Which computer for heavy Photoshop use ?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by quarq, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. quarq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    #1
    Hi

    I currently own a 2.2ghz MBP with 16gb of RAM on a SSD. I do a lot of Photoshop work using large D800 files (composites). As a result, I often dig into swap as I run out of RAM. I also own a 24" Cinema Display.

    As long as this doesn't happen, the MBP runs fairly quickly.

    I'm looking to upgrade soon.

    I don't need something portable. My MBP on rarely leaves my desk. I see 3 options:

    1) iMac
    2) Mac Pro
    3) Hackintosh

    Say I had a budget of $3000-4000. What would you get ?

    Thanks !

    J
     
  2. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    Edinburgh, UK
    #2
    Remember that Adobe will swap your PS license between OSX and Win so you could add a Win PC to your options if you wanted to.
     
  3. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    Earth
    #3
    Hi quarq. All 3 computers iMac, Mac Pro or Hackintosh can handle Photoshop work. Though with your budget, might as well get a Hexacore 3.33ghz for speed. Or get a quad 5.1 and upgrade the cpu to hex 3.33ghz plus SSD and storage drives since your files are big. A 4.1 2009 quad 2.93ghz can also save you some money and can do the job well.
     
  4. quarq thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 14, 2011
    #4
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    If I did the Hackintosh route and I couldn't get a stable setup, Plan B would be Windows. But truth is, I much prefer OS X. But yet, a possible solution no question.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Mac Pro. I am very new to Mac Pro.

    One issue would be lack of USB 3 though.

    Thanks again !

    J
     
  5. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    Earth
    #5
    Welcome Quarq Actually in a Mac Pro you can add USB 3.0 ports thru PCie You can try these brands:

    http://www.amazon.com/HighPoint-RocketU-Quad-USB-3-0/dp/B005K8AXN6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    http://www.amazon.com/ORICO-PFU3-2P-Lightning-Express-Controller/dp/B008V3TH48

    http://www.amazon.com/CalDigit-FASTA-6GU3-eSATA-Combo-Card/dp/B005X8NW36/ref=pd_cp_pc_1
     
  6. Foxdog175 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    #6
    Since you're interested in the Mac Pro line, next Tuesday there will be an Apple event, where they'll likely talk in much more detail about the New Mac Pro. Keep an eye out for info regarding the new computer. It should be within budget and will be released soon.
     
  7. quarq thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 14, 2011
    #7
    I really hope the new Mac Pros fall into my budget. I guess I'll just have to sit tight and see.

    J
     
  8. Saltymac macrumors member

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    Aug 19, 2013
    Location:
    Rocky Mt State
    #8
    You definitely have room to improve your PS experience. While you have a good level of ram and a SSD you have other bottlenecks. If you want to stay MAC OS you could spend 1K for a Hack build. Bank the other the other money until the new trashcan mac comes out and you can see the specs/price. You can sell off your Hack components and get your money back or change over to WIN PS if you don't like your machine in the long run.
     
  9. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    #9
    Since PS is broadly but not totally aware of multi-core processors, you could get a refurb 5,1 with the 6x3.33 and put a decent chunk of 1333 RAM into it, say 24Gb or more.

    Have a look at upgraded graphics cards too such as the 7950 3Gb which is very easy to flash to give an OSX boot screen.
     
  10. quarq thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 14, 2011
    #10
    Doing a quick scan, I see the following:

    http://store.apple.com/ca/product/FC561LL/A/refurbished-mac-pro-24ghz-8-core-intel-xeon

    There appears to be six slots for RAM and the motherboard can handle a total of 64gb.

    My thinking would be to dump 4 DIMMs and put in 4x8 to give me a total of 34gb. That should cost me another $400.

    Then I'd probably want a 256gb SSD. That's another $250 or so.

    I can live with the 1 TB HDD for the short term.

    Total cost, plus Tax is about $3200.. So that falls into my budget. The question then is what would the same money get me with the new Mac Pro.. Time will tell.
     
  11. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    #11
    If you do decide to get a 2010, I'd hold for a single CPU 6x3.33 with a 5770.

    Drop in 4x8Gb, a 256Gb SSD (current flavour of the month is Samsung 840 EVO or Pro) and a flashed 7950 and it should be a seriously good upgrade for the cash.

    Remember you will need a screen too.

    As you have said about the new MP - we should find out in a week... but there will be a delay before they will ship.
     
  12. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    Aug 15, 2008
    #12
    If your budget is between 3K-4K, then I'm sure one of the new Mac Pro configurations will fit. It's more of a seeing what you get for that kind of money. I'm not sure you need to pay for a Xeon processor and multiple (possibly expensive) GPUs for photoshop work. But hopefully we'll see on Tuesday.
     
  13. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    #13
    Second that. If PS is your main software, you'll get more benefit from higher clocked 6 core than lower clocked 8 core machine.
     
  14. tripitz macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #14
    The Hackintosh route isn't as "easy" as it seems at first glance. I had very inconsistent results with my hardware. I quickly realized that paying money for different hardware was still no guarantee. If you look at the tonymacx forums, you'll see that people have very inconsistent minor issues, even across the recommended hardware. You may very well end up with a windows box you may not want.

    I opted to go for a Mac Pro 4.1 and upgraded it. I flashed to 5.1, swapped out to a hex core 3.33 and added a GTX 680. This cost me about $1900, as I have yet to do the memory swap (it currently has 16gb of ram at 1033mhz). In the end, I have a machine that is fast and "works". All of the three changes are super easy to do.
     
  15. TennisandMusic

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    #15
    Buying a current Mac Pro is a STUPID decision. I can't believe so many people are recommending it. The hex core is not that fast compared to current processors unless you need heavy mulithreading, and even then I'm not sure it holds up.

    The 3.33 hex would be worse than a current iMac for Photoshop. Spending 3k on one is literally as smart as burning money. The CPU architecture is like 3 or 4 generations old at this point. It is an ancient, outdated machine.
     
  16. quarq, Oct 18, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013

    quarq thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16

    Fair enough. What would be your suggestion ? An iMac ?

    J
     
  17. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    #17
    For an ancient, outdated machine, quite a lot of us still find them highly effective.
     
  18. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #18
    That is incorrect. The 4 and 6 core "single" models can take a total of 4 dimms. The dual models can take 8. The new mac pro that debuts in a few months will take 4, as its configuration is single only.

    I don't think you would notice a significant difference between the two in real world use. My general quips with the imac relate to service issues and a hatred of glossy displays. I didn't care for the 24" cinema displays either as I felt they aged poorly. Your results may vary. Regarding the mac pros, the dual versions from 2009-2012 such as the 8 and 12 core models can take 4 dimms. If you use 16GB dimms, you can cram in 64GB total. You can do finishing work on one sheets comfortably with 32GB depending on settings. Ram is one part. Getting history and the rest of your settings set up in a way that is manageable is the second part, but D800 files are not that large, even if you have to line up many of them.

    Anyway you can't go past 32GB on the imac. It uses sodimms. No sodimms are available above 8GB versions. Intel also lists 32GB as the maximum tested/supported with the chipset used by the imac. The difference between various gpus in photoshop under real workloads is basically unnoticeable. I wouldn't make them a priority. If you're running out of ram, that is your bottleneck. SSDs make it less painful, but they aren't a 100% fix.
     
  19. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #19
    All depends on his budget surely? 16gb ram isn't enough we do know so he needs one that can go 32gb or even more. Heavy PS use also likes a second disk for swap.

    Leaves the tower Mac Pro, the black can or a hackintosh as choices I reckon...
     
  20. quarq thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 14, 2011
    #20
    Hmm, thanks. What threw me off was this line on the Apple page:

    6GB (6 x 1GB) of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC memory

    I read that as 6 slots..

    I've been reading the thread regarding the Photoshop tests and I noticed that in real world, there isn't a massive difference between the Mac Pro and the latest MBP.

    My issue with the MBP is mostly that I can't go past 16gb of RAM and that I have to keep hooking up external storage.. Oh and that the Fan sounds like a jet engine taking off all the time.

    Let's see what Apple offers up with the new MP and then we'll see.

    I guess I'm showing my age, but there's a lot to be said regarding a tower you can load up with expensive stuff.
     
  21. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #21
    You highlighted some of the annoying things with notebooks in general. They're often port limited, limited in bandwidth when it comes to hooking up storage arrays, worse in terms of ergonomics, limited on ram, etc. A lot of people with the current mac pro bought it in 2010 or its slight predecessor in 2009. Today you're buying at the end of a very very long cycle. Ram on the 2009-2012 models was tri-channel, so Apple installs dimms in multiples of 3 for testing purposes. It's maybe a 2% performance hit (or less) if you use multiples of 4 instead. Compared to what you hit when running out of ram that isn't significant. I mentioned the issue of preferences, because they do change quite a lot. You can even hasten things somewhat by denying spotlight access to any area used for scratch disks.

    I personally think the macbook pro may be suitable for those tasks within its next 2 revisions assuming Adobe remains relatively resource neutral. There are so many weird things in that program that are really embedded from its 90s roots. If you want examples, liquify has some of the most dated mesh controls of any application out there. Its parametric transformations are nothing compared to a 3d app. A set of modern transformation tools based on homogeneous coordinates would have been quite welcome. The canvas could be treated as the front of a cube with its normal vector faced toward the user. Unsharp masking is still the same poorly quantized inversion of a gaussian anti-aliasing filter. It still uses ICC profiles as the predominant workflow with minimal LUT support. It would be a lot easier to put together a comp if you could just process each piece once and have some method to store superwhites in case something has to be brought back. An LUT system would also create fewer problems with clipping saturated colors during raw processing, as you wouldn't be faced with the conundrum of choosing between a well controlled space and something like prophoto with all of its garbage values.

    Anyway rant over. I think that application needs a deep overhaul, as they haven't fully preserved file behavior between versions as it is.
     
  22. Larry-K macrumors 68000

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    Jun 28, 2011
    #22
    What was that? Sorry I couldn't hear you over the noise made by all the money I make every day on my outdated Hex Core machines.

    As long as iMacs have their silly little shiny monitors, they're of no use.

    Every one else in the office has a late model iMac, and I get more work done than all of them put together, and I even have time to fix their screw-ups.

    A properly configured machine and a skilled operator makes more difference than a few MHz and "Turbo-Boost".
     
  23. JavaTheHut macrumors 6502

    JavaTheHut

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    #23
    For Heavy PS work using enough RAM is always better than a scratch disk and makes the use of a scratch disk obsolete. IMHO
     
  24. tripitz macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #24
    Saying it is a stupid decision is a bit extreme. So many people are recommending it because the Westmere CPUs are actually pretty good even now. Speaking of "next gen" cpus, let's also point out that even the new Mac Pro is going to be running on older generation CPUs at launch. Sandy Bridge is just a Tick/Tock from Westmere, which from an architecture perspective is only really 1 major change. Also, in my experience, the MPB and iMac both have heat issues, making prolonged heavy usage questionable. In addition, I am pretty sure the GTX680 is faster than the the 780M in the imac.

    For less than $2k I put into my machine, I have a great setup with tons of expandability. I also did not want a glossy screen and prefer my 30" ACD. So, no, I don't think my recent decision to go this route was a stupid decision.
     
  25. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816

    gavinstubbs09

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    #25
    Don't feel bad, we dropped $3,500 last month on a 'dinasour' Mac Pro for a server to run a classroom of iMacs and a future MBP lab. I personally am super cheap and just bought a 2006 2.66GHz model for $225 that I already have started throwing money at for Ram, Graphics (hopefully HD5770 in the future) among other things.
     

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