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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 5, 2017
Hi guys. I've been lurking for a while and it seemed like a lot of people on this forum were capable of giving some solid advice on purchasing. I know this is my first post, but if anyone is willing to play ball and offer up their advice I would greatly appreciate it.

I'm looking to upgrade from a 2009 Macbook Pro that is on its last leg. I've been using this for music production for a long time, and it can no longer handle the load that comes from using lots of VSTs and effects plugins on Logic.

I'm interested in having flash storage insofar as it will provide a noticable difference in speed. I'm also fairly convinced by this point that having a great processor will solve the problem of hangups during playback of VSTs in Logic. Storage space, can, I think, mostly be handled by using a large external drive rather than spending the money to get this internally.

I'm looking to spend no more than 1,500 if possible and am open to pretty much any model, although portability and the Retina screens are less a concern than the computer having the specs to run DAWs well. I noticed the Mac Minis don't have the option for a quad-core processor, but do have better price points for the flash storage, whereas the iMac has the option for the quad-core but it doesn't seem cost-effective to choose the internal flash storage. I also looked at some of the laptop models but they didn't seem to offer much competition in the way of price when it came to customizing from the basic specs.

If anyone, especially those with experience using Macs for music production, has advice on this matter, do let me know. Thanks!


Jan 9, 2007
Seattle WA
Maybe a 13" Macbook Pro with SSD and a external hard drive for the music files? The 21" iMac isn't that great for production stuff. My 13" Macbook Pro with SSD is faster.


macrumors member
Mar 23, 2017
SSD is nice but is probably not gonna fit your budget - might have to stick with Fusion. Having your libraries on the Fusion HDD is, I believe, better than having them on an external HDD anyway.

Adding in RAM manually would be your biggest performance-boost-for-money-spent as far as VSTs go (8GB is cripplingly small), but only 27" is manually upgradable, and none of those are under 1,500 even at a starting price.

i7 is not in your price range, but then if you're still managing to use a 2009 machine (however slowly) then in all likelihood your projects don't need more than a mid range i5.


macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
You're posting in the -iMac- section, so can we presume that it's an iMac for which you're looking?

In that case, I wouldn't recommend anything less than 27" for music production, where "it's all about the timeline" and you want to see as much of that as possible, also your mixer as well.

I'd suggest you look at the Apple refurbished -2015- iMac lineup (which was just "replaced" by the 2017 models). The 2015's remain capable machines.

You haven't told us which audio -interface- you use.
That's important.
Which one is it?

There are also a few resellers on ebay that look to be authorized by Apple to "move out" high volumes of "earlier stock". An example:

If you can scrape up a bit more cash, the "base model" 2017 iMac with the added "build-to-order" option of the 256gb SSD would be a decent choice.

Personally, I don't see how folks can do much DAW work on a small MacBook. The screen just ain't BIG enough!


macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2017
I've been a producer for nearly 20 years. To be honest the horsepower in these new 2017 machines be it either the iMac or a MacBook Pro is totally sufficient and in most cases overkill for the general user. I have both a new i7 iMac and a new i7 MBP. Very powerful machines!


macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2015
I'd suggest for you - an iMac from the last couple years that you can afford - with either a HDD or Fusion Drive.

For creating music in Logic - drive speed isn't important. Have a look at your .Logic files - and look at their sizes. For example - I'm creating House music from scratch - 20 to 30 tracks per song - and a 10 minute song is running me at most 250mb, and most songs are 150mb range. Even slower drives will load that fast. And once it's loaded - it's all in the RAM.

No need for SSD.

Also - i5 will be more than adequate.

Depending on the model you get - I'd suggest trying it at the base RAM - and if it's all good you're golden. If there are any stutters or issues when flowing then bump your RAM by another 4gb - which is really cheap if you do it yourself.

I'm currently running a 2016 iMac with i7 4.0 and 32gb RAM - BUT - I'm also able to work on these files on a 2011 Mac Mini Duo 2.6ghz i5 with 8gb RAM and HDD without issue at another location - and that's running the file from a USB flash thumb drive....

Good luck.
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