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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests


Three 2011 Mac Laptops versus
Two Mac Desktops

Posted Friday, August 12th, 2011 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
August 26th, 2011: Added mini server results

So do you need a Mac Pro to run Apple's Aperture? Or will any Mac do? Using the latest version of Aperture (3.1.3) with improved overall stability and performance, we performed two tests to see how three of the newest Apple laptops compare to the fastest 2011 iMac and hex-core 2010 Mac Pro.

We timed how long it took to import and process 50 RAW images.
Time is in Seconds. Shorter bar means faster.

Next we exported the 50 RAW images as JPEG (original size). Time is in Seconds. Shorter bar means faster.

MP 3.33 = 2010 Mac Pro 3.33GHz 6-core Westmere with 24G of ECC DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Radeon HD 5870 GPU
iMac 3.4 = 2011 iMac 3.4GHz Quad-Core i7 with 16G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Radeon HD 6970M GPU
MBP 2.3 = 2011 (17") MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Quad-Core i7 with 8G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Radeon HD 6750M GPU

MBP 2.7 = 2011 (13") MacBook Pro 2.7GHz Dual-Core i7 with 8G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Intel HD 3000 Integrated GPU
mini 2.0s = 2011 Mac mini server 2.0GHz Quad-Core i7 with 8G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Intel HD 3000 Integrated GPU
MBA 1.8 = 2011 (13") MacBook Air 1.8GHz Dual-Core i7 with 4G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and Intel HD 3000 Integrated GPU

Running our Aperture tests, the 2011 iMac quad-core i7 was able equal or better the times of the 2010 hex-core Mac Pro. How is that possible? Using Activity Monitor, we observed a maximum of 600% CPU use (6 cores) and a total of 7.5GB of real memory in use(5.5G for Aperture itself). Since the iMac has up to 8 virtual cores and 16GB of RAM, this exercise is well within its "abilities."

The 2.3GHz MacBook Pro was able to stay close. The 15" and 17" Macbook Pro Quad-Core i7 can both be an acceptable platform for Aperture.

However, the dual-core 2.7GHz MacBook Pro dual-core i7 (4 virtual cores) and 1.8GHz MacBook Air dual-core i7 (4 virtual cores and only 4GB of RAM) lagged behind the others. If you are using the latest generation Pro Apps, we recommend you opt for a quad-core or better Mac with at least 8G of RAM.

Addendum: The 2011 Mac mini quad-core server did well on the export but faired badly on the import.

We tested the Mac Pro by booting from an HDD, importing from an HDD to an HDD. Then we exported from an HDD to an HDD. Then we tested by booting from an SSD, importing from an SSD to an SSD. Then we exported from an SSD to an SSD. The times were the same. So for those two scenarios, storage speed is not a factor.

We did see a 16% gain in import/processing speed on the MacBook Pro 2.3 when we imported from a Thunderbolt RAID 0 enclosure (four 6G SSDs). But there was no gain in export speed.

Using tools like OpenGL Driver Monitor and atMonitor, we determined that the Mac Pro's GPU was a factor in the import processing (CPU waiting on GPU) and that 410MB of video memory was in use. In the export test, 573MB of VRAM was in use. That implies that the MacBook Pro (13") and MacBook Air with integrated GPU are both going to "rob" from main memory leaving less for Aperture and the OS. That's another reason to choose a "muscular" Mac with a dedicated GPU (and at least 1GB of VRAM) for running Pro Apps like Aperture.

Comments? Questions? Want to volunteer to duplicate our Aperture test on your Mac? Email , mad scientist. Follow us on Twitter @barefeats or subscribe to our RSS feed.

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copyright 2011 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"