Mac Pro 5,1 vs Mac Mini Quad i7 for Pro Tools 11

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by 13th Crowned, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. 13th Crowned macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Good day,

    This is my 1st post here, thank you all in advance for any forthcoming advice/response/ goes;

    I've been faithfully using my Mac Pro 1,1 for several years without any issues. I'm currently running PT8 on Lion, but recently purchased the upgrade to PT10-11 in December. Let me say right from the beginning that I'm not interested in "risking" my workflow for a Firmware "Hack" as I've read about others doing. I can't afford to be down and unproductive because of a "possible" failed attempt to bring my Mac Pro 1,1 up to snuff. Apparently, the Firmware "hack" has worked for some folks, but it didn't go so smoothly for others either for whatever reason. Bottom line for me is the 32 Bit EFI, and Pro Tools which I use DAILY, and NEED.

    Having said that, I'm pretty much sold on getting a Mac Pro 2010 to move forward in this 64-Bit world that we live in now, but a buddy of mine is trying to convince me that the 2012 Mac Mini Quad i7 is a really good contender for what I need moving forward, but I’m not 100% sure about that…hence my post here for advice from others. Without a doubt, it is definitely a very powerful Mini, way much more than my current Mac Pro 1,1, but I've gotten spoiled with the 4 Slots for hard drives, and the expansion slots. He had me there for a minute, but I’m trying to keep my eyes on the prize of the Mac Pro 5,1 as I move forward.

    I'm currently running PT8 on my Mac Pro 1,1 and it's VERY STABLE. Out of necessity, if I need to use Pro Tools 11, I have to do so on my portable rig with my Macbook Pro, but the magic happens on my Mac Pro 1,1...that's where the Mac Pro 5,1 will come in to the picture and save the day by allowing me to use the upgraded Pro Tools 11, and the soon to be released Pro Tools 12.

    If I was a Photographer/Graphic/Web Designer/Videographer etc, I would definitely keep my 1,1 and continue using it. Adobe CS5, Final Cut, Logic, etc works just fine on the Mac Pro 1,1, but Pro Tools is my weapon of choice, and the Mac Pro 1,1 is no longer cutting it. Having said that, as we PT users know that the latest and current Pro Tools 11 has made some great advancement as a 64-Bit application which leaves the Mac Pro 1,1 out of the equation.

    So to make a LONG STORY LONGER, I’d appreciate any responses with Pros/Cons about a Mac Pro 5,1 or the Mac Mini Quad i7 as I move forward with Pro Tools 11, and the soon to be released Pro Tools 12. The Mac Mini Quad is VERY POWERFUL, and it’s not bad at all, I'm just not sure if it's a good purchase for me right now.

    I apologize for being so long-winded, but I wanted to explain in detail my current situation.

    Thanks for your time in reading this, and the forthcoming response(s).

    All The Best
  2. Machines macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2015
    Fox River Valley , Illinois

    I almost hate to say this , but maybe you will be very happy if you kept your Mac Pro 1,1 and simply upgraded her processors . It isn't too hard . You won't be able to run the latest version of PT (since both the latest versions of PT and Logic require the very latest OS X to run ) . So, in this scenario , you will continue to use your old copy of PT . But it will be so much better ! I believe every track will get a dedicated Core (and in Macs that have hyper-threading chips , each thread (there are two to every core) will get a dedicated track . An upgrade to a 2 X 2.66 GHz Quad configuration ( 8 Core total) Mac Pro 1,1 is not expensive ($50 in chips , $7 of thermal paste and a $15 for a 3mm hex driver .

    If you decide you want a more modern Mac , you can still do the above upgrade and load a recent copy of Abelton on it . It's a wicked fast Mac for that and you can give it to a friend . He'll appreciate it greatly . I've done a lot of these processor upgrades for the Abelton guys , who were previously using Core Duo / Core 2 Duo Apple laptops and even this MP 1,1 Eight Core is now 5 times better !

    In as far as comparing a 12 Core Mac Pro to an i7 Quad Mini , there is just no comparison . Even the wimpiest 12 Core 2.13 GHz Mac Pro (I make them) will outperform the best Mini , for the reason given above . More Cores / Threads , the better . Both the latest versions of PT and Logic are optimized these days for all 12 Cores and will definitely take advantage of the additional hardware they discover .
  3. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Thanks Machines,

    In short, I have absolutely no desire in upgrading processors, etc. I totally know and understand that if it weren't for the advancement of Pro Tools 11, I'd be keeping my Mac Pro 1,1.

    Having said that, I've already purchased the upgrade to Pro Tools 11, and now I have to get a compatible 64-Bit Mac to run with it.

    Thanks for the suggestions though, but I'd rather just buy a good used computer as I move forward in this 64-Bit world.

    All The Best
  4. ilikewhey macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2014
    even a 8 core 4.1 will outperform a mac mini quad when it comes to multicore performance, not to mention the mac mini's cooling is inadequate for anything too intensive.
  5. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Mac 4,1 or 5,1 recommended; more robust, greater expandability for storage/backup. CPU upgrade can also be done if ever desired… get a 5,1 if going dual CPU and CPU upgrade is being contemplated. Only MP downside: no Thunderbolt for some of the newest interface hardware.

    I run a 4,1 ($600) that has been updated to 5,1 hex 3.33 (you can do this for $200 now) and it is fantastic using Digital Performer and lots of VIs. 24 GB RAM, five SSDs and a couple of HDs for backup. UAD card, SATA card. Love it.
  6. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Thanks for the suggestions, but I don't want to mess with a 4,1 or an upgrade path for a 4,1. That's the most likely the next "Supported" Mac Pro to get dropped from Avid's list of "Supported" Mac Pros.

    I figure that I've done really well with my trusted 1,1 for all these years that anything in a 5,1 will be SUPERIOR to what I have now.

    In response to ilikewhey, about the 8 Core 4,1 outperforming a Mac Mini Quad, the only Mac Mini in consideration for me is a 2012 Mac Mini i7 Quad Server that's recognized as 8 also has a 2nd bay for a Hard Drive. To put things in perspective a little more on the comparison, the 2012 Mac Mini i7 Quad Server WILL BE FASTER than my current Mac Pro 1,1

    Being an owner of a 1,1, I know all about the expansion slots, and Hard Drive Bays, etc, but I'm trying to talk myself out of the 2012 Mac Mini i7 Quad Server that snuck up on me out of nowhere, and sort of looks more attractive the more I think about it.

    I'm weighing all options/suggestions because a Mac Pro 5,1 is all I was considering until my buddy started to explain to me about the 2012 Mac Mini i7 Quad Server that's recognized as 8 Cores, and has a 2nd bay for a Hard Drive.

    He's seen it action several times, and was pretty much blown away. Until he told me about it, it wasn't even on my radar.

    For starters, it's cheaper to purchase than any 5,1....decisions...decisions!!!
  7. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    The mini may be recognized as 8 cores, but it's still just 4 physical cores. The hyper threading is nice, but it's not magic.
  8. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Of course it's NOT magic brentsg , my point was it's faster than my current Mac Pro 1,1, and Pro Tools 11 sees it as 8 cores as well...POOF
  9. Machines macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2015
    Fox River Valley , Illinois
    There is absolutely no performance difference between a Mac Pro 4,1 (2009) upgraded into a Mac Pro 5,1 via the bootrom upgrade and a real Mac Pro 5,1 (2010-12). None . Just different parts used and the year of manufacture .

    A Quad Core Mini that reports 8 Cores is a false positive . The software actually confuses threads (virtual ) and cores (physical) . There is no substitute for physical , hardware resources .

    A Quad i7 Mini = 8 threads .
    A 12 Core Mac Pro = 24 threads .

    This is not a hard decision .

    Mac Mini and other small form factor computers (like laptops) often throttle down their performance due to excessive thermal build up (they get hot since they do not have very good cooling systems .)

    Mac Pro (2006-12) Xeon processors rarely - if ever - throttle down . Mac Pros are very cool machines - thermally and otherwise . They have a lot of space inside , good fans and sophisticated cooling channels .
  10. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
  11. Machines macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2015
    Fox River Valley , Illinois
    I read the thread and it's full of ***** and giggle moments :D

    Are these guys serious ?

    "I'd rather have the dual 7200rpm drives." :D:D:D

    Oh my gosh ... and he's giving advice on editing gear ? I know the thread is old , but really ! We had lots of SSD choices back then .

    This made my day ! ;)

    Buy a 12 Core Silver Beast .

    I just built one for an IT client who visited Google's Chicago Office today for lunch and had a garden salad with herbs freshly picked just for him by the server in a garden there . Then the masseuse got hold of him while he was looking at drones . I think they want to recruit him ...

    How come us hardware techs don't get the wine and dine treatment ? :(

    My kind was respected once ... when we wore white lab coats :cool:
  12. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    I completely agree with you on the 7200 RPM Drive recommendations. I thought that was a bit funny myself. However, what I walked away from it was that they were doing pretty decent with the Mini Server i7 Quad as far as Pro Tools and Post Production is concerned.

    I know it can't compare to a Mac Pro as far as Cores, etc, but they seem to get the job done without a hitch. I've seen different threads as well, not just this one.

    I'm with you on the Silver Beast though, that was THE ONLY THING ON MY RADAR, until my buddy got into my head about the Mini Server i7 Quad.
  13. Machines macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2015
    Fox River Valley , Illinois
    Then improved longevity . A well cared for Mac Pro should have an operational lifespan of 10 - 20 years . Keep it clean inside, thermal paste all chips regularly , use a surge protector and a power (voltage) conditioner . Needs the occasional repair . But they are so well made and cool at load they seem to be immortal . Treat her like a Lamborghini and you'll be very happy .
  14. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
  15. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    I'm running ProTools 11 on my Mac Pro which is a Single CPU 09 version.

    Running Yosemite, with an SSD Boot drive and a SSD Scratch Disk, plus some others for general storage. Runs great. Mainly using Waves plugins, so not utilising any outboard DSP.

    Got 12gb of RAM, i'll probably upgrade that and my GPU next, gets a little laggy with a 30'' ACD and a 24'' Dell.
  16. jamesdmc macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2007
    Tell your buddy you appreciate the suggestion on the mini, but go with your gut. The mac pro has all the advantages you're used to: multiple hard drives (I have 6 in my mac pro); expansion slots to stay somewhat current (no thunderbolt, but if you don't need it, so what); and real cores trump virtual cores every time.

    In moving from one mac pro to another, you should be able to make the transition without a hitch. Downtime essentially would only be the time it takes to move hard drives from one chassis to another.
  17. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The 2012 $800 model used would have probably been a better value than one of the server models. The mac pros are arguably better. Just note that they aren't brand new, and some of those components could fail. There are some nice aftermarket upgrades for the mac pro, which would bias me toward them. You also have a lot more in the way of storage options.
  18. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Core for core the Mini is faster. So if you're buying a 4 core Mac Pro it will be slower. A 6, 8, or 12 core Mac Pro will be faster.

    With the Mini, it's imperative you swap our the hard drives for SSDs. With the Pro a 7200 rpm desktop drive will probably work ok, but SSDs are a good upgrade as well. Just not as necessary.
  19. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Thanks goMac, after doing some more research/homework, I think a 2010 Mac Pro 3.33Ghz 6 Core is what I'm looking for. I considered a 2010 2.8GHZ Quad with the upgraded processor to a 3.33 Ghz in mind, but OWC's price for the 3.33 Ghz 6 Core upgrade from a Quad 2.8 Ghz is waaaay too much right now for me...

    I'd rather find a 3.33 Ghz 6 Core, pay the price, and keep it moving instead of buying a Quad 2.8, and then still have to shell out another $1000 plus to OWC to upgrade to the 6 Core 3.33Ghz.

    I hope I misunderstood, or read the wrong thing on OWC's page, but I think I'll try to find the right 6 Core 3.33Ghz for me.

    Whichever Mac gets purchased, it's definitely SSD's all the way.

    All The Best


    Good day "thekev", out of curiosity, would you mind explaining why the regular Mini would be better than the Server Mini?

    Agreed with everything you said about the Mac Pros…my mind is made up, that's exactly what I'll purchasing.

    Right now I'm studying/learning about the best Mac Pro 5,1 to upgrade, or just buying a Mac Pro 5,1 that already has the specs I'm looking for right out the box.
  20. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Amen to that jamesdmc, in my situation, I think downtime would be a little longer because I plan on getting the Samsung XP941 as my boot drive, and I'll be configuring this one a little different from My Mac Pro 1,1 which I have as a Raid O with (2) 1TB Drives, (1) TB Drive for my samples, and (1) Miscellaneous 750 Drive, all backed up to an external CCC, and a 2nd external to Time Machine.

    Should I install all applications from scratch instead of from the CCC or Time Machine? Is it a good idea to do so since they're on 10.7.5, and I'll be running a newer OS on the SSD with the Mac Pro 5,1? I know my sample drive will remain the same, but I'm just concerned about the Applications that are currently installed on Lion.

    Thanks for your forthcoming response…All The Best
  21. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    If you are at all handy, you could buy a 2009 4,1 quad for under $600, update EFI (free) swap the CPU to X5680 for under $200 and, if necessary (depending on how usage) swap the GPU as well. This would leave plenty of money for some fast storage and lots of RAM.

    Either way, I can assure you the Hex 3.33 has been a solid performer in my studio.
  22. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    This sounds similar to my setup…I use Waves, Soundtoys, etc., and I have no outboard gear as well…at least not yet. No ACD though…dual HP Monitors on the stock ATI Radeon XT-1900.
  23. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    I'm handy enough to swap out Hard Drives, and Ram, but I'm still haunted by an earlier project waaay back in the days with my 12' PowerBook G4.

    Here goes, I ordered a 320 Gig, and a DVD-RW Superdrive to replace the regular DVD drive, followed the steps on just fine with the Hard Drive…that went really well.

    I came to the part with to R&R the DVDDrive, and came upon the instructions for Thermal Paste. Right before I got to that step, I broke something because I didn't realize (1) screw wasn't removed, and I pulled it. I abandoned that project and I still have the 12' PowerBook G4 in a box.

    I kept it for a rainy day whenever I felt like I had nothing else to do. Well, I'm so busy, I never got around to "not having anything else to do" so I never got around to facing the music with that DIY project…pretty lame huh?…I know, but I've heard worst than that.

    I eventually purchased a MacBook Pro and called it a day. So as for being handy, I don't want to go mucking around with something this expensive that I "might" mess up.

    I dunno, but I did consider it after looking at some YouTube videos. From what I gathered, it's easier to upgrade the processor on a 5,1 than it is for a 4,1.
  24. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    I've just starting buying outboard gear. I tell you now, buy the smallest rack you can, because as soon as you have spare rack space, you will fill it! I bought a 12U rack thinking it would last me ages, took me a month to fill haha.

    But, my 4,1 is going strong. No intention to get rid of it yet...
  25. 13th Crowned thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 6, 2015
    Hilarious:D...This Mac Pro will be primarily for Mixing/Mastering, and some modest guitar and vocal recording here and there.

    The majority of my heavy recording is done in (2) other studios that has LOTS of outboard gear that I have FULL ACCESS to, so thankfully there's no need for me to go all crazy with the outboard gear.:cool:

    I'm a drummer, and I'm fortunate enough that I get to use one studio for tracking drums with their outboard gear. We barter our services, I record drums for them from time to time, and I can use their studios whenever I need to track drums for myself.

    It's a WIN-WIN really helps that we've known each other since we've known ourselves...our Dads have played music together since they were teenagers, so basically, we're like family.

    Speaking of family, the 2nd studio with outboard gear that I mentioned belongs to my cousin, so I have FULL ACCESS there as well...lucky me...:D

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