Aperture Performance: ATI Radeon HD 4870 vs ATI Radeon HD 5870

I have an early 2009 Mac Pro with the ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card.

Do you think there will be a significant performance boost using the 5870 over the 4870 with Aperture ? Apple says the 5870 is great for "motion graphics, 3D modeling, rendering, or animation", but not sure if I should expect much improvement using it with Aperture. I am pretty happy with the 4870, so don't want to spend the cash for minimal improvement.

Any thoughts or speculation?

  • Asked by David S from Anchorage
  • Aug 17, 2010
ATI Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or Early 2009)

ATI Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or Early 2009)

Product No Longer Available

5 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    Currently, Aperture 3 ONLY uses the GPU when applying, and rendering adjustments. Everything else is CPU bound.

    If you are having slow response with sliders, or brushing on adjustments, the card may be worth upgrading.

    The biggest change would be that the 5870 has 2x the amount of VRAM and aperture can start to run slow If you've brushed on a lot of layers, and there isn't enough VRAM to hold all the layers in the video card's memory - Another factor here is if you have 2 displays at high resolution - You will need more VRAM.

    There's really no scientific way to test this, but I've found that you need at least 256MB of vram per display for aperture 3 to work well with 21MP raw files.

    • Answered by Matthew B from Bellingham
    • Sep 9, 2010
  • Actually, with Aperture 3 you may see a small difference, if you work with RAW images.

    Aperture 3 uses CoreImage to do it's RAW processing for preview display. CoreImage does it's work using GLSL (and I believe OpenCL on Snow Leopard), all of which is farmed out to the GPU for processing.

    That said, if you -really- want performance boosts in Aperture 3 try to find an nVidia card. While the 5870 may be the fastest video card around right now for 3D graphics, the ATI cards lag behind the nVidia boards for OpenCL/CUDA performance.

    For example, the GTX 285 (available for the Mac if you can find one, as they are no longer in production) is much faster than the latest ATI boards at OpenCL tasks despite being two generations older.

    • Answered by Dylan N from Toronto
    • Sep 2, 2010
  • After upgrading from a stock Radeon HD 2600 XT to a Radeon HD 4870, the only Aperture task that seems faster is stamping adjustments. My test took 2:33 with the 2600 and 2:08 with the 4870. Import & process, image rendering, the Retouch brush, and JPEG export from adjusted RAW all showed no improvement.

    • Answered by Jacques C from Brooklyn
    • Aug 12, 2011
  • Install an 120gb SSD from OWC as Boot Drive to noticeable increase read write performance performance., also cheaper.

    • Answered by Martin M from London.
    • Dec 2, 2010
  • You won't see a noticeable difference unless you are running heavy 3D applications or gaming.

    What I would suggest if you want to see an improvement in Aperture 3 is to add more ram to your mac (have at least 8 Gigabytes of ram ) boot up your mac to 64 bit (if running Mac OS 10.6) and run Aperture 3.

    • Answered by Francisco V from League City
    • Aug 19, 2010