Mac Pro Build For a Music Producer; Hackintosh?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by HelpMcgee, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. HelpMcgee macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2009
    I am a music producer, and the current mac offerings are horrible, the prices are just through the roof. I will not need the dual GPU card. I want something on par with the 12 core 2.93. The prospect of thunderbolt is the only thing really holding me back from 2010 model because I use Symphony interface via thunderbolt. These macs are around 3K.

    Or should I just build a Hackintosh. are hackintosh cpu efficient With apps like Logic pro and Protools? or is it not there yet in technology and programing of the mackintosh bridge? I hope it's not something like bootcamp. I hate to beat a dead horse, but this matter is fairly complicated. Can you add thunderbolt to a hackintosh, with PCI in the same tower as well.... Can I get that same power for 2500$ and be happy. I just need raw power for track counts, plugins! thank you for your responses. Im sorry if it is too noobish
  2. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    Yes you can make a Thunderbolt and PCI equipped Hackintosh, but for Audio work the pain will be making sure you have a stable and robust set of audio drivers. Most Hacks use beta level audio set up at best so if you can pimp a late model oMP instead that may be a better bet.
  3. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    I'm currently shopping around for a 4,1/5,1 MacPro now, to run my audio work.

    There's no way in hell i'd try using a Hackintosh for Audio work, the audio drivers just aren't good enough. Either get a Mac, or run Windows.

    Also, why are you using a Thunderbolt interface?
  4. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    ^ winner
  5. Liquidstate, Jun 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014

    Liquidstate macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pacific Northwest
    I'd agree that the drivers are a big deal. My local pro dealer quit supporting Windows builds because they were losing money on support, mainly due to constant driver issues. Because almost everything inside a Mac is an integrated component either made or vetted by Apple, they tend to be far more stable.

    I run a small rig through a MP 5.1 (PT10) and don't use a lot of tracks at the same time. But I do tend to use a fair number of very hungry plug-ins during mixes. In my experience, the main issue is ram, not CPU. I've got 18GB, and after I fund some better monitors, the next thing I'm doing is maxing out the ram.
  6. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    Interesting that you say your running out of ram at 18gb. I have yet to upgrade to PT10 (still using 7), but is it a pretty bad RAM hog? What plugins are you running?

    Only £280 for 32gb of RAM for a 4,1/5,1 ... hmm.. once i find a Pro, i shall probably invest.
  7. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Thunderbolt is such overkill for audio. As I recall, FW400 can handle about 100 tracks at 44.1k... unless you mix outside the box via a huge SSL, you'll never need anywhere near that much i/o.

    If your interface provides any connectivity other than TB (i.e. FW or USB), go for a 4,1 or 5,1 used and drop in the CPU/GPU of choice. Use the PCIe slots (mSATA or PCIe SSDs) for fast storage and apply RAM as needed.
  8. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    With that Apogee @ $2490.00 minimum I see why it is the center piece and all is based on it. Being that it is TB only you are some what limited. Aside from TB, running loads of trks with plugs is not an issue even with this ole 08! I use PT8, DP7 with loads of waves and UAD. SSL G & E, Neve 1081, Neve 33609, Fairchild, 1176, LA2A, Pul Tec Pro, ect. 26GB keeps the NI lib happy!
    With 26GB ram and a fast raid = no problems! :)

    Attached Files:

  9. Liquidstate macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Pacific Northwest
    Sorry for the late response. Probably won't be seen now. I use a lot of different combinations, and I do it by properly bussing, plus optimizing PT CPU usage, but the Waves IR 1 Convolution and various versions of Maximizer, especially the L3-16 multi-band, can jam the system.

    After I built my system, I read a web post (I think on the "flaming used-to-be-pro audio forum) that said the cMP ram doesn't run at full efficiency with less than 24gb of ram. So I think I need to muscle up to 32gb as you suggest.
  10. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    Seen and taken in man, thanks!

    Yeah, without busses, PT does kinda hog down a little. I'm really considering the 32gb..
  11. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    I was considering a Hackintosh for music production as well, as I'm also a pretty big gamer and currently do not have a PC to game with. My plan was to build the Hackintosh for my audio needs on OS X, and dual-boot Windows on the gaming side. I absolutely want Thunderbolt and super-fast I/O. I did about a month's worth of research on the various Hack forums, and my conclusion is that TB support simply is not there yet, and not a lot of people seem to be too interested yet in getting it to work. There are all kinds of issues.

    The first big issue is that on multiple Gigabyte boards, the actual TB drivers for the motherboard will not be installed unless you install Windows on the box first, then connect a TB device. This somehow *enables* the TB ports on the motherboard side. Until you do this, TB won't work on the OS X side at all. Once you do that, there are multiple performance and connectivity issues depending on the device. There is no hot-plugging. If a drive falls asleep on you, it won't always wake up. Audio interface support via TB is touch and go. And there is also general Finder/OS X freezing issues or taking 4-5 minutes to boot when a TB device is connected to deal with.

    It simply wasn't worth it for me. The PC I was looking to build was going to cost around $2500, so I wouldn't be saving much money. I'm currently saving up a bit more to go over to the nMP and have less headaches.
  12. austinpike macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
    Easiest way to do Thunderbolt on a hackintosh is the Quo "any OS" motherboard - based on a Gigabyte model.

    Still can't hot-swap thunderbolt and you are limited to Z77/Ivy bridge. Audio can tend to break with updates, but is easily patched. Mine has been solid overall, but then I'm not using it for pro audio. You'll need to not mind tinkering a bit (though much less than a typical hackintosh) and go into it with the idea that it might be a bit of an experiment. Best case, you get a sweet machine for ~$1000; worst case it doesn't work out, you sell off the parts and are maybe out a couple hundred bucks. Or keep it around for an extra workstation, load Windows on it, whatever.
  13. pasarireng, Dec 15, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014

    pasarireng macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2014
    *Yes. I use Hackintosh for more than 5 years. My specs are onlyCore2 Duo.But it is Good for Logic Pro etc.

    #Buy the right hardwares (see good example below),
    #go to, download it's myhack installer,
    #download mavericks from apple,
    #put them in any mac,
    #create a bootable USB Flashdisk Installer (its easy, just follow the guide along the way)
    #Install the MacOS (follow the guide, it's easy)
    #..and done.

    Good Example of Hardwares for hackintosh with thunderbolt:
    Total Price: $2,145.68

    Corsair Carbide Mid-Tower Case
    Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD7 TH Motherboard
    Intel Core i7 4770K 3.5 GHz Processor
    EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
    16GB Crucial Ballistix 1600 MHz DDR3 16GB
    256GB Samsung 840 Pro Solid State Drive
    Corsair Carbide RM 650 Modular Power Supply
    TP-Link PCI Express Wi-Fi Card

    It's almost (at least) $1,000 cheaper than equal mac ...of course with all of their minor pluses and minuses.
    If You want, You can reduce the price & qualities from the case, graphic card, and wifi card etc.
    Change it to more powerful processor like 4790K and/or more RAM like 32GB if you like.
    Or just exactly follow the example if You like. Both are good ways.

    Good Luck.

    P.S.: Oh and don't forget to use USB Keyboard & Mouse instead of PS2.
  14. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    It sounds to me like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

    I spent several hours yesterday helping my DAW developer track down an elusive bug on the Mac side. I'll be getting a prerelease to test soon and hopefully it quashed it.

    Using a hackintosh is like driving irresponsibly, taking for granted that all the other drivers will obey the rules.

    It can be done but good luck.
  15. pasarireng, Dec 15, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014

    pasarireng macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2014
    I was a PC user from DOS era until Windows 8 before I switched completely to Mac OS about 5 years ago, and Hackintosh was the first Mac OS 'platform' route I encountered.
    In Windows, I'd say though not expert, I'm above average users.

    After the switched at the first time, I was confused a bit (only a bit) about some different terms in MacOS here and there. It's normal I think. Along the way all would felt familiar and natural.

    Now after build, install and maintaining many units of Hackintosh machines, I can say that actually, Hackintosh -while I agree that it's not 'for just anyone'- actually is much easier and finer & smoother than (installing and maintaining) Windows.
    Especially for music-audio production tasks like the OP wants.

    If the OP follows my guide above, all will be fine.
  16. supermac7 macrumors newbie

    Dec 25, 2014
    Hi @pasarireng
    It's clear what you explain here... just have a question, what TB audio interface are you using or have you used with that configuration? would it work with an apollo quad? thanks!
  17. pasarireng macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2014
    IDK about apollo, but I've seen people with Apogee Symphony. Also some other peripherals. So..It should be...
  18. EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2014
    Frankly you don't need more than a Mac mini. You should look for the 2.3ghz 2012 version which let you install two SSDs inside so you can get RAID 0 for very responsible soundtrack scrubbing. It runs just as fast as a MacBook Pro, almost as fast as the base model Mac Pro, and you save so much money. With the saving you make you can buy two 1tb SSDs for the internal RAID.
  19. pasarireng macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2014
    Sorry, I don't want to start debate or something, but the OP asks for Hackintosh, speaking of that, the amount of money saved, or saying it from other perspective: "the performance for $$$ ratio", with the same amount money of the macmini, or more in context -the OP budget (about $2K)...Hackintosh is far much better option.
  20. iBuildMacs macrumors member


    Dec 29, 2014
    You will definitely save money going with a hackintosh, but you may have lagging/freezing/bugs with your pro audio apps. I hear it all the time. Best to go with a real Mac pro within your budget.
  21. beepp macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Hackintosh if you know what are you doing ;) Have no problems at all with apps I use. Sound device uses the same drivers/kexts as on real macs. For music I used only GarageBand band and had no issues at all.
  22. Yebubbleman, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014

    Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Do you really need 12 cores? If you didn't, an i7-equipped 27" iMac (either retina or non-retina) would give you a total of 8 cores (4 physical, 4 virtual via Hyperthreading) and that could let you do a TON.

    Hackintoshing is fun, but you do put yourself at a lot of risk if you depend on this machine to make your living. Though it is much easier on yourself if you opt to stick with an OS that is not the current one (i.e. not subject to 10.x.y point releases, where x is the version number and y is the point release update version number), which works as a lot of big name software/hardware products tend to not update their support for the newest OS until half-way through it's yearly reign as the current version of OS X.
  23. Commonmind macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2009
    No, a million times no. You're probably going to find a Hackintosh advocate whom will praise their custom built box, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that -- it's likely that those individuals are having a fantastic time with their hobbyist Mac systems and they're performing amazingly well (with lots of attention paid to hardware, installing the proper drivers, etc.).

    The problem is, those Hackintosh builds are still using inferior hardware, and aren't stable enough to be recommended for professional use -- day-to-day computing maybe, but in an environment where payment of invoices relies on delivering work to your clients on time and without err, I wouldn't take on the unnecessary risk. If you truly need the power of a Mac Pro, building an equivalent PC with the same components is just as pricey. Building a PC with "gaming" grade specs is cheaper, and it can throw some pretty fantastic benchmarks at you, but it's still not in the same league if your goal is to remain economical while maintaining comparable hardware. Keeping that in mind, rather than consider the Hackintosh as a viable alternative to a Mac Pro, consider whether or not you need a Mac Pro at all. What kind of production work are you doing that requires that much power in your DAW? You know how many professional engineers I've seen running entire studios off of portable interfaces and MacBook Pros? Even with numerous tracks, plugins, etc. To put it in perspective, you can still find a G5 or early Mac Pro in quite a few professional studios -- a current gen iMac or MacBook Pro is going to knock the pants off of both of those systems.

    I have a portable studio with both a Duet 2 and Quartet running on a MacBook Pro, and a home studio with a 6 core Mac Pro, with an Ensemble Thunderbolt, Axe FX, and several other pieces of outboard gear. The kicker is that Mac Pro isn't doing anything more for me in Logic, Cubase or ProTools than my iMac or MacBook Pro. Subjectively, the performance difference is negligible. If you're using enough plugins to drop a current gen iMac or MacBook Pro to its knees, you might want to consider refining your workflow, rather than upgrading your box. Not to sound patronizing (especially if you're an EDM/Hip Hop producer and are doing most of your production right in the DAW), but I would personally recommend what I insinuated earlier -- an iMac or rMBP should get you there from a performance perspective.

    To clarify (and so I don't sound hypocritical), the Mac Pro is running my home studio by coincidence. My day job involves a design and development workflow that utilizes the Mac Pro's specs, and this was the reason it was purchased. Otherwise, it would still be going strong on my 2013 rMBP.
  24. pasarireng macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2014
    Never happen to me and my colleagues.
    The key is:
    1.The right choice of components.
    2. As 'vanilla' as possible in installing the OSX (the more vanilla = the less additional kext etc than a real mac.... of many method, the easier way for beginners to do this is by using "myhack tools" as I mention above).

    They're should not be inferior. Less 'sophisticated' maybe, but inferior should not.
    With same money, the real mac is the inferior one to the hackintosh machine.
    Hackintosh should be stable -more than a real mac- if you chose the right hardware (and that's not cheap too, even if lower price than the real mac) and the right installation method (vanilla).

    Not cheap,..but definitely NOT AS PRICEY as the real mac..
    In other words: the same amount -or even less- of money of the price of Real Mac, if spend on Hackintosh, one'll get BETTER machine. (except for notebook, which macbook pro is still the best IMO).

    Agree about "MacPro perhaps is too much". But not agree with G5 to work today.
    Again, for the same money of iMac, One can get better machine with Hackintosh.
    Notebook is other matter. MacBook Pro is still the best than any comparable Hackintosh Laptop IMO. But for desktop, Hackintosh can be the better choice.

  25. BoneDaddy Suspended


    Jan 8, 2015
    It depends on how deep you go into making music.

    There's anything from making simple beats and recording a person, to recording a live band including the vocalist, to composing scores in forms like chamber orchestra. It also depends on the software you plan to use.

    Here's my use, to give you an idea. I have a 13" late 2014 retina, with 3.0 i7, 16gb RAM, and a 1TB PCIE drive. I need portability that I can hook up to my desktop rig. And I need a lot of internal space.

    I use Native Instruments Kontakt for libraries, Logic Pro X as my main DAW, and Waves with Fab Filter Pro for editing. I also use Ableton live 9 and Reason 6. There's are many others. I have NO problem running any of this and making music. I plug in to a dualhead2go and an extra monitor, and usually have 2 BT peripherals and up to 5 midi controllers running at once.

    My CPU processes never reach half and this Mac is NOT slow. It works flawlessly. I never hear the fans come one.

    Also, it depends on if you're mobile a lot. If not, you can even get by on an older mac mini. The new iMac's would be great as well. My setup is perfect for me. I assure you that a top of the line macbook pro 13" would be more than enough for you. Anything higher would just be much better.

    To build a PC that is going to give you the same software performance is going to run in the neighborhood of these mac anyway, so I say just go Mac. If you just want reason to make beats, you can buy a 500 dollar computer and be all set.

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