will a 2010 MB be good enough for music production

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by mjhann83, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. mjhann83 macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2016
    hi everyone, i have a macbook 2010 (processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, memory 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3)
    and even tho apple says the max memory you can have on this is 4 GB, i can see it can be upgraded to 8GB or 16, i'd like to upgrade it to 8 or 16 to run music software more efficiently but will it make that much of a difference because it's a dated machine? i read somewhere that the memory upgrade won't make too much a difference because the rest of the machine isn't a workhouse... just needed a few opinions on this so i dont waste my money...

    i would go out an buy a new macbook just to make music on but if i can save money upgrading the one i have and it runs alot better, i'd rather do that and save money... thanks!
  2. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    Generally speaking increasing ram allows multitasking to occur more fluidly: opening and running of multiple programs. 8 gigs will do you well for producing music. We had an old imac with 4 gb ram and Garageband, logic Pro all worked well for multitrackng.
  3. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2015
    Honestly, I wouldn't recommend it. It does depend on what you really mean by "music production"... but if you're planning to use any current software or plug ins, you're not going to have a great experience with a Core 2 Duo these days. Even with more RAM, the CPU is going to struggle to keep up. Comes down to what kind of production you want to do. If you're a singer-songwriter type, and you just want essentially a modern version of a multitrack tape recorder to lay down audio recordings of vocals, guitar and whatnot, along with some light programming (drums, some synth etc) then it could be OK at a pinch. But if you're looking to make electronic music, then the computer itself becomes far more important as it's going to be the primary instrument and source of sounds in the first place. That means you'll want to be playing with lots of synths and effects - and you will very quickly hit a wall with a machine like that. Same goes for making film music or music using large orchestral sound libraries and that kind of thing.

    IMO, it comes down to two basic choices:

    If you're after a simple multitrack recorder in computer form, with only light use of effects, synths and processing, then you can get away with a lightweight machine (including older ones). In that case, you're better off putting some money into a good quality audio interface to ensure that what you capture is as nice sounding as your budget allows. But be careful when investing in a decent interface - if you spend a lot on something you want to keep for a while, you want to make sure it has the right connectivity that will still work on a newer machine if and when you get one. As in, be aware that firewire might not be the best choice moving forward...

    If however you're looking to avail yourself of all the current software toys that everyone uses in proper "in the box production" nowadays (for electronic music, pop production, film scoring etc etc) then you need a machine that won't punish you for trying. A Core 2 Duo will probably struggle to manage even one instance of Omnisphere, and there are quite a few software synths that I doubt it could manage to run at all such as the (great sounding) uHE Diva. You'll end up freezing tracks all the time on an old machine and probably cursing a lot too. For this kind of production (for me personally) I'd only want a minimum of a quad core MBP. Doesn't need to be a current one, any of the 15 inch models from 2011 onwards are a quantum leap above the dual cores and are very well suited to music production. Short of that, I've seen some people using recent 13" MBPs (which aren't true quad cores but can do 4 thread with hyper threading AFAIK) and they aren't too bad. In my experience though, when you're running a lot of real time synths, samplers and effects, a minimum of 4 actual cores (especially hyper threading ones) is the baseline sweet spot. The faster the clock speeds the better, but in reality there's a massive jump in power and usability for music production between any Dual Core Mac and any Quad Core one. So if you've got a 15" i7 MBP quad in any form, it's going to be a good start, even the lower specced ones. The next thing is RAM, and I would recommend a minimum of 16GB today. 32 if you want to use a lot of big sampler libraries.

    End of the day, any model of 15" quad core MBP (from 2011 onwards) would be the wisest choice if you want to not be frustrated by being careful of what you can or can't use. With a machine like that, even using just the internal drive for audio and a simple audio interface can cut it to do pro-level work. With something older or way lower specced, you'll be trying every trick in the book (fast external drives, squeezing in as much RAM as you can etc) just to get something passable, I wouldn't want to go that way. Hope this helps!
  4. Greene, Jan 6, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016

    Greene macrumors regular


    Jul 15, 2015
    Fort Worth
    This depends to some extent (key word: some) on the kinds of music your making, but a lot of great music was made on computers way less powerful, without a great deal of extra hardware sitting in the creative ecosystem. You will be ok with a 2010 MB. You will be ok with a dual G5.
  5. tbirdparis macrumors 6502

    May 30, 2015
    Yep, good point. You don't absolutely _need_ the latest and greatest to be able to produce music with computers today. Plenty of great work has been made on older setups and they can still be useful, same goes for more recent or current lower spec machines. It's just a question of knowing what you'll realistically be able to do well and managing your expectations accordingly. For example, if you're the kind of person who's into learning from youtube videos of people producing music with the very latest software and plug ins (and to be honest this is how a lot of people learn and get into production nowadays), then you might be annoyed and frustrated later if it turns out the machine you're trying to work with can't handle the software or plugs you're discovering and you want to use. In that case, having put in a few more hundred bucks into your initial computer purchase might have been the wise thing to do. But of course, there are loads of machines including older ones which can handle music software (especially if you mostly do multitrack recording and not so much heavy software synth/sampler/effects work), so it's not out of the question that a MB from 2010 could be enough for what you want to do.. Just depends on what that is exactly.. :)

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