March 8, 2011

New 17" MacBook Pro

My new 17" MacBook Pro is all set up, and I just had to run some test to compare it to my old 17" MacBook Pro.

Both machines have been updated, they have both had about 200GB freed from the HDD, they have both had their PRAM zapped, they both had 15RAW files (200MB total) placed on their desktop, both got two more restarts, both were only connected to power, etc (they were as equal as could be).
  • From a dead start the NEW 17" was able to start 9 seconds faster.
  • From a drag and drop of the files the NEW 17" was able to start Lightroom 3 and be ready to import 5 seconds faster.
  • Now came the real test; the 15 files were set to be imported, keywords added, my oRAWLR3X preset applied (my normal preset), and 1:1 previews loaded. This is something I do many times each day, and often is the most time consuming part of my editing process, especially if I then make some editing changes and need to re render 1:1 previews (remember I deal with thousands of images each week of the year). The NEW 17" took a total of 34 seconds while the OLD 17" took 106 seconds that is a 311.8% speed boost. I was expecting between 2-4 Xs, so 3.118 Xs is right in line; but I still ran all of the tests twice to be sure, and the results were the same.
  • Lastly I wanted to compare export times to 300dpi, AdobeRGB, full quality JPG files with my other "normal" settings applied. For those who are familiar with Lightroom 3 you know that the test times should be almost identical to the 1:1 preview times, and they were... IDENTICAL.
My NEW 17" MacBook Pro is the 2.3Ghz quad core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6750M GPU w/1GB of GDDR5 memory, 500GB @7200RPM HDD, and the 1920x1200 antiglare display. If I could afford the SDD drives it would be even faster.

My OLD 17" MacBook Pro is the 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, GeForce 8600M GT GPU w/256MB of memory, 320GB @7200RPM HDD, and the 1680x1050 antiglare display.

As I spend most of my (non email/web editing) computer time using Lightroom to process, select, edit, organize, and export images these were the only tests I felt as though I should run. The results were over 3Xs faster at both ends of what I spend my time doing, and that gives me time to do other things. I have long said that time is one thing you can get more of, so...

Is a new machine that is over three times faster worth $3k? I think that depends on what your time is worth, and how often you use the machine at three times the speed. For me, I have no doubt that this was money well spent.

p.s. Remember that LR1/LR2/CS1/CS2/CS3/CS4 are not aware of quad core processors or more than 4GB of RAM, so using anything other than LR3/CS5 (or Aperture 3) will fail to yield equally impressive results.


  1. As a person with a MacBook Pro with a SSD as the main drive and a Mac Pro with an SSD for the startup HD and a 10K RPM Raptor for the Scratch Disk, plus 2 TB HD for storage and BU, SSDs are well worth the investment. And, on a laptop, the speed and lower battery pull are helpful when one may have limited electrical access - um, like when camping in YNP. ;-)


  2. Well as I cannot upgrade the RAM anymore... I'll have to use the SSD as my speed it up, upgrade in a year (maybe a reasonable 1TB SSD by then). I have an $11,000 lens to pay for first though (if Canon ever ships the thing :)