Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
2pauluzz2
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Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:42 pm

Hello there.

I've been running into CPU overload on my Macbook Pro more often lately. It's a mid 2009 machine (5,5), 2.53 GHz / memory upgraded to 8 GB 1067 Mhz DDR3 and a 500 GB harddrive. OSX is 10.6.8.

This CPU overload comes from using multiple instances of Kontakt and from plugins like the Softube TSAR reverb and the Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machine. That last one is easily printed onto tracks by Freezing them but that doesn't work quite the same with Kontakt and eg the reverb.

It got me thinking about upgrading my machine.. I'd like to be able to work smoothly, hassle-free.. Especially since my dayjob eats up a lot of my time I'd like to be able to make those couple of hours in the evening count.

Now I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to computer specs so I was wondering if some of you guys have experiences with the recent iMacs or Mac Mini's? Should I notice a substantial increase in performance? I wouldn't consider spending that amount of money when it'll only buy me 15% increase, but I would be wonderful if I could just work and work without even coming near to 100% CPU.

And would anyone know whether I can clone my HD for the new machine, or would I have to install everything anew?
"Paul" is fine too.

Galt
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by Galt » Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:17 pm

Get an iMac. Rock solid machines. Buy the best one you can afford.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:02 pm

Wow. Lots of bad experiences in that thread. Good to be made aware of that - thank you.

I have core 2 duo. When mentioning i5 / i7, are you referring to a new Macbook Pro or an upgrade to my current one?

If a new MBP would significantly improve my ability to work smoother, I might consider that for the longer term (end 2014 perhaps). If/when I upgrade, I want to upgrade to a real workhorse so I'll have to compare some specs between the Macbook Pro and the desktop versions.
"Paul" is fine too.

4.33
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 4.33 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:13 pm

Just bought a mbp15 retina i7/2.0
Haven't been able to choke it so far, even with many instances of Razor
And the screen has to be seen to be believed

turnitto11
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by turnitto11 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:09 pm

Any of the new i5/i7 Mac's will give you a speed bump. For a really serious speed bump, look for a Mac with a quad-core i7. This would be a very significant upgrade from anything Core 2 Duo.
MacBook Pro (13", 2.7ghz i7, 16gb, 10.9), Suite 9

kitekrazy
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by kitekrazy » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:41 pm

IF you run Kontakt, a desktop is a much better solution.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:46 pm

First of all happy 2014 to all and thank you for your replies so far. I'm not the quickest to respond, that's mainly due to a busy work/holiday schedule the past weeks (as I'm sure many of you will recognize). I do appreciate your input.

At the risk of GAS (I promised myself I'd stop purchasing but didn't realize my gorgeous new software toys would strain my CPU as much as they do), I've been researching the Mac Mini's.

Although I would not benefit from the iMac's beautiful screen (for the sake of this argument let's not take into account the issues with the screen mentioned by Funk N. Furter, which are certainly very relevant to look into when considering an iMac), I see a lot of advantages --- Mavericks appears to be a pretty well compatible OS, I'd get Firewire and have an expandable unit, and then of course the price. Or so I thought.

When I don't go for the most restrained version of the Mini, it looks like prices aren't all that different Mini vs Imac.

A comparison from the Apple website:

Mac Mini i7

Brings me:
2,6-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
Turboboost to 3,3 GHz
16 GB 1600-MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x 8 GB
5400-rpm seriële ATA 1 TB harddrive
Firewire ports

= € 1.254,99

iMac i5

Brings me:
2,7-GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
Turbo Boost to 3,2 GHz
16 GB 1600-MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x 8 GB
No Firewire port but Thunderbolt with an adapter seems to work fine for most people.
21,5 inch screen + mouse + keyboard. I have a keyboard, mouse and external monitor already but the screen would def be an upgrade. This also comes with a risk of blemishes as explained above.

= € 1.529,00

Questions that I have at this point are:
- Can someone comment on how these machines will perform when maxing out CPU in Ableton with eg Kontakt, TSAR-1 Reverb, Lexicon Reverbs and similar CPU-intensive plugins.
- Can someone comment on the different i5 vs i7? Is it huge? Slightly noticeable? Worth the Mini over the iMac?
- Am I overdoing it? Is it likely that I would be able to fix my CPU problems with a much more stripped down version of the mini? That would only give me 4 GB of RAM which is less than my 2009 Macbook Pro currently holds, and a 2,3-GHz i7 Quadcore instead of a 2,6. The win is the price: 855,-

Any thoughts/experiences are highly appreciated.
"Paul" is fine too.

Khazul
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by Khazul » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:28 am

Of the two and given you have a monitor, keyboard and mouse, I would go for the mini. If you want to save some money, then maybe an 8GB configuration. I have 8GB in my 2011 MBP (2.3Ghz quad core i7 CPU) and even using several kontakt, nexus and various spectrasonics plugins quite a lot I don't feel a need for more memory. The only reason I would add more memory to this laptop is for non-audio related work where I sometimes run a virtual windows machine under parallels when I cant be bothered to re-boot to windows bootcamp.

The only thing I don't like much in the mini is the 5400 RPM HD. I stuck a WD scopio black 750Gb HD in my MBP to replace the drive it came with.
Nothing to see here - move along!

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:25 pm

Thanks Khazul, I'm leaning more towards the Mini now - also because I'll have an i7 vs an i5 with the iMac.

8 vs 16 GB is a good suggestion, that alone will save me EUR 200,- . € 1.054,99 is a far more acceptable sum for this unplanned expense.

I was always under the impression that RAM is quite important for audio but from what I read I get the impression that the processor will make much more of a difference. Mini's appear to be upgradeable easily so if I would feel the need to install 16 GB down the line, that's still an option.
"Paul" is fine too.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:36 pm

So, just to be completely clear on this: it's not likely that the 8 vs 16 GB RAM will become the bottleneck?

I'm also reading on fan noise with the Mini. My Macbook Pro is currently right in front of me and is blowing like crazy, that is quite a big interference with the sound coming from my monitors:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/h9nuuww8b79s8 ... 212128.jpg

How are your experiences with fan noise with the Mini?

One other factor that still has me in doubt is the fact that I currently use my Macbook Pro's screen with that 20" external monitor. With the Mini I'd have to give up on that extra screen.
"Paul" is fine too.

oblique strategies
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by oblique strategies » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:39 am

2pauluzz2 wrote: I'm also reading on fan noise with the Mini. My Macbook Pro is currently right in front of me and is blowing like crazy, that is quite a big interference with the sound coming from my monitors:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/h9nuuww8b79s8 ... 212128.jpg

How are your experiences with fan noise with the Mini?
Fan noise is the issue I was going to bring up in regards to Mini vs. iMac: the mini can be moved so that it is not directly between your speakers (where most people have their computer screen), whereas the iMac (& it's fans) would tend to be placed between the speakers. Personally I find that every way to reduce unwanted noise helps.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:51 am

Hm, good comment - that flips it around: I read that the iMac makes less noise, but the Mini can be relocated easily.. cheers.
"Paul" is fine too.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:12 pm

By the way, I just saw a studio pic of a befriended producer on Facebook with some tools laying next to his iMac. Someone asked what they were for -- he replied that he unsuccessfully tried to get rid of some weird gray smudges inside his screen.

That + the fact that the Mini gives more power + is upgradeable + quality external monitors for decent prices are plentiful, is enough motivation for me to go with the Mini.
"Paul" is fine too.

2pauluzz2
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:12 pm

I'm still wondering whether choosing for 8 GB over 16 GB RAM will not end up to bite me in the end. I do use Kontakt and although I do not run the huge EastWest-type libraries I still run libraries that kill my current Macbook Pro dual core.

Am I being overly worried, or is 8 GB RAM instead of 16 a potential bottleneck?
"Paul" is fine too.

Khazul
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Re: Upgrade from Macbook Pro 2009 2.53 GHz / 8 gig?

Post by Khazul » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:35 pm

I use all trillian, omnisphere, nexus and kontakt quite alot and while I did hit the 32 bit memory limit on windows I only occasionally hit it on OSX. With the 64 bit version I have never hit it (and TBH never even looked at what the process memory use is) - even with a lot of sample based parts. I often use some of the big sample sets that are in komplete ultimate - alecia's keys for eg, the full drum kits, basses, sometimes the session strings, funk guitarist or whatever its called and often layer in pads from omnispshere and often several instances of the VSL solo and section strings (driven from a orchestral arrangement, so 5-10 instances of kontakt) with a bunch of aether reverbs on each string section so I can use its early reflect engine on a per section basis to help with positioning of sections to create a much more convincing orchestral stage etc. Its usually CPU that start to run out when doing that (due to the reverbs) rather than memory.

Im sure one day we will all be hitting the 8GB limit. In the end it depends what you use a lot of, how your track are structured etc - personally I don't really think its worthwhile handing over a load of extra starting cash to apple for something which I don't think would bite me soon. If you are doesn't a lot of big orchestral type music, then perhaps you will hit it quite quickly. While I do sometimes like to create a convincing orchestral sound stage, TBH its not something I do a lot of.

If/when it does bite, then there is always the 3rd party memory option down the road, but that means swapping the original back in if the machine needs to go back for apple-care. I keep thinking about getting a 3rd party upgrade to 16Gb for my MBP, but cant really justify it yet as TBH I just don't really need it.
Nothing to see here - move along!

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