4 or 8 or 16 gb RAM for pro tools on new MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by robinwjonsson, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. robinwjonsson, Nov 22, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011

    robinwjonsson macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011

    I now have a macbook from 2009. when using logic my mac can't keep up if I use too many tracks/plug-ins.

    So I'll buy a new MBP any day now with Pro Tools. But I'm not sure how much RAM to buy. As I understand it RAM does make a big difference for handling a big number of tracks/plug-ins, right?

    Does anyone know the difference between 4, 8 or 16 gb ram when using pro tools with loads of tracks/plug-ins etc etc. on a new macbook pro 2,5 Ghz, 256 ssd?


  2. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Restart you computer and do the work you would normally. Then, after a couple of hours, check out Activity Monitor, click on System Memory and tell us what you see in there or post a screenshot.
  3. robinwjonsson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011
    Good idea! It's just that I haven't bought the computer yet, i'll buy it any day now, but I'd like to know how much RAM to get with it when I buy it, roughly.
  4. TheJing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2011
    Somewhere in Europe
    Get it with 4GB. Check how much you use like the guy above me said and then buy 3rd party RAM if you need to. Apple's RAM is way too expensive.
  5. robinwjonsson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011

    Ok, thanks. I'll do that. Any other thoughts on this?
  6. Lee Adama macrumors regular

    Lee Adama

    Jul 28, 2011
    8GB of aftermarket ram is cheap, like $40. 16GB ram is still expensive, around $200+

    I would go for 8GB aftermarket. youtube some videos "macbook pro ram upgrade" and you'll see how easy it is.
  7. robinwjonsson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011

    Hey, yeah, it's cheap, AND easy to install, great. Do you use Pro Tools? 8 gb is useful?
  8. Cicatrix macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
    Now days I would say 8gb ram is minimum if your doing a lot of VST's. If you can afford it, get 16gb and have some egg nog.
  9. robinwjonsson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011
    How many VST's is "a lot" for you? You using Pro Tools?
  10. Ant.honey macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2008
    New York City

    Heavy lifting is best done with more ram vs less. I have a 2.5 2011 with 240 SSD and 16. I don't use Pro Tools at the moment, but I do use all 16gb and get page outs. If you run Pro Tools on it's own and find that you aren't getting a lot of page outs with 8 then you might be good, but if you're getting a 2.5 and an SSD, why not spend the extra $200 so you aren't hampered?
  11. robinwjonsson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2011
    True, you have a point there...
  12. Lastmboy macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2012
    Sorry, I'm a bit late jumping in here, but...
    Why does any RAM over 4GB make any difference for ProTools? Being a 32-bit app, it can't use more than 4GB. Are plug-ins able to tap into any of the RAM outside the 4GB limit, or do they take a share of the 4GB ProTools has allocated to it? I keep hearing about these ProTools systems with 8GB or 16GB of RAM, but don't see it helping any until ProTools 64-bit comes out. What am I missing??
  13. 153098 macrumors member

    Jan 1, 2012
    get 16. Even if Pro Tools is 32bits and can't use more than 4gb, Lion OS alone eats up 4gb by itself pretty easy and if you want to run other programs with pro tools then you'll be reaching the 8gb mark pretty easily. Go 16gb.
  14. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    First off, anyone with a MBP 13" before 2011 is not going to be able to use 16gigs of RAM...unless Apple did a dirty old trick again and limited the listed limit vs the actual limit, but I don't think so..someone please prove me wrong though! I would love to have 12 or 16gigs of RAM in my Mac!. You can go to 8gigs though if you have the late 2009 MBP 13". Second I have 8gigs of RAM in my Mac and I love it...makes multitasking much quicker, video editing with lots of different aspects less stressful, and is an overall awesome bragging right. HOWEVER, if your applications and plugins aren't 64bit, then its probably not worth it unless you like bragging rights :D :cool:
  15. floobie, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    floobie macrumors member

    Jul 28, 2010
    I use Logic, but I assume the same principles apply.

    I'm using a 2008 aluminum Macbook that I've upgraded to 8gb of RAM. I use a lot of plugins as well. In terms of software instruments, I use stuff mostly from Native Instruments. Several instances of Guitar Rig (4 rhythm guitars, a bass guitar, a lead guitar), several instances of Absynth, Massive, and FM8, EZDrummer, and a few tracks using Logic's built in sampler. Throw in EQ, reverb, filters, various compressors, analyzers, limiters, etc... and, well... yeah... a lot of plugins...

    Having a lot of RAM is useful mainly for anything sample based, I've found. Most of my instruments aren't sample based. The synthesizers all use processing power, but don't play back samples. Guitar Rig uses processing power as well. The only plugins that use significant amounts RAM are the sample based one. EZDrummer with Drumkit from Hell loaded uses about 450mb on its own. The various other samples I use take another 500mb or so.

    So, find out specifically what your plugins are using. Regular audio within your project will be loaded into RAM as well. In my case, quite a few of my tracks are MIDI, so they take up negligible amounts of RAM.

    For me, upgrading to 8gb of RAM made basically no difference in performance. When I had 4gb, I usually had about 500mb free while running Logic. Now with 8gb, I have 2-3gb free at all times (bear in mind the Kernel task uses more RAM if more is available). But, I'm still getting constant overload errors while mixing. I have a good half of my tracks frozen (ie. the individual track is rendered with the plugin and temporarily replaced by an audio file), but I still have constant overload errors. For me, the cpu is most definitely the weak link.

    There's a Logic benchmark on the Gearslutz forum that tests how many tracks with a plugin you can play live before you start getting overload errors. The numbers aren't necessarily representative of reality... it's just standardized, so relative differences are quite real. My Macbook maxes out at about 17 tracks running that benchmark. I tried it on a few Mackbook Pros at the Apple store. The i7 equipped 15" Pro maxed out at 73 tracks. The i5 ones made it to about 50 tracks. The best of the dual core Macs seem to be able to hit maybe 30 or so. I can't speak for Pro Tools, but Logic benefits heavily from having as many processing threads as possible. So, a quad core i7 with hyper threading (8 total threads) is the ideal configuration. Something I intend to upgrade to once the Ivy Bridge Macbook Pros are released.

    Hope that helps :)

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