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Aperture 1.5 on Three Macs

Originally posted November 3rd, 2006 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Thanks to suggestions by Aperture users, we've come up with at least three benchmarks. We used the sample RAW photos included with Aperture so that you can duplicate our tests on your own Mac.

Mac Pro (Rad1900) = Mac Pro 3GHz with 8GB of RAM and a Radeon X1900 XT in a 16 lane PCIe slot
Mac Pro (GeF7300) = Mac Pro 3GHz with 8GB of RAM and a GeForce 7300 in a 4 lane PCIe slot
Quad G5 = Quad-Core G5/2.5GHz with 8GB of RAM and a GeForce 7800 GT in a 16 lane PCie slot
MacBook Pro (1.5.1) = MacBook Pro 17" Core Duo (2.16GHz) with 2GB of RAM and a Radeon X1600 Mobility running Aperture 1.5.1
MacBook Pro (1.5) = MacBook Pro 17" Core Duo (2.16GHz) with 2GB of RAM and a Radeon X1600 Mobility running Aperture 1.5

TEST ONE: Make adjustments (levels, white balance, shadows/highlights) to one landscape and "lift and stamp" it to six others.

TEST TWO: Remove adjustments from the six RAW photos.

TEST THREE: Export 13 RAW photos (Tibet project) to a web journal using "best" JPEG.

1. All three tests are CPU intensive.
All four processors were "cranking" on the Mac Pro and Quad-Core G5. It's easy to see why the MacBook Pro lagged behind.

2. The tests gobbled up as much as 2.3GB of RAM (Aperture + OS X). That's another reason to consider a Mac Pro or Power Mac with at least 4GB, preferably 8GB, of RAM for RAW photo editing with Aperture.

3. The speed of the graphics processor (GPU) was not a factor in TEST ONE and TWO and was only a slight factor in TEST THREE. We are experimenting with some other repeatable and quantifiable tests to see if they do more to stress the GPU.

4. In the EXPORT test, the target drive speed was not a factor. We got the same times when the Mac Pro target was a single drive as we did when the target was a dual drive RAID 0. Again, the CPU was the bottleneck, not the storage.

5. Upgrading from Aperture 1.5 to 1.5.1 didn't improve the speed, at least in our three tests. We haven't tested all three Macs as of this posting, but as you can see from the graphs above, the MacBook Pro actually ran slower after being upgraded to 1.5.1.

We're still accepting suggestions for additional Aperture tests. Send them to , the mad scientist. And, yes, we plan to test other models of Mac including the new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro.


Mac Pro with X1900 XT running Motion 2 and iMaginator

Mac Pro versus Quad-Core G5 -- Updated Photoshop CS2 results under 10.4.8

Original Test Results on Mac Pro for Photoshop CS2, After Effects 7, iMovie HD, Final Cut Pro, FileMaker 8.5, and Cinebench 9.5

Fastest Boot Drive for the Mac Pro

What You Should Know About Mac Pro Memory

Mac Pro with Radeon X1900 XT running in 4 lane, 8 lane, and 16 lane PCIe slots.

Mac Pro 3D Game "Slug Fest" -- the Radeon X1900 vs GeForce 7300 vs two G5 Power Macs with high-end graphics cards


You can order extra Mac Pro memory from
Apple USA when you custom order your Mac Pro, though it might delay delivery. Plus, we think Apple charges too much for their memory upgrades.

We recommend getting your memory upgrades from third party vendors. In our initial Mac Pro testing, we used kits provided by Other World Computing. They are a good source for quality memory at a reasonable price. Plus OWC has a "Trade In Your Factory Memory" REBATE program. is shipping Mac Pro memory with Apple suggested heat sink specs. They took great care to engineer their heat sinks for maximum thermal efficiency using 6 fins on each side (versus 4 on the Apple factory modules) and special aluminum alloy. We tested these and can vouch that their heat sinks are truly efficient in absorbing and dissipating heat.

MaxUpgrades offers their unique "MacSink" design for a heat sink (using 2 clips instead of 4) which results in more fin area exposed to the airflow. We've tested them and they are very effective. MaxUpgrades will sell you the memory with the heat sink or just the heat sink. Their prices are very competitive, too.

We also tested the Data Memory Systems Mac Pro memory with conventional heat spreaders. It ran an average of 10 deg F warmer than the memory with "fat finned" heat sinks. DMS is also offering memory with Apple approved" heat sinks as an option.

The GeForce 7300 GT (16X, 256MB, dual-link DVI + single-link DVI port) is standard. However, we recommend the Radeon X1900 XT (16X, 512MB, two dual-link DVI ports) as a CTO option. It's much faster than the GeForce 7300 GT and just a hair slower than the outrageously expensive Quadro FX 4500. To custom order your Mac Pro with the Radeon X1900 XT, go to the Apple Store and click on the Mac Pro graphic.

Fortunately, you can order the Radeon X1900 XT as an aftermarket kit. We ordered our Mac Pro with the standard GeForce 7300 GT so we could get it within a few days. The X1900 XT we ordered separately was back ordered for 5 weeks. Click THIS link (or any Apple link on this page) to order your X1900 XT kit so we get credit for the sale.

We just bought the newest, lower priced ($999) 23" Cinema display with the improved brightness and contrast. We love it. And the pink hue on gray screens is gone. The 20" model is down to $699.

We know we've sung the praises of the Dell 24" Ultrasharp in the past but we are partial to the sleek looking aluminum Cinemas -- especially with the latest improvements. But if you still want to go for the Dark Side -- I mean -- Dell, it's on sale for $703 right now. For more details on it, read our updated review of the latest model.

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2005-2006 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist