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Author Topic: Recommended specs for new iMac to use with Lightroom 5  (Read 2605 times)
dwnelson
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« on: January 01, 2014, 02:34:59 AM »
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I am going to buy a new iMac and I would like recommendations on the specs that will help me with my Lightroom use. I will either get a refurbished late-2012 model or a new late-2013 model.

I will primarily be importing RAW files from 36MP and 16MP cameras. I know for sure that I want a 27" iMac with 500+ GB SSD drive, at least 16gb of RAM and USB 3.0 ports. I have a 4TB external hard drive with 7200 rpm drives in a RAID1 mirror that will hold the RAW files. The catalog and previews will be on the SSD.

When I import the files, I will walk away from the computer and do something else until all of the 1:1 previews are done, so speed of that process is not that important.

The most important thing I will be doing is selecting images to keep. That will involve a lot of zooming in and selecting and zooming out. I do basic edits in the Develop module, but I haven't noticed the speed of that process to be too bad on my two year old computer with a spinning hard drive. I don't do heavy editing and I don't dive into Photoshop very often. I rarely make huge stitched panos.

What, if anything, will upgrading from 16GB RAM to 32GB do for me?

Will I see appreciable differences when comparing a 3.2 GHz quad core i5 Ivy Bridge vs a 3.5 GHz quad core i7 Haswell?

Will the PCIe SSD of the 2013 model be faster for my needs than the SATA III in the 2012 model?

Is it worth it to get a higher end video card? The spec range from 1gb to 4gb of video ram.

Prices range from $2350 (refurbished, last year's model) to $3500+ (current, with the fastest everything and the most RAM).

« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 02:54:52 AM by dwnelson » Logged
PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 06:00:39 AM »
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There is always a wee bit of danger when buying a new computer and basing the spec on your *current* processing requirements.

Unless you intend changing your computer every year to keep abreast of trends, then you can be pretty sure that, a year from now, your requirements will have changed - whether it be 60Mp Raw files, a new, more resource-hungry, version of Lightroom, a new interest in video, or whatever.

I guess the only realistic answer is to buy the biggest, best and fastest your budget will currently stand.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2014, 11:04:48 AM »
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I think you are fine with any iMac as all are suped beyond the requirements of Lightroom. Upgrading the RAM is always advised as you will always have a better experience. Although Apple is good about their base RAM being plenty, you can never go wrong with more.

As background, I am running LR on a 2-year old 15" MacBook Pro (non-Retina) with 8GB of RAM and also on a 13" MBP with the same RAM. I am processing raw files from a D800E (44MB or so) but don't do a lot of Photoshop work at all. The odd focus stacking in PS takes minutes on this machine on CS 4, but that's fine. For my LR work, it sometimes drags, but any new iMac with 32GB of RAM will just sail.
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dwnelson
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2014, 09:55:29 PM »
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When I zoom in to 100% to look at a picture, there is a processing delay, presumably as the computer renders the RAW file. On my D800E files, it can take a few seconds. It's not that bad, but making that part of my workflow faster would be a real bonus!

What would increase the speed of this process? I am going to guess the internal SSD (to more quickly load my ~45MB files) and the processor speed and number of cores (to decode the RAW file).
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 09:57:36 PM by dwnelson » Logged
luxborealis
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2014, 10:18:50 PM »
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When I zoom in to 100% to look at a picture, there is a processing delay, presumably as the computer renders the RAW file. On my D800E files, it can take a few seconds. It's not that bad, but making that part of my workflow faster would be a real bonus!

What would increase the speed of this process? I am going to guess the internal SSD (to more quickly load my ~45MB files) and the processor speed and number of cores (to decode the RAW file).

...and perhaps most of all, more RAM.
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kaelaria
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2014, 11:23:23 PM »
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You can't do much of anything to help that in an iMac - it's CPU speed dependent and you can't overclock.  You might consider simply rendering all your 1:1 previews ahead of time.
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dwnelson
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2014, 09:08:50 AM »
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You can't do much of anything to help that in an iMac - it's CPU speed dependent and you can't overclock.  You might consider simply rendering all your 1:1 previews ahead of time.

I thought it was the CPU too. I have been rendering at 1:1 but I would imagine that preview would no longer be valid after I make some changes in the Develop module. Thus, I wait.

About the RAM, I will get the maximum 32GB but like I said, I don't do heavy multitasking. I don't know if that is the bottleneck at this particular part of my workflow. My current machine has 16GB.
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Rendezvous
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 08:15:19 PM »
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Buying more RAM for an iMac is fairly cheap, just don't get it from Apple. One important thing of note - the 21.5" iMac RAM CANNOT be upgraded after purchase.
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dwnelson
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2014, 10:31:22 PM »
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Thanks for all of your thoughts. I am curious about maybe buying a Mac mini or (gasp!) a Mac Pro to get a wide gamut monitor. I will do more research; might start another thread.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 02:54:41 PM »
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Thanks for all of your thoughts. I am curious about maybe buying a Mac mini or (gasp!) a Mac Pro to get a wide gamut monitor. I will do more research; might start another thread.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the display with iMac. Unless you are getting into Pantone colour accuracy, you probably won't need anything else.

I'm even amazed at how accurate my MBP display is. Even subtle shades just off paper white show well.
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