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Question regarding the new Apple M1

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Hi everyone

My MacBook Air (2017) is nearing its end of life :(

I am considering a new one with the M1 chip. Most of the affordable options only come with 8gb of RAM. Normally LR Classic should be run on at least 16gb's. Does the M1 chip make up for the difference in terms of performance? I do a lot of tethered capture in my work with typically 30-40mb RAW files so I am hoping the new M1 is nippy with that.

Many thanks

Jon
 
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Hi everyone

My MacBook Air (2017) is nearing its end of life :(

I am considering a new one with the M1 chip. Most of the affordable options only come with 8gb of RAM. Normally LR Classic should be run on at least 16gb's. Does the M1 chip make up for the difference in terms of performance? I do a lot of tethered capture in my work with typically 30-40mb RAW files so I am hoping the new M1 is nippy with that.

Many thanks

Jon

I can’t speak to tethering . But I am quite happy with the performance of my new M1 iMac.

I believe the M1 chip uses RAM and disk memory differently than the intel chips. For this reason I recommend 1TB SSD disk storage as a minimum and 16GB of RAM My previous iMac had 32GB of RAM. The reason for 16GB of RAM comes from reports of poor performance experienced by users that purchased MBAs with 8GB of RAM


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Colin Grant

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I am in a similar position and guidance would be appreciated. Originally I read that 8 gig and an M1 chip was fine but lately I have been seeing reports that lean towards 16 gig. I cannot even find a 16 gig spec iMac (or other) that is available "off the shelf".

Colin
 
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Yep, even Apple UK don't have 16GB models on the shelf. They're quoting 7 to 8 September for the 16GB Mac Mini, 18-25 September for the 16GB 24" iMac.
 

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Sounds something like a second rate launch from Apple then. Especially so if people are saying the 8 gig version is no good for what we all need it for! Am beginning to think about reverting to Windows . I love my Mac but it is all starting to look expensive and it is made worse by the lack of upgrade options once one has bought into a particular model.
 
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Sounds something like a second rate launch from Apple then. Especially so if people are saying the 8 gig version is no good for what we all need it for!

Delivery of a new product is tied to production of the component parts. There are wide spread delays in chip manufacture. Automobile Assembly plants are being shut down due to the lack of chips for the cars being built. I’m sure the same holds true for Apple. People are already being told that now is the time for your Christmas shopping. And this is not just for computers.

As for the 8GB M1 Mac, Apple make machines for all sorts of user, I think it is significant that there is no longer a 4GB Mac. If you are the typical user, then 8GB may be more than sufficient for Safari, Email and and Office Suite. Process intensive application like Lightroom Classic have never performed well at the minimum spec recommended by Adobe.


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Colin Grant

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As for the 8GB M1 Mac, Apple make machines for all sorts of user, I think it is significant that there is no longer a 4GB Mac. If you are the typical user, then 8GB may be more than sufficient for Safari, Email and and Office Suite. Process intensive application like Lightroom Classic have never performed well at the minimum spec recommended by Adobe.


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Yes but the word on the street at launch was that an 8 gig M1 Mac was more than good enough for the likes of Lr. The old rules did not apply apparently due to the way the new processor interacted with the ram.
 
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There are two aspects to this. One about the Apple Silicon Macs in general, and another about Lightroom Classic in particular.

In general, compared to Intel processors, Apple Silicon appears to perform better on minimal RAM. Suppose you have a task that, for many years, would not perform well on an 8GB RAM Intel Mac or PC. Like, everybody knows you can’t get away with just 8GB and enjoy doing that particular workload. What tests have indicated is that if you run the same task on an 8GB RAM Apple Silicon Mac, it may benchmark almost as well as on a 16GB RAM Apple Silicon Mac. Yes, that is remarkable.

That does not mean everything is OK, because what’s actually happening is the Apple Silicon Mac is faster at using compressed RAM and SSD virtual memory to compensate for not having enough real RAM. It’s like a basketball player who is able to play through pain, still able to score 30 points instead of their normal 32 — but eventually it will catch up with them. Same with an 8GB Mac — under a heavy load, compared to 16GB RAM, the 8GB M1 Mac uses more CPU to compress/decompress RAM, and more SSD space and I/O to swap RAM to VM, so there is a price. The point at which the memory management system hit its hard limits will still come sooner than with 16GB, even if you don’t see it right away.

The second factor is Lightroom Classic itself. Although Lightroom Classic can run on 8GB RAM, its system requirements recommend “16GB or more.” That is for performance reasons. If Lightroom Classic has access to more than 12GB RAM, it can build RAM caches of nearby image previews and other data for instant access, instead of reading it off slower storage. I am not sure if more RAM helps tethering, although it should help if you want to flip quickly between images you just shot, to figure out which one is the best.

The other reason to get 16GB is if you ever want to run another RAM-intensive application at the same time as Lightroom Classic, such as Photoshop.

For consumers and casual users, an Apple Silicon Mac with 8GB RAM should actually work great. But I can’t imagine why any serious user/working pro would avoid the upgrade to 16GB RAM. Sure, we all grumble about what Apple charges for a RAM upgrade. But to put it in perspective, even after you pay US$200 for the 16GB RAM upgrade, the total price of an M1 MacBook Air is still hundreds of dollars less than we used to have to pay for an Intel computer to reach the same level of performance. It is still a deal at 16GB RAM, so just get it.
 

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To be honest I am so tied into the Apple ecosystem I do not have an easy alternative. I will get it.....when I can!
 
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Yes but the word on the street at launch was that an 8 gig M1 Mac was more than good enough for the likes of Lr. The old rules did not apply apparently due to the way the new processor interacted with the ram.

The key to your statement is “at launch” The reality has proved to be less than stellar


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For consumers and casual users, an Apple Silicon Mac with 8GB RAM should actually work great. But I can’t imagine why any serious user/working pro would avoid the upgrade to 16GB RAM. Sure, we all grumble about what Apple charges for a RAM upgrade. But to put it in perspective, even after you pay US$200 for the 16GB RAM upgrade, the total price of an M1 MacBook Air is still hundreds of dollars less than we used to have to pay for an Intel computer to reach the same level of performance. It is still a deal at 16GB RAM, so just get it.
Just a thought, what about the ssd? I guess the bigger the better but I already have a 2 gig external ssd. Would that suffice?
 
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Just a thought, what about the ssd? I guess the bigger the better but I already have a 2 gig external ssd. Would that suffice?
Conrad is talking about RAM not storage. The incremental cost of RAM is worth than a lot of regret IMO.

Internal storage versus external storage depends upon how the computer is going to be used. A portable computer is more portable if all or most of the storage in included. External storage is more practical in a desktop. In a desktop, you don't usually move it around a lot and external storage can remain attached and permanently connected. At this point, the speed of the connection is probably more important than the type of storage (SSD vs HDD). There is little to be given up if you add external storage connected by TB3 or TB4 instead of increasing buss mounted internal storage.
 

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Conrad is talking about RAM not storage. The incremental cost of RAM is worth than a lot of regret IMO.

Internal storage versus external storage depends upon how the computer is going to be used. A portable computer is more portable if all or most of the storage in included. External storage is more practical in a desktop. In a desktop, you don't usually move it around a lot and external storage can remain attached and permanently connected. At this point, the speed of the connection is probably more important than the type of storage (SSD vs HDD). There is little to be given up if you add external storage connected by TB3 or TB4 instead of increasing buss mounted internal storage.
Thanks. That is what I was thinking. It will be an iMac so no compelling reason to go for increased internal storage when I already have sufficient external (TB3).
 
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Thanks. That is what I was thinking. It will be an iMac so no compelling reason to go for increased internal storage when I already have sufficient external (TB3).
I think the basic SSD in low end iMacs to be inadequate for process intensive apps like Lightroom Classic . Apps like LrC use lots of working storage and require necessary free space on the internal SSD for temporary files. A 256GB SSD or even a 512GB SSD is not sufficient to install the MacOS plus a few apps, data and have any free space left over for temporary files.
 

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That is my understanding too. I believe we saying an external SSD will compensate? I am only a hobbyist so am not prepared to pay a small fortune for a high end iMac?
 
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That is my understanding too. I believe we saying an external SSD will compensate? I am only a hobbyist so am not prepared to pay a small fortune for a high end iMac?
The good news is, none of this would be a reason for you to buy a high-end Mac. What I talk about below applies to any Mac or PC.

The nice thing about most new Macs is that the internal storage is already high end. What I mean by that is the speed. Most use the fastest type of SSD (NVMe at over 2000MB/sec).

When Cletus talks about the basic SSD in low-end Macs being inadequate, he’s talking about the capacity — the storage capacity in base models is usually too small for intensive graphics work. And that is correct. But all you have to do is add more, not buy a different Mac.

The important thing to understand is what the additional storage is for. Internal storage has to be large enough for all the applications you want to install, and all of the documents you want to store long term on the Mac itself…plus an extra 100-200GB (some say 10-20%) for large temporary files that are regularly created by the operating system and major creative applications. For example, the Previews file and the Camera Raw cache managed by Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera Raw, and the Scratch Disk virtual memory files managed by Photoshop.

As an example, if you think macOS + your applications will need 100GB, and your documents will need another 120GB (let’s assume you want to keep the bulk of your photos/videos on external storage), that’s 240GB. On a Mac with 256GB storage, that would leave only 16GB free…a dangerously low amount of free space in my book, so that would mean the Mac should be ordered with at least 512GB of internal storage. The big reason to watch free space on an SSD is that a full SSD can slow to a crawl…and when you paid more for a very fast type of SSD as you have in Macs, that slowdown is something you want to avoid causing.

What I want to point out there is that you have to be aware of what can go on external storage (usually documents including photos), and what must go on internal storage (applications and most types of temp files) to understand where you need to buy more. Because you can’t add more internal storage after purchase to most new Macs, it’s especially important to carefully work out how much internal storage you will need during the life of that Mac.

It can also be important to understand which temporary files can be relocated to external storage. For example, you can keep your Lightroom Classic folder (which includes the potentially large Previews file) on an external drive, and you can have Photoshop assign its scratch files to a different external drive. This strategy of sending both large temp files and large source files to multiple fast external drives is also common in the video/audio editing world, because it means the internal storage can be smaller and doesn’t have to work so hard.
 
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When Cletus talks about the basic SSD in low-end Macs being inadequate, he’s talking about the capacity — the storage capacity in base models is usually too small for intensive graphics work. And that is correct. But all you have to do is add more.
. I think you pointed out later, but you can not add more memory or disk space internally. And this is an important consideration when making your M1 Purchase. So, I want to make clear that you will not be expanding your M1 Mac later if you did not get it right at purchase.

Something else to note. The low end models of the iMac only come with 2 TB3/USB4 ports. The higher end model has 2 USB-C 3 and 2 TB3 ports. Additionally the Power adapter on the high end model adds a Gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI port. And this model gets the Touch ID. Again you need to be careful to get the model that will be adequate for your expected use. With only two ports, you will need to have the right peripheral ports to be able to daisy chain External printers, EHDs, wired Ethernet and Second monitors.
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Have been running my 24" iMac now for a month with no issue on Lightroom Classic to date. Mine is the 8gb model with the 4 USB ports. I decided that disk storage size was more important so made that choice. 8gb/512 storage.
Yes I realised that if Lightroom could not work well on 8gb then I have made a mistake. But I also decided that if that was the case then Lightroom would go and I would use Photos. I cannot believe that Apple would design and make a machine unfit for purpose, I sure hope not.
One think to note, the USB4 on the iMac has the potential for using very fast external drives, but they haven't arrived on the market yet, not too many as of now. Also difficult to manage with only two USB sockets I think.
So if you wait a while a few months then that might be a good way out. 16gb ram as much hard disk as you can afford plus a fast external ssd.

PS I do only shoot jpeg on an Olympus Pen F that might make a huge difference. If I was into RAW and big printing I would go Mac mini plus top of the range Monitor.


Rob
 
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I cannot believe that Apple would design and make a machine unfit for purpose, I sure hope not.
For the reason that Apple builds machines in different configurations, it is up to the user to select the proper configuration for their needs. A modestly equipped MBA is suitable for some with limited requirements, but wholly inadequate for graphic and process intensive applications. Remember, Apple is primarily marketing products for mass consumption. And they abandoned the Professional and prosumer photo market product Aperture to concentrate on the mass market "selphie" generation whose main camera is an iPhone.
If you can't believe what Apple has done then you are being naive about product marketing.
 

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In the end I went for it and have ordered one with 16 gig memory, a 1tb ssd and the expanded set of ports. In the very unlikely event that Lr and Ps are unhappy with that then it is time to look at other software.
 
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In the end I went for it and have ordered one with 16 gig memory, a 1tb ssd and the expanded set of ports. In the very unlikely event that Lr and Ps are unhappy with that then it is time to look at other software.
That is what I ordered back in Early June. It arrived in Mid July. So far, I am quite pleased with the results.
I also orders an OWC Thunderbolt Hub, I have 5 TB EHDs and thought the hub might be useful.
https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/owc-thunderbolt-hubSo far, the hub has gone unneeded as the EHDs are all daisy chained off of one TB port. I hope that my next purchase might be a new Monitor with a TB/USB4 port instead of needing HDMI.
 
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