Mac or PC for PL?


I am going to get a new machine, and as most of my software runs on both Mac and PC, I am open for both options.

I can get a Mac mini (M1) with 16gb ram for about 1250€. As an alternative, I could get an Intel NUC 12, for 750€. My preference goes a bit for the intel system, as it’s much cheaper and I could invest a bit in disk space. On the other hand, is there a noticeable difference in speed when I am working in PL? If it is a much better experience, I would consider the higher price worth it. I do not care so much about export times, but rather a fluent user interface, quick display of the pictures and adjustments etc. I am using a 4K screen.

Heya, I use PL on both a Mac and a PC, and with a 4k monitor.

First off, be aware that PL is not exactly the same on the two operating systems. They hae their subtle differences - see this thread Differences Win / Mac

I prefer the Mac experience, but that is likely also because that is where I do most of my editing when possible, and the Mac hardware I use is more suitable for image editing. I use a Mac Mini M1 (with 8Gb memory and 512Gb SSD, and an external 512Gb Samsung T1 SSD as a working drive for my images) coupled to a BenQ 27" 4k monitor. My Dell laptop is for editing on the go and has a 13" screen.

I’m sure if I edited with the Windows version of PL more than the Mac version then I would prefer that experience!

When I first got the M1 Mini I was still using a 24" HD screen, and an image would render immediately when I navigated to it, even when adjustments had been applied to it. However, with the 4k display there is definitely a noticeable delay for the rendering to complete. It’s not so bad that I find it frustrating, but it is there. And the delay is there when you zoom in to 100%, change a crop, etc.

Now, the thing is that I suspect this is due to the power of the M1 gpu, which is considerably more powerful than the one in the Intel NUC devices I believe (please, do you own research on this though as I may be wrong). If the NUC gpu is less powerful that the M1 gpu, then I would struggle to recommend the NUC option with a 4k monitor, I feel it wouldn’t be the fluid editing experience that you wish for.

Side note, I picked my Mac up from the Apple Refurb Store which saved me 16% from the regular price. You still get an Apple warrant,y so imo it is worth checked the refurb store in yuor country on a regular basis.

Also, there are rumours ( there will be a M2 version of the Mac Mini released in October, so it may be worth hanging on a bit to see if:
a) The M1 is reduced in price
b) The M2 is released at the same price as today’s M1.

The M2 has a faster cpu and gpu than the M1.

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If you use DeepPrime a lot them you will need a good GPU for Windows, that M1 Mac has a built-in gpu which is good for DeepPrime already.

A minor correction that does not change the value of the recommendation: DeepPRIME uses the NPU (Neural Processing Unit) not the GPU.

If you’re looking at price, please do your research on total cost of ownership. There is the question of DxO’s support of older macOS versions, which is usually current and two prior iterations. That’ll make the upcoming release compatible with a 2014 Mac mini running Big Sur. There are complainants on this forum who don’t like that they need a Mac as recent as 2014-ish to run the latest PL releases, which tells you something of their longevity! The downside is, of course, repairability. In my limited experience, most Macs don’t fail. I don’t know whether the same can be said of consumer PCs these days, but some brands I see at work are patchy. Again… research will help. You also cannot expand a Mac after you buy it (excepting plugging in additional storage). So if you do go Mac, buy what you think you will need in 3-5 years’ time. I’m fine on a 1TB internal SSD, but I know others who are fine with 512GB and others who barely scrape by with 2TB. You realistically do not need more than the standard 16GB of memory. I only ever had that on Intel and occasionally noticed slowdowns I was able to attribute to that. On my day-one M1 MacBook Pro, it simply never slows down. The fans only ever run audibly if I do video transcodes.

Personally, having to use Windows 10 five days a week, I choose to use macOS at home and it would be one heck of an upset to get me to reconsider Windows. A colleague at work tried a Mac for about 6 months but gave up because (he says) he was too set in his ways with Windows. I can’t argue with that.

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Thank you all for your advice. @CHPhoto , I am in a very similar situation. I just ordered a 27” 4K screen and am using a windows laptop for work and currently a windows laptop also privately, but that one is not mine, so I will need something else.
I used to have a MacBook before from 2010, that lasted me almost 10 years (with some hardware update, which are not possible anymore in current models), so I agree that in general the Mac hardware has a long lasting value, or at least used to have.
I can still wait until end of the year, so I will see first how the windows laptop is doing with 4k before making a decision.

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One additional question:

Can I use the Mac and Win PL versions in combination, are they compatible with each other?

For example, can I keep my pictures on an external disk and plug it in one day in the Mac and another days in the Windows machine? (Formatted with exfat)

Yes, that is exactly what I do. When you edit an image on one machine (eg Mac), open it up on the other machine (Windows) and the adjustments you made earlier on the Mac will be there without issue.

I agree with KeithRJ and zkarj, the ANE on the M1 Apple processor makes a massive difference to export times when using DeepPrime.

Note. zkarj called it the NPU, in the UK Apple refer to this as the ANE, so regional names may be different it seems!

On a Windows machine the graphics processor is used to speed up DeepPrime processing, however you will find that the Intel Xe intergrated graphics gpus are no where near as fast as the ANE/NPU on the M1 processor.

To get similar performance when using DeepPrime on a Windows machine then you need to find a machine with a dedicated graphics card (typically from AMD or NVidia).

Orrrrr… zkarj knew there was the ‘official’ name and couldn’t remember it, so came up with what seemed like the name should be! :laughing:

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Yes and no…

Yes, you can do most things in DPL on both platforms, except for the differences that come along with the Win/Mac versions of DPL (link has been mentioned above)

Yes, you can use both apps in combination, if you don’t mind the hassle… DPL is not made for parallel use (search the forum for “more than one computer” or similar terms)

No, it’s not a joy to use DPL on both platforms, if you want both platforms to use the same workspace setup, the same presets, be sure that colours match etc.

As for performance/Watt, the new Mac’s Apple Silicon processors provide excellent value. They emit less heat, which might be wanted in cold winters :wink:

Fully agree. I’ve not found a way to sync my workspace setup betweent the machines, so I’ve used a hands on approach to refine how I like PL to be set up on one machine, and then copied that setup on the other machine.

Creating a new preset on one machine and then going to the other one and finding it is not there is continually annoying! I now try to remember to back my presets in OneDrive when I create a new one so that I can at least access it more easily at another time on the other computer should I need it.

And yes, getting good colour calibration between different OSes, screens and work environments, urgh!

If you’re editing massive batches of images at a time (in the hundreds), a high spec Windows machine with multi-core / multi-threaded processor with a high end dedicated GPU (i.e. RTX 3090 / 4090) is significantly faster than even a high spec Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max machine.

However, it’s equally important to use a high quality, professional IPS (or better) display with a minimum of 100% sRGB (preferably 100% DCI or 100% AdobeRGB) which is calibrated regularly (at least every other month). I recommend SpyderX for calibration.

Let’s put some actual numbers on that…

I just did a quick test exporting a batch of 45 images from a recent session, every single one with DeepPRIME activated, to full sized, high quality JPEGs, from 24 megapixel originals (with cropping on many). That took three minutes and twenty seconds. If we take “hundreds” to be 500, then that’s still only 37 minutes on a 2020 M1 MacBook Pro. I didn’t even hear the fans, so a lowly MacBook Air could have done as well, though perhaps not over a run of 500.

So yeah, if you’re really short of time, you might want mega-uber PC graphics cards, but any Apple Silicon computer will be fine for a majority of users. When I was using a lowly Intel Mac mini, that didn’t even have dedicated graphics, I would just run the export while doing something else, like sleeping.

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We don’t need to estimate actual numbers because users have been posting their render times since version 5 came out here.

M1 Max is very fast, but still lags behind the performance of a high end Windows machine. Using the software professionally for editing fashion & sports work, I’m often rendering massive batches of 1000-2000 images at time. Even a 1 second per image improvement matters, and that’s why I don’t use Mac right now.

On a large edit, my current desktop build saves me as much as 40 minutes over M1 Max, and upwards of 1 hour 26 minutes over M1, and my build isn’t even the fastest on there. Similarly, my 12th Gen i9 laptop with 3080 Ti is also faster.

That’s great that you’re so happy with your Mac, but it is misleading to suggest it’s the best performance right now. The numbers speak for themselves.

However, Macbooks are much more energy-efficient, so for photographers working outdoors with intermittent access to power charging, I think Macbook M1 Pro or Max has a huge advantage over any Windows laptop here.

I made no such assertion that it was “best performance”. I was merely qualifying your statement that editing images ‘in the hundreds’ necessitated a beast PC build for most people.

Of course the PC will be faster, and if you are being paid to churn out images in the thousands then it will make a meaningful difference.


Then why did you bring up numbers?

I work with both macOS and windows.
macOS private and windows in my office.

They both do what they are supposed to do but I never feel comfortable with windows which causes me to be less effective. For others it’s the opposite. :slight_smile:

At home I decided to let my MacBook Pro 2015 i7 and my Mac mini i7 from 2012 with a Nano Vega 56 eGPU be put to rest and instead I got two M1 Mac’s. MBP and Mac mini.

They do shine. Dead silent. Power efficient.
Not as fast in games as my Vega 56 was but on the other hand it does not heat up my room while burning power.
My Mac mini boots from off to login window faster than the time my Eizo need to wake up.

The drive speed for both read and write are about 2700MB/s. That’s for both the internal and external SSD over thunderbolt 3. So there’s really no need to pay extra for excessive internal storage unless you don’t like or want an external device.

The balance between performance, cost, efficiency and hassle free workflow - the M1 (Mx) from Apple offers an impeccable creative platform. And it’s silent.
You got to love that.

My Eizo makes more noise than my M1. :slight_smile:

You did come up with “in the hundreds…”. And I doubt the “lags behind the performance of a high end Windows machine”, at least as long as nobody comes up with numbers/time needed for a couple of hundreds of identical images on comparable machines (same price range) AND costs of ownership AND reliability over a long period. Also, consuming much less power than a “high end Windows PC with roaring fans and cooking CPU” is something decisive to me. And even if a M1 or M2 would “lag behind”, the interesting question would be “how much behind?” You’re trying to imply the time difference to be of significant size – but so far, this remains a statement with not much evidence. :relieved:

But anyway, keep your faith, as I don’t waste energy for thousands of shots and being in the race to finsih them as quickly as possible. :laughing:

@JoJu the evidence is at the link I posted. Us users started collecting the render times on our machines so we could determine the fastest performance possible with DeepPRIME.

I have nothing against Mac, but it still lags behind the latest generation Windows machines with discrete GPUs. Saving 4 seconds per image across 5 images is irrelevant, but saving 4 seconds per image across an edit of 1200 images with changing lighting conditions across a 10 hour shoot, and you’ve already saved 80 minutes off the rendering time alone.

The best tool for the job depends on priorities, the size of the edit, and the needs of the client. If speed is the most important factor, then the latest generation Windows workstations with discrete GPUs have the advantage & liquid cooled systems run pretty much silent.

And I want to see costs of these machines. Not in the table, as far as I could see. And honestly, I don’t want to judge the value of 2000 pictures processed as fast as possible, but I don’t know many artists working against the clock. And I also even know less images which were worked against the clock to be really catchy.

But I’m looking forward what a Mac Studio will do with these RAWs.