I am about to get a new platform for my image processing. I only do stills and I almost exclusively use Photoshop CC, primarily Lightroom. But I also do some stiching and focus stacking, with the help of various other software. My main platform today is 3 year old iMac 27”, with a 27” Eizo self-calibrating monitor added. In addition I use a 2 year old 15” MacBook pro, with Retina screen, when I travel. Both platforms are a bit short on RAM and I do not like the shiny iMac screen.
I know many of you know a lot more than me on the latest and greatest, so my question to you is:
If you could choose freely, what processing platform for still images would you choose?
I'm at the same place you are right now, planning a new platform.
My current platform is my starting point, so I will describe it. I have a Late 2013 Mac Pro 6-core with an 8-bay Synology DS1813+ connected to it. The ethernet is bonded together on the Mac Pro and on the Synology. (The Synology has four ports total, and the Mac has two.) There are eight 7200 rpm enterprise hard drives (10 times the reliability of regular consumers drives from Western Digital, Seagate, etc.) in the Synology.
I keep my originals on the Synology and all other data used when working in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc., is stored on and accessed from the Mac's built-i PCI-Express flash disk.
However, Mac OS X, even with Yosemite, is terrible when using network drives. It continues polling the drive even when nothing is accessing the drive. And several times each hour, the Mac OS X NAS driver reaches a state where it just crunches and crunches all the hard drives on the NAS, while getting no data out of them. The drives are doing zillions of IOPS, and a folder of files is just sitting there with a beach small cursor spinning and spinning. This never happens on Widows, even when I am accessing the same folder at the same time.
When this behavior is happening, it doesn't matter whether I do "ls" from the command line or whether I am using Finder. Either way, Mac OS X just causes the NAS to perform massive crunching of its hard drives, without actually producing any data. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with either the Synology support for Mac, or with Mac OS X. I suspect it is with Mac OS X, because this same problem happens regardless of whether I connect to the Synology with CIFS, AFP, or SMB protocols.
Another thing that really irritates me is that the bonded ethernet still transfers at a max of 125 MB/sec (usually closer to 110 MB). Mac OS X is still in the dark ages of not doing parallel transfer of data. What is even worse is Lightroom. Lightroom does not understand that it needs to load data ahead of time. No matter what, Lightroom never uses more than 10 MB/sec of bandwidth, and does not cache images in advance. I cannot use Lightroom whenever I have doing a crucial shoot when time is of essence. It takes about 15 minutes to do a job of quickly selecting images and checking sharpness that I need to do in 3 minutes. Lightroom is still in the dark ages as well of being limited by single-threaded real-time processor speed, rather than taking advantage of caching in advance or even just using graphics cards to process images. My dual D500 graphics cards are being absolutely ignored by Lightroom.
In theory, the above set up should be ideal, but it was just a waste of money due to Lightroom and Mac both being just plain stupid in their technical aspects (but good in their user interface, shortcuts, and overall convenience from efficiency).
So this brings me to the design considerations I am now taking into account for my new system:
* I have purchased dual Intel 730 480 GB SSDs that I am going to use in RAID 0. I would never consider the risk of RAID 0 with anything less than these enterprise-grade MLC SSDs.
* Overclocked Intel CPU to try to maximize Lightroom's speed until they eventually reach the 20th and 21st centuries and start using graphics cards, caching, and doing more than just the token use of multicore processing which is currently all that it does.
* The NAS works perfectly with Windows, so sadly, I'm going to be using a Windows system temporarily. Probably the beta version of Windows 10.
* Since all the photos will still be on the NAS, I will still be able to use the Unix command line to upload and manage images, a reason why I could absolutely never fully rely on Windows.
I hope this helps! If it wasn't for personal experience, I would never have realized that an amazing system like a Mac Pro would actually be so frustrating and slow to use with Lightroom. (And it's all Lightroom's fault, except for the poor NAS support of Mac OS X.)
For my dual monitor setup, I'm going with the
27" Dell P2715Q 4K UltraHD 3840x2160 IPS Monitor
and this one http://www.lg.com/us/monitors/lg-31MU97-B-4k-ips-led-monitorhttp://9to5mac.com/2014/10/28/lg-31-inch-digital-cinema-4k-monitor/