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The Fastest Mac Pro for Photoshop

Scott writes:

I have a fine art reproduction business, and we live in Photoshop all day long. It's all we do. Our 4x5 digital scan back camera produces 1GB files, and we crunch those files in Photoshop all day long. It's all we do.

So as I'm looking for the right configuration to purchase for the new 2013 Mac Pro, I ran across your article. Money is no object. It's all about work flow and efficiency. We open and close files that are 500MB to 1.5BG all day long. So no matter the cost, I want the fastest machine I can buy for Photoshop.

Your article helped me immensely. It's the best read I've found so far. I'm still not sure if I'll go 6 core or 8, but it appears 6. And I'm not sure which GPU, but it would appear dual AMD D500's make more sense than the D700, which may not be fully utilized for PS.

Certainly you've convinced me that the 12 core is a waste of time.

Thanks for a fantastically written article.

MPG: I appreciate thanks—always welcome. This site is time intensive and costly to stay current (MPG pays for its gear), so I appreciate support for our advertisers such as OWC, and please subscribe to my publications or use my buying links for Macs and photography gear. I am also available for consulting to help decide on a system design.

Photoshop is one application but it has many functions: CPU usage and GPU usage can vary for each function, so there is no entirely right answer. In short, the fastest machine ideally will be the one that handles the peak loads notably faster while being no slower on common operations.

Sometimes there are freebies no matter what machine is used: , simple optimizations that can speed up saving and opening files by up to 20X, that is, assuming a fast SSD.

Based on the description of intensive usage over long periods of time seen above, I would advise a 3.33 GHz 8-core (upgrade the CPU from a 4-core), the 1TB SSD and the D700 GPUS. However, the 6-core with D500 CPUS should run at very similar speeds, unless GPU usage is intensive, in which case D700 GPUs might be a nice bump up. Again, the actual workload might make some tasks noticeably faster and others might show no difference.

The unknown factor: Adobe is not likely to use the 2nd GPU initially, but we can hope that later this year both Photoshop and Lightroom will be updated to support use of the dual GPUs.

2013 Mac Pro cores and clock speed

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