Moving from Apple Intel to Apple Silicon

My present setup is:

  • iMac 27’’ Retina - Intel i7 4 Core CPU, 8 GB RAM - updated to 32 Gb, 512 GB SSD (Late 2014).
  • MacBook Pro 13’’ - Intel i7 2 Core CPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD (Early 2015) *)
  • iPad Pro 11’’ -1st generation - 256 GB *)

For now it is the iMac that is in question for an “Apple Silicon turnover”

My workload includes some tasks where I now see the old faithful iMac now sometimes struggles:

  • Photo editing using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Highest possible resolution scanning of old photos and film negative/positive material using Silverfast 9 and VueScan.
  • Digitizing analog videos.
  • Ripping BluRay and DVD disks (For personal use legal in Denmark if the BluRay/DVD disk is yours - Just I case you wondered :innocent:) using Handbrake and MakeMKV
  • Some 4K video editing using DaVinci Resolve and Nikon NX Studio
  • Use of NightSky.

Since I already have - for my purposes - a rather decent 32’’ 4K Samsung display plus keyboards (a new Magic Keyboard with touch for added convenience is noted), touch pads and mice I’ve kinda decided to go for an Mac Mini M2 Pro.

Considering that adding to Apple “base configurations” does come with a price tag my questions are.

Should I based on the above add 32 Gb Ram OR the 12‑core CPU, 19‑core GPU?
Listening to my economic sense it will be one or the other - not both.
Or is both of those overkill considering my present platform and needs?

Opions are welcome.

*) I found that - after I got the iPad Pro - it is in far most cases my companion when I’m on the go. And the MacBook Pro generally stays at home on the desk next to the iMac. So - my next “mobile computer” could be a M2 iPad Pro. :wink:

I would get the 32GB RAM but probably not upgrade the CPU…unless you plan on keeping it a long time in which case I would go for both if the budget allows but if only 1 of those is feasible I would get the RAM…but in reality probably neither is just as good a choice based on your planned uses. I tend to keep things until the are way past ancient myself so when I do upgrade I get more than the minimum.


I would normally choose the upgraded CPU/GPU because of the amount of video work you are obviously doing, where these processors have a much greater impact on speed than amount of RAM, but I’m not sure that really holds true for 10 core CPU/16 core GPU vs 12 core CPU/19 core GPU configs, speed-wise. So I’d probably go with the 32GB RAM option to improve future-proofing of my choice.

I think either choice (using M2s) would prove to be an amazing upgrade in speed compared to your 2014 iMac (which is still a great machine, just relatively much slower).


Go for the RAM


Will you be using the free version of DaVinci or the Pro version? If you’re using them professionally and need to meet deadlines, my thinking is more RAM wil be more flexible and faster will be better to work with.

I’m not familiar with the Nikon app.

I upgraded last summer to a 16-inch MBP (on sale). I chose the base (minimum) M1 Pro CPU/GPU and 16 GB RAM with 1TB SSD.
I previously used a 2012 Mac mini core i7 with memory added to get 16 GB RAM and SSD added. I benchmarked the processor-intensive DxO DeepPrime v2 noise reduction and lens correction on a couple of photos for comparison. DxO has apparently optimized their code to use the GPUs on Apple Silicon.
iMovie export - 5x faster on MBP
DxO DeepPrime - 37x faster (!) on MBP

Conclusion: the Apple Silicon CPU/GPU upgrade is overwhelming.
Therefore I would add RAM and / or SSD for long-term use.

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“Go for the RAM”

This on a t-shirt


For my needs the free version of DaVinci Resolve is sufficient.
I use it only privately or on occasionally voluntary tasks and have no deadlines to meet,
Nikon NX Studio seems to me to perform on par with DaVinci on smaller tasks.
DaVinci certainly have more options for more elaborate jobs.
Nice thing about the Nikon App is that it will pick up on both photos and videos - as long as they are captured by my Nikon camera.

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I would echo those prioritizing the RAM upgrade.

Let me say that I do not have daily experience on the M-series systems in a production workflow, but a lot of what I see written by those doing daily production seem to support this. First there is the extreme cost of Apple Silicon CPU/GPU upgrades from the base model (unless you do not foresee buying a new computer in this lifetime :grinning:), or need to squeeze every second of rendering time.

A few years back I remember reading an article about SNL’s insanely tight production needs. One of their lead producers said that if someone could show them a product that could shave a minute off their process they would throw money at it because things were so tight in getting a live show ready. Most of us are not in that position.


I’ll add my two cents to the consensus. In terms of priority, I would suggest:

  1. Max out the RAM. I’ve found that this will become the biggest bottleneck in the future as macOS and apps demand more and more resources. And you can’t upgrade it after the fact.

  2. Max out the CPU if you think you are likely to be running high power apps like media editing or high-end gaming.

    For more generic computing, it probably doesn’t matter - I’d probably stick with the base M2. But if you feel you need/want the extra capacity of the M2 Pro (especially if you want 32GB of RAM), then $300 to get the extra two cores might be a good deal, if you think you’ll be using the computer for a long time. Depending on your budget, of course.

  3. Max out the storage. Well, maybe not “Max”. The M2 Pro can go up to 8TB, but that is very expensive and probably overkill for most people. I suspect that if you actually need that much, then you won’t have to ask. But I would definitely consider upgrading to 1TB or 2TB. I would not consider the bottom-end model with only 256GB of storage - make sure to get a minimum of 512 GB.

    But if you’re on a budget, you can upgrade storage after the fact. A Thunderbolt or USB SSD won’t be as fast as the internal SSD, but it will probably be “fast enough”, especially if you primarily use the external drive as a document archive, keeping your current working documents on the internal SSD.

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The M Series can more than cope with the level of production you are doing. Pretty well any of them.

Max out the RAM and see how large an internal SSD you can afford. Apple’s SDDs are pricey but excellent.


What he said

Thank you all for advice, tips and insights. :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:
Based on those and my own gout feelings I’m gonna focus on:
Mac Mini M2 Pro 10‑core CPU, 16‑core GPU/Neural Engine
512 GB SSD

My reasons:

  • The base M2 Pro SOC/CPU would be far superior to the Intel CPU in my present iMac considering my workflows.
  • 32 GB RAM because I still got that old mantra “Never go down on RAM” imprinted in my backbone.
  • 512 GB SSD because during the last 6-7 years I never went above 60% used space on neither my iMac nor my MacBook Pro. I use iCloud for most common day to day data and have additional storages for my long time archives *)

*) “Project work in progress” IS stored on the iMac, but backed up every 2 hours to an external (5 TB) drive that also holds all essential data once the workflow has ended.
These data are in turn copied to my NAS every 4 hours.
And another task copies data from the NAS to a connected Raid 5 unit once a day.
And the NAS additionally backup the files to iDrive twice a week.
Overkill? I just do not like to loose data. :stuck_out_tongue:


I have almost the same experience as you form a MBP 2012 to 2021 M1 Max 32 Gb.
With DxO Deep Prime, I got up to 60x times faster with complete silence where where the fans were running at full speed after processing 3 pictures.
Just a correction (for my case at least) : I bought a M1 Max for pictures processing but DxO determines automatically that neural engine is to be used for max performance (in fact, a little better than GPU). I am a little disappointed !

I took a decision and just ordered a Mac Mini M2 base SOC/CPU, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD. (Plus a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID for convenience) through Apple Store.
Not exactly cheap, but I found no-one delivering to Denmark doing it for less.
Besides my experience with Apple Store from Denmark has so far actually been very good.
Anyway my iMac has now been put up for sale :grinning:


I also prefer to buy my Apple gear directly from Apple’s web site.

Partly because there’s far too much counterfeit product for me to trust a site that includes marketplace sellers (like Amazon, but there are many others) and partially because I almost always want at least one Build-To-Order (BTO) option, which means I can’t buy a stock unit (like what you might pick up in a retail store).

And ultimately, unless you’re buying an old model, the discounts you get from other retailers (e.g. Costco, Best Buy or Micro Center) are not very big, so you don’t even save a lot.

Good point. This brings up the entry-SSD issues found in recent Macs. The SSD choice can actually downgrade performance in certain conditions:

While I generally don’t encourage people to buy the top end SSD options from Apple due to their exorbitant pricing, there are now potential performance reasons to step up at least one level from the entry SSD.


My Dec 2018 i5 mini is certainly starting to suffer under Ventura. So I’m likely in the same spot you are. I would get a minimum of 16gb ram (32 if you can afford it) and 1TB SSD. Not sure the max or ultra CPU is worth it.

My impression is that in many applications the limitation of the system is the speed that memory can be moved in and out of RAM, and that doesn’t improve with number of cores. If you look at the specs there is a wide range of memory bandwidths. Mac Minis have either 100 or 200 GB/s, and the Mac Studio 400 or 800 GB/s. I think this is achieved by increasing the width of the memory bus.

My fairly standard MacBook Air with an M1 is faster than my 27inch iMac with a 3.8GHz i7 with 8-cores, so I think most people will be happy with an M2 with sufficient memory. Given that it is no longer upgradeable the 32MB is safer, but 16MB may work OK,

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Yep, mem bus b/w is what you buy when you go from M1 to M1 Pro/Max or from Pro/Max to Ultra. Each time peak b/w doubles, starting at 100 GB/s for the M1.

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