Apple M1 Macs and Photo / Video editing

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Good morning all!

I woke up this morning rather surprised to find new product announcements from Apple. I was expecting with the shift in architecture that there'd be no new Macs for a while, and the first computers would be MacBook Air class machines. In particular, the specs of the new processor are interesting... https://www.apple.com/mac/m1/

One thing I noted with particular excitement is the faster photo / video editing as the chip was apparently specifically customized for these applications. With the new Mac Mini starting out at $699, it seems to me this could be a game changer.

I am by nature skeptical of Apple hype (even though I'm an avid Mac user), and had huge question marks when they decided to move to ARM. I'm going to wait until real-live (non-Apple) users review the thing, but the Mac Mini is on my very short list for purchases.

Curious what you guys think... :)
 

betamax

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Hmmm... very interesting... I thought apple had consigned mac mini's to lesser GPUs.

My 2012 mac mini is being kept running by a hope and prayer. If my software can take full advantage of both the GPU and new chip, I'll be ordering one asap. Otherwise I'll just wait till it can :thumbup:
 
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Not this little black duck, Dion ...

I had to look that one up :) Yeah, skepticism when it comes to Apple is well deserved, because everything is always "the greatest thing ever!" -- and why I'm an Android user. :)

Of the hype, what I can believe is Apple put in customized hardware for this particular application, and that can give it a performance advantage. Whether it's as good as they say, and whether it makes a difference in the real world is what I'm curious about. Adobe has already signed up. Lightroom next month, Photoshop next year. Which is actually good for me. I'm primarily a Lightroom guy...
 
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Hmmm... very interesting... I thought apple had consigned mac mini's to lesser GPUs.

My 2012 mac mini is being kept running by a hope and prayer. If my software can take full advantage of both the GPU and new chip, I'll be ordering one asap. Otherwise I'll just wait till it can :thumbup:

Yeah, for me it's a 2011 iMac. And it's beyond that now. I really need a new box :) I've enjoyed the idea of Mac Minis but to this point you're right - the SKU difference has been noticeable... This time around the only difference is memory/HD, and it's probably too much to hope for, but if they're expandable.....
 
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2003? Wow, that's impressive. Besides a Commodore 64 that I really do intend to bring back up someday, I have nothing anywhere near that old. But hey, if it works, that's awesome!

That's one of the reasons I'm a Mac guy. Say whatever you want about Apple as a company, lack of market share, or whatever. One thing you can't criticize Apple about is their quality. I've not had a Mac yet that I haven't gotten 5+ years out of it. Right now I have a 2011 iMac, a 2013 MBP, and a 2019 MBP. Wasn't getting anywhere near that mileage out of my windows boxes...
 

betamax

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Yeah, for me it's a 2011 iMac. And it's beyond that now. I really need a new box :) I've enjoyed the idea of Mac Minis but to this point you're right - the SKU difference has been noticeable... This time around the only difference is memory/HD, and it's probably too much to hope for, but if they're expandable.....
Before Covid I was living in the city for work during the week and coming home during weekends, so I got used to plugging in my 4GB drive and sharing my photos between my Lenovo and my mini. So I just keep everting on that portable drive now, and back it up every few months. So a small SSD drive doesn't worry me. The only thing is, I bought 16GB RAM for my Lenovo, and in reality I use nowhere near that... The most CPU/GPU/RAM intensive program I use is Topaz Denoise AI. so the question is.. would 8GB do me for another 8 years.... I do hope they make the ram expandable, but I"m not counting on it. Might just have to price out the 16GB version.
 
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Before Covid I was living in the city for work during the week and coming home during weekends, so I got used to plugging in my 4GB drive and sharing my photos between my Lenovo and my mini. So I just keep everting on that portable drive now, and back it up every few months. So a small SSD drive doesn't worry me. The only thing is, I bought 16GB RAM for my Lenovo, and in reality I use nowhere near that... The most CPU/GPU/RAM intensive program I use is Topaz Denoise AI. so the question is.. would 8GB do me for another 8 years.... I do hope they make the ram expandable, but I"m not counting on it. Might just have to price out the 16GB version.

Exactly -- to John's point, upgradeability is really nice. I've swapped out components on my HTPC a few times over the years. Apple's gone generally in the reverse direction on that, although I think the 2018 Mac Mini had upgradeable RAM. I think that's a bit too much to hope for -- the new Mac Mini is even smaller than the old one -- but if it is, I'll buy one of the 8GB on the spot. $699 is a great price point to take a risk on new architecture. If out in the wild people say you really do need the 16GB, that's a decision point for me -- the upgrade is $200 and that's a bit spendy for 8GB of RAM.
 

betamax

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The newest computer (of 6) in our house first saw service in 2010 ...

Since then, they have had more RAM, SSDs and better video cards.

Still run for an average of about a month between reboots!
I used to be a PC guy, building my own PC from scratch etc, till I got a macbook, back when they were still using the powerpc chips, and I was gobsmacked as to how silent laptops could be. Every computer since then has been a laptop. I know I'm trading off some performance for quietness, but PCs are getting so fast now that it's not a huge trade-off for my usage.

If out in the wild people say you really do need the 16GB, that's a decision point for me -- the upgrade is $200 and that's a bit spendy for 8GB of RAM.
Hmmm... Just checked the local currency.. even at 16GB it's about the same price as the new smaller iPhone with the same ram....

I'll do some more research. I'm just wondering if intel applications will take a hit with the new chip...
 
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I'll do some more research. I'm just wondering if intel applications will take a hit with the new chip...

THAT, my friend, is the big question - and what I'm waiting to hear from non-Apple people :) To be honest, that may not be a deal killer for me. Since I have a recent Intel Mac, for $699 I think I could handle underwhelming x64 performance so long as LightRoom works very well, and a few other packages work pretty well, or have an ARM path forward.

Used to be I had to use a Windows VM pretty regularly - it's rarer now, and Macs have never been my gaming machines...
 

SpecFoto

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The 3 Macs announced all use the 1st generation M1 (mobile) chip with limited integrated ram of 16GB max, 8 core CPU power, and integrated GPU. Apple choose to start with the low end Macs and they did not increase starting prices from the Intel versions, yet equipped the Macs with 8 CPU cores and more up to date ports like USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3. The MacMini has 2 of these new ports that works at 40GB/s and 10GB/s plus 2 USB A type that are good for 5 GB/s and a 4K HDMI V2 port for using a 2nd monitor and it's only $699. Overall the Macs are are all faster and more powerful than before, run cooler, use less power and with the 2 laptops, have increased battery life, so what is not to like? You can do photo and video editing with 16GB of memory and it will be much faster than previous models, but still, it is not optimum, my 2019 iMac has 40GB of memory, but can go to 96GB if wanted, it's user upgradable.

For all the higher end laptops and the iMacs, we need to see the next M2 chip, or whatever it is called, as these will allow for more ram, higher multi core CPU's and higher memory GPU's. But if you were interested in a basic laptop or MacMini, these upgrades are terrific.
 
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Seahawk

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I'll wait to see what the new iMacs are like and read some reviews before making the move to replace my 2012 iMac, which is still going strong. If the new machines live up to the hype I would be very interested.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Whatever your opinion of Apple as a company might be, they undoubtedly did not take this transition lightly, or half-heartedly. I highly doubt they'd make this move unless they could clearly show there is a performance advantage over this line of Intel chips they are leaving behind. Note that they are leaving Intel's mobile products first, but there will be a new Mac Pro with Apple silicon eventually. It no doubt helps that Intel has been failing to really execute for years, especially in mobile. That just gave Apple more opportunity to make a mobile chip better. Over at Anandtech, they are giving some early confidence to Apple's claims just based on the performance of the A14 found in iPhones, and that's a passively cooled chip with with far less TDP to work with than even the MBA, much less actively cooled products like the MBP or mini.

I had an iPad Pro 2020, and the A12Z was more than good enough to handle seamless edits in Photos or Lightroom mobile. I have a 2020 i5 Air now, and any benchmarks that I could run on both iPad and Air have the A12Z being equal to or better than the 10W i5 in the Air. Will the M1 be the "Fastest CPU in the World"? I highly doubt it, as it would be no match for a 64C/128T EPYC with 220W of TDP. However, I believe what Apple is claiming is that it's the fastest CPU in this power envelope, and being 16B transistors and built on 5nm, I think that claim could be entirely valid.

All that said, I'm both excited and worried about this future for Apple. I like MacOS, and I like to see yet another player in semiconductor space to keep competition healthy, but with Apple silicon comes more Apple control. They claim to be privacy centered, with more crunching going on "on device," where Google uses their servers to "serve" you. MS wasn't too bad until Windows 10, when they started to get weird about privacy and just straight up advertising inside of the OS. Linux is always a possibility, which is why I bought one of the last Intel Macs that had a good keyboard. I will be watching this new era of Apple from the sidelines for now.

Apple likely has no interest in making chips outside of their own hardware, so if you don't like it, you have options. It just stinks that if you've been accustomed to Macs, you might have to "think differently" if you don't care for this direction.
 
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My concern is how Darktable is going to run on the new Macs. Theoretically it should be just a recompile (if you're nerdy) or a new binary to download if you're not but I REALLY don't want to go back to Lightroom and I would strongly prefer to stay with Mac OS. I like it better for personal use than Windows and I'm not willing to deal with maintaining a Linux computer anymore (although I suspect it's considerably easier than in the 90's and early aughts).
 

Hypilein

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If the numbers about the power increase from previous generations is anywhere near accurate the new mac books have enough overhead that rosetta should be able to just run older intel based software smoothly, even if it looses out significantly on efficiency.

Personally, I'm due for a new macbook Pro but I'm going to wait a while longer. I use my macbook for work which includes creating music scores in Sibelius. I am still using a fairly outdated version, but sibelius is ridiculously expensive and they are also starting to go on a subscription model. I have to pay this out of my own pocket, so I'm not too keen on spending anything more than necessary. Because my version of Sibelius isn't even 64bit I'm still running on Sierra, but I'm starting to run into problems (LR for example doesn't upgrade anymore, which is a shame, because I'm paying to get these upgrades!).

I also play games on this macbook, because I don't want to have two devices (i.e. Gaming PC and work macbook) where one does the job. I've done fine with just the integrated graphics chip, so I believe that graphic power wise I am probably getting some nice improvements here, but the support for games, which is already subpar for Macs is unlikely to get better.

I am going to look and see over the course of the next year. There are rumours about a 14" MacBook Pro which I think is supposed to be roughly the same dimensions as the 13" ones, with just a bigger screen. I can really see one of those being my next Macbook. So far every MacBook I've had has lasted about seven years. Apart from the battery being broken on mine and the fact that I am fighting with some software compatibility issues (which, could be solved by throwing money at the problem and just buying a new version of Sibelius) it is still going strong, so I might hold out for even longer than just one year.

This last fact is really what is making me sure that I will buy another macbook. When my first macbook was worn out after seven years of hard use it had become quite slow. My current MacBook Pro does not show any real signs of slowing down. It is slower than newer computers, but it still feels fast. My iPad (Air 2) which is also a few years old now feels the same way. It really only lacks pen support...
 
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I feel quite a bit the same way. I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, and I used to play in the woods there before it became Microsoft's main campus. I also worked there. So I had every reason to think Macs were bad, and Windows was great. It wasn't until 2009, after many many years of people saying things like Macs just work that I finally took the plunge.

Fact is they are incredibly reliable machines. And although I questioned the decision to move to ARM, if their pitch is even remotely accurate, this is a good thing for them. Apple has the ability to get people to support them. And to almost everyone, it doesn't matter if it's ARM or x64, so long as their apps work well.

We'll see. I still have significant concerns. I've occasionally had to fall back on virtual machines for different reasons. That seems clunky at best (from the Parallels forum it appears to run windows apps you'll need to install an ARM version and emulate!). But if my first M1 machine ends up being my "light" machine while I use my intel Mac for "heavy" stuff, that's OK too.
 

ex machina

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Neither of my Macs will make the jump to Big Sur, and while I'll run my mid-2013 PowerBook Pro until it likely melts down, I was thinking about updating my 2012 iMac with its ARM interation anyway. I maxed-out their RAM and upgraded both to SSD, but could put my more powerful workhorse to good use assuming Adobe updates Lightroom Classic to take advantage of the new hardware.
 

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