Studio slow to render

I’m running a brand new Apple Mac Mini with the i7 3.2 MHz CPU, 32MB RAM and a 512 SSD. Yet with all this power, Topaz Studio renders slowly, maybe more slowly than the 2013 MBP with a much older i7 and 16GB RAM, the mini replaces. Is there a problem with my setup, or with Topaz. I’ve attached my System Report. Please advise. Thanks. JimJimK Macmini.spx (4.7 MB)

It will be a problem with the graphics card.

I read else where that the graphics card can be bypassed using the Energy Saver preference panel, but there doesn’t seem to be a setting there. Any suggestions?

I first look at the recommended hardware here:

Seems my GPU is adequate, but it does not seem that Topaz had updated Studio for Mojave, or hasn’t updated the web page you referenced.

I do not think about Apple in detail. You need to enter the ticket here:

Will do. Thanks, again.

The Mac Mini you have there has Intel UHD Graphics 630. Not a very powerful GPU. Did you have plans to add an eGPU for performance reasons? If not, you might want to consider it. Our software works fine with 10.14.

Thanks, Joe. And, I thought the new Mini was going to be a real workhorse.
An eGPU from OWC is $550 with an Radeon RX 580. Will it make that much

Absolutely, it will. Here’s the performance disparity between the AMD RX 580 and the Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU:

The difference is that the AMD RX 580 8GB is 645% (7.45x) faster than the desktop Intel UHD 630 GPU.

Before I drop $550, and 550w of power drain, on a graphics card, please explain how TopazStudio manages CPU and GPU. Photoshop runs far faster on my new mini than on my old computer, especially when building large photomerge panoramas. Oh, and do you know a benchmark site for Apple computers; the one you referenced is Windows only. I know, I know, I can google it too, but I would not be comfortable downloading an app from this kind of site. I can trust your recommendation. Thanks.

There’s no need for benchmarking Apple computers. The hardware is the same as what is used in Windows machines, sans OS-level optimizations. Suffice it to say, watt-for-watt, Windows machines outperform Mac machines these days.

I’d like to note that I use to compare basically all customer hardware, unless it’s brand new hardware. Their utility/benchmark tool is safe, and their entire site depends on the integrity of that tool.

Topaz Studio performs image processing in your GPU, not your CPU. Photoshop leans heavily on your CPU, with some GPU tasks sprinkled in here and there. We use OpenGL to render our effects and interface. Pretty much everything in our Studio software runs through the GPU. We mention this in the following requirements article for studio:

I get it. But, is Windows only. I’ll have to decide if I
want to invest in an eGPU just to run Topaz, or be happy twiddling thumbs
while Studio works its magic. Can you recommend a modest eGPU; even a 2x
improvement would be an improvement?


Unfortunately, eGPUs are pretty much only supported by high end cards (GTX 1070 and better or RX 580 and better) at this time. There’s not really a “modest” eGPU option.

If there is only limited eGPU options for Mac users, why did Topaz opt to program the GPU rather than the CPU? It puts Mac users at a disadvantage when using Topaz–we can’t upgrade the GPU with a new card, like Window’s users. The new MacBook Pros have Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 GPU, which, according to is still modest compared to the AMD RX 580. Second guessing Apple and Adobe, I would say that both companies favor CPU over GPU. I cannot imagine a portable computer user schlepping a giant eGPU box along with the laptop. Thanks. Jim

Actually, Apple put their users at a disadvantage by shipping inferior hardware. That’s not really our responsibility. We make cutting edge software, it is up to the device manufacturers to create a hardware package that runs well in as many environments as possible. I am also quite irritated with the fact that I can’t upgrade my own 2015 13" Retina MacBook Pro i5 8GB, as I am a computer builder myself. I am also keen enough to know that if I need raw power, then a desktop is my only real option. My home desktop is still running an AMD R9 290, which was AMD’s second-to-top of the line card in 2013. That card is 5 years old and outperforms the iGPU in literally every single brand new computer made today in 2018. If the reality of hardware performance weren’t so stark, I might be inclined to agree that software makers bear more responsibility in ensuring performance is equal across all hardware platforms. The bottom line is that your GPU is to graphics processing as an engine is to driving a car. Sure, you could get along with one type of engine just fine, say, a commuter car’s 4-cylinder. But you wouldn’t dare pull a boat with that 4-banger. Instead, you acknowledge that your hardware isn’t up to the task and you buy or rent a truck for the task. No one is ever surprised to hear that you couldn’t tow something with a commuter car. Yet, there seems to be some sort of shock when the fact is revealed that iGPUs are horribly slow and only really useful for rendering displays and video playback (forget about video rendering).

When it comes to favoring CPU over GPU, it’s all a matter of intent. We intend on breaking ground with new technologies, algorithms, and applications, and we leverage a number of existing technologies to do so. The primary being OpenGL, which runs in your GPU only. iGPUs can run OpenGL commands, but they’re horribly inefficient at doing so. Anyone that has ever faced a situation that simply demands high performance hardware will tell you they’ve discovered this. Anyone that bought a “fast” laptop that wanted to play A, AA, or holy moly AAA titles, has discovered this.

I’ve had the performance debate on these forums ad nauseum, so I’m not super interested in hearing more about it. The fact of the matter is that Apple is leaving behind performance for… something else, and their users are taking the brunt of that change. Topaz Labs should be held responsible for that. I cannot imagine why Apple would think portable computer users would want to lug around a huge eGPU box, either. I think eGPU is a great solution for the new Mac Mini’s, which have TB3 and are a prime candidate for the additional components. However, I can buy a Windows laptop today for a much better price and receive much better performance, than even the highest end MacBook Pro. Sure, it’s sad to see Apple fall from the high performance and upgradability reputation they once built, but we’re all feeling those effects. Personally, though I love to develop and work on a Mac, my next laptop will likely be a Windows machine. I’ve eyed that new Mac Mini for myself, and though I really like what it offers, I acknowledge that it is still not a full desktop replacement device. A desktop needs to take advantage of all the power a stationary build can offer, and not having a dedicated GPU option is making it a tough sell. Still, I can get a decent price on a Mac Mini, which leaves the eGPU option open.

Anyways, I appreciate the situation is uncomfortable, but computing these days requires you to compromise on something, somewhere, somehow. If you want a Mac, you need to lower your GPU hardware performance expectations, without question.

Wow. Joe, that’s a great explanation. Thanks. Maybe it’s time to think about a Windows computer. Thankfully, my Adobe CC membership makes it an easy switch; but, what about all those fonts… I think Apple’s business model has strayed from supporting professionals–even though we put them on the map. Word and Photoshop were Mac first software, back in the dinosaur days of personal computing. I will not be happy migrating. When I first adopted digital in 2001, I had to use Windows for my location portrait printing. It was an awful experience, coming from Mac. As the software and printers evolved I was able to ditch the PC. I suppose years later Windows is better; I might have to find out, if I want the performance in a small package. Have a great holiday.

I use a combination of Mac and PC because each of them is sorely missing something I consider essential to my ability to deliver on my digital tasks. So, I switch OSes based on the context of my work. I don’t write any code on my PC. I don’t play any games or do any heavy processing on my Mac machine. That’s just the state of things these days. Many of the professionals in the computer hardware industry and communities echo the sentiment I’ve explained here. Apple has been abandoning their professional community, in waves. In some waves, product support (Final Cut, I’m looking at you) is dropped (iPhoto and Aperture, you too), and in other waves, it’s outright weaker hardware with a higher price (AMD GPUs…). Apple is betting that they have enough “normal” users that they can keep happy. The moment you stray from the “normal” use case, and start touching on the more demanding applications of your hardware, you’ll see where Apple has fallen very far behind. Their cooling solutions also limit the TDP they can use in their systems, meaning you shouldn’t expect anything other than a full tower with robust cooling (no current models have this, btw) to have a super-fast CPU, either.

When I bought my MacBook Pro in late 2016, I was looking at the mid 2015 model (with all those glorious ports!) and the MacBook 12", with only a single USB-C port ( :thinking: ) – and I KNEW how weak the products I was comparing were. I’ve become a Mac convert strictly for typical business/coding things, while my gaming/heavy processing has remained on my more powerful PC. You gotta do what you gotta do!

Too true, Joe. I don’t have needs beyond layered Photoshop files under 1GB, so the Mac seems adequate… until I want to denoise with AI Clear or tweak with Impression. I just bought a new mini, after waiting 4 years for the upgrade. Now, I’m thinking in three years, when it’s time to upgrade, it might just be a Windows computer. I could BootCamp on an older MacBook Pro I have lying around and experience Windows Home Edition; I’m ready to be surprised. And, I own Apple stock.

Interestingly, the hardware Apple provides actually runs better in some cases when running Windows 10 through Bootcamp. My wife has the mid 2015 MacBook Pro 15" i7 AMD R9 M370X 4GB (the highest-end version of MBP from that year), and her computer games are all but unusable on macOS. So, we installed Win10 on a bootcamp partition of about 100GB, and she plays games off of an external 2TB hard drive. The performance increase in games and in benchmarking for that AMD R9 M370X was about 200%, I was just blown completely away by that. It turned the non-functional GPU in macOS into a mid-tier gaming GPU in Windows 10. Sadly, I saw no such improvements with my lowest-end 13" MBP i5 with Intel Iris 6100 GPU (which is a bad GPU anyways). I would have liked to play Cities Skyline and/or Stardew Valley, but even in those lower end games I couldn’t manage to get a consistent 30fps. That’s bad, if you’re not familiar with gaming framerates and performance. As a comparison, I get around 200fps on my AMD R9 290 4GB.

Personally, I really want to like the Mac Mini. But I need more power from a Desktop. If I had a secondary desktop processing location used strictly for non-graphics work (say, a cabin in the woods where I wrote code), then I could see the value in a Mac Mini (for me). But I’m a gamer, and I need that sweet performance that only a dedicated GPU can provide.