Question about computer speed

I am currently using Photolab on a Win 10 computer, with Intel Core i7 8700 3.2Ghz processor, 32GB DDR4 RAM, and GeForce GTX1050 graphics card with 4GB memory, and a fast SSD.

I would be interested in switching to a Mac Mini with M1 processor (I prefer MacOS, and I like the idea of a much smaller machine). If I made the switch, what would be the effect on performance with PL5? The M1 chip obviously has advantages, but then so too does the dedicated graphic processor on the Windows machine. Would performance improve, take a hit, or be much the same? I know there is a lot of discussion on the forum of the performance of the M1 chip, but I do not know enough about different computer specs to be able to apply this info to my particular question.

One detail is that though PL5 would be installed on the main hard drive, or on a fast NVMe drive, the photos themselves would have to be stored on a large, USB3.1, external HDD.

I have a M1 MacBook Air (16GB Ram, 1TB SSD) that runs PhotoLab smoothly. Search the forum for comparisons. Note that DPL 5’s processing pipeline has been (partly?) optimised for M1 processors, which speeds up processing, specially if you use DeepPrime against noise…

Here is the CPU performance comparison between Intel i7 8700 and Apple M1. M1 is a bit better but not so much. You’ll get better results with M1 Pro, although you can’t choose a Mac Mini for this. Mac Mini is also limited to 16GB RAM.

GPU is equivalent between GTX 1050 and M1, but the main difference is the Neural Engine provided with M1, which significantly improves DeepPRIME processing time. See the Google doc linked in PL4 GPU benchmarking? - #21 by jch2103. Neural Engine on Mac allows to get the equivalent of RTX 2060 on Windows for DeepPRIME in PL5.


Thank you very much for this extremely helpful reply. It sounds as though it would be an upgrade, though perhaps not sufficient of an upgrade for me to rush out and buy one today.

M1 Mac Mini will freeze up when exporting. The M1 is not completely frozen, but the user is not able to fluently type even in a simple text program like TextEdit or iAWriter.

As the graphics are fairly weak, and PhotoLab 5 has not been recoded for Apple Silicon, modifying the sliders lags as well. The M1 PhotoLab 5 experience is subpar at this point.

M1 Pro is much better with 16GB of RAM but you have to be careful not to as PhotoLab 5 in Rosetta 2 emulation has a terrible memory leak, particularly on export on M1 Macs and will climb up to 10 or 12 GB of memory and is very reluctant to release that memory.

What really rocks is an iMac 5K 2020 with the 8GB W5500 graphics card. Sliders move smoothly and quickly, previews refresh instantly. Time per image to export D850 48MB files with heavy modifications was about 35s per image. I.e. perfectly acceptable. M1 Pro exports in PhotoLab 5 are about 22s/image for comparison. Export is not really the issue a smooth editing experience is.

Even on an M1 Max, PhotoLab 5 under Rosetta 2 emulation is a tired dog. It’s not responsive or pleasant to work with. Pushing PhotoLab users off of recent OS like Mojave (10.14) and our old computers was a near criminal act, while the PhotoLab 5 experience on M1 Macs is so poor.

I agree with @uncoy , the M1 Mini export time is quick (especially if DeepPrime is enabled, the optimisations DxO have made using the Apple Neural engine are impressive). However, the machines memory is quickly consumed to the point that the virtual memory swap file is massive, this then slows down the export time for a larger batch of images. I agree with his statement that the machine basically freezes during export - the OS and other apps slow much as to be un-useable (imo).

I find I need to restart PhotoLab and sometimes the entire machine to get performance back.

The thing is, quick exporting of files (thus the DeepPrime optimisation) is useful - we all have deadlines to meet. But a really big part of that deadline is viewing and editing the images too, and this is still cumbersome with a M1 Mac. Previewing of a raw file (for me these are Nikon Z6ii 24mp NEF files), and any subsequent edits just feels slow and laggy. And a massive part of user satisfation comes from a fluid and lag free editing experience.

The M1 chips (all varients) are fast, as is the M1 memory architecture. It just seems that Photolab is not optimised for them yet (it is still in Rosetta 2 emulation after all, but I had hoped for a fully updated version for M1 Mac by now).

My fingers are crossed for v6 being fully optimised. If it is not I will be disappointed :frowning:

Edit:I have to add though, DeepPrime is utterly, utterly amazing! And the optimisations DXO have made with it for the M1 are incredible. I just hope similar optimisations are brought to the rest of the app sooner rather than later.

1 Like

I know this is old thread, and this reply by Lucas was exactly what I wanted to know. It made me decide to stick with my Windows PC for a bit longer.

How I am now wondering how much the introduction of version 5.3, and native support for Apple processors changes the picture enough to make me switch? I have read in one post that this improves performance by 12-15%, which makes moving to a Mac more worthwhile, if not dramatically better.

Does anyone know whether having 16Gb RAM instead of 8 makes a noticeable difference with PhotoLab? I assume it ought to, but some people on the forum seem to find 8 sufficient.

And is there any significant difference between M1 and M2 speeds? If not, I might get an M1 mini now, but if there is a big difference, I might either go for a Macbook Air, or wait for an upgrade to the Mini.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can advise on this.

The recent version of Photolab that is 100% optimised for the Apple processors has made a massive difference imo.

Overall system responsiveness when ‘opening’ an image in Photolab is much quicker, as is the rendering time after an adjustment has been made.

Export time with DeepPrime enabled has been optimised for the M1 for a while and is really fast, but I have found that with the entire app now optimised then memory management is much better and I no longer need to close and restart the app every once in a while to bring performance back to an optimum level.

I have 8Gb memory on my machine and I’m very happy with Photolab’s performance now, but if given the opportunity then I would still prefer a machine with 16Gb as I feel it may be a better machine for the longer term future as the various apps evolve (and potentially use more memory). In addition to that, I currently open files from a 24mpix camera, but I expect that to change within the next 18months to a higher resolution device.

I can’t comment on the performance difference between the M1 and M2 processors.

1 Like

If you are able to upgrade graphics card you would probably get a faster and cheaper upgrade. A GTX 1660 with 6 GB Ram would probably half your processing time or better for Deep Prime.

Thanks for both of those replies. I was thinking of the Mac not just because of the speed but because I prefer MacOS to Windows (I use a Mac for work). Also, a priority is something quiet. My curent graphics card is fanless and so totally silent, and I am wary of one with a fan (the GTX1660 I see listed is described as “semi-fanless”, but I have no idea what that means, given that the image of it shows two fans). I know the Mac mini has a fan, but my experience is that it is rarely on (that is with an Intel processor); of course maybe PhotoLab would cause the fan to come on much more, but I was hopeful that the M1 would be efficient enough that it would run fairly cool and trigger the fan only occasionally.

I’ve never heard the fan on my M1 Mac Mini, even when exporting with DeepPrime. It is essentially silent. I’m sure someone could find a way to make the fans audible, but in my everyday use I’ve not managed.

1 Like

That’s interesting. As I said, I hear it very occasionally on my Intel Mac Mini, usually when running OCR software alongside half a dozen open apps; though it is occasional, when I do hear it, it is very noticeable, though I confess I am comparing it with silence, or just hard drive noise, which is generally almost silent.

If you prefer Mac then for sure that is probably a fine solution. The 1660 I got is not completely silent, it’s fans rotate at a pretty slow speed and there is only a pretty low sound fro it. Developing one RAW with Deep Prime is not something that makes it so hot that they need to rev up. Anyway, I believe there are cards that will let the fan go to a complete standstill and then are completely silent.

I’ve a similar problem. My actual Win-PC is 10 years old and I build it with a passive cooled graphic card and a very silent beQuiet Power supply unit. The only noise you hear is the init noise of the 2 DVD drive’s. For deep prime and the AI functions of Topaz my system is too slow and so I contacted the MSI support, asking for passive cooled card and if the performance will be okay for this kind of programs. Here’s the answer
"…only chipsets of the Nvidia 1030 are partially passive but I think the performance should be too little
I therefore recommend that you get a more recent GK from the gaming series, which is passively cooled up to 60 degrees. "
For the moment I work on my MBAir and it works pretty well. At the moment I’m in front of the decision if I will stay on Windows, because this was my platform for about the last 30years, waiting for lower prices for hardware items and build a new one for the next 10 years. Or to switch completely over to Mac System.

Happy searching

I have a MSI Creator z16 laptop which works really well with PL and DeepPrime. Thought I would let you know since you also have a MSI. The laptop has a Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU

I was not at all happy with PhotoLab 5 on M1 Mac until recently. PhotoLab 5 performance was much better on an iMac 5K 2020 which I also tested against. The recent universal version of PhotoLab does behave better.

@Roger I’m not happy to have had to buy an M1 Max to be able to run PhotoLab 5 but the only real good to come out of it is that the M1 series is my first truly silent computer. The €4000 (including docks) is almost worth it to finally be able to compute in silence.

Memory: I have 32 GB in my M1 Max (the memory in an readily available MBP is why I went Max and not Pro). When I tried 8GB it was hopeless for multitasking. 16GB was manageable but constantly paging and would not let me run two multimedia programs well at the same time. At 32GB I don’t run into issues (apparently photographers who do massive stitched panoramas can run into out of memory iissues with 32GB). On my Mac Pros I enjoyed 32GB to 96GB of RAM. Depending on how much multi-tasking you do, I’d suggest you get either 24GB (latest M2 MacBook Pros) or 32GB (M1 Pro/M1 Max).

After much prevarication, I decided that I should stick with the PC. One issue was that, even if the machine is much faster, using external HDDs would slow things down, and testing all my external drives,I decided they would all be significantly slowr than the internal ones on my PC.

The first step in “upgrading” was to move the folder containing files I am working on to a fast SSD. Coming from Lightroom, I was used to the idea that it was fine to store photos on a regular HDD provided that the app and catalog were on a fast SSD, but I think with PL5 it makes more difference having the photos on a fast drive, presumably because of writing .dop and .xml files. That improved a lot of PhotoLibrary actions that I had found frustratingly slow, like keywording. I tried an external SSD rated at 1000MB/s, but was not getting that sort of speed despite using what I think is a fast USB port, so I ended up using the internal one I had reserved for catalogs.

Then I decided to follow Torstein’s advice and upgrade the graphics card and bought an ASUS DUAL-RTX3050-OI8G. This was the fastest I could install without needing to upgrade the computer’s PSU. It has certainly improved export speeds though, from what I read, not by as much as an M1 Mac would have done. But then it was not so expensive. Where I notice what I think is a bigger difference (I should have timed PL5 exports before I removed the old card) was in Topaz sharpening, which seems much faster. One of my reasons for frustration with the slow export speed was that I often export from PL5 using DeepPrime, then sharpen in Topaz Sharpen AI, and then come back to PL5.

So far I have assumed “Automatic” will use the GPU when it is faster, though at some point I may select the GPU to make sure.

One point is that the card is “semi-fanless” and turns off below a certain temperature. It appears to remain off all the time, but comes on, not too loudly, when Topaz is processing. I guess if it didn’t it would mean that I did not need the faster card!

So on the basis of an hour’s use, it seems a worthwhile upgrade that will keep me happy for a while. Thanks to those who gave me advice earlier this month. Of course, the new Mac may still come at some point, but probably a Macbook that is primarily for other things, rather than a Mini.