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StrokeMidnight
Jun 14, 2009, 02:11 PM
Hey, so I need to upgrade my computer pretty soon (this ones just dying) and I want to buy one that I can use for Logic Express 8, Sibelius 5/6 (if I upgrade) and Final Cut Express. I make scores for movies so I need to be able to run sound libraries (like EWQLSO) without any glitches while streaming HD video. I also need to record my band and multi-track in logic. I know a Mac Mini isn't ideal, but I'm not even in college yet and money is tight. I have max $1,050 to spend because I know that I could get a Mac Mini with a 2.66 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM for that price. Will that be good enough?

It's that or I have to switch over to Sonar and a PC :(.

What do you guys think?



zimv20
Jun 14, 2009, 03:05 PM
i'd be interested to know if it could handle all that. i'd think the limiting factors would be the hard drive speed (get an external) and the video card, for streaming the HD you talked about.

but i'm more of an audio guy than video, so maybe the latter won't be a problem?

nuckinfutz
Jun 14, 2009, 03:21 PM
Hey, so I need to upgrade my computer pretty soon (this ones just dying) and I want to buy one that I can use for Logic Express 8, Sibelius 5/6 (if I upgrade) and Final Cut Express. I make scores for movies so I need to be able to run sound libraries (like EWQLSO) without any glitches while streaming HD video. I also need to record my band and multi-track in logic. I know a Mac Mini isn't ideal, but I'm not even in college yet and money is tight. I have max $1,050 to spend because I know that I could get a Mac Mini with a 2.66 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM for that price. Will that be good enough?

It's that or I have to switch over to Sonar and a PC :(.

What do you guys think?

Easy.

Buy the base unit as stripped as possible. Upgrade the RAM from third party for like $60 to 4GB of RAM.

Replace the hard drive with a 7200RPM drive from Western Digital (Scorpio Black) or Seagate (7200.4)

Forget getting the faster processor. Macworld.com two weeks ago tested a batch of minis. They had the base 2Ghz and the 2.26Ghz and a modified (RAM upgrade, HDD upgrade) 2Ghz and the upgraded 2Ghz was faster and cheaper.

You have to keep in mind that the difference between 2Ghz and 2.26Ghz is smaller in performance than jumping from a 5400rpm drive with 55 megabytes per second throughput to something like the Seagate drive which has lower latency and throughputs 100 Megabytes per second. That makes up for the %10 difference in CPU clockspeed.

Later you could do another upgrade and replace the internal 7200rpm drive with a much faster SSD drive and take the internal drive and put it in a case for external storage.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 14, 2009, 04:40 PM
Wait, but I thought you can't upgrade Mac Minis?

EDIT: Wait is it possible to buy a completely stripped down Mac Pro with just the processor so I could install Mac OS X, but get the RAM and other components from somewhere else?

nuckinfutz
Jun 14, 2009, 11:19 PM
Wait, but I thought you can't upgrade Mac Minis?

EDIT: Wait is it possible to buy a completely stripped down Mac Pro with just the processor so I could install Mac OS X, but get the RAM and other components from somewhere else?

U can't upgrade the processor so the base config for $599 and then do the RAM and HDD upgrades via 3rd party product.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 10:39 AM
But won't that void the warranty and I could ruin it because I have to pry it open?

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 10:49 AM
But won't that void the warranty and I could ruin it because I have to pry it open?

No...Apple's policy is pretty much "don't break anything" and we won't fight your warranty. I've pulled my mini apart a few times and after the first time where you will be glacial ..the next time (if there is a next time) it takes about a third of the time.

ChrisA
Jun 15, 2009, 10:59 AM
But won't that void the warranty and I could ruin it because I have to pry it open?

Apple has said many times that adding RAM and a disk drive do not effect the warranty.

The mini will do fine for any of those tasks (Logic, FInal Cut Express and so on) but don't try and run them all at the same time.

you WILL need some external disk drives. Final Cut needs a scratch disk to hold the media and same goes for recording audio. And then you want to run Time Machine and you need some disks to rotate through an off site backup

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 12:52 PM
Apple has said many times that adding RAM and a disk drive do not effect the warranty.

The mini will do fine for any of those tasks (Logic, FInal Cut Express and so on) but don't try and run them all at the same time.

you WILL need some external disk drives. Final Cut needs a scratch disk to hold the media and same goes for recording audio. And then you want to run Time Machine and you need some disks to rotate through an off site backup

I have 2 external hard drives, 500 GB each. Are you sure the mini will be able to run Sibelius 5 and EWQLSO and stream the video for the score at the same time? Or EWQLSO, Logic, and stream the video? Of course when I'm scoring I probably won't be editing with HD video, I'll make it worse quality, but I will be able to edit HD video right?

Here's the specs for EWQLSO: http://www.soundsonline.com/product.php?productid=EW-177

My main concern is the CPU being too slow. Can I get anymore than 4GB RAM?

Also, if I saved up a little for an iMac, would that be easier to upgrade?

Thanks everyone!

Luap
Jun 15, 2009, 01:01 PM
I think a Mac Mini will be a bit borderline for what you are asking of it. An iMac would certainly fair rather better. 1, because they all have faster CPU's. 2, They use full size (usually faster), rather than small laptop style HD's. And 3, they can take more ram. Plus they come with a pretty nice screen :)
But iMacs are not especially any more upgradeable than a MacMini really. Ram & HD, and thats essentially it.

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 01:20 PM
I think a Mac Mini will be a bit borderline for what you are asking of it. An iMac would certainly fair rather better. 1, because they all have faster CPU's. 2, They use full size (usually faster), rather than small laptop style HD's. And 3, they can take more ram. Plus they come with a pretty nice screen :)
But iMacs are not especially any more upgradeable than a MacMini really. Ram & HD, and thats essentially it.

$1050 budget.

4GB of RAM should be workable but i've got a hunch that the latest Mini may take 8GB though the 4GB chips have to become more affordable (625 bucks is the cheapest kit I found for 8GB)

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 01:24 PM
I mean, I could try to save up more money to get an iMac or (I doubt it) a Mac Pro. It just depends on how realistic it is for me to get that much money. I just hope it won't end up with a switch to Windows :(.

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 01:34 PM
I mean, I could try to save up more money to get an iMac or (I doubt it) a Mac Pro. It just depends on how realistic it is for me to get that much money. I just hope it won't end up with a switch to Windows :(.

Nah you don't have to switch to windows. The key to building a proper mini system is to take the weaker areas of the computer (HDD and RAM) and bump them. Audio applications don't require discrete graphics even though the 9400m is a capable performer.

I like being able to scout out the best monitor deal. I've got a 28" LCD on my mini and that's larger (although not qualitatively better) than Apple's largest monitor.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 02:38 PM
Nah you don't have to switch to windows. The key to building a proper mini system is to take the weaker areas of the computer (HDD and RAM) and bump them. Audio applications don't require discrete graphics even though the 9400m is a capable performer.

I like being able to scout out the best monitor deal. I've got a 28" LCD on my mini and that's larger (although not qualitatively better) than Apple's largest monitor.

The thing I'm really worried about is just the processor. I have 1.83 GHz now and my computer is from 2006. 2.0 Ghz is not much of an improvement.

NoSmokingBandit
Jun 15, 2009, 02:50 PM
I'll go ahead and drop in my ubiquitous Hackintosh vote. You can get a core2quad rig with 4gb ddr3 for under $700.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 02:53 PM
I'll go ahead and drop in my ubiquitous Hackintosh vote. You can get a core2quad rig with 4gb ddr3 for under $700.

...How could I go about doing that?

zimv20
Jun 15, 2009, 02:53 PM
The thing I'm really worried about is just the processor. I have 1.83 GHz now and my computer is from 2006. 2.0 Ghz is not much of an improvement.

but the chips are different, yes? straight up clock measurement isn't necessarily a good indicator of difference in real world speed. not to mention improvements in bus speeds, video redrawing, faster RAM, etc...

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 02:57 PM
The thing I'm really worried about is just the processor. I have 1.83 GHz now and my computer is from 2006. 2.0 Ghz is not much of an improvement.

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB323LL/A?mco=MjE0NDk5Mw

Refurb iMac then. 2.4Ghz right now for 849 and a 2.66Ghz for 999. Refurb Macs come with full warranty and you can also add Applecare at anytime during the original warranty.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 03:04 PM
Hmmm, I'd assume the chips are different.

That refurbished idea doesn't seem too bad. What parts would be refurbished? Would the hard drive be completely wiped or maybe have a new one? One of the reasons I'm getting a new mac is because my hard drive is unorganized beyond repair (I can't find anything), and it's just running way too slow (booting firefox just took 7 minutes, no joke), so I don't want that to happen.

I like that Hackintosh idea a lot actually. It just depends whether it's feasible for someone like me (I have no programming experience at all).

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 03:07 PM
Hmmm, I'd assume the chips are different.

That refurbished idea doesn't seem too bad. What parts would be refurbished? Would the hard drive be completely wiped or maybe have a new one? One of the reasons I'm getting a new mac is because my hard drive is unorganized beyond repair (I can't find anything), and it's just running way too slow (booting firefox just took 7 minutes, no joke), so I don't want that to happen.

I like that Hackintosh idea a lot actually. It just depends whether it's feasible for someone like me (I have no programming experience at all).

Hackintosh means no support. The minute you have a problem you realize you're on your own. Plus imagine every software update for the OS you're going to be thinking "is this going to break my Hackintosh?"

The Apple Refurbs are packaged so good you may not realize that they are in fact refurbs. Full warranty ...drive comes as clean as any setup. I'd buy one in a heart beat.

myca
Jun 15, 2009, 04:19 PM
Hackintosh means no support. The minute you have a problem you realize you're on your own. Plus imagine every software update for the OS you're going to be thinking "is this going to break my Hackintosh?"

The Apple Refurbs are packaged so good you may not realize that they are in fact refurbs. Full warranty ...drive comes as clean as any setup. I'd buy one in a heart beat.

A hackintosh is a great idea, if you enjoy tinkering and accept the fact that some of your time will be spent messing around trying to get things to work. I have an efix hackintosh and it's fantastic, but I'm under no illusions that if something goes wrong it's up to me to sort it out, which I'm willing, and the geek in me is quite eager to do.

But if you've never really messed around with building a computer and you're on a low budget I wouldn't consider a hackintosh, as you could end up with a pile of useless components, a steep bill, and a feeling deep down that you should have just gone for a real mac which includes support.

spillproof
Jun 15, 2009, 04:32 PM
Apple sells amazing refurbished computers. They have too to keep their image. Plus its under warranty, which you won't get with hackintosh. Nuckinfutz found a great computer, you would just need to buy 2 more GB ram from someone other than Apple.
They also have a refurbed mini but at 2GHz. Link to refurbs (http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=MTM3MzI)

http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB323LL/A?mco=MjE0NDk5Mw

Refurb iMac then. 2.4Ghz right now for 849 and a 2.66Ghz for 999. Refurb Macs come with full warranty and you can also add Applecare at anytime during the original warranty.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 04:39 PM
I've been looking through the refurbs and I think I might go for this one (save up a little bit) http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB418LL/A?fnode=Njc4MjQzOQ&mco=Njc5OTU3MQ. Is the difference between 2.66 Ghz and 2.93 Ghz a lot? I'm not sure if it's worth the extra money to go one step up. Also, is the video card good enough?

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 04:49 PM
I've been looking through the refurbs and I think I might go for this one (save up a little bit) http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB418LL/A?fnode=Njc4MjQzOQ&mco=Njc5OTU3MQ. Is the difference between 2.66 Ghz and 2.93 Ghz a lot? I'm not sure if it's worth the extra money to go one step up. Also, is the video card good enough?

The video card is fine unless you plan on doing heavy gaming. It supports OpenCL Apple's new Snow Leopard framework for using the GPU to do general purpose calculations so it's "future proof" to an extent.

You may not want to blow the budget going for the 2.93 Gigahertz model. With audio you can't go faster than realtime in many cases.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 05:24 PM
I would be willing to go overboard if the 2.93 Ghz makes a real difference. This is my parents money, and although they don't want to spend that much (and I don't want them to spend that much!) they said they would since this is for an educational purpose (I'm planning to be a music major and I need all the experience I can get). I have to work off the money anyway and pay them back so it would be a question of how much I need to work off, $400 vs. $600 (I have $900). If the 2.93 makes a big difference it would save me from having to buy a whole new computer in the future so I'd rather be safe than sorry if it does make a difference.

EDIT: The two I'm debating between are these: http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB419LL/A?fnode=Njc4MjQzOQ&mco=NjgwMDIxOA
http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB418LL/A?mco=MjE0NjA3MA

nuckinfutz
Jun 15, 2009, 05:53 PM
I would be willing to go overboard if the 2.93 Ghz makes a real difference. This is my parents money, and although they don't want to spend that much (and I don't want them to spend that much!) they said they would since this is for an educational purpose (I'm planning to be a music major and I need all the experience I can get). I have to work off the money anyway and pay them back so it would be a question of how much I need to work off, $400 vs. $600 (I have $900). If the 2.93 makes a big difference it would save me from having to buy a whole new computer in the future so I'd rather be safe than sorry if it does make a difference.

EDIT: The two I'm debating between are these: http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB419LL/A?fnode=Njc4MjQzOQ&mco=NjgwMDIxOA
http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB418LL/A?mco=MjE0NjA3MA

Hmmm the difference is pretty small and the 2.93 does have discrete graphics. If you can swing the jump the 2.93 should be noticably faster as it's almost 300Mhz faster per core.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 15, 2009, 06:18 PM
Alright I'll try to swing that if I can, if not I'll just get the 2.66. Thanks a lot nuckinfutz! You've been a great help.

This is off topic, but I didn't want to start a new thread. I just went looking for my Logic Express disc since I'm gonna install it when I get the new computer. It's kinda scratched...logic is still installed on my computer, so could I transfer that to my external hard-drive, then transfer it back to my iMacs hard drive? Or could Mac send me another disc if I prove that I have it, but it's scratched?

NoSmokingBandit
Jun 15, 2009, 07:00 PM
...How could I go about doing that?

If you have never built a computer or arent tech-savvy i wouldnt bother with this, but building a Hack is still relatively easy. If you are interested look for the Merged Hackintosh Thread and we can talk about it more (i dont want to derail this too much).
One of the best things about a hack is that you can get a quad core for under $2500 and you can upgrade anything whenever you want.
The install is pretty easy, you just have to know what hardware you have and which boxes to check, but overall its really simple.

If you want something that you dont have to worry about at all or just want to jump right in and use then by all means get a mac, but if you want to save a bit of cash and learn a bit about hardware and OSX at the expense of losing a little time on occasion then a hack is the way to go.

myca
Jun 16, 2009, 01:04 AM
If you have it in your budget I'd go for Logic Pro, as it has better support for film, and more goodies included, not sure what the EDU price on that is though. Plus it features one of the best score editors on the market, so you may not even need Sibelius then. And with it's included library of samples you may be able to hold off on symphonic orchestra for a little while (I'm guessing that would be on EDU pricing too).

Whatever you choose though, as other helpful folk on here have said, try to get the quickest CPU that you can, and try for 4GB of RAM, and try to get an external HD.

Also if it's of any use I scored a few short student films for friends at film school back in the day, using Cubase 5 on my eMac G4 800, so even the lowliest mac mini should do, with some freezing of tracks and bouncing here and there to save on CPU cycles.

StrokeMidnight
Jun 16, 2009, 10:58 AM
If you have it in your budget I'd go for Logic Pro, as it has better support for film, and more goodies included, not sure what the EDU price on that is though. Plus it features one of the best score editors on the market, so you may not even need Sibelius then. And with it's included library of samples you may be able to hold off on symphonic orchestra for a little while (I'm guessing that would be on EDU pricing too).

Whatever you choose though, as other helpful folk on here have said, try to get the quickest CPU that you can, and try for 4GB of RAM, and try to get an external HD.

Also if it's of any use I scored a few short student films for friends at film school back in the day, using Cubase 5 on my eMac G4 800, so even the lowliest mac mini should do, with some freezing of tracks and bouncing here and there to save on CPU cycles.

Well I actually already have Sibelius, Logic, and EWQLSO, so I'll upgrade Logic to pro eventually. The reason I'm getting the new computer is because I can't run any of them without constant freezing :p

I'll probably get the iMac 24" with 2.93 Ghz and 4GB (upgradeable to 8 so I'll do that eventually).

pkoch1
Jun 16, 2009, 09:32 PM
I dont think anyone on here really understands the needs of someone running east west. You're gonna run into a wall pretty quickly and you're gonna have to start purging samples on all your instruments before you build a complete orchestra, never mind all of the different articulations you will have to use.

When it comes to film scoring, I'd suggest looking at digital performer. Its tempo operations and tempo find feature make it worth the upgrade cost from logic alone.

DP also runs east west in a much simpler way where you won't have to go into the environment just to add multiple instruments to a single instrument track.

That said, you could theoretically run logic on your mac mini and using MIDI over LAN you could run your sample library from a separate pc. That way, you'd get the benefit of running os x without spending the bucks for a mac pro.

Good luck!

StrokeMidnight
Jun 16, 2009, 09:58 PM
I'm starting to feel that I should just hold off for a while and save up for a Mac Pro refurbished. My parents agreed to put $400 in, and if I can get a job for the summer I should be able to afford this: http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB871LL/A?mco=MjE0NjQ1OA

I'm assuming that would meet all my needs?

EDIT: Just curious, is it possible to upgrade the quad core mac to a 8 core mac? I doubt I'd be able to do this since I'd really have to work really hard just to get the mac pro, just wondering anyway though haha.

EDIT 2: Would I be able to make any money if I sold my iMac I have now (1.83 GHz 1 GB RAM 2006 Model) on eBay? I'd take out the hard drive and sell it with everything, but hard drive, keyboard, and mouse.

rlharv2
Jul 5, 2009, 11:25 AM
Hello, my name is Rick. I bought my Mini from Micro Center and sent it to "Other World Computers" for upgrades. It was back to my house in 3 days. I was amazed. Upgrade was to 4gb ram with the new Seagate 500gb/7200rpm HD. I is very fast, stable and quiet. Very cost affective, and with the money I saved I got Logic Studio.