Question for Photographers - Quad core or SSD Size

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MTL18, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. MTL18 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Hi All,

    With a roughly 3K budget (CDN, taxes and apple care need to fit into this as well), would you recommend a 13 inch rMBP with 1TB SSD (16GB RAM) or a 15 inch rMBP 512 SSD.

    Pricing isn't that different in Canada. I'm interested in this computer for lightroom and batch editing of RAW photos. Uncertain if the quad-core + Iris Pro + 750M is overkill but know that 60MB pictures add up quickly, and a little concerned about the longevity of 512GB.

    Not a gamer at all, and currently not into video editing, but my dSLR can do this so it could be a possibility down the road. Appreciate any insights.
  2. rMBPUser03 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2014
    I am also a photographer and would go with the 15" model because of it quadcore CPU which helps you with LR. dGPU, however, will not help you because LR is currently not using GPU. I am using my LR catalog on the internal SSD and also my latest images are there. Older images are stored on external drives , while Smart Previews (one of the new features in LR 5) ensure that I have a copy every time with me. With Smart previews one can edit all images without having them available, changes are synced as soon as the external drive is connected.
  3. sashakla macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2010
    rMBPUser03, if you don't mind sharing:
    How big is your entire catalog - including external HDD?
    How big is the local LR catalog of most recent pictures?
    How many pictures in each of them?
    With Smart Previews (thank you for mentioning it - I had no idea it was possible) how big is the chunk of space the previews take? Would like to know how much there is to gain, by comparing what you have on the external drive to that.
    Thank you!
  4. chaofahn macrumors member


    Jul 21, 2014
    I'm currently eyeing this configuration myself, it might be overkill but it'll at least future-proof your Mac and Lightroom for at least the next 2-3 years.

    As for storage space, I'm planning on putting everything onto an external USB and backing everything up on my Flickr account. 512GB is not nearly enough for me (my photos eat up around 150GB of my 2009 Mac's SATA hard drive!), but adding $500 just to up the space to 1TB isn't worth it in my opinion.

    Surely you can find a cheaper option elsewhere!
  5. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    The wife and I use 15" rMBP. At home we use 27" ATD screens to edit photos. But in the field the 15" Retina screen is great for culling and editing. I would not want a 13" if there is any choice.

    We have 1TB SSDs to allow for photo collecting over 1-2 photo trips. Once edited the completed photos are moved to external library storage. That makes room on the SSD for the next trip/project.

    We have 16GB of memory to use with LR and various plugins (Nik collection, Perfect Photo Suite, etc). 8GB memory may be OK.

    Always check the price list....even if it is in USD:
  6. lucasfunkt macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2012
    I'm a photographer and I do edit videos also.

    The Macbook Pro will not be my main system, the iMac is where I'll do the majority of the work, but when on the road what 13" retinaMBP do you think will be suitable?

    I'm thinking the new 2.8ghz with 8GB RAM and 512GB would be enough.
    The only thing I'm considering upgrading is the 8GB of RAM to 16GB but do you reckon it's capable of running lightroom and final cut pro smoothly enough without it?

    I'd even get the the mid range 2.6ghz and 256GB storage if it's going to be fast enough.
  7. rMBPUser03 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2014

    Well, then lets start:
    - Catalog size. I have only one single catalog. My entire catalog is 1 GB, it is completeley stored on the integrated SSD
    - Number of images: I am managing nearly 40.000 images, all contained in the catalog mentioned above
    - Number of images stored on the SSD: Depends on my recent jobs. I think the average could be 1000-2000 images. The reason for having these on the SSD is that the flash storage is much faster than a common HDD and as I usually work with large images (>1GB) I want to work as fast as possible
    - Space for Smart Previews: Maybe less than you might think. I have created Smart Previews for each of my 40.000 images, that takes 45 GB on my internal SSD. Of course, it heavily depends on which camera you are using and what size your images have.

    To sum up a little bit: The LR catalog takes 1 GB, Smart Previews 45 GB. 2000 of my recent images needs 50 GB (mainly taken with EOS 5D Mark II). That makes less than 100 GB on my SSD. Fair amount of usage, I think.

    All the original images are stored on external drives at home, needing 3 TB of storage. Since I have LR 5 my workflow has completely changed since I do not need the originals to do editing. When I am done with a studio shooting I can easily transfer all images to my external drives, let LR create Smart Previews and edit the image when on a bus trip. Coming back home just connecting the external drive and everything is perfectly synchronized.

    So at least from my side 512 GB SSD is more than sufficient, I currently have 280 GB in use. When it comes to panorama editing or beauty retouching I am always happy to have my quadore CPU as it boosts speed a lot. Important to know: rMPB is my one and only computer, so no other Desktop at home.
  8. sashakla macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2010

    Thank you very much for such a detailed answer! As I am getting a new computer, I am trying to re-think my entire workflow and your example sounds like a very usable model for me. Smart Preview sounds like a great solution, too.

    Now just want to see when the new updated rMBPs hit Adorama and other resellers to find out what the best option to buy is (epp vs. edu vs. resellers) and I'll be pulling the trigger!
  9. rMBPUser03 macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2014
    You are welcome. In my opinion after the launch of the updated rMBP and the slightly decreased price tag it is a great time for purchasing a new computer.
  10. MTL18 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Great answer. Makes me far less concerned about 512GB. Thank you.
  11. JD92 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2005
    Personally I'd go with the 15" model. 1TB obviously has its advantages when you're shooting hundreds of RAW images, and while it would be nice to have more, my 512GB SSD is enough for me and my 5D3 along with my 2TB external drive.

    You've talking a bit about SSD size and the CPU and GPU specs, but have you thought much about how the different screen sizes will effect your decision? Don't underestimate the difference a 15" screen makes when using Lightroom - but then again if you want to take your MacBook Pro with you on location then don't underestimate the benefit of the 13" model's weight!
  12. MTL18 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I have, I'm far more attracted to the 15 inch screen size, just wanted to make sure that I wasn't spending money on features that are over the top (quad, iris pro, 750m) vs. features I know will come in handy down the road (1TB). Since LR is better with a quad, and has features that prevent hard-drive take over from RAW files, it seems like the 15 is the best option
  13. MTL18 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    dGPU vs. iGPU

    Hi again,

    Last question before purchasing! Debating dGPU vs. iGPU mainly for longevity.

    So, for programs such as lightroom, CS6, final cut, and aperture, is the dGPU necessary? Also planning to run VMfusion with Windows 7. I do not play computer games, and don't intend to.

    Concerned about recent news of AMD failures, and uncertain if the 750M will follow the same fate.

    Thanks again for your help.
  14. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I run Lr and Ps on the rmbp in my signature.
    It is not the least bit phased.
    I multitask Lr, Ps, Safari, airmail, itunes, imovie, pages, numbers and chrome(the nasty browser!).
    Ram pressure is rock bottom, always!
    The 13" screen and the ssd is a bit small. I'd opt for the 2.8/8/512 or base 15" if i were you.


    for CS choose iGPU
    For final cut it is not necessary but very good to have.
    Are you planning on mutltitasking fcp and vmware? If yes upgrade your ram to 16gb.
  15. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    Get the best computer spec wise you can for your budget. And push your budget a bit. Always go for the larger screen, more ram, more hard disk space, and dedicated gpu (in that order) for photo editing. If you're going to be doing some video editing down the road, then double up on the above advice. Notice I didn't say anything about the processor speed because they are all within a similar range and if budget is a concern and you aren't doing a tremendous amount of CPU intensive tasks (like encoding) then it doesn't make the list.
  16. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    No matter what, after moving from 13 to 15 - I would go for that.

    Hard drive - 256 is okay, bigger is better, but you can always offload stuff
  17. MTL18 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Hi All, appreciate the input you've given.

    To help clarify my debate, the two computers in contention are:

    1) 2.5/16/1TB + Applecare


    2) 2.5/16/1TB/750M + Applecare

    They are not identically priced in Canada. Number 1 fits my budget perfectly, number 2 is a stretch (about 150 extra plus taxes). I am curious if number 2 will perform better, and if there are concerns about another GPU failure. For myself, computers last 6 years (currently typing on late 08 MacBook). Should I run into GPU troubles in 3 years, I won't be happy.

    So, if iGPU will work for my needs, I'd prefer to go that way and mitigate any dGPU risk. If not, and the dGPU will be required for my applications, then I am interested in running the risk. I'm trying to find the best computer I can that will also last the longest.
  18. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd say option one works the best, I think Iris Pro is very good at this point. At this stage most of the processing for images in photoshop, Lightroom etc is still handled by the CPU, so the GPU is less of a factor imo.
  19. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    If you don't have a problem with mobility or cost, get the 15" quad-core model.

    It is hard to argue against the bigger SSD though. It really depends how much storage you need. I have 256GB SSD and only keep RAWs from last two years on the computer. Rest of my catalogue lives on an external drive. Of course it complicates my workflow slightly, but it is not a big deal.

    Both Aperture and Lightroom have features for that to support that (referenced files).

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