Performance question: Macbook Pro 2.66Ghz i7 vs. Mac Pro 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
May 29, 2010 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Hi there, I need a machine to do some heavy raw image editing on Adobe Lightroom. I am debating whether to buy a new Macbook Pro 2.66Ghz i7, or a 2year old Mac Pro 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon, which would be about half the price of the Macbook. Each have pros & cons for me in related to their form factor, but how would they compare in pure performance terms...? Thanks for any advice.
posted by wildatheart to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get whichever one has more RAM. Lightroom is a memory hog.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:51 AM on May 29, 2010

The Mac Pro likely will have far better I/O performance for loading and saving files and for paging; but more memory can help. The 2 year old pro can have 16GB of memory if I am remembering correctly.
posted by rr at 9:07 AM on May 29, 2010

The 2008 Harertown/Penryn Mac Pro can store 32GB of max RAM.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:28 AM on May 29, 2010

The Mac Pro will handle larger and faster drives too.
posted by Gungho at 9:43 AM on May 29, 2010

Also something to look at, barefeats comparing the i7 iMac to the i7 MacBook Pro with the iMac significantly faster. Not sure how the Mac Pro would stack up, but something to look at.

If you do get a MacBook Pro, I recommend a SSD. I've got the latest Intel model and boot from it and keep my photos on it, making editing fast. I've replaced the superdrive with a second harddrive that I use to store my music and video since it doesn't need to be speedy and I hardly use the superdrive, which is now in a bus powered USB enclosure that sits in my backpack.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2010

The Mac Pro could also do RAID which could speed up I/O significantly.
posted by sockpup at 9:52 AM on May 29, 2010

I do design / vfx / photography for a living and still use a MacBook Pro from 2006. I use lightroom. Get the older machine and make sure it has 4GB of RAM. Despite what you might hear, you will not notice improved performance beyond 4GB. Also do make sure that the drive that is seeding your photos and hosting your OS is as fast as possible - so that any swapping to disk takes place as fast as possible. Put the saved money towards backup drives / harddrive space.
posted by jnnla at 9:57 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love my Mac (i'm typing on a C2D iMac 24" right now) but if price is a concern just get a pimped-out PC and load Lightroom on it. It's exactly the same on either platform and you'll get far more juice for your buck with a PC.
posted by speedgraphic at 10:31 AM on May 29, 2010

I run LR on an 8 core 2.26 Xeon Mac Pro/12GB/10.5.8, app is on the boot drive, photos are on secondary drive, and I'm still not delighted at it's speed. LR seems to benefit a lot from processor speed and disk speed. Mac Performance Guide, run by Diglloyd is a good place for Mac hardware comparisons in reference to PS & LR.

I would go for the Mac Pro.
- Buy cheap bare drives for internal catalog+photo backups (don't forget external/off-site)
- Easily add another external monitor, which lightroom can use (that model offers dual DVI instead of the new DVI/Mini DisplayPort
- A wider selection of hardware RAID or external eSATA options

LR doesn't use multiple cores efficiently, there are some tricks to squeeze more performance out of it, the most basic of which is to divide your exports into multiple processes. Instead of exporting 100 photos, select 50>export, select 50>export as previous.

If you happen to like it, RPP will use 100% of your machines cores during exports. It's f'ing ungainly compared to LR, but if by "heavy", you mean exports of 1000+ similarly processed photos for a next day deadline, it could win in some situations.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 4:47 PM on May 29, 2010

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