new 27" iMac: why is Aperture 3 still slow?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by edwins, May 7, 2011.

  1. edwins macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2004
    Hello - longtime lurker, first post here. I just upgraded from a 2006 iMac to the the new i5 27" and expected to see a major improvement over Aperture's performance..and am currently very disappointed because I am still getting the beach ball. Perhaps someone can make some suggestions for me?

    I migrated everything via Time Machine restore. Most of my photo library (50,000 files - RAW and edits) is referenced on a 7200 rpm firewire 800 Lacie drive. I tried regenerating thumbnails and updating previews but didn't really want to have to reprocess the masters unless I really had to. I planned to upgrade my RAM from 4 gb after I saw how it performed...but really didn't expect it to be this slow. I honestly thought I would be blown away by the improvement over what I had. I guess I can try moving the masters to the computer itself, in case the external drive is the bottleneck, but I do prefer a referenced library. (Looking forward to thunderbolt drives!)

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance (and for past info.) :) PS I was on the fence about getting the i7 but the Apple salesman actually talked me out of it, since (heavy) photo editing its the most intensive thing I do. Would that have made a difference?
  2. Zortrium macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    I don't use Aperture, but I'm guessing that the bottleneck causing your beach balls is your hard drive, not your processor -- in which case, the salesman was right, going from the i5 to the i7 would make no difference. On a modern machine without an SSD, the hard drive is almost always the issue with beachballs. I'd try working from your internal drive and see if that helps.
  3. pcguru83 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2006
    Charlotte, NC
    Seems you aren't alone. Check this out:

    That being said, no way I'd be running it off of an external drive. Move the files local and I bet you'll see a pretty decent improvement. You can move them back once some Thunderbolt drives are available. :)
  4. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Sadly, you are both incorrect.

    SSD offers no performance gain, but more ram and a faster processor would have...
  5. edwins thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2004
    (OP here) Thanks for the thoughts and links. I will try moving the masters, but I really hoped to not fill up the hard drive with all my pics. I know I can move them on and off as needed, but that's kind of a pain. I will definitely upgrade my ram soon. I do like Aperture so I hope to make it work. I'd be interested to hear from someone else who just upgraded and uses Aperture (referenced) to see if they are experiencing the same thing. Or any other suggestions.

    I was so excited about this new computer! But this is taking the wind out of my sails...
  6. Cole JM macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2011
    mine runs slow too, but I am also moving files onto an external HDD. I assume they will patch it, or something. Ill repost in 20 mins when my files finish.
  7. kevin2223 macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2010
    I use Aperture from external FireWire 800 drives, and while it is still slower than Lightroom, speed has improved significantly over the course of several Apple "performance" updates. There were also many issues with people upgrading from Aperture 2 with large libraries - it would continually hang and processing/upgrading the library would take hours.

    Much of it lies in how Aperture 3 processes files and adjustments. The most important upgrade would be increasing RAM (at least 8 or 12GB would be recommended), especially if you are running other RAM-hungry applications.

    I'm sure Apple could reduce RAM/CPU usage, but it's just the way the program was designed that causes it to appear slow.
  8. Cole JM macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2011
  9. bronksy macrumors 6502


    Oct 5, 2006
    I use aperture all the time on a 3 year MacBook pro, and whilst I do experience The beach ball- I thought I would share m workflow.
    I have a 'working' aperture library and a final 'finished' library
    I import the images using the working gallery. This is on the internal drive and is not referenced
    I set the files to backup to an external drive at the same time during import.
    I work on the files based on my local drive.

    Send the images to the client- wait for approval and then export the whole project (as a project) to my desktop
    Open my 'finished' aperture library- this uses referenced files from my external HDD.
    Import that finished project setting the files to be referenced (external HDD)

    Check and delete from 'working' library.


    I also set the jpeg previews in aperture to be the highest quality so the thumbails can be dragged down to the desktop from Aperture. These jpegs are available even though there may be no referenced images because the external drive

  10. imationx macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    I'm a professional photographer and have the new iMac 27 3.4ghz i7 with 16GB RAM. Aperture is very fast and I could not be happier. I'm also just using the regular non-SSD drive. I tried running it with the standard 4GB RAM and it was still fast, upgrading to 16GB RAM just made it even better.

    Not sure if I can switch from Lightroom 3 though.
  11. ProphetX macrumors 6502

    Feb 8, 2011
    So are you using Aperture of Lightroom?

    Also did you do the ram upgrade yourself? Do you have a link to a guide that my help other perform this upgrade as well?
  12. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I moved my Aperture library from an i7 15" MBP with a 7200 RPM HDD (where I saw the beach ball frequently, especially when browsing through my library) to a 13" MBA with a SSD (where I see the beach ball so rarely, it's a shock when I do).

    While I don't disagree with barefeats conclusion that exports are processor dependent and a SSD doesn't really speed things up, I think when you're viewing your photos/flipping through your library, that's pretty much drive dependent (especially in Aperture, where the edits are stored independently of the photo) and a putting your library on the fastest media possible can help.

    My Air's got less than 1/2 the CPU speed than my MBP did, but with the SSD in my Air, Aperture feels significantly quicker, IMO.
  13. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2006
    West Haven, CT, USA
    You can keep your masters on the FW800 external, but you should put your Aperture library on the internal hard drive. I only keep the current year's masters on the internal, with everything else on an external FW800 RAID, and have a similar number of master photos as you, and don't generally get many beachballs these days.

    I would also upgrade the RAM to 8-16GB, as others have suggested - I upgraded my 2009 i7 to 12GB immediately when I got it, and am contemplating going to 16GB in the near future.

    A combination of those two modification should speed things up. You may also want to take a look at your preview sizes - I found that generating large preview (either 2560 or "don't limit") made Aperture feel snappier for me, as it wasn't generating the 100% preview on the fly when I zoomed in to check focus. My OS is also on a FW800 SSD, which helps a bit - when Aperture is loading a file from 2010, it loads information from the library on the internal HD, the master file from the FW800 RAID, and any program data from the SSD, so I/O is distributed quite a bit.
  14. Blue Fox macrumors 6502a

    Blue Fox

    Apr 13, 2009
    SSD makes a HUGE difference. Used to have beach balls all the time here......and also in other programs. I thought it was something else causing it, but when I upgraded my iMac to SSD, all of that went completely away. (not to mention, everything is extremely fast now).

    SSD's keeps the beach balls away. :D
  15. islandman macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2006
    I thought I was strange when I adopted this workflow. I guess I am not alone!

    Either way, I am using Aperture now on my 2010 MBP without too many beach balls, and am looking forward to my iMac with 16GB of RAM. I ordered it on Friday!!!
  16. edwins thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2004
    Update: I moved some projects to the internal hard drive, as opposed to the FW 800 (7200rpm) external, and there's definitely a speed increase...But it's not "fast". I definitely need more RAM than the stock 4 gb. Activity monitor goes to almost 0 free space when I open up an RAW file to work on Aperture. Even if nothing else is open.

    Interesting idea about changing preview settings. I always had quality minimized to save time...but perhaps it's costing me time now as I try to scroll through and open my files??
  17. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2010
    The RAM upgrade is documented in the User Guide, available at
  18. imationx macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2007
    I have tried Aperture on and off and was not happy with the speed on my old Mac pro. Having upgraded to the i7 iMac I still don't really like the way it works. I think I still like Lightroom 3 better.

    I upgraded ram myself (very easy). Purchased @ They have video guides and everything there.
  19. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Two things matter for Aperture: RAM and hard drive. Period. Processor, at this stage of technology, isn't doing much.

    When I say RAM I am not just talking about the actual SODIMMs, but also your video RAM - both built in and shared - as the on-screen rendering is likely using that to some degree. Max out your RAM (you can do it yourself) and you'll likely see some improvements by minimizing your pageouts.

    Storing and retrieving RAW photography from a SSD is always going to be faster than a platter drive. Not sure where that other guy claims that a SSD isn't going to make a difference. You're reading MB's of data at a time, of course the drive is going to matter.
  20. rufhausen macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2007
    Littleton, CO
  21. islandman macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2006
  22. Georgio macrumors 6502


    Apr 30, 2008
    Essex, UK
    Anyone who thinks they can do anything with aperture, photoshop & light room with the stock 4GB of RAM is living in cloud cuckoo land.
    increasing the RAM to 12-16GB is the single biggest (and cheapest) upgrade you can do assuming you go with third party RAM and not the 'official' rip-off Apple RAM.

Share This Page