just made the jump to apple, and yet...

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by tonyd927, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. tonyd927, Feb 23, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015

    tonyd927 macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2013
    ..Im sort of impressed.

    I originally hated Apple products (bad luck with iphones, ipods etc.)

    But I needed something portable for my music production and I went with a refurbished 2014 Macbook Pro Retina 13" for $1100.
    * i5 2.8GHz
    * 8 GB DDR3
    *256 GB SSD
    *Intel Iris Graphics

    So far the screen and resolution look flawless. Programs open very quickly and the flash drive is awesome.

    I have a few concerns with this product.
    Firstly, I am using Ableton Live 9 Standard edition for music production.

    While using Ableton, I noticed in the Activity monitor that I am using most, if not over, my RAM. It bounces between 7.98 - 9.84 GB of RAM being used.
    I am using a 512 buffer size.

    Also, the CPU usage bumps up to well over 75-80% usage, with a thick line of green in the monitor.
    Occasionally Ableton will pop and the sound doesnt sound good. I am using 20+ virtual instruments or audio samples.
    My windows desktop sliced through at least 50 tracks without a hint of slowing down or lag.

    When Im just browsing the web using Chrome, almost 30% of CPU and 7.2 gb ram are being used...with ONE application running..:confused:

    I was under the impression that a macbook pro would be a little more..err..pro?
    I contacted apple support, they weren't much help at all. They basically were under the impression that "apples are the best for everyone and everything"

    So what can I do? I thought MBP's were the go-to for musicians/djs and producers?

    Also, the whole 2 USB port thing is a huge problem for me considering I NEED an external sound card apparently (the one in the mac isnt good enough) So a midi keyboard, external hard drive and soundcard..
    Thunderbolt is out of the question, everything is way overpriced.
  2. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
  3. Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    The 15" MBP without dGPU might suit your needs better, as the Quad Core is far more powerful and a closer equivalent to a desktop replacement. OS X will always look to allocate as much memory as possible as unallocated RAM is simply wasted. Chrome is not great on Mac`s, Safari is a lot better on resources, equally it`s not for all.

    For the Ram usage look at Activity Monitor and check the memory pressure if its in the green you have no concerns, if it`s yellow the system may start to slowdown, it`s also worth noting the 15" has 16Gb of Ram by default.

    The target audience for the MBP these days is the average consumer, so the focus is on form over function, slim and quiet etc. The Pro in MBP these days is nothing more than a marketing term. MBP`s are still great Notebooks and OS X really makes the difference.

  4. tonyd927 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2013
    The 15"ers are way out of my price range. I didnt think there would be that great of a gap between the pros.
    So 13" arent really used for music production I'm guessing?:confused:
  5. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    13" MBPs are only dual core, while the 15" are quad core, which means that they are essentially twice as fast in applications that utilize multiple cores, like pro audio applications.

    And well, for music production you want as much power as possible.

    But it should be sufficient for your needs, unless you have a dozen of things going on at the same time - So I would ask their support for why exactly it pops. It may not necessarily be a CPU issue.
  6. Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    Your likely at the lower end of the spectrum, I would fully close all other applications as that may help.

    As others have stated theres a big difference in performance with the 15" for applications that can access multi core CPU`s. Also agree it wont hurt to speak with Ableton or query their FAQ etc.

  7. dyt1983, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: To remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The important thing is the memory pressure indicator. If its green, you have plenty of RAM

    Its a light and portable dual-core laptop. You can't expect it to outperform a desktop that uses 4-5 times more power. If the laptop is not fast enough for your needs, I guess you have just made a wrong choice.

    This is one of those strange legends that I am not sure where they come from. Maybe it was true in the past (due to Firewire interface and better audio applications). But there is nothing about Macs that would make them better for audio production over comparable laptops of other manufacturer.
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    A few things

    As others have mentioned you have bought a dual core thin and light laptop, will it do what you want?? Probably.... Will it struggle with stuff a quad core desktop CPU slices through , of course it will, it is a thin light laptop with limited thermal overhead and a concentration on low energy usage chips. But lets take a look at your complaints,

    Firstly RAM OSX uses all the RAM available to it all the time so never expect it to be any lower than 6.5GB used whatever you are doing, as long as your pressure graph is green you are golden. RAM compression means that that 8GB *can* act more like 12GB under certain conditions. See Meisters excellent RAM thread.


    Secondly CPU in appleton, as you have 2 cores your max usage will be 200% assuming you are pegging both cores to the max. 80% for 20 tracks seems fair for a laptop to me, again your pressure graph is green you are fine.

    Chrome is a dog on OSX it is so poorly coded that it is a massive resource hog coupled with some flash and it can bog you down considerably. Unfortunately you have only 2 choices here, use it and accept that it is very poorly optimised for OSX, or use safari or firefox which work a hell of a lot better, even internet explorer runs better than chrome on macs...

    USB peripherals can be connected to a hub. But thunderbolt stuff is awesome, if you are the pro you are saying you are then you'll spend the money for pro equipment....

    As to reputation yes macbook pro's are the go to for DJ's and musicians, with good reason they are stable,fast fluid and easy to use and have Logic Pro available. However that does not mean that you don't have to buy the specs necessary for your particular use case and it seems that your use case requires more... As others have said returning it and going for a 15 inch may well be your best bet, buy refurbished and save a few hundred dollars..

    Lastly you are one of many that come on here complaining that their 13 inch thin light laptop is not as powerful as a specced out, huge box of a PC, well Duh what do you expect, laptops are still a big compromise on size weight battery time and power if they weren't then desktops would be pointless...
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    First, quit using Chrome. It's badly coded for OS X and is a resource hog.

    Second, if you're reading through Activity Monitor or any RAM cleaning app, free RAM values are meaningless ever since RAM compression and caching was introduced in Mavericks. Just look at the RAM pressure graph.

    Third, if you're reading the CPU through Activity Monitor, 75-80% is about only a quarter of your full power. The CPU can operate at a maximum of 400%. Every 100% is a single thread that's fully utilized. Your CPU has 4 threads, so 400% is the max. Quad core i7s on the 15" have 8 threads and can reach 800% at the very most.

    Fourth, USB 3 hubs work well.
  11. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    If you are a professional, then you have to pay for the professional tools to do your job. If you are making money from work work then just buy what's needed and stop trying to cut corners.

    You wouldn't get a professional photographer trying to get away with using consumer lenses just to save a few $1000.

    I wouldn't worry about the RAM issue. OS X will consume as much as possible to run as efficiently as possible. As more applications require more RAM the operating system will release it. What's the point of having RAM sitting there doing nothing?

    You are clearly concerned about the cost and available ports on the Mac, so you should really have looked at a Windows based machine. You could have got a much more powerful computer with a quad core CPU, 16/32GB RAM and had loads of money left over to get your soundcard, midi keyboard etc etc etc.

    However, the 13" rMBP is a damn fine machine, it just might not be suitable for your work.
  12. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    What exactly is your complaint?
    What does your MacBook lack? Is it lagging?
    The sound not sounding good/popping could have various reasons, CPU and memory not one of them.

    To understand Mac memory management read her: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1756865
    In any case: Do not use Chrome!


    What good would that do? The OP hasn't even stated what exactly is wrong with his macbook.
  13. strain67 macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2015
    You should also take into consideration that Chrome is a very CPU and ram intensive browser and this is a very well known issue with it. It's actually a fairly big joke about how of the cpu it hogs.
  14. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I have that same computer, and have no issue with Logic.

    Is Ableton your issue?

    There's a demo in logic with a Foster The People track with about 74 tracks - my CPU went up to about 60% a few times, while mostly below 50% from what I remember. Handled it without issues!
  15. tonyd927 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2013
    Uninstalled Chrome. Coming from a Window's background it was my best friend.
    But Safari is using less than 1/4 the resources as chrome did...wow.:eek:
    Even running ableton and safari at the same time is a big improvement over before.

    My Ram pressure graph is green, about 1/8 inch thick (not sure if that does anyone any good lol)

    I didn't know the i5 on this macbook could reach 400%. Is there a place I can read about this? I had assumed that the 100% was the entire CPU, both cores.

    I'm on the hunt for a thunderbolt USB hub. I heard that MIDI controllers and sound cards sometimes don't get along well with hubs, is this true?

    Thanks everyone. I think 90% of my problems are stemming from Ableton and Chrome. Took care of chrome, now just researching ways to make Ableton less resource hungry.

    I want to keep my macbook, there are a lot things I really love on this over a windows based notebook. For starters: gestures are fun, multiple desktops is a huge help, it's quiet (I have yet to hear the fans lol) it's built pretty well, aluminum bodies just feel great. It's very light and easy to travel with and runs even my 3D programs (Autodesk Maya) and Photoshop extremely well. USB 3.0 seems so much faster on this macbook than on my desktop..2+ GB folders copy in just ~2 minutes. I can't wait to try thunderbolt peripherals. The keyboard and trackpad are comfy, the battery life is unbeatable and that retina display..:cool:
  16. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    The CPU has 2 physical cores, with 2 logical cores each. This is called hyperthreading.

    100% CPU load is when a single thread uses all its available computing power. 400% would mean all 4 threads are running to the max.
  17. 5aga macrumors 6502


    Feb 18, 2003
    Gig City
    Just want to chime in and say that Chrome Canary has a greatly improved performance on Yosemite, so it may be worth checking out.
  18. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Your RAM pressure graph is green, means you're not using much RAM at all.

    Whether or not MIDI controllers and sound cards get along well with hubs, that depends on how much overhead the hub generates. You wouldn't want to buy some cheapo hub and ruin your audio production with bad latency.
  19. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    USB 3 hub? They are ~$30. Don't get a thunderbolt version. Way overpriced, if you just need a few more USB ports.

    Ram use isn't really indicative of anything. Free ram is wasted ram, so OSX tries to fill it up with anything you might need as cache, and clears it out for active use if you need it.

    Chrome is kind of a power hog in OSX, but it's the same in Windows. Safari is the fastest and most efficient option in OSX. I use chrome anyway, and I don't really mind it using extra resources.
  20. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The OP might not be able to get away with a USB hub, because the overhead generated by the hub could result in poorer latency for his MIDI controllers and sound cards. I'm not sure about it though.

    Considering that USB 3 hubs are so cheap these days, I'd just ask the OP to buy one and try it. If it doesn't work, all he's lost is just maybe a lunch or two :)
  21. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Which is exactly why I pointed them to an Ableton KB article that steps them through a rather decent troubleshooting process before recommending the second option that you quoted.

    Nevertheless, at this point it looks as though they have made significant progress in the meantime, which is good. Something, BTW, that KB article would have led them towards as well.
  22. Woochoo macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2014
    This. I'm not gonna say a sound card can't be used in a usb hub, but it's also better to use the hub for the MIDI controllers and the rest of the stuff, and the other usb for the audio card, so you will avoid some random audio problems (you're adding a failing point in your set-up using the hub for the audio card).
    Also we should know which kind of instruments is he using. It's not the same using a light synth or a piano vst rather than various full Kontakt instrument library (which can be some GB's sized) as a sampler instruments. If you are producing, don't have any other stuff open. If it crackles and pops the sound, try using a bigger buffer size (1024 samples for example). If it continues crackling, use ECO mode in the synths and instruments that give you that option (it will reduce the resource consumption). Also, the vst's and vsti's (effects and virtual instruments) are like apps, they can be coded to be really efficient and others might ***** up your session.

    Ah, and don't work over 96KHz of frecuency (in your case try 44,5 or 48KHz) if it isn't for a fundamented reason, since you'll be needing a lot of resources to work on that frecuency rates.

    p.d: make sure Ableton has multicore support enabled
  23. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I think the midi controller could work ok in a hub. The sound card should probably be plugged in directly.
  24. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68020

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    I have a circa 2007 Axiom 25 keyboard plugged into a Staples branded USB 2 hub and it doesn't cause me problems. Also have an iMic (remember those?) for A/D conversion on the same hub and record both in Logic Pro (version before X) with no problems or seeming lag.

    Most compatibility issues I've run into are external USB hard drives that don't play well together when plugged into the same hub (I'm looking at you, Maxtor).
  25. tonyd927 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2013
    completely off topic but I noticed that whenever I open my rMBP I hear this noise coming from the right of the trackpad that sounds like a hard drive disk booting up. (I know it's SSD) but what could this be?

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