Advice for new Imac for Logic Pro X (home studio)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Chink, May 28, 2018.

  1. Chink, May 28, 2018
    Last edited: May 28, 2018

    Chink macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    Hello mac advisors,

    I consider buying an Imac 2017 but I would like some advice before I do so.
    The WWDC will take place in a couple of days, so I will still wait for the announcements apple will make during that conference.

    But... if they won’t update the 2017 mac in June / July then I will stick with the 2017 version.

    So what do I need advice for then?
    Well… I have a few options to consider based on my usage.
    To start off, this is the Imac I consider buying:

    27 inch 5k retina, 2017. (mid-model).
    8GB ram -> going to upgrade it to 16gb myself.. Apple charges too much for this.
    512GB SSD
    i5 3.5 Ghz (or i7?)
    Radeon pro 575

    Budget: Around €2650,- (discount not included in this price, but I do get 6% discount cause I’m a student).
    ( €2650 = about $3000 and £2300 )

    What will the Imac be used for?
    Mostly for Logic Pro X and very casual gaming.
    I will use Logic for recording my own music and some music from friends.
    I will mostly be recording for ‘rock bands’ with electric & acoustic guitars and vocals.
    Drums, keys and bassguitar are done with my MIDI-keyboard.
    Some VI’s via Mainstage 3 will be used, but not that often and probably not that many.

    Q1. What CPU do you recommend? (Is the i7 necessary for me?)
    After some research I’d say the i5 3.5ghz is enough. The difference between the i5 3.8 is negligible. (what are your thoughts?)
    I don’t record music for a living, although when I do record music I spend a lot of time in optimizing the songs with effects etc.
    I will be recording my own album as well.

    (I am willing to spend the extra money for a i7, but it must be a necessity. If the i5 will do the job as well then I'd stick with a i5).

    Beside Logic I might use the mac for some casual games. I don’t care about 4k gaming or video edditing.
    1440p in high settings with +/- 40-50FPS is fine for me. (not that bothered with ultra settings or consistent 60 fps).

    Games I play.
    Civilization 6.
    F1 2017/2018
    Project cars 2
    Ark survival (mostly single player)

    Q2: Will the Radeon pro 575 be good enough for this?

    I plan to use the Imac for atleast +/- 4 years.

    Thanks a lot for the advice !
  2. ChopinGuy macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2011
    As a professional musician I would recommend you go with the i7 processor upgrade - for the $200 it's totally worth it. Depending on how big your recording projects get, and depending on the number/complexity of VI instances you will really benefit from the i7. Will also depend on how much signal processing you apply to projects - again it will help big time.

    Given what you said about wanting the machine to last about 4 years - go for the i7 all the way. More future proofing there.

    Can't help you on the gaming aspect with the 575 vs the 580 gpu unit, but know there's plenty of youtube videos that pick these apart, and likely can find some insight there...
  3. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    Thanks for your help.
    I see why you would pick the i7 over i5. Only thing is that I'm afraid it will be overkill for me.
    With garageband the most amount of tracks I used was about 20.
    I think with Logic it will be more, but let's say the i5 would use up 80% of it's power, will the i7 make enough sense then?
  4. ChopinGuy macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2011
    It really comes down to how much you think you might grow in technique, purchasing/using more intensive VIs/VSTs, stacking signal processing, how you route and use busses, etc, etc, etc.. Also remember that you will have a nice boost in the i7 simply with the higher clock speed, and you also have the added advantage of multithreading. For a machine you plan to keep for several or more years the $200 is negligible for the i7. Also depending on what you plan on doing the 512SSD is awesome, but can fill up fast if you install a lot of various VIs.

    Most of what I'm suggesting is looking towards future grow/longevity, but you will still have some upfront advantages with the i7 too...
  5. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    Yea that makes sense, will stick with the i7 then. Thanks :)
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I don't see why the OP needs an i7.
    I still record music (live music, no loops) on a 2006 white Intel iMac, and it still does ok, considering its age.
    Granted, I'm only doing "one track at a time" (stereo input through a firewire interface), but it still tracks and mixes without trouble.

    I recommend the OP's original choice in his first post as a good combination of price and power.
    The midrange model will be much QUIETER, as well -- could be an important consideration...
  7. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    i7, largest ssd you can afford, I'd get a TB3 enclosure later and populate it with drives as needed. USB3 as 2nd choice for external drives. Spend a little more than you can afford now or regret will come sooner than later.
  8. mreg376 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Agreed. Unless the OP is the type that gets a new iMac every two or three years the i7 (and largest SSD as he can afford) will take him farther and longer than the i5 will. My 2007 iMac remains very capable, but one reason for that is that I got the fastest processor offered at the time.
  9. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    Thanks everyone for responding.
    For now I will stick with i7 unless apple decides to do an update on the imacs in june/july with the new i5 processors.
  10. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
    The i7 has heat issues which run the fan above audible (annoying) levels. The 7700K i7 is quite infamous as it gets heat spikes. This has been discussed to death in these forums and others.

    I got the 7600K i5 with the 580 and I think for your use it will be more than enough. Someone made some tests and was able to run dozens of audio tracks in Logic with it. If you are interested I can dig it up for you.

    I'd like to add that the idea that 7700K i7 is best for longevity is simply wrong. The difference in single threaded performance with the 7600K is not perceivable in practice, and the difference in multithreaded performance is merely about 30% which is only noticeable in very few applications like video encoding.

    Another point you could consider is that in the future you could use eGPU with TB3 for gaming on Bootcamp if the 575 or the 560 aren't enough.
  11. mreg376 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have the i7 7700K and other than a few times when I was streaming two 8K Youtube videos at the same time, where I was able to hear the fan, it's been quiet as a church mouse. And even with the Youtube videos the fan returned to inaudible immediately afterwards. It's been inaudible for 98% of my usage. It doesn't skip a beat running virtual machines and the like. So I wouldn't be scared away by people who opted for the i5 and now want to justify not getting the top-of-the-line processor. The higher clock speed and the hyper threading of the 7700K have substantial benefits in real applications and is well worth the $200 on this already expensive machine.
  12. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
    Sure, for virtualization an i7 is better, but simply because of the higher number of threads not because of clock speed or HT.

    Your use case is completely different.

    For audio, which is the whole point of this discussion, more threads or HT are not that relevant. Heat, noise, and longevity of the machine, are big concerns. Specially because the audio plugins and synths are using the CPU constantly, for hours, and not in bursts like in graphic design, programming, virtualization, etc.

    More CPU power is not always better. Even when losing 30% of crunching power, a more heat efficient CPU is I think the better choice for an AIO intended for hobbyist audio work.

    If one really needs crunching power an AIO is just a terrible choice. Hopefully Apple will release the new Mac Pro sooner rather than later.
  13. DQ11 macrumors regular


    Apr 12, 2018
    I was kind of thinking the same thing. I'm currently making the choice between the i5-7600 or the i7-7700k and I'd rather not have heat issues.

    My MBP from 2007 is still running and working, although it was only 2.4 ghz.
  14. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    Hey all,

    It's been a while, but I have finally ordered the Imac.
    I bought the mid model with the i7, a 512gb SSD and 8GB ram.
    The ram will evenutally be expanded by myself (much cheaper).

    Reason for picking this model is the long term use. I have read some comments about 'heat issues' but after some research this seems to be no issue at all. Some people have complained about the fan noise but that seemed to be with real large projects (think of an orkest or heavy video edditing) so I don't think that will be much of an issue for me.

    THe i7 may be overkill, or not. But eventually I will sell the imac and get more profit in the end than with an i5.
    (Let's call it an investment of around €180 ($210) because the re-sell value will be higher).
    Especially with the new i5 release (6 threads instead of 4). Apple will probably include those in the new set of Imacs, so that would make the i5 even weaker in comparison. The i7 will match up more.

    A note for gaming: The video card is not much of value, most people don't use an Imac for gaming, and even the mid model has a very decent GPU. I've done some research about the video card and compared to the end model (the pro 580) it can smoothly edit video's in 4k and can run most games on high quality with decent fps. However, the pro 580 has 8gb Vram and that does make it suitable for some VR games.
    So if you'd have to decide between an i7 or a better video card, I'd always take the i7 upgrade.

    Thanks for all the advice, it did help me with the decision. I hope the info on this form will help someone else too.
  15. DQ11 macrumors regular


    Apr 12, 2018
    Trying to figure out what 35-45 tracks of most vsts would do to the i5-7600 vs the i7-7700k.

    Some of those would be internal but some would be more intensive plugins that I'd be purchasing like Serum or U-he's Hive and some others.

    I could run about 20-25 tracks in my 2007 MBP at 2.4 ghz + 2gb ram + 120 gb HD. At around 20-25 tracks I would get error messages and issues. Can't remember if it was cpu or ram related but think it was a bit of both.

    That was using 99% Logic Pro 7 internal plug ins but I was also putting Eq+ Reverb on a lot of tracks.

    Even on instance of Kontakt I could only run like 8-15 tracks at the same time.

    I don't want to have to bounce to ever if possible. That would demotivate me instantly in some cases and slow me down in others.

    I wondering if the i7-7700k with my workload, would even reach a point of ramping up the fans.

    Also I'm going to be using headphones 95% of the time as well, until the end when I need to kind of final mix the songs so I can compared speakers/car speakers/ headphones.

    So I don't even know how much the fan noise would bother me while making music with mostly headphones on. The sustained heat = more parts could fail faster has me a bit worried but not too much.

    I'd really love the i7-7700 that is in the 21.5"....that 65w chip should have been the one in the 27" to begin with.
  16. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018
    I focussed on the 21 inch in the beginning, but after seeing the screen difference between the 21 and 27 inch, I would recommand you to take the 27 inch.

    Also, the i7 in the 21 inch is weaker than the one in the 27 inch Imac. I would therefor recommend you to take a 27 inch with an i5 over a 21 inch with i7.

    And take a SSD, it's a lot, lot, faster than fusion.
  17. imac2017mm macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2017
    I am running the exact same setup with logic Pro X. i7, 512ssd 16ram... 575 radeon.

    Only thing though... I installed the Logic Sound Library on my main drive because I don't have an external
  18. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
  19. DQ11 macrumors regular


    Apr 12, 2018
    oh yea I'm 100% set on the SSD. I really want a 1TB but it's $600 more....which is just stupid. so I'll get the 512GB adn then just gen an external for extra storage and backups.

    Yea I'm 100% set on the 27 inch as well. I was going to go with 21.5" and had it all priced out but I'm going to want to upgrade the ram at some point, and the 21.5" is going to appear smaller then my 22" screen I use for my PC, so it won't even feel like an upgrade.

    The 27" is noticeably larger and I the bezels look better(smaller) on the larger screen size.

    * I'm also thinking about getting the i7-7700k, and then just perminately turning off the turbo boost as I don't really want or need it. It would then sit at 4.2 ghz and in theory, not get as hot which could keep the fan running quieter.

    Some might disagree with it and say whats the point, but to me I'll have the i7 with hyperthreading and that is a huge bonus over the i5-7600 that doesn't have it.

    $3,500 is a lot of money to spend and still not have top of the line or still have to make it's like there is not 100% for sure option like there is when building a PC.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 27, 2018 ---
    How is it running for you? Do you use any CPU intensive plugins that would tax the CPU heavily? How many tracks are you running? What is the CPU level at?

    It's difficult for me to know what I'll be able to do since I'm coming from such an older spec'd model and was only really using internal plugins.

    I'm going to be using more 3rd party plug-ins this time and I don't want to have to freeze tracks all the time.
  20. Chink thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 28, 2018

    I got the Mac for two days now.
    The i7 is very quiet, I even played a pretty graphic intensive game (F1 2017, ultra settings + 2.5k display) and the Mac is still quiet. The fans did had to roll up quit a bit, but it was still very quiet.

    Don't go for any less than the 500gb ssd. Just the OS alone sits at 40gb. So I have about 460gb left.
    Installing windows for school projects cost me another 50gb. So in your case, the 500gb + external storage is perfect.

    Reason I say 500gb is because my Mac sees it as a 500gb flash drive instead of 512gb.

    You won't have to freeze tracks with the i7. Perhaps not even with the i5, but it depends on your usage. I have no regrets taking the i7, it's just a little more money for a huge upgrade.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 5, 2018 ---
    What do the benchmark scores say? Is it the amount of tracks you can record?
    I see a huge difference between the entry i5 2017 Mac and the i7 from the 2015 version. It's 72 vs 142. That's twice as much. So the i7 2017 version would be even stronger.
  21. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
    No, it's the amount of tracks it can reproduce without glitches for this particular project.

    It's explained in the website:


    This does not mean you will be able to run that number of tracks for your project. It's just an approximate baseline.
  22. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    i7 plus ssd are the two most important things as far as I'm concerned. Well plenty of memory too. Anything less than that will affect your workflow.
  23. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
    It really depends on the workflow.

    A machine for recording does not need an i7 but could need to be silent. It's typical for small and home studios to record in the same room where the computer is.

    Media composers with huge sample libraries need lots of RAM and disk space.

    Electronic producers that use lots of virtual synths and plugins don't need exorbitant amounts of RAM or disk space, but do need as much CPU as possible.
  24. DQ11 macrumors regular


    Apr 12, 2018
    thanks for the feedback. Good to hear it's running great. Yea I'm pretty much set on the i7-7700k now. I don't think my projects will be so intense that the fan will be running super load anyways, and I can't justify spending $3,150 for an i5, when I can spend $3,500 and get the i7 with hyperthreading.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 5, 2018 ---
    Yea I'd be using a good amount of Virtual synths, but also some kontakt stuff which would use the ram.

    So I figured with the 27" + i7-7700k + 512gb SSD + 16gb Ram would be everything I would need to do what I want to do.

    I can keep this for 2-2.5 years, sell it before applecare runs out and get the next upgrade with the 6-core chips if the upgrade is that much better....if not I can keep this thing for 5+ years.

    I've had my MBP since 2007 and it still runs fine minus the fact I've had to keep it plugged in since 2011.
  25. pier macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2009
    Oh boy, you'll fly with a new iMac!

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