics card. But that's why I need the input of you all :)

    Do I need the graphics card of the MBP?

    Thanks in advance!

    One final thought: I'll probably be waiting till next month as it seems Apple has been updating the Macbooks every May/October lately.
     
  2. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Location:
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    #2
    I can work in Aperture 3 on 12-bit RAW files on the Intel HD Graphics card in my Macbook Pro okay however running on the NVIDIA does make a noticeable difference. It is possible but having the NVIDIA card will make a difference and future proof you a bit more. You can always upgrade the RAM and HD later but not the graphics card.
     
  3. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    #3
    I could be wrong but I've never understood how a better graphics card would help you with something like Aperture, iPhoto or Lightroom. In a game you are sending commands to the card asking it to generate overlapped shaded polygons. Lots of calculations. With still images you just hand the graphics chip a bit map image and say - display it. Doesn't sound that hard.

    I would think that for Aperture you want lots of memory, a fast CPU and fast storage. Most of the RAW files are 10MB or more (sometimes much more). I would think the bottleneck would be the hard drive.

    The other thing I've learned is that the screen quality is important. I upgraded from a 2006 to 2010 17" MBP and the difference was amazing. All my photos got magically better. I'm now thinking of getting an external 30" display like the HP ZR30w just to get the best view of my pictures that I can.
     
  4. wywern209 macrumors 65832

    wywern209

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Location:
    do you rly want to know?
    #4
    that is true. the gpu doesn't matter as much as the cpu and the ram in this case. but a 320m is a nice thing to have. powerful for what it is marketed as.
     
  5. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #5
    Image processing tasks like sharpening, filters or any other pixel processing calculations are ideal for a GPU. Aperture uses OpenGL for many image processing tasks however, the performance gains from a top shelf GPU haven't been quantified to my knowledge.

    Having said that, I agree that a balanced system in terms of CPU, memory, storage, and GPU performance is important... Don't heavily compromise one area of performance in favor of any other.
     
  6. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    #6
    I use the 9400M in my MacBook Pro and it works well. As far as I'm aware, the graphics card I have is the older version of what they put into the MacBook. As a user above said, harddrive and ram are more important. In fact, I am updating my harddrive now as my old one was not working up to my expectations.
     
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #7
    Aperture makes use of the GPU, so while you don't need a high-end video card, cheaping out isn't a good idea, either. my understanding is that LR doesn't use the GPU much, though.
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #8
    In certain applications, Apple offloads many tasks to the GPU which can lead to significant performance boosts. Motion uses the gpu to encode videos and Aperture uses it to render RAW files and apply manipulations. Lightroom and Photoshop cannot take advantage of the gpu except to accelerate zooming, panning and rotating images. Probably this is due to Adobe's laziness to implement stuff for Windows and OS X separately.

    The gpu can be used to offload repetitive, small tasks and certain specialized tasks. This is particularly useful for image manipulation since this is what gpus are designed to do. They can be significantly faster and much more power-efficient for certain tasks.
     
  9. Blu101 macrumors 6502a

    Blu101

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    #9
    So for aperture work, with nik software plug-ins, which would you recommend between the 2.4 i5 and the i7 MBP?
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    I opted for the 2.4 GHz Core i5 ProBook with 8 GB RAM instead of the faster Core i7 version with 4 GB RAM and I'm very happy with that choice. Make sure to order/get 8 GB of RAM, otherwise your machine may be starved for memory. A faster processor won't help with that.
     
  11. eyeluvmyimac thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2002
    #11
    Thanks everyone for the input. So we know that the GPU is used by Aperture, but the question now becomes, is the Macbook's NVIDIA GeForce 320M enough to handle the job? Or does it really need the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 256MB found in the MBP?

    Keeping in mind that I'll have 8GB RAM and an SSD in the Macbook, whereas I might not have enough cash left over to do that to a MBP.

    The question for me isn't really should I get a MB or MBP - I know which machine I want, but if the MB graphics card won't cut it, then I'll need to get the MBP... it's just about the graphics cards with respect to Aperture.
     
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #12
    What do you mean by `enough?' Of course Aperture will run fine on a machine with the 320M. However, the biggest differentiator between MacBook and MacBook Pro 13" on the one hand and the other Pro Books on the other is the cpu: the bigger mobile Macs use the new Core i5 and Core i7 whereas the other two still use the Core 2 Duos. The former are significantly faster and you have 2+2 cores at your disposal since Intel has implemented hyper threading in its Core i line.*

    I really wanted a 13" MacBook Pro when the new models were released, but decided to go for a 15" because of the cpu.

    * There is a good reason why Apple has done this (when the new line-up was released, discussion was all over the net), and it is basically connected to the fact that the new Core i cpus include an integrated gpu on the cpu module. Intel's integrated graphics is quite anemic, especially compared to nVidia's and ATI's/AMD's offerings. On the other hand, Intel has not extended the agreement with nVidia to allow third-party chipsets.
     
  13. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #13
    I'm gonna disagree with Oreo about i5 + 8GB vs i7 + 4GB. I have a 2.4GHz Core 2, 6GB RAM, 256MB video RAM. in Aperture, even with other applications open, RAM is not an issue. it was somewhat of an issue with 4GB, but the bigger bottleneck is the CPU. now I haven't used an i5 or i7, so I can't say how well they run Aperture, but I still think Aperture processing is CPU/GPU limited once you hit 4GB of RAM. I am processing 12.8 MP images.

    also, skip the SSD. the performance gain within applications isn't worth the cost over a good hard drive. the key to hard drive performance is getting the biggest drive available (or that you can afford) and using as little space as possible...though of course individual drive performance still varies. just don't use one of Apple's drives – those are hopelessly slow.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #14
    Well, I have watched the RAM usage on my last machine and swap + RAM added up to about 6 GB when I was using Aperture. So I didn't just buy the 8 GB because more is better, but because in my personal usage scenario at least, 4 GB was 2 GB too little. So I went for 8 GB (6 isn't offered and the additional 2 come in handy when doing local edits in Aperture). If your computer has to swap data to the hard drive, all that your faster cpu does is wait.

    So at least in my case, it was better to go for 8 GB + slower cpu rather than 4 GB and a faster cpu.
     
  15. Blu101 macrumors 6502a

    Blu101

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    #15
    Well, since the i7 is only ~10% faster over the 2.4 i5 and the extra 256MB on the 330M are kind of useless from what I've read here in the forums, I'm leaning towards the 2.4 i5 and with the money I'll save, I can get a 7k500 HDD and 8 gigs of ram. What do you guys think? Good plan or bad plan?
     

Share This Page