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sb in ak
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p.1 #1 · Mac Options...


Looking to upgrade from my 2008 era Unibody 13" Macbook (2Ghz Intel DuoCore2, 8GB RAM). It's just getting sluggish dealing with 5D3 RAW files in Lightroom 4 with other applications open. I use an external matte monitor when at home (I am often on the road, however).

I've been out of the Mac tech loop for awhile so I'm looking for something to add some spunk to Lightroom and the Mac OS in general.

My budget is $2k at the very max. Ideally, I would want something cheaper. I'd like to move up to a 15" display.

I also love the Unibody design. I started looking at the 15" Retina models and was absolutely infuriated that Apple has removed the ability to change the RAM, hard drive and battery. I had a RAM module crap out on me last year in my Macbook and it was a $30 DIY fix. Not so with these new models.

Looking at these options for portability:

1. Mid 2012 2.3/2.6Ghz i7 Quad Core 15" Macbook Pro refurbished or used. Glossy display. ($1500-$2000)

2. Mid 2012 Refurb Retina 2.6Ghz i7 Quad Core 15" w/16GB RAM. $2100. More expensive than I'd like and non replaceable components. Because of this, I'd want to max the computer out from Apple, which is much more expensive than buying third party upgrades.

3. Continue using my current Macbook for portability and add a 2.6Ghz Mac Mini to use with my current external display. I could also take the savings to buy a better display ($1200 for computer, $500+ for monitor).

I guess the question is....should I be as concerned as I am about unfixable computers? Or should I just buy Applecare instead anything bad happens? The retina displays do ROCK.

It's a freakin' travesty that Apple doesn't make a Retina Unibody.



Apr 15, 2014 at 09:13 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #2 · Mac Options...


There are fairly extensive test results for LR now, both on FM and the internet in general, and it is pretty clear that LR is mostly CPU-bound. So buy the fastest CPU you can afford. RAM is not so important for LR as it clears out images from memory very fast when you select the next. There is some debate about whether an SSD makes a difference or not for LR, but it *will* make a difference for the OS, so you should get one.

As for which Mac to buy, well only you can determine what balance of pros and cons you find acceptable. I tend to dislike glossy screens myself.



Apr 15, 2014 at 09:29 PM
sb in ak
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p.1 #3 · Mac Options...


Thanks for that info. I wasn't aware that LR was so CPU-bound.

I can live with gloss, but I'm not the hugest fan. I've never been able to try the high res anti-glare option (not really available anymore). They seem to be scarce on the used market though and from what I've read and seen, Retina is pretty rockin.



Apr 15, 2014 at 09:57 PM
pipspeak
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p.1 #4 · Mac Options...


15Bit wrote:
There are fairly extensive test results for LR now, both on FM and the internet in general, and it is pretty clear that LR is mostly CPU-bound. So buy the fastest CPU you can afford. RAM is not so important for LR as it clears out images from memory very fast when you select the next. There is some debate about whether an SSD makes a difference or not for LR, but it *will* make a difference for the OS, so you should get one.


yeah, Lightroom is rather infuriating in that regard. I use Windows machines and Photoshop (x64) will happily use my GPU to full potential, but Lightroom does not and instead uses my quad-core CPU to full potential. No idea why Adobe does not enable GPU acceleration for Lightroom.... perhaps to push professionals to Photoshop?.



Apr 15, 2014 at 10:12 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #5 · Mac Options...


pipspeak wrote:
yeah, Lightroom is rather infuriating in that regard. I use Windows machines and Photoshop (x64) will happily use my GPU to full potential, but Lightroom does not and instead uses my quad-core CPU to full potential. No idea why Adobe does not enable GPU acceleration for Lightroom.... perhaps to push professionals to Photoshop?.


LR and Photoshop have quite different rendering pipelines - LR is continually real-time processing the RAW with all edits on top, whilst photoshop is working with demosaiced data. Adobe claim that the LR rendering pipeline is not suited to GPU acceleration, and so haven't implemented it. Phase One have substantially sped up Capture One with OpenCL / GPU co-processing though, and it is a non-destructive editor in a similar way to LR.

Personally i think GPU acceleration is coming for LR, but it is anyone's guess when. And until it does, you need to buy the fastest CPU you can afford.



Apr 15, 2014 at 10:46 PM
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p.1 #6 · Mac Options...


I have the original 2012 Retina very similar to the one you listed except mine is 2.7GHz but not sure if that 0.1GHz makes all that much difference. I also have 16GB ram and I have a 512GB SSD in it. I also have a 2008 13" Alu Macbook and it is night and day difference. I now find the 2008 MacBook unusable for even every day things and that is because of the SSD more than anything. For LR itself the biggest speed bump is for generating 1:1 previews and handling lots of adjustments and brushes etc. I find the display to be very nice, not too glossy but then have never used the hi-res matte screen either. The hi-dpi display is the best thing about it. I'd go that route or just go the Mac mini route and keep your 2008 for portability. Depends how often you want to process away from your desk I guess.


Apr 16, 2014 at 01:54 AM
sb in ak
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p.1 #7 · Mac Options...


Anyone else have any personal experience with both retina and highres matte? I understand the retina packs a lot more pixels and is quite a bit sharper and punchier. But it seems like matte was the choice for many years for graphic designers/etc (I do mostly photo editing and graphic design). The matte display models basically have to be purchased used at this point, too.


Apr 19, 2014 at 08:40 PM
Gochugogi
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p.1 #8 · Mac Options...


There's still one model with DIYS RAM upgrades: MacBook Pro 13-inch. No Retina display but it would rock with the 2.9Gz i7 option. It also still has a FW800 port and DVD drive, very handy if you own legacy gear. I bought one so I could keep running my MOTU audio interface (& a wall of hard drives). Works great with my 27" Cinema display.


Apr 20, 2014 at 02:41 AM
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p.1 #9 · Mac Options...


I'm still rocking a MacPro 1.1 I purchased it used in 2008 for just over $1k and it has been a wonderful computer.

If I was looking for a different computer I'd look for a like new recent MacPro now that the new model has been released. Should be able to find a great deal and IMO get more for your dollar vs the Mac Mini.



Apr 22, 2014 at 12:09 AM
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p.1 #10 · Mac Options...


I have a 2012 Macbook Pro Retina 15inch and it works extremely well except for the screen burning in issue =(. If you have been a computer from 2008 and its done you well, i suggest getting a new Macbook Air 13inch. The new macbook airs are so fast and work with lightroom really well.


Apr 24, 2014 at 03:19 PM
 

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matsmithphotography
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p.1 #11 · Mac Options...


Where do you do most of your processing at home? Where you could use your mac mini. If so then that could work well, and save money. However, if you find yourself out on the road and processing on the go... then perhaps the upgraded MBP with 16Gb would be the best choice. (It can't hurt to have too much ram)


Apr 30, 2014 at 03:51 AM
jbregar
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p.1 #12 · Mac Options...


I'd get the Retina. Just max out the RAM (16GB) and buy the largest SSD you can afford (SSDs are actually upgradable... just not from Apple). Buy cheap external USB3 disks for additional storage. Buy AppleCare to cover any issues (mine has had ZERO problems in the year I've owned it). By the time you feel like you need more RAM than 16GB, you're gonna want a new machine anyway.

Enjoy the ridiculously awesome retina display. It really is that good.

The retinas are significantly LESS glossy than the old unibody glass ones. I've used mine in the car in the middle of the day and it's fine.



Apr 30, 2014 at 03:58 AM
matsmithphotography
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p.1 #13 · Mac Options...


Do you find any benefit to having an SSD over a HDD other than the instant boot and quick responses?


Apr 30, 2014 at 04:00 AM
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p.1 #14 · Mac Options...


A lot of this advice really comes down to your workflow for processing photos. Any decent laptop in 2014 is likely going to feel orders of magnitude faster than a 2008 laptop.

Are you planning to store every photo on the laptop? The biggest SSD might not be enough. Planning to store only the last x months with the rest cataloged on your NAS for storage and backup? 256 SSD might be enough.

If you're home most of the time, strongly consider spending part of your budget on a good monitor if what you have now isn't. The Retina screens look ridiculously good but are only effectively 1440 x 900 for the 15", unless you're not gonna run Retina mode and you like really small text. A 27" monitor should give you 2560x1440 or x1600 (or in that neighborhood), which is a lot less cramped and more efficient.

matsmithphotography wrote:
Do you find any benefit to having an SSD over a HDD other than the instant boot and quick responses?


An SSD will also make you a great cup of coffee, fold all of your laundry, and visit the dentist so you don't have to. What else do you want it to do? It makes the entire experience so much smoother and quicker, and I can't imagine anyone willingly going back to HDD after using SSD.



Apr 30, 2014 at 05:13 AM
DomoFoto
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p.1 #15 · Mac Options...


I was in the same situation as you. I had a late 2008 15" 2.4Ghz core 2 duo with 8GB of RAM and felt I needed to upgrade. Like you, I did not like the inability to upgrade the RAM in the new retinas and if I wanted to upgrade the hard drive I would have to buy the overpriced Apple drive. I process mostly on location on deadline as a photojournalist which weighed heavily in my decision. I mostly use Photomechanic and Photoshop but do use LR5 for some of my work. I chose to go with the late 2012 15" 2.6Ghz 8GB of RAM for the following reasons (aside from the ability to upgrade the RAM and hard drive)....

- 2.6Ghz over the 2.3Ghz processor for extra speed
- I already had a 1TB SSD I could install
- USB 3.0
- Built in ethernet jack
- Built in FW800 (Yes, I still have a handful of backup drives)
- There are thunderbolt adapters for FW and ethernet but I didn't want to deal with them. (I already have too much to carry and I would probably misplace them eventually)
- CD/DVD drive built in (Once in a great while I need to burn a disk on location)
- Kensington lock (There are other options to lockdown the retina models but I wasn't too impressed with them)
- Budget (I wanted something under $1500. A comparable retina model I priced was over $3000 not including Applecare which was and additional $349)

It wasn't easy to find. I put up a WTB ad here on FM and checked craigslist daily. I ended up finding one locally for a little under $1200 in 9+ condition.




Apr 30, 2014 at 06:09 AM
mjbetch
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p.1 #16 · Mac Options...


matsmithphotography wrote:
Do you find any benefit to having an SSD over a HDD other than the instant boot and quick responses?


Less prone to failure. No moving parts You're pretty much buying the SSD for the speed though. It's funny because I actually just bought a Crucial M550 SSD to replace the HDD in my Late 2011 MacBook Pro today after reading all the reviews of how much SSD blows HDD out of the water.



May 01, 2014 at 01:52 AM
matsmithphotography
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p.1 #17 · Mac Options...


Hmm seems like an investment in may make one day.


May 01, 2014 at 02:06 AM
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p.1 #18 · Mac Options...


I have a late-2012 MBP with a 756GB SSD. I got the largest SSD available and also use a 256GB external SSD attached to the Thunderbolt port as my data HDD for LR5. I used the Seagate Thunderbolt adapter to attach the external SSD. I find the SSD's to be the best single speed booster for all processing. Night and day difference to the spinning HHD's.


May 03, 2014 at 07:54 PM
envirobob
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p.1 #19 · Mac Options...


BTW, I have "only" 8GB RAM on my MBP and still the performance of this laptop is much faster that my iMAC with 16 GB RAM and a standard HHD.


May 03, 2014 at 07:56 PM





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