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Best MacBook for Denoise?

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David Gordon

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Jul 8, 2017
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162
Location
Scotland
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
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Classic
Lightroom Version Number
Lightroom Classic version: 13.0.1 [ 202310121438-d2af310c ]
Operating System
  1. macOS 14 Sonoma
My 2018 MacBook Pro is starting to show its age. I know there are other Denoise threads here but I'm specifically asking about Apple Macs.

I'm attaching a screen shot from Activity Monitor showing the CPU and GPU while LrC Denoises 70 odd 36 MB Fujifilm RAF raw files. The estimated time was 200 minutes when I started two hours ago, the progress bar suggests it's done 50% now. So too slow for deadline use, what do I need?

As far as I know I currently have four CPU cores with four 'virtual'. They're all in use so more CPU cores are best?
The GPU is well used (and no doubt slowing things down as its not a 'proper' GPU chip)> Again, do I want more GPU cores?
I'm not seeing any memory pressure. But if I have lots of RAM will it get used and speed things up?

An Apple M3 Max chip with 16‑core CPU, 40‑core GPU and 16‑core Neural Engine, 64GB unified memory and 2TB SSD storage is £4400. Will that Denoise a frame in a minute or so?
How much time will I lose saving £1000 on a 12‑core CPU, 18‑core GPU and 16‑core Neural Engine with 36GB unified memory?

I don't expect to the second answers and I know not many people will have M3s yet. My big question is will I see a real difference using a fully loaded Mac?

Also.... is there something in macOS preventing Denoise from working as well or as quickly as it should? If that should ever get fixed - and we all know how good Apple are - are all bets off? Should Denoise work as fast with whatever Apple silicone chip its running on?

Screenshot 2023-11-30 at 10.22.45.png
 
Update! It took four hours to Denoise 73 files. So that's three and a half minutes each?
They're Fuji RAF uncompressed ~ 36 to 37 MB. (I wonder if compressed would be quicker or slower?)
 
I have one of the 24" M1 iMacs. It was available with only 16 GB of RAM Lightroom Class consumes lots of RAM doing DeNoise. The 16 GB was more than adequate until Adobe introduced these GPU intensive processes, My next Mac will have at least 32GB.

I have to ask, why to you want to limit yourself to a MBP. A 64GB M2 Mac Studio is $2600USD. A 32" HDR monitor, keyboard and Mouse adds another $1500USD or a total of $4050USD (£3200).
Screenshot 2023-11-30 at 8.01.31 AM.png
 
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Earlier this year I bought an M2 MBP Max, with 12 x CPU cores, 38 x GPU cores and 96GB of unified memory. It runs Denoise on my 45mp files from a Canon R5 in around 20 seconds. Prior to that, using Denoise on the same files on my M1 Mac Mini with 16GB unified memory took around 105 seconds, and when I tried it on my 2013 MBP with 16GB memory the estimate was around 75 minutes (which I didn't test!).

I would therefore expect you would see a huge improvement when using Denoise on an M3 MBP compared with your 2018 MBP, but I couldn't say how much longer it would take with a reduced spec M3 MBP.

One thing to be aware of is that apparently LrC does not yet use the Neural Engine (some technical issues I understand), if that ever gets fixed the expectation is that the Denoise time would be substantially reduced even further.
 
My next Mac will have at least 32GB.

I have to ask, why to you want to limit yourself to a MBP.
There's a very long thread on Fred Miranda where it's stated that 64 GB is good but anything more isn't really needed for LrC (on M2 Macs).
I take my MBP on location and sometimes edit, process and deliver from site. I'm kinda nervous about having a £4000 Mac slightly unattended at times - it's twice or more than I paid for my current MBP - so thought of a powerful desktop and a lesser Air for travel. But that's a whole different calculation!

One thing to be aware of is that apparently LrC does not yet use the Neural Engine (some technical issues I understand), if that ever gets fixed the expectation is that the Denoise time would be substantially reduced even further.
Yes, question is will they ever fix it? It seems all the processors have 16 core neural engines so will all the M3's then Denoise at the same speed? I'm not expecting this to be fixed anytime soon though.

Your speed results are interesting. I wonder what your Activity Monitor shows when Denoising. How much of that RAM is in use, is the CPU or GPU doing most of the work?
 
Your speed results are interesting. I wonder what your Activity Monitor shows when Denoising. How much of that RAM is in use, is the CPU or GPU doing most of the work?
Denoise is optimised for the GPU. When running Denoise, CPU is around 10%, GPU is in the high 80% area. As expected really, which is why my 2013 MPB results were so abysmal, as it only has an old GPU with only 2GB of memory.
 
CPU is around 10%, GPU is in the high 80% area.
Looks like I'm right about wanting lots of GPU then.
I've just seen a 14" version of your M2 on the refurb store. Same money but I'm not sure if I want a 4TB drive. I'd be more tempted if it had 8TB! There seem to be a few M2s turning up on the refurb store. I might keep my eye on that as all the reviews seem to say there's not a lot in it. Unless you want the sexy new black colour.
 
There's a very long thread on Fred Miranda where it's stated that 64 GB is good but anything more isn't really needed for LrC (on M2 Macs).
I take my MBP on location and sometimes edit, process and deliver from site. I'm kinda nervous about having a £4000 Mac slightly unattended at times - it's twice or more than I paid for my current MBP - so thought of a powerful desktop and a lesser Air for travel. But that's a whole different calculation!
I solved the travel problem long ago with an iPadPro, Lightroom and the Adobe Cloud.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
I solved the travel problem long ago with an iPadPro, Lightroom and the Adobe Cloud.
I'd like to do this and bought an iPad Pro to do so. But until Camerabits release an iOS version of Photo Mechanic or I work out how to use ShutterSnitch I find it too hard. Never mind the fun getting files out of the cameras!
 
I'd like to do this and bought an iPad Pro to do so. But until Camerabits release an iOS version of Photo Mechanic or I work out how to use ShutterSnitch I find it too hard. Never mind the fun getting files out of the cameras!

I use a card reader and import directly into Lightroom. No need for anything else. The process is very simple, clean and quick. You don’t need PhotoMechanic. Everything you can do in PM you can do in Lightroom.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
You don’t need PhotoMechanic. Everything you can do in PM you can do in Lightroom.
I really do I'm afraid. You can't do code replacements in LrC, I doubt if the iOS version can. I do keep coming back to the idea of using an iPad but I can't get it right. Yesterday's 73 pictures (where this thread started!) were delivered fully captioned. I guess there were around 50 individual captions naming those in the pictures. I think it took an half an hour using Photo Mechanic to do that - including writing the code replacement. There's no way I'd even think of attempting that in LrC. Processing and Denoise, yes. Metadata, no. Tools for jobs, horses for courses!
 
You might find some buying advice in recent videos by ArtIsRight on YouTube. One example is his graph below, from a video where he explains that because AI Denoise is GPU based, the additional GPU cores in the upper end Macs is what drives the drop in AI Denoise times. The amount of Unified Memory and the number of CPU cores matters much less for AI Denoise…it’s all GPU (and hopefully in the future, GPU + Neural Engine). This is consistent with the other replies here.

If you want to see the section of the video when the graph is shown and explained, it’s at:
https://youtu.be/SI8qCkGmI-w?si=RPwfABiua7hV0Lma&t=811

In his test, you can see that the main AI Denoise performance gains don’t correlate with being an M1/M2/M3, but with the number of GPU cores. Because an “old” M1 Ultra with 48 GPU cores is shown to beat even the new M3 Max (40 GPU cores), with both almost down to 20 seconds per 36MP frame. If you want the absolute fastest AI Denoise time on a Mac for the next few years, it looks like the choices are the Mac Studio with M2 Ultra (60 GPU cores) at the top of the chart, or wait for whenever Apple upgrades that top Mac Studio with an M3 Ultra. The nice thing about this is that it makes discounted or Apple-refurbed M1/M2 Macs a way to save money on faster AI Denoise…as long as they’re loaded with lots of GPU cores.

My old Mac is also a 2018 MacBook Pro, and its AI Denoise performance would be way down past the bottom of the graph with a very long bar...fortunately I use an M1 Pro now.

ArtIsRight-Lightroom-Classic-Ai-Denoise-M2-M3.jpg


(As for Photo Mechanic and Lightroom Classic, that is one of those things where most people don’t need Photo Mechanic, but if you do need it, you really need it, because nothing else can do everything it does, and certainly nothing on the iPad that I know of.)
 
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