Did it bump for you…?

Just bear with me here for a moment – normal non-techy service will be resumed as soon as possible… (and this really is techy – sorry). Can I recommend that if you’re not interested in Solid State Drives you go and have a cup of coffee? Thanks.

I’m now three or four days into running solid state drives on my big shiny mac pro machine (exciting pictures here) – all seems well, bar the odd bit of brain-ache making iTunes look in the right place (my fault) and trying to let DropBox know everything is alright (in the end it decided to download rather a lot of stuff without me being able to do much about it, but again, I think that was user error…).

Boot time and programme launch times, while I’ve not measured them precisely, are now very short indeed (just seconds), but obviously that’s not the point of putting in £350-worth of drives  The real things I was interested in were speed increases in using Photo Mechanic and Adobe Lightroom, which are 95% or more of my editing process.

Photo Mechanic has always been fast, but if you just sat on the right arrow when viewing full-screen .NEFs it would stutter after ten or so images, and the screen would be blank for a moment – this is now totally gone, and scrolling through 366 NEFs (just done it) was totally seamless. Lovely.  Not that you want to do it quite like that normally, but it’s good to know you can…

Photo Mechanic with some 154 Collective poster possibles... :: photos copyright Richard Hanson

Photo Mechanic with some 154 Collective poster possibles… :: photos copyright Richard Hanson

Lightroom was reasonably fast before, but between each image there was a ‘stutter’ as the file was rendered – 1-2 seconds, enough that it was bothering me, and this is the primary reason I was interested in the upgrade.  Results here are good but not perhaps stellar – the stutter has all but gone, but is still just discernible.  What has gone is the spin-up time of the hard drive if the computer had put the discs to sleep because of a pause in workflow – that could take 10 seconds or more, and obviously with an SSD that’s not an issue.

I ran some Geekbench tests to get a comparison (Geekbench runs a standard set of stress tests on the processor and memory, and writes data to hard drives etc, so you can compare machines with each other using a standardised measure – £11 well-spent if you’re feeling geeky, not really worth a penny if you’re not bothered with playing the ‘how big is yours?’ game…).

My 2009 2.26GHz Mac Pro comes in at around 13500 (told you this was techy), which isn’t bad at all – the spread for these machines goes up to about 14300, but this puts mine in the top 10% or so of this model, which is fine – I’m not trying to break any records, just get the most out of what I already have.

What’s interesting (odd?) is that if I boot from the old spinny drive (which due to strange things in the App Store that I can’t iron out only allow me to run the test in 32 bit mode) I get results that are, ahem, faster (12400) than if I run it in 32 bit mode on the SSD boot drive (12200). You know what? I’ve no idea why that would be. It makes no sense, and what I’ve decided is that I don’t care really – I can see things are faster, and that overall they’re fast compared to other similar machines, and that’s really it…

Was it worth the upgrade? I think so – for video it might make a bigger difference, as the volume of data you’re fiddling with is so much greater, but I don’t do a whole lot of that. But if I’d not done it, I’d have spent a lot of time worrying about whether I should do it. If anyone has thoughts about why these speed things are this way round, give me a shout – I’m intrigued, but not very…

For completeness, I ran the test on my 2007 MacBook Pro, 2.2GHz and get about 3000 – ie about a quarter of the big machine – and firmly in the middle of expected speeds for that model.  I’m planning to upgrade to a MacBook Air 11″ with all the trimmings, and these seem to be a bit more than twice as fast, which is fine.

Now I’m sending myself to sleep with this stuff, so I’ll stop.  Hope its vaguely interesting to people thinking of doing this… If not, apologies for having dragged you this far through this stuff – why don’t you go and look at some of my pictures (which are more interesting than this) over at hansonphoto.co.uk?


richard hanson :: photographer :: sheffield