Which Mac Mini or iMac for professional full time music production

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mmmhmm, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. mmmhmm macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2019
    I'm a composer/producer and music and audio production / sound design, mixing etc is my full time job. I work from a Macbook Pro (2017 touchbar 15") and am now needing to have a machine that stays in the studio. I'm hoping not to spend more than $1,500 (though not sure how realistic that is), and i'd like to get something as powerful as my MBP, or better. I've looked at refurb / used Mac Mini and iMac and there's so much variety out there, and the i7s seem to be very different from model to model, that I can't quite figure out what the best buy would be.

    I use Logic and Ableton intensively, so really do need some power. And i'm in Australia, so US retailers not so accessible.

    Thanks for any advice!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 12, 2019 ---
    I wonder, for example, whether the lower spec Mac Mini (i3, 8GB) would do the job if I upgraded the RAM and added hard drive space some how?
  2. tubular macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2011
  3. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    Mac mini current models will allow you to upgrade RAM, but not HDD. So, adding HD space would amount to an external drive. Fortunately, Thunderbolt 3 ports are plentiful on the mini, so speed will not be such a concern.
  4. Josh1235 macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2018
    Mac mini is a great choice for music production. We don't need GPUs much so the discreet graphics would do the trick nicely. The most recent i7 (and some i5) has more cores than previous years so i think it is worth getting a new mac mini. the 6 core i5 mac mini is a good choice with 500 GB SSD and then if you have any experience with computer hardware you should be able to do the RAM upgrade yourself. 32 GB is under $200 in the US now. I think all that would put you right around 1500 at least in the US, not sure what GST does to the price for you.
  5. mmmhmm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2019
    Thanks - where did you buy your Mac Mini? I'm looking at just going straight to Apple as from past experience the support experience (at the Apple Store in person) is a fair bit easier.
  6. mmmhmm thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2019
    Thanks - from what I can tell there doesn't seem to be an i7 in the 2018 Mac Minis, so it seems that the i5 is as high spec as I can go for a new model at the moment. Is an older i7 better than a newer i5?
  7. AdamJohnG macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2019
    Malaga, Spain
    There is an i7 2018 Mac Mini, not as a base model, but as an upgrade to either the i3 or i5 model. When making the online order you can do the upgrade.

    I also agree that an i5 or i7 2018 Mini would be great for your needs. The ram upgrade is reasonably easy to do with some care and external NVMe SSD storage through Thunderbolt 3 can be almost as fast as the internal storage. I have a Samsung X5 500 GB and the speed is stunning.
  8. Josh1235 macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2018
    You can get a 4 core or 6 core mac mini, the 6 core comes standard with an i5 but you can upgrade to the i7 for $200 more. this is what I did. Geekbench has benchmarks for each of them, this is useful but not a perfect measure of performance. the i7 8700 scores at 24300 while the i5 is 20307.

    I think honestly the i5 would be sufficient for most music making, unless you bring in an enormous number of tracks on your templates. 32 GB of RAM would be good though 16 is necessary. If you can do this upgrade yourself and save a ton of money - especially if you are going for 32 GB.

    I would recommend to get 500 GB storage and then use external SSD for your sample libs.

    An older i7 would likely be a step down from the most recent i5. Geekbench places teh imac from 2017 with the maxed out i7 7700k at 19375 - so a slight bit less than teh i5 and getting that machine used would likely not be any cheaper than a new mini. any other older i7 chip will have less power than the mac mini with the i5, this is because intel moved to 6 cores from 4 cores with the 8th gen. this led to nice improvements in processing power for the first time in many years.

    I use the mini standalone with no slave system and I have had zero cpu spikes. Mini I think is the perfect computer for music production work! Just wish they allowed for upgrading storage internally but other than that its everything we could have asked for.
  9. tubular macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2011
    I did a built-to-order, which took about a week, and then picked it up at my Apple store. I didn't kick up the memory, since I can do that later if needed, but I maxed out the processor (i7 hex core, 12 threads) and kicked the SSD just one step up that very expensive staircase, to 500GB. The total was $1499 + tax.

    This is presuming that you want to be able to stack a lot of tracks, or give yourself the headroom to grow into a lot of tracks.
  10. star-affinity macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2007
    Just wanted to mention that this seems interesting when it comes to external storage on a Thunderbolt 3 computer: https://i-tec.cz/en/produkt/tb3mysafem2-2/

    In conjunction with an NVMe SDD we should (in theory) get some pretty good transfer speeds. Just be careful as it seems some NVMe drives (currently at least) doesn't work well with MacOS (for example Samsung EVO Plus, but the non-Plus version works well).

    This could be a cheaper alternative compared to buying a bigger internal drive for the Mac mini.

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