Choosing between Mini Mac late 2012 and Mini Mac late 2014 for music making

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by barryhill, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. barryhill macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2015

    I use Mac Mini's in my recording studio, using Logic Pro X. I record multi track music demos.

    I am using Mac Mini as I cannot afford a much higher spec Mac Pro.

    I am using a late 2014 Mac Mini with 8gb Ram and Dual Core 2.6ghz Core i5 processor, and it is loaded with my music software and I am storing all my music files, samples etc on a 4TB USB3 external Samsung hard drive.

    As you might guess. When I am running a lot of music tracks with effects on them, this is chewing up CPU and Ram resources and now and then giving me 'out of system resources' error messages. So I am reaching a limit on what I can do with this setup.

    Unfortunately late 2014 Mac Mini's Ram or Processor cannot be upgraded beyond what I have bought.

    I see that a late 2012 Mac Mini can be upgraded. I see models on sale for around £700 with Quad Core processors, 2 or 3TB internal drives, Firewire support and upgradeable to 16gb Ram.

    So, my question is. Would a maxed out late 2012 Mac Mini give me significantly better performance, is it worth the money and upgrade cost. I could then sell my 2014 Mac Mini and make back a bit of the expense.

    Or would I find the advantages not really worth the expense? ie, would increasing to 16 mb RAM, going to Quad Core and using internal disks or firewire external disks make a big difference?

    I would appreciate any advice or comments?

  2. jacobluecke macrumors member


    Dec 19, 2007
    Jefferson City, MO
    Hi Barry,

    I have a nearly maxed out 2012 mini (I have the 2.3 i7 vs the 2.6) which I use for amateur multitrack recording in Logic. I've never used the 2014 model, so I can't address how they compare.

    That said, my mini smoothly handles everything I've tried to do musically. The only time the CPU and RAM (I have 16 GB) are stretched is when I'm playing with the giant patch files in Hollywood Strings. CPU usage also jumps up momentarily when I bounce a song. But most of the time I'm using well below 25 percent of the CPU and RAM.

    One thing I do differently from you is that I keep the songs I'm actively working on saved to my internal SSD. Once they are done, I move them to an external USB drive. That way, when recording, I don't have to worry about the spinning drive or the USB connection causing any issues.

    Not sure if any of this helps, but I'm a big fan of the 2012 mini.
  3. barryhill thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2015
    Hi there

    This is all very useful infoirmation. Thanks.

    One question arising. If I record a song and store it during recording on my internal mac mini hard disc, then move it after recording to my external hard disc, what would happen if I then wanted to listen to the song later with all the tracks? Would Logic recognise that the recording had been moved to a different disc and get confused where all the track information and recordings were?

    I am asking this as I tried a few times with Cubase to move recordings, even within my PC hard disc and Cubase kept coming up with 'tracks not found' when I tried to play them.

    Perhaps Logic Pro uses a different 'logic' :)

    But using the internal drive is a brilliant suggestion. Of course.

    I rang Apple and had a useful discussion, and after research about performance I realise that an external Lighthing hard disc would also make a big difference. It seems a Lighting powered external disc can be more efficient than using an internal SATA disc. I watched a few test videos and the results were very impressive nearly across the board, particularly for CPU intensive use of VSTs in music making. Apparantly, the only area this did not hold true was working with intensive screen graphics, such as video rendering etc.

    I will try out the Lightning hard drive and see what performance I get from it. I may then go for a RAM maxed out 2012 max mini with Quad Core, which apparantly also make quite a difference to performance.

  4. jacobluecke macrumors member


    Dec 19, 2007
    Jefferson City, MO
    In my experience, Logic keeps all the audio files you record together in the same file. I haven't had any trouble moving songs around and then reopening them later. Maybe there are issues if you do more advanced things with logic or import outside files to use in your mix and then move things around. But for just recording into a song, there seems to be no issue moving them around. Good luck!
  5. barryhill thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2015
    That's very helpful. Thanks.

  6. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    Logic Pro X does utilize up to 12-core processors so a quad-core 2012 Mac Mini should be noticeably faster than the current dual-core Mac Mini. Select the 64-bit multi-core option in Geekbench browser for a rough idea of the speed differences.
  7. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    Yeah Barry,

    Logic should have the option to copy all samples and files used in the session when you are in the save dialogue.

    You can even save movie files into the session folder when/if you have them. So playing from an external drive shouldn't be any issue whatsoever.

    Hope that helps

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