Lightroom 3 on 13" MBA or 13" MBP

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by esaleris, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. esaleris macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    #1
    I am currently using a white Macbook (2.0 GHz / 3GB / GMA 950) from 5 years ago and it is performing admirably for most daily tasks; the only that stretches it a bit is my RAW photo editing on Lightroom 3. I process photos from my Canon EOS 60D, so we're looking at ~20MB images.

    I'm thinking about getting a new machine and am considering the following. Note that I'm not concerned about the hard drive capacity, since I use external drives extensively anyway.

    MacBook Air
    13" / 2.13 GHz / 4 GB 1066MHz / GeForce 320M

    MacBook Pro
    13" / 2.7 GHz / 4 GB 1333MHz / Intel HD Graphics 3000

    • Between the above, which would perform better? I note that the MBA has a dedicated GeForce and the MBP13 has integrated.
    • Would I see a significant bump in rendering performance (Develop Module) over my current machine?

    If there's not much difference, I might have to pony up for the MBP15...

    NOTE: I've seen a lot of varying commentary on Lightroom performance - I've read a lot of that via search button - but wanted to get a sense of the relative performance to my current C2D. It's a shame Lightroom isn't on the images of the machines at the Apple Store.
     
  2. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #2
    The biggest drawback with your current machine is the 3GB memory. Lightroom is much happier with 4GB or more. I used to have a late 2006 MBP15 and LR was sluggish with 3GB.

    I should think the faster CPU will have a much greater effect on performance than the GPU. GPU speed is really only relevant for games and video rendering.

    I have a personal preference for matte displays. I used to own a black Santa Rosa Macbook and I was not happy with the display. It was largely useless unless you were in a location where you could control reflections and glare. The added screen real estate in the 15 is useful too, and I felt constrained by the resolution of the 13" display. I have traveled with my MBP15 to Asia a couple of times, and its size and weight are easily manageable on trips.
     
  3. John.B, Mar 16, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011

    John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #3
    The MBA has integrated graphics as well. The Nvidia 320M is marginally faster than the Intel HD 3000 in the 13" MBP, but the C2D processor in the MBA is significantly slower. The SSD drive makes a lot of operations on the MBA seem faster than the updated 13" MBP w/ HDD, but I've not seen any direct comparisons w/r/t running Lightroom. You might find that even the biggest 256GB SSD on the MBA could leave you space-constrained for storing raw image files.

    FWIW, I returned my new 13" MBP and I'm now waiting for the Sandy Bridge update to the MBA line (hopefully including the Thunderbolt port).
     
  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #4
    Beyond this, no version of LR even uses hardware GPU acceleration, as far as I know.
     
  5. pdxflint, Mar 19, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011

    pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #5
    I'm using LR3 on a SR Macbook Pro 2.2 with 4GB RAM (2007 version,) and it is really very acceptable. I am processing files from my D300, so they're a bit smaller than yours, and I can't compare my experience to your Macbook, but you should have no problem running LR on any newer Macbook Pro, probably even the Air, as long as you have enough RAM. The issue for me would be screen size, and the 15.4" screen seems just about right for laptop use where it doesn't seem too crowded. The one thing that seems to take a bit of processing power is when importing images, even just adding them to the library without copying them, because LR renders thumbnails of each image. This seems to put a bit of a load on processing if there are a few hundred of them. Another thing that can eat processor cycles is exporting slideshows w/music into video... but that's probably not exclusively a LR issue.
     
  6. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #6
    as far as apple is concerned Aperture is the only only option. Thats why they don't sell LR, it's a competing product.

    Anyway, difficult question to answer. On paper the MBP looks better, but the SSD in the MBA might mean it's quicker. The biggest bottleneck for performance is the hdd, so speeding it up will help.
     

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