Need purchasing advice for Logic Pro

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Diogones, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Diogones macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2009
    Hey all,

    I'm planning on upgrading to the latest iMac, and I have a couple of configurations that I'm considering. I make heavy use of Logic Pro X, as that is what I primarily use my current Mac for, and I'm not sure which config would be better for my situation. I don't use my Mac for anything else, except for web browsing, the occasional coding, and Minecraft.

    The first configuration I was thinking of is the high end 21.5, with the upgraded CPU, RAM, and storage:
    CPU: i7 3.6GHz
    RAM: 16GB
    Storage: 1TB SSD
    Total: $2,599.00

    The second one is the high end 27" model, again with upgraded CPU and RAM, but using the base storage option:
    CPU: i7 4.2GHz
    RAM: 16GB
    Storage: 2TB Fusion
    Total: $2,699.00

    Now I don't mind having the smaller screen and weaker GPU, but I'm wondering if the 1TB of solid flash would be better for Logic Pro initially than the 2TB Fusion, which is only 128GB of SSD. I don't need too much space, as my current Mac is only using about 300GB of Logic Pro projects and my other files. On the other hand, the 27" has easier to upgrade memory, so if at some point I would like to go up to 32GB, I could do that much more easily on the 27" than the 21.5" model. The 21.5" is also $100 cheaper, so that's always nice to save a little bit as well.

    Any advice or opinions would be most appreciated!
  2. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    If you for Logic you want to have silent computer at load, the 4.2 GHz i7 might not be a good idea. Check out the posts in some of the other threads like the iMac noise thread.
  3. Smoothie macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
  4. Diogones thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2009
    Thanks for the prompt and helpful replies! I checked out the link you included Smoothie, as well as the iMac thread there EugW. Great reading!

    Basically what I can conclude is that the 27" i7 iMac will be pretty loud, but the performance will of course be huge for what I'm doing compared to the i5 options. I'm wondering the same thing EugW asked in the CPU Logic thread: what about the i7 in the 21.5"? I wonder how loud that is.
  5. JVNeumann macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2017
    I did the i7, but I mostly use headphones when I'm working in Logic so I'm not too worried. Processors are just about the last thing to scrimp on when it comes to audio.

    Although I haven't received it yet, so maybe I'll regret it once it actually arrives. Even so, you can always return it in the 14 day window anyway.
  6. propower, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017

    propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    I would wager that the 21.5 i7 heats up just as fast as the 27 due to smaller heatsink in that model. But I have never used or tested one !
    --- Post Merged, Jun 28, 2017 ---
    Will be interested to see how you like it. Performance wise there is nothing not to like about that one for Audio. The variation in audio loads based on what plugins are in play is all over the map. I can max the i5 out with 45 VIs in Logic (Logic CPU meters are all pegged) - and the overall CPU is still only 60% full. The i7 takes 80 or so to max out Logic... But then i can do 100 Audio tracks and 300 plugins + 4 drummers - Logic meters are at 75% with the i5. Interesting notion to let efficiency be a factor in plugin choice. Certainly Slate is going there - all the FabFilter stuff is super efficient as is many of Waves (though a good number are totally NOT efficient)...
  7. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Who cares about fan noise; you're mixing music through monitors or headphones, not doing surgery in a library. i7 is a must for heavy LPX use. The hyperthreading is vastly beneficial when running lots of plugins. Trust me, don't skimp on the CPU. You get so much more for your money with the i7.

    SSD is essential too; performance, longevity, reliability, and instant project loading. Don't go Fusion.

    Get 27", SSD, i7. RAM isn't an issue because you can easily double it down the line for peanuts if memory pressure is high. GPU... well, the better GPUs are great for LPX/FCPX.

    So I'd personally buy the top config 27" with the 580 GPU, then BTO the CPU to i7 & upgrade the Fusion to Flash. Leave the RAM as is until you get it.
  8. JVNeumann macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2017
    Is that true for LPX? I didn't think it'd matter much.
  9. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I consider screen real estate to be very important to productivity when working with apps of this sort. I'd take a 27" over a 21.5" every time (though a dual-display setup would be another valid approach).

    My instinct is to say that having both 1TB Flash and a 27" display could be beneficial to you, delivering productivity and performance gains that justify the extra cost. On the other hand, a middle ground might be a dual-display setup based on that 21.5" iMac - the cost of a second display may be lower than the cost of upgrading the 27" to 1TB Flash.

    I've been known to take some hardline stances in favor of Fusion, but not in this case. There are too many unknowns - project size may determine whether 1TB of Flash is enough for your needs, or whether the 128GB of Flash in the Fusion drive is enough (I suspect Fusion would be fine for all but the most demanding work, but I can't promise that). The size of your active library is a factor - if your entire workflow benefits from being in Flash, will 1TB of internal Flash be enough? Would it require shuffling projects onto and off of the internal drive from slower (cheaper) "offline" storage (sometimes a time-consuming process in its own right), or will you also need an outboard bank of SSDs? If so, would a 2TB (or 3TB) Fusion setup result in less file-shuffling, at a (possibly) low performance penalty?

    I've produced/engineered every project length from 10 seconds (radio station bumpers and teasers) to TV commercial and feature film scores to 2 hour-plus concerts and 4-hour documentaries. My storage needs would be quite different, depending on whether short form or long form was the bulk of my work, and whether a large library containing multiple projects has to be kept live or the project components can go into long-term storage after the project has wrapped.

    All that said, I haven't done pro-level audio production on a Mac since the 1990s (Quadra 950, pretty awesome in its day). At the time, "storage" meant a chain of 1GB and 2GB SCSII drives (something like 8GB altogether), solely for audio files (enough to have two, two-hour classical concert broadcasts in production at a time). OS, code, and project EDLs were on a 400MB(!) HDD. Maximum RAM for the Q950 was 256MB (don't recall what we had). The required DSPs were on a separate, proprietary card from the software developer... seems like the Dark Ages, doesn't it? An iPhone could run circles around it. So, unless I rolled up my sleeves and got back into things, my notion of what today's audio pros expect is mostly theoretical.
  10. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Err good point... I thought LPX utilises Metal or OpenGL so a decent GPU certainly should provide some benefits, though of course SSD/i7 CPU would be the ones to upgrade first before going for GPU.

    Not 100% on this now that I'm checking as I can't find any definitive confirmation one way or another. Hopefully somebody here can chime in.
  11. colodane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2012
    Oops - not enough coffee here yet. I thought your 27 inch option was 2 GB SSD, not fusion. Kindly disregard my previous comment.
  12. Diogones thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2009
    Wow thanks everybody! Such awesome and detailed replies! I'm grateful for everyone's posts! :)

    I didn't even think about the GPU making a difference with Logic Pro, but that is interesting to think about. Since I'm coming from a Mac Mini, the GPU upgrade will be a welcome improvement regardless!

    Thanks for your specific build advice keysofanxiety! You helped to - dare I say it - remove some of the anxiety from the purchase decision I made. I think I will go with you suggestion of SSD instead of Fusion.

    Well propower that is intriguing that you found almost no huge variation between the i5 and the i7 with regards to their effectiveness in Logic Pro. I think that the biggest argument most have here in this thread and in other threads concerning the new iMacs is that - while the i5 is a very effective CPU, at least with regards to Logic - the i7 is only $200 more, and it would help to future proof the iMac for a little bit longer. As long as the heat and fan noise can be tolerated, which as JVN and others have pointed out they most certainly can, then I think the i7 might be the better choice in terms of longevity. I don't expect to replace this iMac nearly as soon as I replace this Mac Mini, and it has lasted me almost 5 years!

    Thank you for your input Apfel: the larger screen has been mentioned by others in this thread as the better option with regards to productivity. I'm trying to figure out the best way to answer your question about the storage. I would like to just go to 500GB of flash, but my current files are already taking up almost 230GB by themselves, so I'd be getting a drive with 50% filled space right off the bat after I set the new iMac up. The 1TB flash would certainly be the better choice, but it is of course quite a price bump that I'm not sure I can fit into the budget right now. I do like your idea of offloading the files from Logic projects I've completed onto external hard drives, and then deleting them from the main SSD. I could still access them fairly quickly with USB 3 or a Thunderbolt drive, so it could work out!

    Definitely will just order it with 8GB of DDR3 and upgrade it later. Does anyone know where I can find any RAM for this?

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