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Konstantin Nikkari

Choosing the right computer for Affinity Designer

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Hi,

 

I'm about to buy a mac. I'm open for all macs; mini, imac, book pro and air. How well Affinity Designer (and Affinity Photo / Publisher) is capable using the hardware? Should I buy a mac with quad core processor? Does Affinity use multiprocessors? Is Irish Intel GPU more than enough or do I need to choose Nvidia. You guys have any guides for choosing the right mac for Affinity?

 

Please help. I don't want to pay for a computer that I use only 50% of its capabilities. Other programs that I use are Pixelmator and different web design software. I don't play, I edit videos rarely for purely home purpose so nothing fancy there.

 

Thanks.

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I have the base model Late-2013 Retina MacBook Pro and it runs like an absolute dream! Affinity loves CPU cores (the number of them is generally more important than their speed in GHz) so they're the thing to prioritise... The GPU in any Mac is absolutely fine for Affinity's requirements and you won't get much of a noticeable speed boost between the least and most expensive variants you could find. We're pretty light on memory too. Basically, I also have a 2008 MacBook Pro and a lot of the early performance tuning dev work was done on that machine - so you can pretty sure that as long as you've got that spec upwards that you'll get a good experience, but ultimately the more CPU power you have available, the better it's going to get! :)

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Hi Matt,  :)

 

sorry if this is a dumb question: but would you be so kind to explain the pros and cons of these two options with respect to application speed ...

 

Thanks, Alex

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Of course :)

 

You always want to be using the hardware Open GL support - the option is only there to turn it off simply for people who are experiencing problems and might want to try turning it all to software to see if hardware Open GL support was causing their problems... Software Open GL is going to be a slow experience... We know we support back to at least a 2007 MacBook because we managed to get hold of one, but we didn't know if there would be any issues with other old hardware, so thought it safest to add the option to revert to software only mode.

 

You can force the application to only use the integrated GPU if you have more than one available (MacBook Pro with additional discrete GPU for example) if you want to save battery power. By default, OS X will choose to use the right card based on what your application is doing - and in Designer's case, because it fires up a GL surface, it typically says 'discrete GPU is best' and that uses more power. However, we're actually not using an awful lot of Open GL horsepower and your integrated GPU would probably have been completely fine (although sometimes not quite as good - one of our devs can tell the difference slightly between his integrated HD4000 and discrete NVIDIA GPU on his 2012 first-gen retina MacBook Pro) so our default is just to let your computer do whatever it thinks is best, but at least provide you the option to maximise your battery life if it is more important to you than ultimate performance.

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Thank you *very* much for detailing this, Matt! Great to have you all here on the forum! What a difference to other companies ... would give you a double Like if possible ...  :)

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Just my $0.02...if you want to know the ABSOLUTE, rock-bottom Mac you can run Affinity on, I've got a 2006 Macbook Pro (MA609LL) with 4GB (3GB actual) of RAM and an ATI X1600 128MB VRAM that been maxed out to 10.7.5 (Lion was the last OS these Macs would handle) running Affinity Designer fine.

 

AND

 

Although I recently gave this one away, I did get Affinity Designer running on a 2007 Macbook (MB061LL/B) 4GB (3GB) of RAM with an Intel x3100 Integrated Graphics Processor (one of the ones that pulls up to 144MB of its VRAM from main memory). Again, maxed the OS to Lion (10.7.5) and Designer was running great. It WAS a bit slow on certain tasks, but it ran great.

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@MattP: Is there a way to use BOTH the integrated and the discreet GPUs in most modern MacBookPros in parallel? That would be sweet... but only feasible when plugged in... nevertheless, might give users that nice extra boost!


2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS High Sierra

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My 2 macs are older...2009 Mac Pro, 2010 Mac BOOK Pro.

 

I am very happy with the speed of AD on both, and while faster macs obviously run the same software faster, I feel that apps like AD give my hardware new life.

 

What they say in their promos is right: by the time Illustrator gets done loading, I'm already working in AD. The question of which computer? For Affinity Designer: the mac you have. For adobe? Next years's Mac.

 

;-P


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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@VectorCat - "Next year's Mac" - haha! That's possibly very true! (worryingly!!!!)

 

@ronnyb - Interestingly, the only thing we use hardware acceleration for is displaying the results of our backend's document draw onto a surface for you to see. It's only a small number of quads with simple textures so just about any modern (or fairly old!) graphics card can cope with this without breaking a sweat in the frame time allowed for a 60fps operation. So, in theory, you'd gain extremely little by throwing more GPUs at it. There are many things that make Affinity nippy - but they're all backend and they're all done in software - that's why the iPad version we teased a few weeks ago only took a few days over the Christmas holiday to bolt together and make it work - we just needed to replace the presentation layer at the top with the iOS equivalent and then bingo - fully functioning all formats editing of gigapixel images... on an iPad/iPhone... now we just need some time to finish it, haha! ;)

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the iPad version is extremely encouraging news...helps move the iPad much closer to serious work platform, in my mind..


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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...we're kind of hoping that this new iPad Pro becomes a reality - if so, then Designer would run very well on it and be a genuine productivity platform when you haven't got your full computer with you, or you may just use it in preference because there's something very appealing about drawing on the screen! :)

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drawing on the screen has always been appealing to me..more like paper. I've also always liked the iPad, but from what I know of its capabilities today, it doesn't seem to me to be a "real" computer capable of doing real work of the kind I do.

 

It looks like it is getting there, especially as serious apps are written for it..apps like AD and others. Then combined with the  size and light weight it becomes compelling..I assume it's very conservative on energy, too..


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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The latest iPad has a 64-bit processor, it's definitely a capable platform for "serious" work... it's more a question of apps and usability over an extended period of time (small screens suck for long work sessions), as well as user acceptance of it as more than an email/browsing, gaming and media consumption device. I think Microsoft Surface 3, although it has plenty of faults, begins to show the true potential of multi-touch enabled, laptop/tablet hybrid. The next few years will be very exciting as the iPad matures into an all purpose productivity tool, just like laptops are today.


2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS High Sierra

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OK..so, a question for all tablet users:

 

If you were plopped into a new job, contract or permanent...or working for a client, and the only tool you could use was a tablet and whatever software you need and is available for that tablet, could you do your job?

 

..Or, could you not do your job on that tablet? Right here, right now?


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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Definitely not yet, @VectorCat, but it's a matter of time... if the rumors of the iPad Pro with a 12"-13" retina screen and built-in iOS stylus support pan out, I'd say within 3 years we'll see a lot of truly professional level apps which can but don't need to integrate with desktop apps... But i hear ya, right now, it's definitely not a viable option for most types of workflows. Heck, who wants to look at a 9" display for 8 hours a day?! But a 13" display, now that's totally different...!! (sarcasm)


2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS High Sierra

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no, I agree. I am happy as a clam with my even non-retina 13" MB Pro. I can and have worked all day for days on end on that great machine.

 

if there becomes and iPad that can do what that MB Pro does, there will be one in my toolkit.

 

fairly exciting idea...


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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For me personally screen space is more important than speed (given, that probably any Mac built after 2011 is able to run Affinity at a good speed) — therefore my suggestion is to get an iMac as big and as new as you can afford, if you have to choose between ,bigger' and ,newer', go for ,newer'.

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My family have an 2008 iMac. The only upgrade done to it is an SSD for the OS. Affinity Designer runs like a dream on it. Its likewise on my Mac BookPro 2011. So I think it doesn't have too much to say what Mac you choose. 

About the iPad version- will older iPads be able to run AD?

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Maybe it's good to know for someone on that topic:

I run AD on my late 2008 MacBook Pro with 2,93 GHz, 8 GB RAM and a SSD with the integrated nvidia Geforce 9600 on Yosemite.

It runs smooth and very well - I only detect glitches and jerks when I have a very complex file or with large pixelpics inside.

So everything about that should run very good :)

 

Also I use a 2011 iMac with 16 GB of RAM and a SSD - and that's nearly perfect.


iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017), i7 4.2, Radeon 580 Pro 8 GB, 40 GB DDR4-RAM, 1 TB Flash, macOS 10.13.6

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Definitely not yet, @VectorCat, but it's a matter of time... if the rumors of the iPad Pro with a 12"-13" retina screen and built-in iOS stylus support pan out, I'd say within 3 years we'll see a lot of truly professional level apps which can but don't need to integrate with desktop apps... But i hear ya, right now, it's definitely not a viable option for most types of workflows. Heck, who wants to look at a 9" display for 8 hours a day?! But a 13" display, now that's totally different...!! (sarcasm)

ronnyb;

 

Can you or any other tablet owners/users talk speak to what extent the tablets are now "real" computers capable of doing real work?

 

So, you mention 64-bit processing in the latest iPads, and I get how limiting/frustrating the small screen size would be, but in terms of doing illustration...there's iDraw, and Pixelmator, and we truly hope AD will soon be there.

 

Then there's I believe a certain amount of video editing, maybe iMovie for iPad..

 

And code authoring/IDE... I assume there's some kind of code editing that can be done, and if not a native app, one could use something like Nitrous.io, tho I find that frustrating on a real computer; too much nitrous "chrome" and not enough space for the actual code area.

 

Then finally FTP software...surely there must be something for tablets.

 

Are the tablet virtual keyboards too "toy" for real work? Are they too basic, such as alpha-numeric, but incomplete in other characters needed? Ability to format text?

 

I have a friend who says he could do front-end development and illustration on his iPad no problem. He's a very good illustrator, but I'm not convinced that his front-end skills are far enough along to testify about the iPad as a serious dev platform.

 

Thanks for any views on this....

 

vcat


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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Maybe it's good to know for someone on that topic:

I run AD on my late 2008 MacBook Pro with 2,93 GHz, 8 GB RAM and a SSD with the integrated nvidia Geforce 9600 on Yosemite.

It runs smooth and very well - I only detect glitches and jerks when I have a very complex file or with large pixelpics inside.

So everything about that should run very good :)

 

Also I use a 2011 iMac with 16 GB of RAM and a SSD - and that's nearly perfect.

 

I'd have to say that my experience with AD is just about perfect, too.  It's hard to judge because A) so many established software tools are pretty weird; they lower the bar and B) AD was so well-behaved out of the gate, and the fit and finish of AD is so polished, I have to assume the devs truly know what they're doing and that things will only get better.

 

You know..it wasn't a pile of half-done casserole chuffed off onto hungry Mac users desperate for anything. AD has to my eye been best-of-breed software from square one.


 2012 Mac Book Pro 12”, 8GB RAM, Mojave  |  2017 iPad Pro 12.9” 256GB, iOS 12.4

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ronnyb;

 

Can you or any other tablet owners/users talk speak to what extent the tablets are now "real" computers capable of doing real work?

 

So, you mention 64-bit processing in the latest iPads, and I get how limiting/frustrating the small screen size would be, but in terms of doing illustration...there's iDraw, and Pixelmator, and we truly hope AD will soon be there.

 

Then there's I believe a certain amount of video editing, maybe iMovie for iPad..

 

And code authoring/IDE... I assume there's some kind of code editing that can be done, and if not a native app, one could use something like Nitrous.io, tho I find that frustrating on a real computer; too much nitrous "chrome" and not enough space for the actual code area.

 

Then finally FTP software...surely there must be something for tablets.

 

Are the tablet virtual keyboards too "toy" for real work? Are they too basic, such as alpha-numeric, but incomplete in other characters needed? Ability to format text?

 

I have a friend who says he could do front-end development and illustration on his iPad no problem. He's a very good illustrator, but I'm not convinced that his front-end skills are far enough along to testify about the iPad as a serious dev platform.

 

Thanks for any views on this....

 

vcat

 

Hey @vcat, I don't really use the iPad as a standalone tool for "professional" work yet. I think the screen size is too small for extended work sessions, although the quality of the screen is amazing, it has a fantastic color range. I would totally use it for quick revisions, or maybe for exploratory stages, brainstorming, note taking, but for doing the heavy creative lifting, I want at least a 15" screen. I did just purchase Duet, which turns an iPad into a secondary display via USB cable, which is pretty cool! The main reason I don't use the iPad though, is because the main Adobe apps I use (PS + AI) don't run on the iPad (yet), although Adobe keeps making little applets that tie into their desktop apps. 

 

I never really considered leaving the Adobe universe until recently, because there were no alternatives as well integrated as Adobe's are (for all their faults). I started leaving the Adobe gravitational field when I purchased Sketch 3 and solely used it for a UI project, and it was quite fun, although still buggy in some areas. Then I found out about Affinity Designer, and now with Affinity Photo and soon Publisher, I feel I am reaching Escape Velocity, and will soon be leaving behind Adobe's event horizon and monopolistic black hole... he he...


2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS High Sierra

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