iMac for music production

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MDJCM, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. MDJCM macrumors regular

    MDJCM

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Location:
    UK, South
    #1
    Hi,

    Trying to advise a friend.

    I got him to buy a late 2012 slim 21.5" iMac as it seemed like the best thing for his budget as it had USB3 for the external drives he will inevitable be working from.

    But he is still complaining about the speed. I'm not sure what could be the bottleneck, I assumed SSD, but is it more likely to be the processor or RAM?

    He says he can sell this Mac and put some cash together for a total of ~£1150 too, but not sure what to advise him to buy for that money (used is fine too)
     
  2. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
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    Between the coasts
    #2
    "Audio production" is a broad term. What software? How elaborate are the productions? It is possible that your friend's needs do exceed the capabilities of this machine. Before suggesting a suitable upgrade/replacement, it helps us to know more about usage and software, and the current hardware. What CPU and How much RAM are in the current machine?

    There are many potential causes for a speed problem that might resolve things without replacing the machine, once identified and fixed.

    First, just what is "slow?" Is your friend encountering frequent beachballs, or a general perception that "this could/should be faster?"

    RAM is one of the easiest causes to evaluate - have your friend run Activity Monitor and watch Memory Pressure and Swap Used. If it's swapping a lot, more RAM. If Memory Pressure spends much time in the orange or red, ditto. If neither, then RAM won't be the fix. Non-responding tasks in CPU and/or Memory also tell us something. It also pays to run Disk Utility (verify), as disk errors can certainly slow you down.

    SSD is a great solution for a variety of issues, but it might still be the wrong choice. If the CPU is under-powered for your friend's needs, SSD may just be sending good money after bad. If the problem is a shortage of RAM, SSD certainly speeds things up, since it affects the performance when swapping to disk. However, the first fix for heavy disk swapping is RAM - eliminate the swapping at its cause.

    Rule one of diagnostics: Identify the disease before prescribing a cure.
     
  3. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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    #3
    Thanks.

    I'll try to get him to use Activity Monitor, but you know how tricky that might be :p

    Might have to sit next to him while he uses it.
     
  4. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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  5. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Thanks. My Late 2013 iMac differs only in that it has a 3.2GHz i5, 16 GB RAM, and Fusion Drive. Nothing I've done on it to date fits the description of "slow." What I'm using it for differs substantially. My heaviest use case is InDesign (large book layout files) concurrently with Aperture, Numbers, Pages, and around 30 open Safari tabs. I've run Logic Pro, though not very hard, so the fact that it seems fast to me may not mean much to someone pushing it harder.

    There might be benefit to going to a machine with an i7 processor for the sake of multi-threading performance - other Logic Pro users will know better than I. SSD or Fusion Drive will be a bigger performance bump-up than increasing processor speed by a few tenth's of a GHz. The graphics card won't likely be slowing him down. RAM remains to be known.

    (I'm a fan of Fusion, especially when the budget doesn't allow for a 1TB SSD - to me, 80% of the speed of SSD for all of the machine's internal storage beats 100% of SSD for 25% of internal capacity and conventional HDD speeds for the rest).
     
  6. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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    #6
    There might be in something in the fact that he might be carrying baggage from previous time machine restores.

    So I might get him to try a blank OSX install and manually re-configuring his Mac to see it's raw speed.

    SSHD is nice but I think I'd always go SSD + external storage. As it's unlikely you need SSD speeds for that many files.

    I wanted to try a thunderbolt SSD enclosure for external booting but they are still silly money.
     
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #7
    To be honest the fusion drive has proved itself a reliable no nonsense and very fast storage solution over the last few years. It is not an SSHD, it is a 128gb SSD and a 1TB HDD they are separate and the solution is software only as to where OSX puts your files and apps.
     
  8. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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    #8
    Oops, I forgot that Fusion Drive was proper. I thought it was SSHD. That explains the price bump.

    But it's hard to find used Fusion Drive iMacs so probably still looking at external or internal SSD.
     
  9. McScooby macrumors 6502

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    #9
    2012 Mac Mini quad i7 on refurb store for about £6-700 when they pop up, fling in a ssd & if you wish 16GB ram. & display of your choosing.
     
  10. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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    #10
    Those are pretty crazy, I wasn't aware of those.

    Wow, so lame that the most powerful Mac mini ever made is coming on 3 years old. Very weak of Apple to not keep a quad core option.
     
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #11
    I think

    This was more down to the differences between dual core and quad core parts that needed different motherboards and chip sets which was not the case for iveybridge but was an issue with haswell...

    I'm pretty sure if they had used the same sockets they would have been in the mac mini...
     
  12. MDJCM thread starter macrumors regular

    MDJCM

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    #12
    Interesting, have you seen any indication that we are not far away from a faster Mac mini release?
     
  13. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #13
    Unfortunately

    Broadwell seems to be in the same situation as haswell here. It may all change with skylake though.....
     

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