i3, i5 or i7 for Logic Pro?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by nigelallistair, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. nigelallistair macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010

    I am ordering my new unit in the next couple of days and would like to ask some thoughts on the i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 options.

    The machine will be used almost exclusively for audio recording in the home studio I'm setting up running Logic Pro (with an Allen & Heath Zedr16 desk).

    I also do design work (Illustrator & Photoshop) but I imagine those wouldn't tax the system more than audio recording.

    I'm definitely getting going with the 27" as I'd like as much screen real estate as possible but the processor is up for debate and I'm a bit uninformed as to the performance of these options when recording.

    Also would like to be a bit future-proofed as well as this will be a pretty long-term investment.

    Thanks much for any info and help.
  2. m.frank macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2010
    Well the 27" iMac is already equipped with the i5. If you have the cash, I would do the upgrade to the i7 since it was just recently benchmarked with faster speeds. Or you could get the i5 and spend the extra cash towards 8gb of RAM.

    If you're not doing a ton of multitasking and your file sizes are relatively small.....then I'd go with the i5. If you're having multiple programs running and your file sizes are hefty...i7 hands down.

    I'm a graphic designer and use the Adobe CS5 Master suite and bounce back and forth between programs on my 2007 iMac that has a dual core, with a 256mb video card and 4gb of RAM and it runs it pretty smooth. However as soon as I get into larger file sizes it definitely tasks my iMac and it runs sluggish and has problems viewing large files at hi-quality. It gets the job done...I guess I'm in no big rush.
  3. m.frank macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2010
    Sorry I guess I assumed that you were going to go with a quadcore. I would definitely get the i5 at minimum. Because the extra 300$ between getting the i3 and i5 processor...will also get you a better video card if you go with the 27" i5 model.
  4. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Thanks, guys, for the info and input.

    After half a day's research I see it's down to

    1. i5 3.6 Dual
    2. i5 2.8 Quad
    3. i7 2.93 Quad

    Again, running Logic Pro with some Photoshop thrown in...does the Quad over the Dual...and the hyer-threading vs. the non hyper-threading benefit me?

    Not sure. :confused:

    Currently running a MBP 2.66 Core 2 Dual so any of these would be a nice upgrade.
  5. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth

    I'm running the Corei7 2.8 ghz machine and ran the benchmark got Logic over at the Gearslutz forum and that is a particularly brutal benchmark: basically have every channel be a EXS24 instrument and then add a space designer to each channel. I can run 61 of that. Anything beyond that causes the thing to collapse in a heap.

    But no producer/songwriter would use such a brute force method in a real production - the 81 channel+video demo "Spaceman" by the Killers plays great on this computer.

    Some of my more intense sessions are great on the i7 (50-90 tracks).

    I've heard just plain audio channels people are running hundreds of channels.
  6. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Hey Alien,

    Do you mean you're running the i5 2.8? If so, that info, and the capacity you're getting, really helps alleviate some concerns.

    I know it's just a couple hundred bucks for the i7 but with the wife and kids I have to be delicate and responsible with the family $, ya know? They are clearly letting me play but it'd be nice to be able to pocket a couple hundred.
  7. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004

    How many channels are you intending to record at once? How many total channels do you expect to be multi-tracking and mixing?

    The guys at Central Harmony may say different but I would think the more cores the better when it comes to Logic. i5 Quad.

  8. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010

    At once. Not many at all. One man band home studio stuff. Maybe a few if I have some folks over to play but never more than a few.

    As far as mixing....eben then not a ton actually. Maybe 16-24 at most? A mix of live (guitars, bass, vocals) and keys, triggered drums (ah, apt. living!).
  9. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    I'm running a Core i7 2.8 ghz.

    No regrets here!

    Music produced with said machine here:

    Beware: self-indulgent massively layered soundtrack-ish rock.
  10. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004

    For a one man band the i5 quad would be much more than you'd need. My buddy runs logic 8 on a 2 year old Macbook to record himself and his guitar. No issues at all when he multi tracks up to 8-10 tracks. Another guy I know has his own studio and uses a G5 Quad Power Mac. Anything released today is enough for your needs.

    As cost is an issue I don't see a problem with getting an i5 Quad 2.66GHz Refurb for $1529. More than enough power for now and years later.


    Spend the money on good mics. They won't go obsolete after 24 months...

  11. DarthMoops macrumors regular

    Aug 7, 2010
    Baltimore MD

    Interesting thread.

    I had read somewhere, maybe here? :) That recording live instruments requires very high hard disk I/O? And that such recording works much better with multiple disks in a stripe set (RAID 5) meaning you are best served with a Mac Pro?

    Also, the Mac Pro's ability to add internal FireWire cards for recording hardware makes it a better option as well.

    Any thoughts on this anyone? :confused:

    Thanks in advance.
  12. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth

    Even when I was using my G5 tower I never used any internal cards - I'd have used a FW800 multichannel interface. That could work with an iMac as well.

    Since I'm mostly a one man band these days the iMac works fine.

    The other thought, I have multiple recording capable computers so....

    If I were looking to get an iMac I'd just get a decent 8-channel Firewire interface since the OP says "Maybe a few if I have some folks over to play but never more than a few."

    You could go grab more if you need it (my opinion is get more than you need but...)
  13. bprice macrumors member

    May 28, 2007
    LA, Ca.
    Do you already have the Zed?.If not.. If you are trying to save a little money and you are mostly going to record one input at a time or maybe a few more the Zed for a Home recording studio ....even though very inexpensive in comparison to a studio mixing board... is a still overkill.

    It sounds like you are either building a studio from ground up.IMO ever buy is crucial if you want to be frugal.

    Audio tracks (gtr ,vox etc.. REAL instruments) take much less horse power than virtual instruments (synths) and sample library and software FX.Which means you don't HAVE to have a buffed out computer.My old Mac Mini 1.66ghz CD can handle many straight audio tracks in Logic just fine.

    It's the other stuff that clogs it up.On that note IMO the 2009 iMac i7 2.8ghz refurb is the best buy for $1,700.I don't any significant gain (actually hardly any at all) with 2010 2.9ghz and its $500 more!!

    A home studio WILL turn into a money pit.If you really think through each buy and what it will do for you you can avoid the "I want" with a" I need".
    IMO top priority for a decent small setup.

    mic(s) that suit your purpose
    monitors ( don't skimp on this... you won't regret it)
    room treatment(absolute must with good monitors)
    mic pre amp(s)
    work horse computer

    5k could put you in great shape for a solid home recording studio

  14. Doc69 macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2005
    As hyper-threading probably will give you more plug-in power in Logic, if i would go for a quad, I would definitely go for the i7. If I would go for a dual core CPU, the i3 is probably fine.

    i3 dual is HT only
    i5 dual is HT & TB
    i5 quad is TB only
    i7 quad is HT & TB
  15. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004

    There are lots of people selling their lightly used gear that was an "i want" rather than an 'I need".

    I still hold that money spent on mics is the best long term value. FireWire Pre's will become obsolete but that mic you bought 20 years ago will still keep chugging along.

    BP raises a good point. It is so easy to think about spending money on the gear, gear! Gear! but often room treatment is just as, if not more, important to your recording.

    If all I was doing with a computer was recording I would buy a PC over a Mac.

  16. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Refurbs in the mix (pun!)

    Hi Guys...OP here....thank you all sincerely for all of the opinions and thoughts.

    I'm actually on what was supposed to be decision & ordering day but I was intrigued when I read some suggestion for the Apple Refurbs and so I had a look and made some comparisons in price which are below.

    The chart reflects the student discount on the new units as I have 2 kids in college but the refurbs don't have that discount.

    I'm not normally a "refurbished" kind of guy. But the savings can be great as you see here and the function on all of the machines is, I'm sure, far greater than I actually need.

    So the choices are (and these include the tax and 2-day shipping):

    New - i7 2.93 Quad Core - $ 2262
    New - i5 2.80 Quad Core - $ 2070 (Savings of $ 192)
    New - i5 3.60 Dual Core - $ 1940 (Savings of $ 322)

    Refurb - i7 2.80 Quad Core - $ 1854 (Savings of $408)
    Refurb - i5 2.66 Quad Core - $ 1672 (Savings of $590)

    So two questions....is the quality of the refurbs generally up to snuff? I'm concerned about bad screens, etc and the trouble of returning a refurb if it has issues and then be back at square one.

    Secondly...well, I guess I know this already....Logic Pro and some Photoshop on these machines are fine, I'm sure.

  17. bprice macrumors member

    May 28, 2007
    LA, Ca.
    A refurb has a full warranty.IMO they "should" have less problems since they "should"have tighter QC and Apple doesn't want it to come back!!.

    IMO (and I doubt ANYONE follows this advice)DON"T go looking for problems (the above mentioned) you will most likely find them..even if they aren't there or are miniscule....and yes Logic and PS will work great (especially on the i7).

    At gearslutz the resident computer guru said the ONLY iMac he'd get for a DAW is the i7..I agree...again IMO... the 2.8 refurb is the best deal.

  18. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Hey BP...

    I pulled the trigger today on just that machine. The Refurb i7 2.80. I read a ton about the quality of the refurbs, generally speaking, and felt pretty comfortable. Spoke with the wife and we decided to save ourselves $400 bucks and I think it was a good decision.

    It'll be here soon and, no I will absolutely not play Sherlock Holmes looking for trouble. I think I'll be happy.

    Thanks for the input.
  19. skcrane macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    dayton, oh
    I hope it works out for you I had to return 2 refurb i7's for screen issues, yellow, and screen flickering for the last one even after the update ran. I was able to go ahead and get a new i5 quad with expedited shipping for free and 5% discount for my troubles, I hope it works out well but my frustration with the refurbs will keep me buying new from now on.
  20. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    I took delivery the refurbished i7 2.8 on Friday.

    While I haven't had time to run it through its complete paces just yet what I have tested so far has me very pleased. It's a screaming machine and physically it's real close to perfect. No yellow, maybe a bit of what might be considered "back-light leak" - or what people are calling such - but not nearly enough to risk getting a worse on replacement. It's quiet, gorgeous and saved me over $400 over the cost of a new i7. I think it was a good decision both for computing and family finance reasons and I'm happy.

    Thanks for all the opinion, input and thought.
  21. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth

    If you want I can upload the little movie I took from my iphone of the Corei7 2.7 running the Logic Benchmark. 62 tracks.

    That's 62 EXS24 instruments with a space designer on each channel. That's the gearslutz benchmark session by the way.

    On "real" sessions the most I've seen so far is 81 channels with no hiccuping or anything. I suspect I could go far beyond that if needed.
  22. milo macrumors 604

    Sep 23, 2003
    Logic will use all cores on a quad machine including hyperthreading cores.

    i7 gives fantastic performance for Logic, the question is for someone who isn't doing huge projects, whether it would be overkill. Personally, I'm running i7 for my home rig and I love it.
  23. nigelallistair thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    Alien, I'd love to see that actually, yes. Thanks.

    Milo, yeah, I'm looking forward to running it at full tilt and watching her sing. Good times.
  24. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004

    Yeah, I think refurbs are the way to go with desktops. At this point you are most likely just getting stock that was never sold so there isn't likely to be any problem.

    Have fun!

  25. kaufman macrumors member

    Jun 28, 2010
    Good to see more threads on this.

    I was in the same boat and was undecided between a base model mac pro 2009 refurb or an i7 imac 2.8 refurb.

    In the end I opted for the latter as it just saved me money for starters and meant i could upgrade other parts of the studio.

    The imac turned up monday (ordered friday and based in uk)
    I was very worried about whether the screen would be ok and damage e.t.c but i have to say it's almost perfect.

    Apart from a couple of extremely minor scuff's on the front it's brand new and the screen has been tested for the yellow issue and it's more than fine.

    There is a minuscule hair down in the right hand bottom of the screen behind the glass which only shows up in lighter backgrounds but i have no problem with this when working and as i always have a black background i never see it.

    I was disappointed that it was a seagate and not a wd drive in there but apart from the odd noise (not loud) when working it seems ok.
    My one i replaced in my macbook is ever so noisy.

    So I've been connecting up my apogee duet with a firewire 800 convertor cable into a wd my book studio 1tb into the firewire 800 slot on imac and it daisy chains fine and unlike my mabook it does not start pushing the fans too hard. work great.

    For logic users wondering what sort of power the i7 has well i did put a 4GB slot extra in that i got from crucial to make it 8GB and then ran the benchmark test which appears on a few sites.

    Whereas my 2.0ghz macbook with 4GB ram will only get 15 tracks before it wont play anymore i managed to get the i7 to......62 tracks which I'm more than happy with.
    Had similar results in either 32 bit or 64 bit mode on logic 9.

    Feel free to ask anymore questions, at the moment (touch wood) all is working brilliantly.

Share This Page