In a Lightroom Speed Test iMac Loses By As Much As 114% To A Similarly Priced PC

In a Lightroom Speed Test iMac Loses By As Much As 114% To A Similarly Priced PC

When SLR Lounge Founding Partner Pye Jirsa, noticed his studio's IT needs had grown to 'beast' levels, he decided they should perform a series of tests to find out which machine was best suited for their needs. Taking two similarly priced boxes, a $4,431 iMac, and a $4,370 custom built PC, they set to the task of testing each machines' speeds in Adobe's Lightroom. The SLR Lounge crew uses Lightroom to process millions of images a year, so naturally they wanted to test the speeds of the features they used most. Armed with 1,121 identical RAW images from a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5DS they tested each machines': importing speeds, smart preview processing time, RAW image scroll times and panorama merging times. To my chagrin (but maybe not my surprise) the iMac got trounced, having been beaten by the custom PC in every single test.  

For single/small photographer studios who are not processing large volumes of images Apple is still the best solution. It’s simple, reliable and fast enough. However, for a large studio where performance and efficiency are paramount, Apple’s product line can’t quite handle the job, at least not for a similar price to performance ratio. -Pye Jirsa

I'd love to share all the details and the results with you but as much as Pye loves us (and we him) it wouldn't be cool if we didn't send you over to SLR Lounge for the full and detailed results. As you can imagine, the results of this experiment has been met with a whole mess of whining and excuses from Apple fanboys (myself included). So, even if you don't give a damn about the results you should still head over to read the often hilarious comments.

[via SLR Lounge]

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Daris Fox's picture

They must have introduced those coatings recently, as the iMac we had briefly in the studio had the editors reflection in the screen, with the light source behind the iMac. That was with one of the first 5k iMacs.

Simply put the future isn't IPS, Glossy it's OLED and the best display on the market is the Dell OLED which gives true blacks. Oh and for reference the OLED display is AR matte similar to what's found on the UP2715K which uses the same panel as Apple...

http://www.4kultrahdreview.com/dell-demonstrates-30-inch-4k-oled-display/

Hans Rosemond's picture

Its always going to be an apples to oranges comparison when it comes to comparing PC and Mac. However, the 1150 cpu slot has been around for quite a while, and you can drop a nice i7 in for $300. A 5k screen can be had for around $1000 (although it's frankly overkill for most users). What i mean by "beast" is more of a "beast at this level of performance." The $4000 price point buys a lot of horespower on either Mac or PC. But the true 4k and 5k workstations out there are in the $10-$15k realm. I think both of these systems would be more than enough for 90% of users. Its more about the ecosystem you want to live in

Hans Rosemond's picture

Im not sure what your first paragraph means considering it's agreeing with my statement about either system being enough for 90% of users. Will a CPU upgrade be significant? It depends. What was the starting point? i3? i5? A slower i7? If you've just been doing stills and want to get into 4k video, popping a faster processor and $200 worth of RAM is a HUGE performance increase.

As for the more significant upgrade being CPU, Mobo, GPU, RAM, and storage, that sounds more like an initial build, not an upgrade. Incremental upgrades can be made that boost performance without breaking the bank, here and there. Whether or not someone wants to crack open the case to do it again speaks to their choice of ecosystem. Mac users typically want a more hands off approach with hardware.

Fritz Asuro's picture

I have tried Mac. But still I'm using windows. Better for me, that's it.

jared jantzer's picture

I built my first computer 16 years ago and most of the core components are in the media PC in the living room. With proper research and care, a PC will outlast and out perform any available Mac on the market. All these comments about PCs crashing and needing updates constantly remind me of a story about an Ex of mine: one day I awoke to a call, screaming and begging for me to urgently rush out and pick her and take her work; her car stopped working. When I arrived I asked her what was wrong with the car, she stated she didn't know, so I attempted to start the car to the most horrific sounds a car could make, when i asked her the last time she changed her oil, she said she just filled up the gas tank. Needless to say 50,000 miles without an oil change and that poor engine was done. Moral of the story, Good things take care, they require understanding, and most importantly, they require some attention.

Word to the wise: If your PC crashes, EVEN ONCE; back it up, nuke it and learn from your mistake, if it happens again, Troubleshoot the hardware starting with the RAM (the single largest cause of PC failures)

Justin Myers's picture

I was suprised it was only 114%. $4300 for a custom built PC should be a monster.

Great article. The point is that Apple users use to compare extremely expensive Macs with low-middle PC machines, and it is not fair. Finally this is a good comparison with similar equipments (at least in terms of money). Good job! :)

Nothing new here, the thing to get that result is that you need to custom build your computer, for that you need knowlage or now someone that really know what he's doing, a lot of people are confident about there skills, far less actually have the skills.
Time is money, for me it's cheaper to buy an Imac in a box, that work fine right now and have good after sale service than having to search someone that will make a good computer and be sure it works, wait for it, etc. My job is making picture and video, not making computer work, I like windows but after too many disappointment I now I rely more on mac.

Marius Eikeskog's picture

Replace the display on the PC with a 5K display and see how much there is left for components and build a PC out of that and then compare.

Hans Rosemond's picture

A 5k display can be had for the exact same price as the monitor they use in their build

Christopher Nolan's picture

I edit all my photos on a 1982 Casio digital calculator wristwatch, ...... kicks the crap out of a PC!

Michael Kormos's picture

"For single/small photographer studios who are not processing large volumes of images Apple is still the best solution. It’s simple, reliable and fast enough. However, for a large studio where performance and efficiency are paramount, Apple’s product line can’t quite handle the job, at least not for a similar price to performance ratio. -Pye Jirsa"

Strangely, every ad agency I've worked with has their whole creative departments running exclusively on OSX. I'm inclined to think Apple can handle big jobs just fine :-)

The real problem is Adobe. LR has performance issues you can*t fix with throwing money into beefy hardware... and also Apple. Apple started with their openCL campaign really well and nice in the past and then forgot to go this way further... you can only get total shitty and slow gpus for apple since years... why?!
Also the Adobe GPU integration is the worst of all raw processing engines. It 's more a proof of concept and brings nearly 0 benefits if it works.

Let's take a look at "our" problem from a different viewpoint:

We want to process, render, tweak huge raw files in the fastest possible way!
OK, maybe Mac vs PC is not the real question, take a look at Capture One Pro, they integrated GPU rendering fully into their software, everything is accellated, not just the development module.
On Mac and on PC! They can even use multiple GPUs!
This means your CPU does't effect the performance so much as on Adobe.

I'm using a couple of Macs and have a PC, too. First I was thinking about buying a new Mac für 5k € to fasten my annoying slow LR/Nikon D800 workflow. But first I tried CO on my 5 year old PC (4 Core 3,5 GHZ Ivy Bridge) with a GTX 970 GPU and was blown away. This old PC renders the D800 Raws in under 1 second on Capture One in Lightroom the same PC needs 6 seconds per file! The fastest 6c Macpro needs a little more than 4 seconds for these files.

Sometimes it is more about the software !

Junior Sams's picture

even though pc might be a bit efficient than the mac i would never switch. windows os bugs are not my friend! why build while you can get what you want off the shelf? not everyone knows the tech knows of these gadgets.

It has been a long time since an Apple computer has been better than a PC overall.
Macs are still bought for multimedia work out of tradition, as it is expected to see Macs in a Design Environment.
Funny enough, my wife bought me an iMac only a few weeks ago, and although it is the 27" 5K super cool and trendy machine, I immediately noticed it was lagging and slower than my purpose build PC which surprised me.Then again I have Xeon Processors in the PC which are heavy workers.

Cheaper PC configuration, ~2600$
i7 4790K
ASRock Z97 Extreme6
32GB HyperX Beast CL9
SSD 850 pro 256GB - system
SSD 850 pro 128GB – scratch, cache
2x WD Blk 4TB – Raid 1
Quadro K620 2GB
FSP Platinum 550
EIZO CS270 or DELL UP2716D
Zalman FX70 or Hyper 212 EVO
Zalman Z3 Plus
RaidSonic IB-868-B

An another PC configuration with 5K monitor ~$3300
i7 4790K ($330)
ASRock Z97 Extreme6 ($170)
32GB HyperX Beast CL9 ($135)
SSD 850 pro 256GB – system ($120)
SSD 850 pro 256GB – scratch, cache ($120)
2x WD Black 4TB – Raid 1 ($390)
Quadro K1200 4GB ($285)
FSP Platinum 550 ($100)
Dell UltraSharp UP2715K ($1570)
Hyper 212 EVO ($30)
Zalman Z3 Plus ($50)
RaidSonic IB-868-B ($60)