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Pls help me choose - iMac or Macbook Pro

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I know I know.....really irritating post, my apologies.


I'm torn between getting an iMac or a Macbook Pro - I can't *really* afford either but my old 'late 2009' 2.26ghz core2 Macbook Unibody is really struggling now. In terms of portability I really don't care and could happily go either way.


What i'm wondering particularly is what sort of difference there will be in things like track count between iMac and MBP - I mostly use plugins (with just a few audio tracks) and I do use big sample libraries (but am going to use fast external storage).


ie. what sort of difference in performance will there be between a Macbook Pro 15inch 2.5ghz quad i7 and the 3.5ghz quad i7 iMac?


and is the 2.2ghz Macbook Pro really much worse than the 2.5?


The cheaper I can do this the better - it would just be good to have some idea of the limits of these various options.



Edited by vandelay
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I had a MBP 2.66 i7 core 2 duo (version 6,1) mid-2010. I bought a used late-2011 MBP quad core (version 8,3) and the improvement was stellar. Both were 17-1nch (which was a main motivator for me to buy used). I do use a 27-inch Cinema display.


My projects are mostly audio (as opposed to software instruments) I do use significant plugs and love seeing the 8 (instead of 2) CPU indicators chugging away. Typical project is 30-45 tracks, including buss/aux tracks. I do offload some plugs to UAD-2 solo/laptop Express Card, though (another reason for buying a used laptop).


Caution: Logic 9 (and likely 10) poorly allocate CPU usage, as hundreds of posts will testify. Even those with Mac Pros complain at times. I'd encourage you to read several posts on the topic of CPU/system overload. Seems that it's a tricky subject.


As for storage, I'd recommend an internal SSD for active projects. Phenomenal difference over Hard Drive technology and very usable as your system drive. Might even save you aging 2009 model for a while more.


Obviously, an iMac has more screen real estate than any laptop and assuming you don't have an external monitor, that's a reason to go iMac.


CPU (definitely go i7, but there are several versions of i7).

RAM (at least 16GB if you can).

SSD (500GB-1000GB)

are your main concerns.


I know this post isn't as helpful as you'd like. Perhaps someone else will join in.

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thank you that's really helpful - which i7 processor does yours have?


I do have a 22'' monitor - would use this as second monitor with either imac or macbook (as I do now)


What irritates me is most of them come with just 256gb SSD - this isn't enough really and the cost of upgrading is crazy - doesn't appear that you can upgrade the SSD yourself very easily either (extra RAM i'd certainly not get from Apple)


So are you saying use the internal SSD as the main disk for Logic? (perhaps with larger sample libs on a fast external?)


I know that there were initially problems with the Fusion drives and Logic / other DAWs but I wonder if this is still the case as the Fusion option is appealing price-wise.

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I am saying that using the internal SSD for projects works well. But I caution that you must have good external storage for finished projects.


Apple seems to be going toward non-upgradeable SSDs. In other words, buy the biggest you ever anticipate owning/needing. This is another reason to buy used and a very stupid marketing model on Apple's part.


I bought my used MBP on ebay (buy it now) from MacNinja. 100% satisfied with 30-day full money back guarantee. (No, I don't work for them.) I called and asked them to NOT include the SSD inside and they agreed and lowered the price. I then installed my existing one from old MBP. Bang! up and running. (Well, actually, I did have to reauthorize all my Izotope and Celmony plugins.)


I run all my Superior Drummer drum samples on an external 7200 RPM FW 800 drive. I will eventually put all my external FireWire drives into a Thunderbolt enclosure. Upgradeability is a good thing!


Perhaps someone can comment on TB external SSDs to be of help to you. For me, however, having my current project or two on the internal SSD allows mixing, post production, etc. while I cannot be in my studio connected to the large monitor.


As you can tell from my sig (and you should have a sig per forum rules, BTW) I've got 500 GB. I currently have 4 or 5 substantial projects recorded at 24/88.2 where each track take is approx 120 MB (and there are copious takes). All that and I've got 200 GB free space. I also have all the MS Office and several versions of FileMaker (my other life) as well as a Parallels install of Windows 7 (but little additional Windows stuff). All this to give you an idea that 500 gig is perhaps the right size and price point.


Let me know if you have other questions.

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I'd love to see benchmarks of iMac v Macbook Pro - I just wonder what the difference between the MBP's 2.5 or 2.8 quad i7 and the iMac's 3.5 (or even 4.0) quad i7 - if it's not that substantial / going to affect my use of Logic i'd go for the MBP
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I have a late 2013 model iMac, 3.5GHz, 32GB of RAM (from macsales.com), and just a standard 7200rpm hard drive and the thing is an absolute beast

Also, I keep all my sample libraries on an OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID system; tons of storage and speeds that can match some SSDs

Keep in mind that having a sample library on an external drive really just means you are saving storage space on the computer; they still need to use your computer's RAM resources


I can boot everything up (from shutdown) and it will be up and ready in under a minute and have never had a CPU overload issue using big sample libraries with tons of tracks alongside audio tracks


If portability truly will not matter, I would personally go with the 27" iMac 3.5Ghz (not the Retina 5k model)

If you get the RAM from Macsales.com, you can get 32GB of RAM for almost half the price, and it comes out like this:


-MacBook Pro 2.5Ghz 16GB (stock model from Apple) = $2,500

-27" iMac upgraded to 3.5GHz, 32GB RAM from MacSales.com = $2,540


Also, I always personally suggest paying the extra $170 for the AppleCare protection plan

Unfortunately, more money to spend, but if anything does happen (which I hope never does), you'll be glad you had it

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