Which Mac for Mac Rookie

Hi Guys,

in the next 2 month I will decide to buy a Mac or stay at Windows. I’ve had a support chat with Mac a few minutes ago and the told me that the Mac mini will not be the system for working with RAW developers like DXO. At the moment my system is windows 20 pro, older Core i7, 32 GB and a passive Graphic card and SSD’s…so not a monster machine and it’s ok.
I don’t want to discuss advantages or disadvantages between Mac and Win, I’m interested in praxis experience with Mac mini for DXO, and some recommendations for the hardware to choose.

Thanks a lot for every suggestion


I’ve been using iMacs for years, directing extra money towards more Ram and not towards a more powerful CPU. As for the Mini, I’d stuff it with as much ssd as possible and At least 32 MB of Ram - the Mini has no separate GPU, be prepared for longer processing times with PRIME.

You can also install your own Ram, be sure to check procedures before deciding…

hi @Guenterm,

I use DPL on a Mac mini 2018:

Nom du modèle : Mac mini
Identifiant du modèle : Macmini8,1
Nom du processeur : 6-Core Intel Core i7
Vitesse du processeur : 3,2 GHz
Nombre de processeurs : 1
Nombre total de cœurs : 6
Cache de niveau 2 (par cœur) : 256 Ko
Cache de niveau 3 : 12 Mo
Technologie Hyper-Threading : Activé
Mémoire : 32 Go

SSD 500 Go

And I’m quite satisfied with it for usual work with DPL with NEF images from Nikon Z7 (45 Mpix).
And I guess we can add eventually an eGPU for more performance if needed.

About @platypus suggestion adding memory by yourself, as far as I know it’s not possible anymore on Mac mini while it was on my previous one.

yes, we can. Check out this video for details:

Note: It’s not as straightforward as putting Ram into a 27 in iMac…

Note: macOS Catalina consumes approx. 25 GB and you can always add external SSDs :wink:

Dear @Pathal, dear @platypus

thanks a lot for your information that was very helpful. I think the mini will support my work good enough. But the iMac looks very nice and would fit into my office design, but I’m not sure if it’s very good idea to have Monitor and PC in one case. It’s la little bit like the Compact HiFi equipment in the 80’s…one thing broken an the whole part has gone :innocent:.

No I have to check which one is economically and supports my requirements as exact as possible.
I hope all my software is also available für Mac.

Maybe i will get some other recommendations from other forum members.

best regards


It’s a bit tricky because iMacs were updated recently and have a better CPU, but Mac Mini is much less expensive and as you say it’s easier to change parts. And at the same time ARM Macs will arrive soon and we don’t know how good/expensive they’ll be.

I think with this you’ve even more questions than answers. Good luck :grin:

My current iMac is from 2019, the one before was from 2012. I ran most versions of macOS on them that were available without loosing performance. I usually run the OS below the current version and skip OS updates occasionally.

The performance I gained came at a price of noise. While the 2012 iMac was silent except for some HDD noise, the new iMac has a noise carpet caused by ventilation, which starts blowing seriously when images are exported.

As for performance comparisons, check out

Very funny…my current PC is from 2012 and still running.
Not an easy decision to make the step.
I’ve read about booting MacOS or WinOS from external SSD and this would be a good chance for smart systemchange.
I will take a closer look at the iMac’s


I cannot comment on booting Windows on Mac. I often use external ssds to test, be it new apps or OS releases. Just cloned the internal volume to an external ssd. It took 33 minutes to get roughly 700 GB to a Samsung T5 with Carbon Copy Cloner.

Sure enough that you can get your data off an external medium into a Mac.

I recently bought a Mac Mini with i5 and 512Gb SSD, and upgraded it by myself to 32Gb of RAM. It handles DxO PL very well, and see no reason to doubt it will work for many years.
I opted for a Mini instead of an iMac as I wanted to select by myself a matte, display with large gamut (and did not care too much for retina). With the iMac, you get a very good display too, but you do not really choose the specs. Also, this display will just live and die with the rest of the computer, which may not be the most efficient way to use resources nowadays. For all these reasons, I think the Mac Mini is still a very compelling product.

I was considering this option as well. Presumably you don’t use the GPU? How long does it take to export a TIFF image?

Dear @Xavier ,

thank yo that sounds very good. Why do you decided for a i5 not i7, and would you, after some days or week using it with DXO, choose it again? Would you please tell me the manufacturer and model of the display you decided for, because I will also replace my second display with a new one in size 27".


An iMac Users view.

I’m using a 2017 27" 5k 3.4ghz Quad Core i5 with 24gb ram. It cost £1769 in June 2018. The iMac is used almost evry day and my only complaints are aesthetic. The Magic Mouse is slow and being bluetooth it doesnt last that long before needing a charge and charging it means you cant use it. The screen, in my house gets filthy with finger prints dust, food splashes (yes I eat at the computer) etc. Can be hard to clean with the enclosed microfibre cloth. The latter would apply to any computer of course, but a smeared high gloss screen and is it a pixel or is it a spec of dust. if you get what I mean.

I find DXO to be fairly responsive, but as far as I can tell the onboard GPU is not used much if at all and everything runs via the Fusion Drive/Ram. Power consumption is low and I can hear the backup My Passport when backups take place, there is little noise from the fans. (I did bootcamp it and ran Dovetail Games Rail Simulator and that ramped the fans to very noisy!)

In all I have had little problem with DXO on the Mac, there are bits of DXO I hate but thats just my view.

One of the reasons for choosing i5 was budget. :slight_smile: I wanted to maintain the overall expense below a certain level, and to have a lot of RAM (important for many things I do). I looked at geekbench and saw a lot more difference between i3 and i5 than between i5 and i7.
Given the performance, I think I would get the same if I had to do it again.

The choice of display is very personal. For me 24" was enough (actually better, I do not have too much space) and retina not a must. So I opted for the Benq SW240. Very happy so far. The SW270c and SW271 are great choices too (the former is 2560 pixels wide and the latter is 4K).

I’m working with a Mac Mini “Late 2012” with a 4-core i7 (8 Threads) and 16 GB RAM + 256GB SSD.

I’m still satisfied with this machine - it handles the 25 MB RAW-Files of my SONY Alpha-7 (Mk.I) OK. I’m especially happy with the 8 Threads of this i7-CPU because DxO PLx not only uses the cores but also uses the additional virtual cores if it’s rendering JPG-Files out of the RAW-Files. The 16GB RAM are never used more than 50% so I doubt if it makes sense to invest into 32GB RAM. (Use ‘Activity Monitor’ to verify your RAM and CPU usage while running PL3)

Finally: If you take into account that I’m talking about a eight(!) year old machine that’s a awesome result.

So, I recommend to buy as much cores and threads as you can get - an i7-CPU seems to be a good idea. Especially because the technical innovation rate slows down for years now and it therefore can be expected that your new Mac will last quite some time.

If I look at the benchmark results, the above mentioned 6-core i7 Mac Mini as of today is about as double as fast as my Oldie - not very impressive for 8 years development IMHO.

To be completely honest I have to mention that Apple is switching to its own CPUs in the very near future. No-one knows how long Apple will support the (then) old Intel CPUs with new OS releases. But the last switch from PowerPC to Intel was quite fair in this regard IIRC. At least when I sold my PowerPC MacMini it was quite slow and still supported… :slight_smile:

Regards - Matthias

Hi Guenter,
I too work with Mac mini‘s since the late 2007 Edition Intel Core Duo and always did pictur processing with them. Currently I use DxO-PL on a late 2012 Mac mini Server - the last edition where one could change Harddrives. It is pimt with a Samsung Pro SSD an has a Quad-Core i7, 2,6 GHz and 16 GB Memory. With in the workflow it is sufficiently fast (respons to altering settings) Exposure/Processing the final JPG or TIFF takes a while, couple of seconds per picture. But with large batches I‘m not waiting for the Machine but doing different work, so this doesn’t bother me.

With the current Mac mini 2018 boosted to 3,2 GHz 6‑Core Intel Core i7 and 64 GB Memory but only 512 GB SSD (I always host all my user data on an external Drive or NAS) for 2.840,-€ you should be well off and on the safe side.

I personally will wait for the new ARM-CPU machines, hopefully coming soon.

But … in your case, if you still want to use Windows programs or Windows-specific filetypes as fallback opportunity the Intel-CPU could be the better choice. On those machines you can install windows OS natively with bootcamp (then you should defintly use a larger SSD!). I believe Bootcamp is performing stronger then using a virtual machines with e.g. PARALLELS.

But (again) the later offers your the opportunity to „import“ your real Windows-Computer into a virtual machine and you can get rid off the old hardware.

The best comes last! I use to EIZO Monitors, an 10 years old 22“ Screen for organising all around my Work and a 27“ CS2740 hardware calibratable Monitor for the serious Work e.g. DxO-PL. current EIZO Monitors in this class have multiple digital Signal inputs and a switchable USB-Hub. You simply can connect your old PC to it and use it further on as long as you feel this to be useful. In my case. I used the old PC as fallback only a couple of month. By then I felt comfortable on the Mac and had all usefull data migrated to it. Currently while being in Home Office I use this setup again together with my Windows 8 Business Laptop and this is neat! Especially because I use a Logitech Unifying CRAFT Keybord and MX Master Mouse compatible and smart switchable between Mac and PC:

In any two or even three computer set up it is worth the money!

Hi to all.

Thanks a lot for all the information and technical stuff. It get’s clearer every day that, when I decide to change to Mac, it will be a Mac mini core i5 or 7, with 32 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD.
If I make the change I will tell within this thread.

Take care of you

best regards


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Hello every body in this thread,

Yesterday came the announcement from Apple for the autumn event next Tuesday 15th of Sep. at 19:00 CET:

Heise-Online expects - besides AppleWatch 6 and posibly iPhone 12 - a line up for the new ARM-Mac‘s:

I’ve had two iMacs in the past. I gave my 2015 model to my wife in 2018 when her 2009 one started having hardware problems. I wish I hadn’t. There is nothing ‘technically’ wrong with the all-in-one design. The screen is very good and I think you’d be hard pressed to match it, along with an equivalent Mac mini, for the price.

If you don’t like noise, get an iMac Pro. Those can run virtually silent under all but the most extreme loads and I don’t believe DxO PL3 would be able to achieve that.

I currently run a modestly specified Mac mini of the latest generation and it’s fine for my 24mpix RAW files, though perhaps not quite as fast as I’d like. My next Mac will be an Apple Silicon one for sure, and currently my thinking is it will be an iMac — I miss that big beautiful screen. I bought an LG 24” for my Mac mini and it’s nowhere near as good (and has already developed a fault).

People have said of the iMac “it’s a really good screen for the price, and you also get a computer with it.”

It depends what do you intend to do and what camera system do you have.

I used to have baby MacBookPro with integrated GPU…it was not bad for my old 20+MPx Canon 5D.2 … then, I bought 50+MPx Canon 5Ds and that was hell.

I have sold my baby MBP and bought the real MBP beast with almost the best tech back in 2017. 4GB VRAM, 16GB RAM, quad core i9…well, if you travel a lot you may survive the hell :smiley:

I have recently purchased a new PC on Win/AMD platform:

for comparison my MBP 17" processed 1600x 50MPx images in 7 hours but it is mostly due thermal throttling in laptops.

my new Ryzen killer does same job in less than 3 hours

What I noticed though, 50MPx loaded in PL3, easily eats 6GB of VRAM. MBP had just 4GB VRAM and it was noticable in loading previews

Otherwise, loading times and applying adjustment didn’t changed much between two generations of HW.

I gave up Mac because for price of “trashcan” one can buy two hardcore Windows computers with double processing power. iMacs are good for web browsing and some easy jobs if you have patience.

  • I would suggest you GPU with at least 6GB of VRAM or more if you have high MPx camera
  • NVM/SSD disk with lots of IOPs…my MBP 2017 had impressive 1GBs speeds with enough IOPs for anything
  • if you intend to do lots of images at once (I do timelapse where 500 images is pretty much slow weekend), invest in as much cores as possible. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has got 12 cores and you can run 5 images parallel in PL3
  • 16GB RAM is very much the minimum…PL3 processing above by mentioned images used (inclusive Win OS) 15GB RAM

As much as I like stability of FreeBSD/MacOS, it is not intended for real work unless you are extremly rich and can afford 6000€ “trashcan”. Retina LCDs were revolution but nothing special if you have ever used CAD/CAM/DTP displays.

My Ryzen killer cost 3000€ and same power on Mac will cost you double. Not to mention…next year, I can trash GPU and CPU and do easy 1000€ upgrade for double power. That is something you cannot do on modern Apple producst too much :wink:

I recall my first MBP 2011 laptop where one could still swap RAM, SSD, GPU but those times are long gone in name of miniaturisation and Apple strategy to kill powerusers with changing own non Apple components.

It is really down to what you intend to do on your PC.