Price Advice Help me Decide Which Mac to Buy

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Bootzzzz, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. Bootzzzz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    #1
    Hey Folks,

    It looks like I'm converting. I'm just rather fed up with Windows. ugh. Anyway, check this...my last pc build, was a I5 2500 chip, with 16GB 1333 RAM, and 1 TB 7200 rpm hdd. Its still fully functional today, in fact I don't come anywhere's close to maxing it out (well unless I was playing WoW), but even then...but...

    I'm getting more and more into music COMPOSITION. So for me...What I'm looking to do. Is simulate all the possible instruments, sit at my midi-keyboard, and play, then create the necessary tracks to build a musical composition, ranging from top 40 to symphonic orchestrations. (think full orchestra).

    SO I've started the hunt for a COST effective Mac. I've done some research,

    SOme of the things I've hard and read, say...

    STAY away from mac mini's, not user upgradable,
    STAY away from iMac's, because at 50% cpu usuage, the screen goes wonky.

    Please understand I don't know how valid the the previous 2 statements are, I'm just echoing what i've seen and read.

    SO for simplicity sake....consider this process. I sit down and write and compose. I have a digital idea of what the piece in theory should sound like. I then generate the sheet music, invite the musicians, and we do a live recording at a studio, where everything is put together, mixed and mastered.

    SO how much mac do I need. I've heard the the I7 quad chips can double your track count. But this becomes dependent upon the originating number of tracks. If an i5 dual core, Can handle 100 tracks. and the i7 quad goes to 200. Well 200 seems overkill. Having said that, I'll be starting off with Logic, and I may move into the realm of Cubase / Abbelton / or Pro Tools. Having said that I may also get Komplete Ultimate.

    From what I can tell these programs only require dual core. But its like saying....well this program will run on 4 GB of RAM but runs better on 8, and loves 16. So we have spectrum by which to handle things well.

    Its also bang for buck. I have given consideration to a macbook pro 15" 16GB, with upgraded ssd to 512. ALthough a second external SSD can be connected via usb3 for about $300 (CAD). I would also connect up an external monitor (Currently HP is offering 27xi at $270CAD).

    SO I'm kinda at a loss. Anyone have any ideas. mini, Imac, macbookpro?

    Also if I compiled the work, or wanted to take the work to my professor, do I need all the hdd's where the vst's are, or does logic save it as one big file, and how important would portability be? I mean, in theory I could just stick it on a usb stick.

    Ideas?

    Thanks a bunch...
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
    Any Mac model, including the Mac mini, can easily handle the workload you described, no matter which processor you choose. You may want a minimum of 8GB of RAM, but it's unlikely you'll need more.

    This should help: How much RAM do I need in my MacBook?

    As for user upgrades of RAM and drives, if you buy a decent configuration to begin with, you won't need to worry about upgrading until you opt to upgrade to an entirely new computer.

    If you really want to be happy with performance, make sure your choice includes the largest SSD you can afford. It will make a significant difference in performance over a spinning HDD. If you can't afford to buy a large SSD, buy what you can and keep excess user files on an external drive.

    As for the choice between Mac mini, iMac or MacBook Pro or Air, you need to decide how much portability is important to you.
     
  3. Bootzzzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    #3
    If you really want to be happy with performance, make sure your choice includes the largest SSD you can afford. It will make a significant difference in performance over a spinning HDD. If you can't afford to buy a large SSD, buy what you can and keep excess user files on an external drive.

    As for the choice between Mac mini, iMac or MacBook Pro or Air, you need to decide how much portability is important to you.[/QUOTE]

    Question is, would it matter, if I did 256 internal, and another 500 external via usb3? thereby having 756 for cost of the upgrade internally?
     
  4. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #4
    get a quad core i7.

    a lot of people will spend extra money on applecare, fusion drives, cellular iPads, but suggest they spend an extra $200 on a quad core i7, and they balk


    (ducking so i won't get flamed)

    convert your old windows computer to a VMDK file and run it virtually on the mac with vmware fusion!!!
     
  5. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #5
    None of the MBPs are really upgradeable if the truth be known.
    I have one of each of the 13" versions and from a performance point of view from the i5 2.4 upto the latest i7 3.0, theres nothing in it. I have run the performance stats and that doesn't show a huge difference either.

    Just get the most ram you can afford - storage is not a big problem as you can just use external NAS storage or even time machine if you wanted to.

    In terms of the original question around music - the OS will make no difference, it's all down to the applications and the same application will no doubt work just as well on either platform.
     
  6. Bootzzzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    #6
    I like the idea, i truly do, however;
    i7 quad is only available on macbook pro 15" or Imac 27", not on any mini, further, adding that and a 512 flash, averages cost from $2500 - $3k., i'm not bitching, please understand, I'm just asking if its really bang for buck.
     
  7. Bootzzzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    #7
    Just get the most ram you can afford - storage is not a big problem as you can just use external NAS storage or even time machine if you wanted to.

    In terms of the original question around music - the OS will make no difference, it's all down to the applications and the same application will no doubt work just as well on either platform.[/QUOTE]

    Hello, thanks

    but some of the mac configs don't allow for more than 8gb, my thought was that I should go with 16. but maybe I don't need 16. ?
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #8
    That's because most users never come close to maxing out their CPU, even with a dual core. That money is better spent on SSD storage or RAM, as those have more likelihood of positively impacting performance. Most users would never see a bit of difference in performance between a dual core and a quad core.
    Read the link in my first post for determining how much RAM you need. It's unlikely you'd need more than 8GB, given the workload you described.

    Here's a tip on posting: When you're responding to a post, just click the "Quote" button on their post to write your reply. That way, their post is shown as a quote, and won't be confused with your statements, as it is now when you only copy part of their quote. You want to make sure that the opening and closing quote tags are intact.
     
  9. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #9
     
  10. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #10
    I'm pretty sure all but the base 21" iMac and base 13" MBP can be had with 16GB of RAM. Do you need 16GB, Hmmmm, probably. The problem is if you plan to keep it a while you might do in the future the way the OS is going in terms of RAM usage. Just for a point of reference, I've just looked in system monitor - just to run the OS and the browser I'm consuming 7.04GB of RAM. The kernel is taking over 1GB of the 7GB.
     
  11. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #11
    Then something is wrong with your system. I can run Handbrake on a 2008 MBP without maxing out the CPU. And the OP didn't say anything about running Handbrake, anyway.
     
  12. Bootzzzz, Dec 14, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014

    Bootzzzz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    #12

    OK here's 3 quick options, I've come up with.

    USED Macbook Pro Retina 15.4 / 8GB / 256 SSD / Quad i7 (4570 cpu) [2013] - $1400 (kijiji) listing.

    Apple Refurbished - 13.3 / 8GB / 256 SSD / Dual i5 (4288 cpu) [2014] - $1359 (apple direct)

    Apple Refurbished - 13.3 / 8GB / 512 SSD / Dual i5 (4288 cpu) [2014] - $1489.00 (apple direct)

    Apple New - 15.4 / 16GB / 256 SSD / Quad i7 (4770 cpu) [2014] - $1929 (retails $2099 - work discounted to $1939) (apple direct)

    Apple New - 15.4 / 16GB / 512 SSD / Quad i7 (4770 cpu) [2014] - $2149 (retail $2399 - work discount to $2149) (apple direct)

    The last piece of this puzzle is this, because I have a home business I'm closing, the account said, its 100% write off. Before anyone goes bonkers with huge pricing, you gotta have huge dollars before you can spend them LOL. So while the kijiji listing might be great, its used and has no warantee and can't be written off, as there's NO receipt, unless I generate some type of bill of sale, have to check with accountant...but anyway...

    I'm sorry, though, I didn't mean to make this a very complicated decision...but it sure does seem to be.

    Also I've given consideration to longevity. My intentions are to keep this thing for 5 - 8 years. I mean I'm still on a google nexus s for a cell phone LOL.

    I've also been looking at specs via everymac.com and the difference between the i7 quad 4850, and i7 4770, is not even noticeable. really. but the i5 dual to quad is significant but only in some areas.


    Processors(Cores) 1(2 Cores) 1 (4 Cores) 1 (4 Cores)
    Geekbench 2 32 7546 12500 12276
    Geekbench 2 64 8625 13719 13766
    Geekbench 3 SC 32 2828 3105 3057
    Geekbench 3 MC 32 5842 11798 11590
    Geekbench 3 SC 64 3108 3436 3388
    Geekbench 3 MC 64 6535 13357 13197
    Processor Speed 2.6 GHz 2.3 GHz 2.2 GHz
    Processor Type Dual(I5-4288U) Quad (I7-4850HQ) Quad (I7-4770HQ)


    So the question now becomes, While Logic will use what it can and morph around what is available, What would Ableton or Cubase do? How cpu intensive are these programs (I've heard Ableton goes up to 90% cpu usuage, a glitch perhaps, not 100% sure). Further, if we're in a program, and we're going into multiple add ons, with reverb and this and that effect, is that not all cpu? or is it RAM?

    Also planning from now until 5 - 8 years from now. I'm favoring the laptops, becasue I can take it and go. ...but in reality, it might happen only occasionally, mostly will sit on my desk top ..

    I'm not so concerned with SSD, I mean, If I got a 256 SSD internal, I can easily put another 500 GB external for the same $300 upgrade cost. (save the refurbished one, thats only a difference of $130). But does having the SSD external, CHANGE anything for running programs off of, or do all the programs want to sit on the boot drive. If this is the case, the boot drive should be bigger, because 256 runs out fairly quickly (at least on pc), I don't know how big the OS, but when you start adding, 15 - 30 GB for this program, and another 55 for this one, that 256 is eaten up. Then there's library files Komplete comes with 12,000 some odd sounds or 130GB of space, if I went Ultimate, its 17,000 sounds or 440 GB of space.

    So now you have my brain and where its at, and trying to figure it all out.

    RAM is NO longer upgradeable as its saudered to the mobo. At least from what I'm reading, so making the best choice now becomes critical. When my motherboard died in my pc, I went out bought a new one, dropped the old cpu on the board, and was up and running in about 30 minutes. When I jumped the ram, it took 5 minutes (mostly opening the case), and bam I was at 16GB.

    Mac's are a very different entity to pc, so the learning curve is gonna be steep. Where I run into problems, is that I know what too look for pc side, but because its mac os, its coding will be different, and i don't think you can apply the same benchmark's from pc, too a mac. I dunno maybe you can.

    anyway...thanks again for all your inputs.
     
  13. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #13
    Why not a refurbished 15 inch from apple???

    I would suggest the 15 inch for your workload the extra space may well be very useful with a lot of things to keep track of and teh quad core is always nice. All the 2014 versions come with 16gb anyway.....

    To be honest the Iamc will be best bang for your buck but you sacrifice portability for it.

    How about this

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/F...-20ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display

    http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/imac?product=ME086LL/A&step=config

    If you need USB 3 storage don't worry about SSD for music tracks and video etc normal 7200rpm hard drives are fine for storage.
     

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