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Theoretical computer-buying question:

You have a large photo library and your current Mac is really slow while working with it. You decide to replace it.

You have $x00 more than the base model costs.

How would you spend it, considering the photo management use-case?

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@levisan I'd I think the major bottleneck would be the hard drive.

@levisan We sort of need to understand "working with", are you touching up the photos or ?

@geordie good point. The question is inspired by my mother, who is currently on a 2013 iMac and has a massive library in iPhoto/Photos. She doesn't have Photoshop or anything like that, but uses the built-in tools.
I wiped the hard drive and did a clean install of macOS last summer but she still complains (regularly) that it's a pain to do anything with the photos.

@levisan this feels like a split between the two. 2013 iMacs had a fusion drive, which was an SSD and mechanical hard drive that appear like one disk to macOS. The biggest performance improvement is going to come from having a pure SSD, then the RAM and CPU will handle all the photo manipulation evenly.

@geordie ah ha! I forgot about the fusion drive, you're right, that's what it has. Thanks for the tips!

@chris everyone is saying SSD and now I feel silly for not thinking of that. This is why asking for advice is a good idea.

@levisan seems like most people are voting RAM; however, then you'd need to do some pretty great caching.

@levisan PS always always always always max out RAM!

@chris @levisan if you're doing processing you'll need a fast CPU, and depending on how multithreaded your software is, you have to choose either high single core speed or slightly slower but with more cores. Can you offload the processing to the GFX card? If so, you might want a nice graphics card too.

You can see how much ram you need by seeing how much you're using now. Are you hitting swap? Then you'll need more in your new machine.

And like others have said, get an SSD.

@Sabex @chris the current machine in the situation which inspired the question is from 2013 and is maxing out RAM while working with the photo library, so that makes sense to have as a priority

@levisan @chris If you're planning on building a decent workstation I'd definitely go for 32GB +

@chris @levisan I used to click on Garageband or FL Studio DAWs and wait, and wait, and wait on my vintage, circa 2012 MBP. The SSD made a YUGE diff. Of course maxing it to the 16 GB (best I could do on this) helped. But now, the old i5 CPU is showing the strain.

@levisan get the best SSD you can. RAM above 8 is a bonus, but not needed unless gaming or professional video/photo editing. CPU is equally meh. Don't go cheap, but don't splurge beyond 10% above base cost of the PC.

If you need mass storage, get a single drive NAS, or use cloud storage.

@levisan it's a rule of thumb to keep you safe, not precise. If you're spending $200 on a CPU upgrade on a $1000 computer, you need to reconsider what you're spending money on. The CPU isn't the bottleneck on most modern computers.

@levisan
How many photos are you talking about? I have over 15000 and I haven't had problems on my old laptop (2008ish) or my current one (2018).

It may be that the library is damaged & needs repair
support.apple.com/en-us/HT2049
I will warn you, repair is NOT a fast process (takes hours) but may fix the overall speed issue.

@mhjohnson Not sure what the number is, but it's at about 300GB currently. It's my mom's computer and we did the repair tool last time I was there (months ago) which helped, but it has gotten slower again.

@levisan Other: Print all of your existing photos...and get rid of your computer.

@CoffeeFingers the question is inspired by my parents' current IT problems... my first response: "I only shoot on film. Saves the hassle."

@levisan Wholly understood. That said...I always choose RAM.

@levisan Put it into external, redundant storage, like a NAS.

Get a nice, used PC and run Linux, then you'll have $y00 more dollars for digital photograbation.

@CoffeeFingers @levisan I used a Mac for creative work through 2010, and by 2014, managed to move the entire creative toolchain to a Linux system. 98% same capabilities, no subscription to Adobe.

Updates meant that things got better, rather than slower, as they had on the Mac(s).

An expensive upgrade seems as good a time as any to mention the possibility of escaping the Appldobe ecosystem.

@jeremiah @CoffeeFingers I'm personally stuck in the Adobe world for at least another year but fingers crossed.

My mom's photo library is in Apple's Photos so... I don't think switching to a Linux alternative is a doable thing on her part. It was hard enough getting her off Windows 13 years ago.

@levisan @jeremiah Windows 13?! Egads! And I thought Windows 10 was bad!

@levisan @CoffeeFingers and started a viral panic that nearly destroyed civilization. Be more careful with your punctuation.

@levisan @CoffeeFingers what worked for me was finding open tools to replace proprietary tools while still using the Mac, and finding where the pain points would be (eg, losing metadata from asset management between documents and asset libraries.)

The actual files moved right across to tools like digiKam/Darktable with no trouble. LibreOffice was a drop-in replacement for productivity. The sound stack moved painlessly, as did 3D assets and models into Blender.

@jeremiah Well now I know who to ask for suggestions when the need arises!

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