Photoshop, Raw files and general performance on Mini - Opinions wanted

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dialled, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. dialled macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2014
    Hi there. First post on here and a very recent Mac user.

    I've just bought a Mac Mini, the middle spec one;

    2.3GHz Mac mini
    2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive1
    Intel HD Graphics 4000
    OS X Mavericks

    I mainly wanted it to do Photoshop CS6 on, but also internet and maybe the odd bit of video editing.
    I use a Nikon D7100 and am shooting RAW files which are mainly what I want to edit within photoshop.

    I've literally had the machine a few days but so far I have to say am a little underwhelmed by its performance. Yesterday I was listening to music with my Google Music stream, and also doing a little photo editing. Any tasks I tried to do the music would stutter, I'd get the beachball now and again and generally, file previews etc do not seem swift at all compared with my Acer laptop which should be lower spec in theory.

    Am I expecting too much of the machine in its base spec?
    Do I need to shove in an SSD and 16gb Ram before I can expect it to handle such things?

    To be honest, I'm so far not overly impressed with Apple, and the pain of having to get used to a new OS coupled with performance lags is making me think about sending it back (I have 14 days from delivery)

    Can anyone offer any thoughts or advice about my expectations for this machine? I'd appreciate some help.
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    When you experience that stuttering, look at how much ram is available. That's the most typical cause of what you're experiencing.
  3. BiteApple macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    i happen to have an (almost) similar set-up to yours, with a late-2012 Mini and a D7100, shooting RAW. Key difference(s): I have maxed out the RAM at 16 Gb and installed a DIY Fusion Drive.

    Result: my Mini is super-fast and super-stable. I can easily edit RAW files in Photoshop/Aperture while streaming Spotify or playing 1080p movies off Plex with absolutely ZERO lag, stuttering or any other problems. Photo edits are almost instantaneous, even with multi-layered files.
  4. dialled thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2014
    That sounds great Biteapple.
    Any advice or guides on the fusion drive route?
  5. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    Do I need to shove in an SSD and 16gb Ram before I can expect it to handle such things?

  6. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013

    Only other advice is no fusion
  7. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    With Nikon RAW images, also consider NX2.
    I think NX2 performs really well with Nikon RAWs, and the big bonus is that:
    - Your camera settings are 1:1 applied on the base conversion. So all the settings like Active D-lighting, profile (vivid, natural etc), lens corrections are applied so it matches in camera JPEG output right away.
    - The aberration removal works as in "it just works". With all the Adobe stuff it remains a PITA up till today.
    - It is the only program I encountered that does grey-point adjustments the right way. And since that is the core of every RAW conversion I do, I think it is pretty important. Using an eyedropper to pick one pixel for the grey point in Lightroom/PS/Aperture is SO DUMB!

    I really like NX2 in combination with PS. It is very accurate for pixel-peeps, and it allows even PS CS1 (oldie!) to work professionally with D800E files and get higher quality results than with more modern PS CC icm Lightroom or Adobe RAW import of PS itself.
  8. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Start with ram. Disk mainly helps when loading things. If it's helping other times, it's usually due to being low on ram. Depending on various settings you can consume gargantuan amounts depending on how you set history states and limits on memory consumption.
  9. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    That is a big misconception.
    In Photoshop, disk access is 9 out of 10 times more limiting than RAM.
    Remember that PS writes each action to the scratch disk for Undo purposes.
    Try limiting the cache to 1 action and see if that improves speed. If so, get an SSD. If it still struggles, it might be RAM.
    My old Core2Duo mac with 3,5 inch Seagate barracuda beats the crap out of any normal disk based Mini in Photoshop/raw conversion because the drive is so much faster.
    With simple D7100 file conversion, files are about 80MB maximum in 16bit PSD format and that is no big deal. 4GB will be plenty for that.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    To the original poster.

    As others have mentioned, RAM will help.

    But you might also need a faster boot/applications drive, such as an SSD.

    Be aware that you DON'T have to install the drive internally to enjoy the peformance increase. You can put an SSD into a USB3 enclosure (or dock) and get speeds that will be functionally equivalent to an internally-installed drive.

    Right now, 240/256gb seems to be the "sweet spot" for SSD's. You should be able to get one for $120-130 if you watch sites like

    I boot my own late-2012 i7 Mini from an external USB3/SATA docking station. Runs just fine, with write speeds around 247mbs and read speeds around 440mbs.

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