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hftlam

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 17, 2022
7
2
Hello and i'm hoping to get some insight on the realistic performance of the M2 air , 16GB, 512SSD.

My main suite of tools are photoshop, lightroom, some AE and Davinci. 80% of the time will be spent in photoshop with a 6000 X 4000 16bit canvas with a dozen linked highres render passes + around an additional 20 layers of colour corrections and general entourage (trees, people etc) - usually ends up as 600-800MB files.

I've seen all the M2/M2 pro benchmarks that concern these creative content apps and their performance numbers, but many don't go into into exactly how snappy and responsive the M2 system is. For reference, I'm doing my 3D rendering on a Ryzen 9 5950 - 64GB ram, 3080. Would i be just delusional to think that i'll get the same sort of nimble experience?

I'm eager to try out the MacOs side of things and really love the form factor of the M2, but wonder if I'm realistically better off with the 14"
MBP Base.

Any insight would be much appreciated.
 

Chancha

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2014
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I would say in order to replicate similar UI smoothness as a Ryzen with 64GB and 3080 on Apple Silicon Macs, we should be talking at least a 16" with 32GB or better yet the Mac Studio. You will need the RAM ceiling, the RAM speed, the GPU cores, and cooling efficiency to rid out the usual bottlenecking suspects.

So it depends on how portable you expect this machine to be, someone can make do with a decked out M2 Air particularly with 24GB doing what you do, but on a 16" or at least a 14" it is guaranteed to have much fewer choke points. If you must use a M2 laptop then I guess the 13" is preferred in your case due to the presence of the fan.

For reference: I do intense .psb illustrations for vinyl covers, layout in InDesign / Illustrator, pre-press in Acrobat etc, on a base 14" I can hit performance walls, on a base Studio almost never. I came from a iMac 2017 with 64GB btw. If I had to, I guess the base 14" alone could replace the iMac but the Studio exists, and it is damn great machine for Adobe apps even at base. I don't think the M1 Max GPU cores matter that much at that point so a 14" or 16" with M1 Pro but 32GB BTO may be the best option for you.
 
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hftlam

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 17, 2022
7
2
I would say in order to replicate similar UI smoothness as a Ryzen with 64GB and 3080 on Apple Silicon Macs, we should be talking at least a 16" with 32GB or better yet the Mac Studio. You will need the RAM ceiling, the RAM speed, the GPU cores, and cooling efficiency to rid out the usual bottlenecking suspects.

So it depends on how portable you expect this machine to be, someone can make do with a decked out M2 Air particularly with 24GB doing what you do, but on a 16" or at least a 14" it is guaranteed to have much fewer choke points. If you must use a M2 laptop then I guess the 13" is preferred in your case due to the presence of the fan.

For reference: I do intense .psb illustrations for vinyl covers, layout in InDesign / Illustrator, pre-press in Acrobat etc, on a base 14" I can hit performance walls, on a base Studio almost never. I came from a iMac 2017 with 64GB btw. If I had to, I guess the base 14" alone could replace the iMac but the Studio exists, and it is damn great machine for Adobe apps even at base. I don't think the M1 Max GPU cores matter that much at that point so a 14" or 16" with M1 Pro but 32GB BTO may be the best option for you.
thank you for that very informative reply! While 70% of the time, the machine is likely desk bound at home connected to a screen - as its a salary sacrifice purchase, I am limited to a laptop purchase. I think at a later date I would look into the base studio, it just seems to be the perfect package of specs.

Going back to the M2 for a sec, I keep hearing how Photoshop is hitting its core limit around 8 and anything beyond would likely see diminishing returns. So in theory, the higher clock core of the M2 8 cores vs the M1 pro 8 cores should provide a snappier response?

Your work sounds like it involves high resolutions and perhaps more layers and complexity, so the wall hitting on the 14" might just be ok for me. May I ask when you say performance walls are hit, does your workflow generally involve having several of the adobe apps open at once?

That M2 with 24GB of ram is starting to creep into the space of potential logic again... ;)

Once again, many thanks for your input, its so hard to get a real world perspective from someone who actually uses the tools! If only apple stores had copies of the adobe suite installed for people to try out! (at least not where im from)

Cheers,
 

Chancha

macrumors 68000
Mar 19, 2014
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I understand your need in sticking with laptops. Referencing the Studio above was meant to use it as a benchmark as it is a "M1 Max 32GB machine unleashed", so a 14" or 16" with similar specs is only going to be slightly worse (I have no personal experience with 32GB 14" 16", in our work we only bought base models with 16GB)

For core utilization, Adobe is constantly improving its optimization (slowly) so it is never a clear judgement to only look at single core performance. From what I see with the M2, even on the fan enabled 13" MBP, it enters throttling territory relatively easily, much more so than M1 Pro or Max on a 14". Coupled with the memory bandwidth ceiling (M2 100Gbps M1 Pro 200, M1 Max 400), I am not seeing an M2 giving a snappier experience all things considered (though again I am not comparing these side by side, just on paper).

Yes at times I hop between 3 or so Adobe apps all with active projects opened. When a particularly large multi-layer PS file is opened, normally it is almost 10k pixel in dimensions, 16bit per color channel, with nested images as smart layers all over the place. On a base 14" or my older iMac, working on this sort of file gives me noticable slow downs when enabling / disabling the visibility of some layers, or free transform a particular element that has layer effects like drop shadows. On my iMac I knew it was the CPU being the bottleneck (a quad core 7700k), on the 14" it seems the 16GB RAM is not enough but the CPU GPU is fine. Then working this file on a Studio with M1 Max and 32GB all the chokes are gone. Your work may very well be asking for much lower requirements than mine; when I work on smaller projects, like a single page advertisement with all images being like stamp sized 300dpi TIFFs and just some text boxes, honestly this can be done on a base M1 Air feeling the same as my Studio.

I guess you can tell we are a studio with some budget (the 14" is never meant to be a main machine even), so your considerations may differ a lot since you are eyeing between a base 14" and a M2 Air/Pro. If portability is not a top priority then I am not seeing the M2 machines as better fit than a 14" for your rather performance-aware demand, since the base 14" can be had with various ways of discount that brings its cost much closer to whatever you deck out on a M2.
 

hftlam

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 17, 2022
7
2
I had no idea of the memory bandwidth differences between the various chips. At the end of the day its a tool which needs to do its job and portability is but a bonus. Looks like I'll get the Base 14" upgraded to 32GB of ram of longevity.

thanks again!
 
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MajorFubar

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2021
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Lancashire UK
Your expectations are way too high for their bottom of the range computer. If the Air could do all that without breaking into a sweat they wouldn't need to sell Pro, Max and Ultra machines.
 
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jeff127

macrumors member
Apr 10, 2006
59
25
I think you'd be far better served by a 14" Pro. It'll be much better at sustained performance and is built for these more intensive tasks. Also to boot, the screen is real nice.
 
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