Much of the software that is available for both Mac & Windows is largely identical for both. If you can use it on one, you can use it on the other. This is certainly true of Adobe’s range of software, including Photoshop. Regardless of the platform, though, one of the biggest issues many photographers and other imaging professionals face is performance.
The recent MacBook Pro limitations have already seen quite a few start to make the shift over to Windows based PCs. The lack of upgrade options, and limited RAM just doesn’t keep up with their needs. But how does Apple’s flagship desktop system compare to new, much less expensive, AMD Ryzen based systems? Well, according to this test from Tech Guy, not so well.
Specs-wise, both systems are quite comparable. The cost, however, is drastically different between the two.
Mac Pro ($5,199 + Tax)
- 8 Core, 3.0Ghz CPU
- 64GB RAM
- 2x AMD FirePro D700 GPU
AMD Ryzen 1700 based PC (Approx $1,550)
- 8 Core, 3.0Ghz CPU
- Asus Crosshair VI Hero motherboard
- 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 RAM
- NVidia GTX1080 Founders Edition GPU
To upgrade the PC to the 64GB RAM contained within the Mac Pro would add about an extra $250 to that price.
Comparing performance between the two systems, was done with the assistance of Keith Simonian’s Photoshop Benchmark CPU speed tests.
Tech Guy starts with the Mac Pro with GPU acceleration enabled. He runs the benchmark action linked above, and receives a time of 15.0 seconds. Without GPU acceleration, 14.9 seconds. This indicates that the GPU plays little-to-no part in the processing of the image for these tests.
He next went on to test the same action on the AMD Ryzen based PC running windows. Again, he ran the tests with and without GPU acceleration enabled, and saw the same results each time. So, the PC isn’t using the GPU for these functions, either. Here, however, the speed is dramatically improved, receiving a time of 8.8 seconds.
With the Ryzen overclocked to 3.5Ghz, the results get even better. It brings that time down to 7.7 seconds. Without OBS using resources to capture the screen, Tech Guy says that time gets as low as 7.4 seconds. That’s half the time it took for the Mac Pro to perform the same operations.
Now, a saving of 7 or 8 seconds on a couple of processes doesn’t sound like a massive deal. But when you’re working on possibly hundreds of images from a shoot, that time adds up very quickly.
Of course, despite still (in theory) being Apple’s top of the line desktop, the Mac Pro is a little over 3 years old now. It’s coming up due for a refresh, but right now, it looks like there wiser ways to spend your money if performance is important.
Tech Guy says he’ll be running more tests, putting the two systems head to head for a variety of professional software. I’m curious to see how well it performs for video. Although, the GPU should play a bigger part in things there.