Comparing Adobe Lightroom 3.6 performance on PC with SSD and MacBook Pro with HDD

After receiving an SSD on my work laptop and noticing a large improvement in the boot up time and general performance of the laptop, I thought I would look into getting a similar upgrade for my MacBook Pro (early 2008, 4.1 Core 2 Duo) machine.

This was spawned by a frustration of making Blurb books using my existing workflow, whereby I load all the images for the book from my iPhoto Library, open the folders in Blurb, and then drag the pictures into the Blurb layout program. As the original pictures are either 10mp or 16mp RAW files, this was causing about an 8 to 10 second per picture loading into Blurb and was becoming very frustrating.

I decided that the workflow needed to be overhauled, to use only one folder of exported JPEGs that Blurb would read. I thought if I was going to do this, that I might as well look at improving other aspects of the hardware or using other software that could make things faster. The iPhoto library basically duplicated my existing folder library, and as such my 500 GB hard drive was now almost full.

Thus, I had to clean house. I moved the iPhoto library to another external HDD. I moved the original photo files to two external HDD, one a backup up for the other. I also had a Time Machine backup of all of these files (can never have too many backups).

I proceeded to do a test today with Lightroom on my two machines as mentioned above. The Wintel machine had the 311 10mp Raw files stored on the SSD. I did a basic import into Lightroom. I then told it to render the 1:1 previews. I made the Camera Raw Cache equal to 20 GB.

The MacBook Pro with the 500 GB HDD (with about 200 GB free) has the almost 15000 images in the Lightroom catalog. I selected the same 311 10mp Raw images, and told it to render the 1:1 preview. The original files were on an external HDD connected via Firewire 400 to the computer.

The result was the within about a minute (the MBP being faster!). It took about 32 minutes to generate the 311 1:1 previews. Based on what I had read on Ian Lyons Blog and Digilloyd, it seemed the best way to improve this performance was to upgrade to a machine with a faster processor. That was out of my budget for the time being. However, the SSD machine did have excellent skipping between adjacent photos, and is likely worth the upgrade for a variety of other reasons. I am looking at putting in the OWC Mercury Extreme 3G 240 GB SSD from Other World Computing into my MacBook Pro


About petergsimmons

Global citizenship is conferred on those who have lived in a variety of countries, and who don’t identify with any one culture. I am such a person. Having lived in Jamaica, Canada and Japan, I have been exposed to First World/Third World, East and West, North and South. This has lead to a rich living experience, open-mindedness and curiosity about the world around me. This variety of living conditions in human landscapes is coupled with equally diverse travels in natural landscapes from the jungles of South East Asia and South America to the Arctic tundra; tropical beaches to the Himalayas, resulting in an incredible journey through life itself.
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