Photo Editing Studio Compares $4k iMac vs $4k Overclocked PC

Here’s a fascinating article that caught our eye this week involving a performance comparison of two $4,000 photo editing rigs using Adobe Lightroom. One is the professional creative’s favorite, an iMac, the other is a customized and overclocked PC that costs around the same price. The results are presented within the context of the technical needs of a commercial photography studio… Spoiler alert. The overclocked PC wins!

Let’s be honest, probably the biggest technology grudge match of all time is the one between Apple fans and Windows PC users. You could argue that there is a little Apple fanboy in all of us – how many overclockers have I seen clutching an iPhone 6 Plus or an iPad mid-bench session. And quite rightfully so. Apple makes such nice wee devices and remains largely imperious in the mobile device segment. But if we turn our attention to high-performance computing, video and image editing you might need, for want of a better term, a real man’s computer.

The article focuses on the business reality for a high-volume photo studio processing thousands of high quality images per month. Author Pye Jirsa employs a testing methodology based on budget, comparing two machines that use different hardware, but retail at similar price points. The $4K Windows 10 rig uses a Core i7-5960X processor, 64GB of RAM and an GTX 980 Ti. Note that the CPU was cooled using a Corsair Hydro H110 and pushed to a stable 4.5GHz. The iMac was configured with a quad core Core i7 at 4GHz plus 32GB of DDR3 and an AMD Radeon R9 M395X GPU.

Tests were based on Adobe Lightroom (the main meat and potatoes of what the studio uses on a daily basis) and included file import times, smart previewing times, develop module image to image times and panoramic merging times. Testing found that the PC was between 26% and 114% faster in these tasks, a reality that has serious ramifications when you’re shooting something like 400+ weddings a year. In fact Pye estimates using the $4K PC would save his studio around 20 weeks of productivity per annum.

Make sure you check out the article in full on, if only so you can enjoy the flame wars that inevitably ensue in the comments section.

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