More RAM or more cores for photography

macman4789

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 12, 2007
233
2
Hi,

I wondered if you could give me some advice.From a photographer’s perspective, would it be more beneficial to go with an i9 or more RAM in the 16 MBP? Would the 6 core i7 still be a good performer in a few years?

Thanks
 

matram

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2011
540
244
Sweden
There is no simple answer to your question. It would depend on what software you are using, what you are trying to do and what size your images are.

My experience is with Lightroom and now more recently Capture One. Both of these will try to use the GPU to accelerate some operations if available or alternatively multiple cores of a CPU. I have not found memory to be an issues working with 45 Mexapixel images.
 

Mark_EL

macrumors member
Mar 20, 2019
46
46
Netherlands
As a professional photographer, I got both. But if I had to choose, I would get the additional RAM, but only if your workflow involves working in Photoshop with really large files...
 

gazwas

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2008
293
237
For pure grunt when adjusting and processing RAW files I would say CPU and GPU are the most important upgrades in photography workflows. However, if you then go on to further adjust files in Photoshop using lots of layers than you need lots of RAM to try to minimise swap files.

Personally if I had to choose would go for the i9 model which gives you the better GPU and extra cores, then stick with the standard 16GB RAM. 16GB is still a lot of RAM and if you also use fast external TB3 SSD drives you would minimise any potential slow downs due to swap files.
 

macman4789

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 12, 2007
233
2
Thank you for your replies. I was thinking of the base model while upgrading the RAM to 32GB. My thought process was because with the new 5300M GPU’s being so much more powerful and the i7 6 core being more than sufficient for photography editing for the next 3+ years?
 

Mark_EL

macrumors member
Mar 20, 2019
46
46
Netherlands
In all honesty, if this MBP is going go be your main/ only editing machine, I'd advise you to spend the extra money and buy the base i9 version with the added 32GB. Thats the one I bought too and I am pretty sure you will not regret it. The thing is, with the base i9 version you will not only buy the faster processor but also the even better GPU (you won't be needing the 8GB version for photography) but even more importantly an 1TB SSD instead of just 512GB. And with the nowadays high megapixel camera's, that's pretty much a must in my opinion...
 
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htomi

macrumors newbie
Mar 13, 2020
16
3
IRL
Not an easy answer to your question. It would also depend if you're a hobbyist photographer or a pro living from photography.
Besides what was suggested above, I would recommend buying the machine with the specs what you can afford right now and plan on selling it after a year or very max two. Don't plan on longterm when it comes to computers.
 

1204949

Cancelled
Jan 27, 2020
33
19
If money really is a constraint, get the 32GB RAM instead of the i9. I can easily get close to 16GB already by just browsing the web and having a few other windows open at the same time. Nothing special.
 
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gazwas

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2008
293
237
Mac OS will assign as much RAM as is available be that 16, 32 or 64GB. A web browser and a few finder windows are not going to need anywhere near 16GB of memory.
 
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1204949

Cancelled
Jan 27, 2020
33
19
Yes it will, it's not just a few finder windows and it's not cached memory.

Why would you pay $2000 and more for a laptop with 16GB RAM in 2020 without the possilibty to upgrade it in the long run? Slower CPU, no issue, just wait a few seconds. 512GB SSD, no issue, work with external media. But not enough RAM? That really slows down your PC.

I don't get it why you would justify 16GB for this machine.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,328
749
You spoke of CPU cores and RAM and in this, I'll say on the average - don't go beyond a hex core CPU and put the rest in RAM. As for GPU, some photo apps barely exploit the GPU and others do to some extent. For me, I would go for the hex and as much RAM as I can manage. However, photo work often leads to video work and that is where a GPU can possibly make more of a difference.
 

gazwas

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2008
293
237
Why would you pay $2000 and more for a laptop with 16GB RAM in 2020 without the possilibty to upgrade it in the long run? Slower CPU, no issue, just wait a few seconds. 512GB SSD, no issue, work with external media. But not enough RAM? That really slows down your PC.

I don't get it why you would justify 16GB for this machine.
The reality is the OP can only afford one or the other and 16GB has worked just fine for years on all MBP's without issues. On a desktop machine throwing lots of extra RAM (more than 16GB) at Lightroom, FCPX and Capture One etc has little benefit to UI speed, render speed or processing speed. We are seeing more and more emphasis being place on GPU acceleration of the UI, render and general performance in Mac OS (Metal), Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One, FCPX, DaVinci Resolve and many others.

I for one find the biggest time consuming part of a photography and video workflow is adjusting, rendering and processing files all of which are now handled by the GPU and CPU hence why I recommend an i9 and 5500GPU over more RAM. As software develops in the future the significance of this is not going to change.

If your main priority is Photoshop performance with large files and lots of layers then RAM is an important consideration but in my opinion and use case as a general photography and video tool, GPU and CPU will give the biggest performance boost.
 
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