Originally Posted by sarno
I've been reading as much as possible about this topic and figured I would post a question.
I've been working on towers my entire professional career as a computer illustrator (14 years). I work mostly in Photoshop and Illustrator and a lot of my files can get rather large. Up to 2-3gb at times. I currently have a 30" Cinema Display and a 19" LCD. My tower just decided to "fry"
this weekend, weird sound and then poof, shut down and a horrible smell came out from the back. So needless to say I'm in the market for a new computer ASAP!
I was all ready to order a new 8-Core Mac Pro with the 8gb of ram (and then order another 8 from an outside vendor) and the upgraded ATI video card. So at those specs we are talking $3600 before adding the additional 8gb of ram and tax. So I started thinking about an iMac. The 24" 3.06 model and upgrading to the ATI video card as well. It's considerably cheaper! But I'd only want to get the 4gb of ram since upgrading to 8 would be way too expensive. (about $700 more)
So I'm concerned that the 4gb of ram will just not be enough for the larger Photoshop files. The wait time for the iMac ATI models is 4-6 weeks and 2-3 weeks for the Mac Pros, which is a really long wait considering I need a computer now. I'm also wondering how big of a speed difference I would be able to feel between the two. I work on a 2x3ghz Dual-Core Intel Xeon Mac Tower at work right now and I don't want to feel like I'm working on a slower computer at home. I have the latest edition of Photoshop CS4 as well. I also do a little video stuff and play the occasional game but most of the time is spent in PS & Illustrator.
Well anyway, thanks in advance for any help!
You know as a PS user that Adobe has the small bottom window on the image window. When efficiency is 100%, all is fine, and you don't need more memory.
Generally, PS needs at least 3 times as much RAM as the largest file you are working on. Plug-ins have their own needs. Then the computer OS takes what is needed for itself.
For a 3 GB file, and 100% efficiency, you would need, to be practical, at least 12 GB RAM.
The problem of banging on your HDD every time PS does an internal save, or change to the file, is considerable if you can't get at least two copies of that file into PS's RAM. So, a minimum of 8 GB is indicated.
Otherwise, the iMac is pretty fast. not as fast as a Nehanem Xeon with 4 cores. But, right now, PS only uses 2 cores properly. But more cores do help as it allows the OS to spend much of its time elsewhere, making the two cores available to PS, possibly speeding the program up by another 15 to 20%.
When CS5 comes out, not only will it be 64 bits, but it should be better able to use more cores. Apple's 10.6 has Grand Central, which makes parallel processing much easier to implement. It also has Open CL which makes the better graphics card another speed booster.
Unless you plan on buying another machine in 18 months or so, the Mac Pro will prove a better investment because of the additional cores and threads, along with the upgradability.