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LivEEviL80
Aug 28, 2013, 07:45 PM
Hello, I'm new to this forum and have come seeking advice on a purchasing a new MBP.

I'm long past due to upgrade from my dinosaur 2003 PowerBook G4 12". I am a touring musician and occasional composer, and I used my trusty G4 for many years to run Logic 7, mostly for amateur/hobby home recording projects. It worked ok but never really had the processing power to handle projects once they got to a certain size. Too many tracks or plugins would overload the poor little guy, not surprisingly. I'd like to start being able to get a bit more serious about my home recording projects and have the ability to record and send tracks back and forth with producers in other locales, etc. So I plan to gradually start investing in some more serious gear. Nothing crazy, not planning a full service studio or anything, but would like to build a serviceable home recording setup with minimal gear.

So, first thing's first, I'm ready to upgrade my Mac. I've done a fair amount of research, and from what I gather, to run larger projects on Logic smoothly requires lots of processor power and RAM. I know desktops are the best option for pure processing power, but being that I'm on the road all the time and I can't afford both its got to be a laptop so I can use it for my everyday stuff too. Aside from Logic (I plan to upgrade to Logic X) and Finale, and maybe eventually some other music production software like Pro Tools and Abelton, I don't really plan to run a lot of other power hungry apps, and if it weren't for wanting to do music production stuff I could probably get away with a MBA or less powerful 13" MBP. But I'd really like something I can grow into. So from the current line of MBP's, it seems the 15" quadcore is the way to go, both for screen size and processing power necessary for running Logic smoothly. The retina display doesn't seem necessary to me, and I would miss the built in superdrive, as I'm one of those people who still use optical drives, however the retina line seems to offer the most in the way of maximum processor speed and most importantly ram, 16GB vs only 8 on the non-retinas, and also flash storage is attractive for me since I travel a lot and it seems more durable than a serial hard drive.

I found a Refurbished 15.4-inch MacBook Pro 2.6GHz Quad-core Intel i7 with Retina Display and 512gb flash storage on the Apple store for $2189, which seems like about as good a deal as I can find for those kinds of specs. I'm tempted to jump on it, but wondering if anyone has any insight or advice. I know the new Haswell MBP's are supposedly coming soon, and all the tech blogs say to wait for them, but I'm not sure if they will be worth the wait for my needs. Improved battery life would be great, but I don't anticipate often being in situations without power for hours at a time, as most of my use would be at home or in our touring vehicle which has a power inverter. If I knew for sure they'd be upgrading the specs of the cMBP's I'd be tempted to wait, but that seems unlikely, and it doesn't seem like the rMBP's will get a major jump in performance other than added battery life, and they'd presumably be more expensive than a good refurbished current rMBP.

Thoughts? Should I pull the trigger or wait for the Haswells? Should I spend a few hundred more bucks and get the 2.7 or 2.8 GHz refurbished i7? From what I've read they're not that much faster for the extra $$, but I'd be curious to hear from anyone running music production suites on any of these machines. Would a non-retina quadcore with only 8gb of ram be a huge dropoff in performance? Thanks for any insight!



prospervic
Aug 28, 2013, 08:23 PM
I faced the same dilemma back in June after no MacBook Pros showed up at WWDC, even though they were predicted. I had sold my 2011 15" MacBook Pro, and was left without any computer.

I was intending to purchase the Haswell upgrade, but found myself in the position of having to buy the very refurb model that you mentioned. I'm running Sibelius and logic Pro X on it with no performance problems whatsoever. In fact, logic Pro X runs smoother than logic Pro 9. (I likely don't have the same plug-ins as you, as I use very few. But logic Pro X only uses 64-bit plug-ins anyway.)

The only issue I can see is that the discrete graphics processor fires up when logic Pro X is launched. This really kills the battery. However, a free utility called GFX Card Status allows you to force the computer to use the integrated graphics only. But as you said, this won't be an issue for you as you don't do much extended work away from a power source.

If I were buying now, since it's so close to the Haswell update release, very likely to be October, I would wait it out. But it will be more expensive than the refurb model (Mainly due to Apple's exorbitant SSD prices), which I consider to be a real bargain. It's a really nice, powerful, and quiet machine -- a factor of great importance in audio recording

As for Retina, I've used logic on the 17" MBP and 15 inch MBP, and I can tell you it's much easier on the eyes with the retina display.

ChrisA
Aug 28, 2013, 10:53 PM
The CPU is rarely the bottle neck. The standard MBP run Logic X fine. What you want are
1) lots of RAM. I'd say 8GB is a minimum and get more if you can
2) the disk drive. Get SSD if you can afford it. Then you can use it for both the system and the audio files.

Be sure and buy a few external drives for backup, at least two, three is better.

The Presonus "Audiobox" is bus powered and makes a good mobile interface.

prospervic
Aug 28, 2013, 11:43 PM
The CPU is rarely the bottle neck. The standard MBP run Logic X fine. What you want are
1) lots of RAM. I'd say 8GB is a minimum and get more if you can


Unfortunately, 16gb RAM is not an option for the standard MBP. But, even if you go 3rd party for RAM and a large SSD, plus pay the price for the faster CPU option, you'll be spending way more than $2189 for a heavier computer (yes, I do work out, but after carrying it awhile that extra pound really pulls at the strap) with an inferior display that's more fatiguing to the eyes. (I know some people claim there's no difference with Retina, but it's like night and day to me and everyone I've shown it to.)

No doubt folks will protest that the standard MBP is better because you can open it up and upgrade the parts. I guess it depends on whether someone would rather spend their time tinkering with their computer or creating music.

chabig
Aug 29, 2013, 09:38 AM
Just FYI. I'm running Logic Pro X on an 11" MacBook Air (2013 Haswell) with 256GB SSD and i7. I am not a pro, nor do I particularly know what I'm doing. But it certainly runs the demo project (containing about 90 tracks) without a hitch, with CPU load hitting about 20% maximum.

Boyd01
Aug 29, 2013, 02:29 PM
I ran Logic 9 for almost two years on a 2011 13" MacBook Air i5/4gb/256gb without problems. Am now using a 2013 11" MacBook Air i7/8gb/512gb and it also runs Logic 9 fine.

My use is really basic for the most part - live recording with 4 microphones, an Akai EIE Pro 4 channel USB interface and a KORG control surface. FWIW, I got round trip latency of about 13ms on the 2011 MBA and 9ms on the 2013 MBA.

From what you've said, this is probably not the kind of system you want. However I'm not sure if Logic is all that great a RAM or CPU hog on today's processors and the SSD removes the old bottleneck of writing to disk.

LivEEviL80
Aug 29, 2013, 02:34 PM
Thanks for your responses everyone! Lots to consider. the graphics processor battery drain issue is an interesting one that I hadn't read before, hopefully wouldn't be much of an issue for me since I'll probably be plugged in most of the time, but good to know about that app. Supposedly the graphics processor is one of the elements that would receive an upgrade with the Haswell update.

I didn't realize the RAM was third-party upgradeable beyond 8gb on the non-retina MBP's, but it still seems less cost effective than the refurbed retina, plus the extra weight, which is a valid concern with all the travelling and lugging around I'd be doing with it.

This is all making me lean more towards pulling the trigger on the refurbished retina. It's good to hear a couple people firmly in the pro-retina camp, as I'd read lot of anti-retina people complaining that you give up too much for them (upgradeability, optical drive, ethernet port, etc). I'm still tempted to wait and see on the Haswells, but I'd be more willing to wait if I had a better idea exactly what I was waiting for and exactly how long the wait would be. Also, money is a major consideration for me. I'll likely be financing whatever I get, so I'm willing to spend a little more if it's the right machine, but a few hundred dollars does make a big difference to me as I live on a lowly musicians income.

Good to hear Logic runs successfully on a MBA too. I'd read a few people say the Airs don't handle bigger Logic projects too well. Anyone run Logic on a 13" MBP? The other route I could go is try to save $$ with a 13" non-retina and just max out the RAM myself (whats the max third party RAM you can put in a non-retina MBP?) and try to upgrade to a better system in a couple years. I was just scared of off the 13" by reading alot of people say the quad-core hyperthreading processors were far superior for running big apps like Logic.

Lots of food for thought, thanks for all your help! I welcome further comments.

LivEEviL80
Aug 29, 2013, 02:57 PM
PS is there a practical difference between the "flash" storage on the retina MBP vs. the optional SSD storage on the non-retina MBP?

Also, is it possible/practical/difficult to replace a serial drive in a non-retina MBP with a third party SSD?

spoonie1972
Aug 29, 2013, 03:32 PM
I had similar choices to make a year ago.

i picked up the 2012 "cMBP" - because it had Ethernet and FW ports on it. Wish it had more USB3 ports (or heck, even some on the other side). Anyway...

It runs logic great, I stuffed 16gb ram in it (which is super cheap to do now, macsales.com or otherwise). Also put a 500gb SSD in there (in my case a crucial m4 - no issues, though people always find something to complain about).

I can handle about 90% of all my music tasks with this, rarely firing up my much beefier "B" rig. It's nice to be mobile. with that, and I can't say it enough - backups! lots of them. At least two mirrored backups every week, or more if you're very very busy. It's not just incase your system goes boom - if someone steals your laptop, you're, at most, out a few days' work.

Best luck. I have very good luck (and stability) with the 828 MK3 hybrid - but it's not the most portable thing. Drivers are rock-solid.

YMMV. Good luck whatever you choose.

prospervic
Aug 31, 2013, 12:18 AM
I'm still tempted to wait and see on the Haswells, but I'd be more willing to wait if I had a better idea exactly what I was waiting for and exactly how long the wait would be.

Apple has been releasing Macbook Pros on a February - October - June schedule since the first model was shipped in February 2006. The only exception was 2010 when there was a delay in getting new processors from Intel.

The Retina MBP was introduced in June 2012, then updated (a very minor spec-bump) in February 2013.
Following this pattern suggests that the next model will be released in October 2013.

Macman45
Sep 1, 2013, 01:47 AM
I'm running X on a 3GHZ rMBP with 8GB of RAM...project size is growing, and I only use the Macbook for edits, my main machine being a 27" iMac i7 32GB RAM, which eats any project, no matter how big. So far, the rMBP hasn't slowed or beach balled, but I'm not sure how well it would cope with the recording side of things...It does have the 500GB SSD which would also help with speeds, but I think if i were going to by a MBP for recording, I'd go with 16GB+

Terrified
Sep 8, 2013, 02:04 AM
I'm running Logic Pro (latest version prior to the X upgrade) on a Late 2010 C2D 11" MacBook Air, 2gb RAM.

Runs absolutely fine provided I'm not running anything else. Use it alongside a Tascam US1800, normally with around 8-10 inputs to record band rehearsals. Never had a problem recording 10 tracks at once, and seems to handle plenty of plugins on each channel when editing.

Was going to upgrade to a Pro this year, as I also do a spot of video editing, and the Air is really not handling 1080p very well (and this is basic stuff in iMovie, nothing pro at all). But, ended up picking up a cheap base model Mac Mini to cover the video needs, and just continue to use the little trooper Air for Logic (so easy to transport to our rehearsal room).

BTW - aware this post isn't really a massive help to you, but thought I'd share anyway since it's early morning, I'm at work, and killing time reading through threads :)

LivEEviL80
Sep 8, 2013, 10:20 AM
BTW - aware this post isn't really a massive help to you, but thought I'd share anyway since it's early morning, I'm at work, and killing time reading through threads :)

actually this is helpful. several other people have also indicated they have no trouble running logic on older/less powerful hardware, so it's made me think twice about needing the most tricked out MBP available. the 15" rMBP model I've been eyeing has come and gone a couple times from the refurb store, so I've decided to wait at least till Tuesday to see if anything is announced about the new generation. even at refurb prices, the 15" rMBP is a stretch for me financially (as would be a new haswell MBP) so I've warmed up to the idea of saving $800+ and going with a 13" cMBP with SSD and upgrading the ram myself if the right model pops up on the refurb store in the meantime. at least I know I can get by with this for a couple years until I'm in the financial position to upgrade and acquire all the recording gear I need for the kind of home recording setup I'd eventually like to have.

spoonie1972
Sep 9, 2013, 08:27 AM
actually this is helpful. several other people have also indicated they have no trouble running logic on older/less powerful hardware, so it's made me think twice about needing the most tricked out MBP available. the 15" rMBP model I've been eyeing has come and gone a couple times from the refurb store, so I've decided to wait at least till Tuesday to see if anything is announced about the new generation. even at refurb prices, the 15" rMBP is a stretch for me financially (as would be a new haswell MBP) so I've warmed up to the idea of saving $800+ and going with a 13" cMBP with SSD and upgrading the ram myself if the right model pops up on the refurb store in the meantime. at least I know I can get by with this for a couple years until I'm in the financial position to upgrade and acquire all the recording gear I need for the kind of home recording setup I'd eventually like to have.

if you can afford the 15" for the quad-core i7... do it. you'll likely be happy with it for years.