Should I Invest Into A 2017 MacBook Pro Or iMac For Audio Production???!!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by brianmalota93, Feb 23, 2017.

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5K Imac (4.0ghz quad core) 2017 macbook pro

  1. Imac 5k

    8 vote(s)
    61.5%
  2. 2017 Mac Book Pro

    5 vote(s)
    38.5%
  1. brianmalota93 macrumors newbie

    brianmalota93

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2017
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #1
    My name is Brian and I've recently started to save up for a new mac for this upcoming March. I've done some research and asked some producer friend's their opinions as to which is the best decision for power, long term, speed etc. The issue I'm having is the friends are saying go with the new MacBook pro because it's versatile, mobile and most studios will move more in that direction because of the USB-C and new Thunderbolt. As well you could always plug it in to an external monitor.
    My gut however says go with the Imac fully loaded because it's a faster, more powerful machine. 5K retina display and seems like it will be applicable for when I move into a more professional setting. It seems you get the most for your investment and I couldn't see myself doing much travelling at least anytime soon.

    Now I would get a mac pro but it seems way out of my budget for the time being and i'm not financing.

    I'll be using Avid ProTools, an apollo twin duo interface, steven slate drums, UAD plug ins, etc

    The only issue is they are the same price...below are the specs for both..PLEASE HELP! ANY INPUT WOULD BE GREATLY GREATLY APPRECIATED!


    27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display

    • 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 8GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 4GB (WILL UPGRADE W/ 3RD PARTY TO 32GB $200)
    • 512GB Flash Storage
    • AMD Radeon R9 M390 with 2GB video memory
    $2,439.00

    VS..


    15-inch MacBook Pro - Space Gray


    • Touch Bar and Touch ID
    • 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
    • 16GB 2133MHz memory
    • 512GB PCIe-based SSD
    • Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB memory
    • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

    $2,689.00

    OR...

    13-inch MacBook Pro - Space Gray


    • Touch Bar and Touch ID
    • 3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
    • 16GB 2133MHz memory
    • 512GB PCIe-based SSD
    • Intel Iris Graphics 550
    • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
    • Force Touch trackpad
    $2,349.00


    THANK YOU!!
     
  2. chscag macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    #2
    If you don't mind waiting for a bit, Apple should be announcing new iMacs. The new iMacs will have USB-C, better graphics, and the latest Thunderbolt ports. The only drawback is no one really knows how soon the new iMacs will appear.
     
  3. brianmalota93 thread starter macrumors newbie

    brianmalota93

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2017
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #3
    Yeah that's a great idea! I've definitely thought about it and I'm considering that however I'm currently computer-less now. I sold my old macbook pro a few days ago so that sounds like it might be awhile before being able to produce again.
     
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #4
    To be honest the ability to put 64gb of ram in the iMac is the main reason for you to get the iMac for your use case if you run some huge libraries and plug ins in Avid.

    Other than that it makes little difference especially if you use an external monitor with the MacBook Pro.

    If you really don't need the portability at all I'd go with the iMac.
     
  5. niploteksi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
    #5
    If you are set on going the Apple way and you need it right now I'd still go for the iMac. You are not going to produce your great stuff on the road anyway and spending a lot of money on something that's not the best specs you can get for your money is going to be sour grapes down the road.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting a laptop for your daw but keep in mind that plug-ins can take up a lot of cpu and ram. Some people get by on low specs other don't. If you are working with audio loops without many plug-ins working real time you can get by with a Macbook air. But lets say you have something like 20 or more different software instruments an samples each with one or more plug-ins... that's starting to eat away at your resources.
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    The MBPs are great if you have mobility needs, otherwise, I'd opt for the iMac as you get a larger display, better CPU/GPU and you can upgrade the ram to beyond 16GB (if you need it).

    While we do expect to see a refresh soon and waiting is the best option I think overall the iMac is a great machine for your stated needs. If you have mobiity needs, then I'd opt for the 15" MBP, since you get a quad core processor, and a dGPU, and a better display then the 13" model (I mean more screen real estate)
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #7
    If I needed a new Mac right now and didn't absolutely need portability, I'd go for the iMac 5k. Otherwise I'd wait for the next iMac (hopefully they'll just bump the graphics to the best mobile GPU available, replace the 2xTB2 ports with TB3 and otherwise leave well alone - if they stuff it up by going all form-over-function, 20% thinner and out all the "legacy" (hah!) ports so we'll all need to buy hub/docks for our desktops then it will be time to stop worrying and learn to love Windows).

    The usual deal-breaker for me with iMacs is that you're paying for a really nice screen that dies with the computer and can't really be used for anything else. However, I suspect current external 5k displays are going to have an early appointment with the recycling centre once DisplayPort 1.3/1.4, the corresponding HDMI update or some hypothetical Thunderbolt 4, supporting single-cable 5k@60Hz, become commonplace. Even the TB3 5k display is a bit of a kludge - combining two "virtual" DisplayPort 1.2 cables into one TB3 cable. For the moment, maybe having a 5k display built in to the computer, with a custom internal interface, isn't such a bad thing.

    The only issue is the lack of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 - however, at the moment, TB3/USB-C is as much a liability as an asset, especially with Apple's dongle-happy all-or-nothing approach. However, plenty of current computers from Apple and other manufacturers lack USB-C/TB3 - notably the MS Surface range - so the old-style USB3 connector isn't going away anytime soon.

    If you're doing audio production, though, you might want to think about whether you're going to need some sort of fast/high capacity external storage and/or if there are any nice TB3 pro audio devices in the pipeline (although I suspect that only devices that really, really need 40Gbps will drop USB-A connectivity) - if you research what you need in that respect it might affect your thinking on TB2 vs TB3.
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
    I vote for the iMac 27".

    If you're going to be doing music production, you need as much screen real estate as you can get. ANY MacBook is going to be cramped.

    Since you're using an interface with a Thunderbolt (2?) connection, if you get a 2015 iMac, you can just plug it right in.
    If you got a 2016 MacBook Pro you'll need a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 "dongle" to connect the interface.

    The iMac will let you add RAM as you need to. The MacBook won't.

    An iMac will have a full complement of ports on the back.
    New MacBooks are "dongle adapter city".

    iMac has more processing power, too.
     
  9. Booch21 macrumors regular

    Booch21

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    #9
    iMac. I do voice over work, far more limited than recording music, and you will want the horsepower that you'll get from the iMac. Mine is a 2010 model and I've increased the RAM over the years, but it's still purring along nicely. I use Adobe Audition, mainly because it's what I came from on the Win platform. On a side note, I do some remote recording with a Zoom H4n and I've done it with my iPad Pro, but I always drop the raw files into Audition on the iMac to create the finished product. Good luck!
     
  10. 62tele macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #10
    My 2010 27" iMac needed to be replaced. I couldn't wait for the refresh so I just bought a base 13" MacBook Pro without touch bar. The MBP runs circles around the 2010 version of the iMac using Logic Pro X.
    I am primarily a guitar player and only use a max of 16 tracks (including aux Bus tracks). My plugins are limited to Amplitube and the internal Apple EQ's, compressors, limiters. Although the RAM is only 8GB in the base MBP I have not one issue with CPU resources etc. I imagine the SSD/NVMe has a lot to do with that.
    I would have preferred a larger screen so I will buy an external monitor but I almost wish I had purchased the 15" MBP now.
     
  11. niploteksi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
    #11
    The thing that is going to put the most load on a system would probably the more intense real time plug-ins and software instruments. From what I understand he is going to be needing a bit more power and it's always nice to have a bit of leeway when you are using real time effects. I often use Guitar Rig from NI and when you start stacking up effects plug-ins it's really nice to not have to worry about clipping.

    And someone mentioned external drives... that's also a good idea.
     
  12. brianmalota93 thread starter macrumors newbie

    brianmalota93

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2017
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #12
    Thank you everyone for the advice! I seriously appreciate it every single post and it's all been pretty helpful with my decision. I guess what it comes down to, like @theluggage said, is if I want to go with thunderbolt 2 or 3 and Usb-C or Usb 2.0. Spending close to the 3 grand, obviously I want this thing to last. So I'd hate to buy a machine that will become obsolete after 3 years. But I guess by then I could probably sell it and upgrade to a mac pro or whatever "new" machine windows and/or apple has at the time.

    I'd be interested to know what you guys think of USB-C and TB3 being the future and completely making everything else old news in the next 3-5 years.
     
  13. niploteksi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
    #13
    I think that if you buy audio equipment like soundcards midi keyboards or whatever, your problem is more about when you get a new computer that has different ports. The only thing that is going to change is probably your external drives and I really don't think the transfer speeds is going to make much difference.
     
  14. brianmalota93 thread starter macrumors newbie

    brianmalota93

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2017
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #14
    Thanks!
     
  15. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #15
    That's real crystal-ball-gazing stuff, so nobody really knows.

    The iMac has USB3.0 ports, and you can add more via Thunderbolt 2. My guess is that the old "USB 3" connector (more correctly USB 3 type A) connector has so much momentum behind it that it will stick around for years to come (like the VGA connector) and there won't be much problem getting basic disc drives etc. Many USB-C devices - ones that only use it for USB - will work fine on older computers using USB-C to USB-A cables.

    Then there's Thunderbolt 3 - I doubt manufacturers are going to be producing much TB2 stuff from now on. However, its worth noting that Apple's TB3-to-TB2 connector is bidirectional and can connect TB3 peripherals to TB2 computers (provided they don't rely on TB3 features - so you can't run 5k displays or get 40GBps that way).

    I think its clear that Apple have decided that USB-C/TB3 is the only game in town for the future, but its far less clear in the PC world - USB-C/TB3 ports have been around for a year or so now, but not every new PC has them and I don't think any Windows PCs have "done an Apple" and completely dumped the old ports. Several motherboards and mini-PCs have hedged their bets and used the Intel controller to provide 1xTB3/USB-C plus a red USB-A socket that supports 10Gbps USB3.1g2 (which isn't exclusive to USB-C btw).

    Then again, 3 years down the line, I'm sure there will be Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4. There will also be new display connections (possibly part of TB4) better at supporting 5k or greater displays. You'll want to replace your slow old PCIe internal SSDs with Optane memory and update to a Greglake processor...

    So, if I were you I'd look/ask around to see if there are any must-have music production devices in the pipeline that will require Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C and won't work with adapters. If so, maybe wait for an iMac update.
     
  16. kiwipeso1 Suspended

    kiwipeso1

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #16

    For professional use, get the iMac 5k, and upgrade it to 64GB ram yourself.
    You will want the best specs for video card, and the thunderbolt 3/USB C v.2 will allow for decent performance from external storage.
    I would advise you to get the largest SSD size, so that you aren't constantly running out of space and you will get excellent speed from it.
    As for peripherals, it may come with a touchbar keyboard, and the trackpad is better than the mouse, as it can be used while charging (but the mouse can't).

    I would suggest that there are plenty of thunderbolt 3 docks which will provide for any port you may want for backwards compatibility, I have a thunderbolt dock to provide usb 3 on my 2011 iMac (which is usb 2).
    --- Post Merged, Feb 24, 2017 ---

    For professional use, get the iMac 5k, and upgrade it to 64GB ram yourself.
    You will want the best specs for video card, and the thunderbolt 3/USB C v.2 will allow for decent performance from external storage.
    I would advise you to get the largest SSD size, so that you aren't constantly running out of space and you will get excellent speed from it.
    As for peripherals, it may come with a touchbar keyboard, and the trackpad is better than the mouse, as it can be used while charging (but the mouse can't).

    I would suggest that there are plenty of thunderbolt 3 docks which will provide for any port you may want for backwards compatibility, I have a thunderbolt dock to provide usb 3 on my 2011 iMac (which is usb 2).
     
  17. brianmalota93 thread starter macrumors newbie

    brianmalota93

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2017
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    #17

    That's a very very good point! Thank you! It seems most hardware will probably continue producing TB2 and of course, on a business stand point, they can't expect an entire industry of people to switch to TB3 overnight so they'll probably just make reversible adapters, like you said....I think I've made my decision with the Imac! I'll be purchasing very soon! THANK YOU EVERYONE AGAIN FOR THE INPUT! IT'S BEEN VERY HELPFUL!
     
  18. StillAwake macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2017
    #18
    This was months ago, but can I ask, did you ever upgrade the RAM in the 2010 iMac?
     
  19. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #19
    Do you need to be mobile? Yes go for the MacBook, no then go for the iMac.
     
  20. Appleaker macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #20
    iMac would be the best option for longevity, and since all models have Thunderbolt 3/USB-C so you're fine there. But please note that next year will see an increase in the number of cores, +2 cores on every model leading to a big performance gain. I only mention it because it is a significant update that doesn't happen very often and will be longer lasting, on every model.
     
  21. fourthtunz macrumors 6502a

    fourthtunz

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    #21
    I'm using protools too a 2014 MacBook pro would get you all the power you need to start.
    Check out eBay. No fusion drives ;)
     
  22. JamesPDX Suspended

    JamesPDX

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2014
    Location:
    USA
    #22
    Just don't forget your external Thunderbolt SSD for recording. If you need something right now, I'd get the 27" iMac with the internal SSD with 32GB RAM. Is your Apollo Thunderbolt or Firewire? If you're going to keep that interface for a long time, buy your Apple TB3 to TB 2 adapter today. You'll want a reliable USB hub for the iLok. Buy the ZDT for the iLok if you're going to leave it plugged into your computer. You can thank me later.

    Are you going to need to travel with your recording setup? Or are you just collaborating online or with an SSD-to-go?
    --- Post Merged, Sep 4, 2017 ---
    ⬆︎ This.
    The 2014 MBP is by far the best laptop for running Pro Tools. These are incredibly scarce for great condition.
     
  23. 62tele macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #23
    Absolutely. It had 16GB
     

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