Photo AI Running Slowly- Some Hardware Advice Please

I know this has been covered in other posts but I was after some upgrade advice.

I’m running a 2019 Mcbook Pro 2.6GHz with 16GB memory running on Sonoma 14.2.1. Normally I would run Topaz directly on the dmg files to get an initial clean image prior to any work in Lightroom and Photoshop. The results from Topaz are superb, especially in low light photoshoots where I’m shooting high ISO. The issue is of course I will shoot maybe 200 images which I feed through Topaz. Taking approximately 3 minutes per photo this is a horrendous time waster before I can do any editing to the photos. Clients want their images fast and I find I’m constantly doing all-nighters just to get their photos online for their publicity dept. I’ve followed all the past advice on changing CPU/GPU but it seems the best I can get is this 2.30 to 3 min per image.

So, my question. How much of a difference could I expect in processing time if I upgrade my 2019 MacBook Pro to a 2024 M2 or M3 MacBook Pro? What hardware will make the most difference to Topaz- the processor or memory? What specs would you advise and what sort of an improvement could I expect. Macs are not cheap and I’d hate to go ahead and spend a whole lot of my hard-earned only to find that I have a minuscule improvement in processing times.

Any advice at all would be most appreciated.

BTW, your AI engine is superb, and a life saver. In a recent shoot I was rushed in getting a spontaneous group shot which looked great on the camera screen, but when I dumped it on the laptop I realised I had touched the manual focus button on the lens and the entire group were soft (horrendously so). There was no chance of getting the group back together so I fed it through Topaz face recognition and I couldn’t believe the results- the photo was absolutely rescued and the clients loved it.

1 Like

Upgrading to any M1/2/3 based system will give you a BIG speed boost compared to an Intel Mac (not only with TPAI).

With TPAI a vanilla m2 Mac mini should give you a substantially faster rendering compared to your current rig and still be very affordable.

More RAM will only help if you’re dealing with really large images.

I would like to give it a try with one of those photos on my PC to see how long it takes to export. Please upload an example image. Tell me the settings you would like to have applied to the photo also. :slight_smile:

Check out YouTube videos by ArtIsRight: he runs tests on Mac hardware using photography software.
Of course it all depends on the image. I have an M1 Mac Mini. It can export a dozen simple landscapes in less than a minute and the batch analysis didn’t take much longer. However, running a single low-res JPG with 19 faces in it took about a minute to analyse, even though saving took just a few seconds.

This was on autopilot. I’d want to dial down face recovery to achieve a more realistic image.

That would be hugely appreciated.
So here’s some actual numbers
Opening Topaz on its own (ie no LRC)
Settings are removing noise and sharpening, no face detection.
Updating the preview (ie move the focus box) 22 seconds
Saving the image: converting a 30.3MB-158MB file 3mins 58sec
It processes, then starts again. Presumably that’s because its doing two processes (sharpening and denies)

Operating within LRC
Using plugin extras and the same sharpening and denies
Initial detection up to preview available 42 seconds
Updating the preview: 29 sec
Saving back to LRC: 3min 22sec

Here’s the original dng file. It’s 30MB so not sure if it will upload but I’ll try.
_MG_5005.dng (28.9 MB)

1 Like

On my Mac mini M1, it took about 20" to analyse the image (My autopilot has face recover turned on, but it did not select it), and about 10" to save it. That’s standalone. I do not have LR.

1 Like

The weird part there is the saving- analysing is not too dissimilar, but it only takes your machine 10 seconds to save an image that takes my machine 3min 20 sec! That’s a crazy difference in time. My machine has an ssd so there’s no appreciable difference there. What could my machine possibly be doing that takes 3 minutes longer?

Maybe it’s not using the Neural engine because you don’t have a M series chip.

It’s got to be something like that.

My wife has a MacBook Air M1- a fairly basic machine. I installed Topaz on that and I’m getting the sort of numbers that have been quoted. It’s mainly in the preview which is almost instantaneous on the M1 and in saving where it’s 10 seconds on the M1 and 1 min 30 on the Intel machine.

I was able to halve the saving time, I have been using Topaz for quite a while and had previous products on my laptop. I uninstalled all previous products then reinstalled Photo AI and I got the saving down from 3 minutes to 1 and a half.

One thing intrigues me- on the M1 the image I uploaded is saved as an 88MB file. On the Intel computer it is saved as a 155MB file. Same original file, same filters applied. I have no idea why there’s such a difference but it might help to explain the slow saving (155MB vs 88MB).

Opening and waiting for Autopilot took 13 sec, saving to png took another 7 sec, that’s 20 sec overall. the file size is close to 100 mbyte. RTX 4090 + 13900K CPU.

when considering an upgrade from a 2019 MacBook Pro to a 2024 model with an M2 or M3 chip, the most significant enhancements in performance, particularly for running demanding applications like those from Topaz Labs, will be seen primarily in upgrades to the processor (CPU) and the memory (RAM).

  1. Processor (CPU):
  • The CPU is the heart of your computer, and a more powerful processor will significantly reduce the time required for computational tasks. The M2 or M3 chips will offer a substantial increase in performance over the processors in the 2019 MacBook Pro models. They are designed with more cores and higher efficiency, which is particularly beneficial for the AI and machine learning tasks that Topaz Labs software performs.
  1. Memory (RAM):
  • RAM is crucial when working with large files and multitasking between complex applications. More RAM allows your system to handle more data at once, which is particularly important for image and video editing software. Upgrading to a MacBook Pro with a higher amount of RAM will ensure smoother performance and less reliance on slower disk-based virtual memory. The faster RAM in newer MacBook models also helps with the overall speed of tasks that involve frequent memory access.

While other components like the GPU and SSD also play roles in the overall performance of the system, the CPU and RAM are the most critical when it comes to tasks that involve heavy computational work, such as processing images and videos with Topaz Labs software. Upgrading these components will provide a more noticeable improvement in performance compared to upgrading other components.

1 Like

It runs smooth here on the Mac Studio M2 ultra. Opening, Autopilot and then Denoise/sharpening takes 12 secs, panning takes about 2 secs until the preview is updated. Saving to DNG 6-7 secs with a resulting file size of 158,7 MB.

Here is a screen recording of this process with your image on my system:
TPAI performance Mac (1.6 MB)

(This was done with version 2.1.4 as after that my subscription ran out and I couldn’t justify renewing it until now. 2.1.4 has that bug where the colors of DNGs are desatured in the preview - but correct again in the saved image. And the newest 2.3.1 - which renders the preview correctly- doesn’t behave different here other that I can’t test saving there due to it being in demo mode).

1 Like

Thanks so much everyone.
As soon as I loaded Topaz on my wife’s Macbook Air and saving was 10 seconds I knew where the problem lay. Software developers (quite understandably) are designing programs for the M series chips. Intel is most definitely yesterday’s news. It works, just horribly slowly. At least I halved the saving time down to 1.5 minutes. I’ll start saving and see what I can afford. I’m thinking M3 and 24GB of memory.


Hi jo.vo,
I was wondering what application you used to record your desktop?

Hello Ian,

I often record my desktop also via GeForce Experience. If you need help getting processed a bunch of images until your new Mac arrives I might help you out. Just drop me a message!

Greetings, Imo

That’s an app called “Live Screen Capture” that came bundled with Roxio Toast. I don’t know if it’s available separately, though.

Loom is a great free application for this: Loom | Free Screen & Video Recording

On a Mac it’s built-in

1 Like