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8GB or 16GB RAM for a Logic Pro M1 Mac?


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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't need a video to tell me that "chips are cheap!"

 

Logic is a "real-time application," and therefore everything that it needs to manipulate must be "in RAM" at the required instant. Therefore, you really want to invest in "as much RAM as you can get."

 

If I were forced to choose between, say, CPU and RAM, then I would without hesitation spend the money on RAM. Because, it doesn't matter that you're driving a Lamborghini, if your car is stuck in traffic behind a Yugo on a two-lane highway that could have just as easily been four-lane or six-lane.

 

Geek talk: If you don't have enough RAM, the system is forced to use so-called "virtual memory," which is a very poor substitute that tries to use your hard drive to "swap" information in and out on-demand. Unfortunately, this is orders-of-magnitude slower. This can very quickly lead to "system overload" because it couldn't meet the "in real time" requirement.

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Can a computer-like thing, what looks like reminiscent of a monolithic thin client, used in client-server systems, considered studio-ready at all? Maybe it need a application server?

 

What it 'looks like' is not really the point, with respect. If you want to run LPX on a laptop, the MacBook Pro is really the only machine to buy. However, I completely agree with @MikeRobinson that RAM is king when it comes to the number of real-time processes a machine can handle.

 

It depends what you're trying to achieve, and your budget. I remember a charity single, more than 20 years ago, where most of the vocal tracks were recorded on a MacBook. That was because a lot of singers were prepared to take part, as long as the project came to them. They certainly didn't want catch a flight to assemble in one studio for a mass sing-a-thon! The song was a big hit.

 

Would I choose a MacBook Pro to handle a plug-in heavy 32+ track mix? Er... No. But I reckon I could just about make it work if I used Freeze on tracks, so they weren't running the plug-ins in real-time. I'd say the most significant thing about a MacBook isn't what it can't achieve, but what it can.

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Remember: "RAM is the only thing in your computer that is just as fast as your CPU(s)." And: "your CPU(s) can do nothing without it."

 

As a so-called "real-time application," Logic, when used in real-time mode, must be able to get whatever-it-needs into RAM before it is needed. (Otherwise: "system overload.") It doesn't matter how many CPU(s) it has to work on the data, if the data is not there. This is why, of the various other factors, RAM-size is always most important: the computer can't make information available if there is no place to put it, and "virtual memory" in this case is not the same.

 

Now, having said that: eventually you will run up against some limit of your hardware, no matter how "phat" it is. Such that the only way that you can solve the problem is by breaking it down: by planning-ahead on your project in stages so that you do certain things "not 'in real time.'" "Freeze," "Bounce in Place," and other features actually work quite well: Logic's designers obviously realized the importance of this, so they addressed the need quite admirably.

 

Many projects consist of several parallel sections that don't really involve each other, and which you focus-on one at a time. Once you've finished working on them (for now ...), freeze 'em. Why ask your CPU(s) to waste their time doing the same now-inconsequential thing over and over again?

 

For example – if "the star of your show" needs the benefit of a CPU-soaker plugin, "what about those background singers?" Freeze 'em to make room. Your computer can do a great many things, but it doesn't actually have to do all of them at the same time. No one will know. (You can even freeze your "star.") The sound file will come out the same.

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I don't see why anyone would have multiple apps open during a Logic recording session.

I tested my wife's basic M1 mini around a year ago, and it handled Logic with 3rd party plugins well enough. When it was all Native Logic, it flew, and I could envisage completing projects of maybe 8-12 audio trx and 2-4 VIs without issue, as long as Logic's instruments and fx were used.

It's been a general rule of thumb for decades that the more RAM the better, and with Apple,s new M.O. of BTOs, best to be safe than sorry, so I chose 16gb.

I expect the M1max or Pro chips would be overkill for me. Nice to have, but I already committed myself.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I don't see why anyone would have multiple apps open during a Logic recording session.

I tested my wife's basic M1 mini around a year ago, and it handled Logic with 3rd party plugins well enough. When it was all Native Logic, it flew, and I could envisage completing projects of maybe 8-12 audio trx and 2-4 VIs without issue, as long as Logic's instruments and fx were used.

It's been a general rule of thumb for decades that the more RAM the better, and with Apple,s new M.O. of BTOs, best to be safe than sorry, so I chose 16gb.

I expect the M1max or Pro chips would be overkill for me. Nice to have, but I already committed myself.

 

Seriously? 8-12 tracks on M1 mini? Heck, I can do 20+ tracks easily on my 2012 quad core mini.

 

There are some woefully misinformed and outdated responses in this thread. The M1's "system on a chip" architecture simply cannot be compared to older architectural paradigms. We've been conditioned for years to load up our machines with huge amounts of RAM. That's no longer (necessarily) a requirement for an M1 machine because of its architecture and efficient paging.

 

It's true that everyone's use case is different, and for certain instances 16Gb would be a requirement. But for *many, many* users 8Gb in an M1 machine will be entirely adequate.

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I don't see why anyone would have multiple apps open during a Logic recording session.

I tested my wife's basic M1 mini around a year ago, and it handled Logic with 3rd party plugins well enough. When it was all Native Logic, it flew, and I could envisage completing projects of maybe 8-12 audio trx and 2-4 VIs without issue, as long as Logic's instruments and fx were used.

It's been a general rule of thumb for decades that the more RAM the better, and with Apple,s new M.O. of BTOs, best to be safe than sorry, so I chose 16gb.

I expect the M1max or Pro chips would be overkill for me. Nice to have, but I already committed myself.

 

Seriously? 8-12 tracks on M1 mini? Heck, I can do 20+ tracks easily on my 2012 quad core mini.

 

There are some woefully misinformed and outdated responses in this thread. The M1's "system on a chip" architecture simply cannot be compared to older architectural paradigms. We've been conditioned for years to load up our machines with huge amounts of RAM. That's no longer (necessarily) a requirement for an M1 machine because of its architecture and efficient paging.

 

It's true that everyone's use case is different, and for certain instances 16Gb would be a requirement. But for *many, many* users 8Gb in an M1 machine will be entirely adequate.

 

I'm talking the base model. 8gb/256. If my estimate is too conservative, it's cool by me. 8-)

However: I don’t trust the videos that show the base model running with 100+ tracks of loops, basically dropped in as a stress test, along w/fx to be an accurate representation of how many tracks can be loaded, both audio/vi, with a low enough buffer to play another instrument or record audio with no issues.

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Well, virtual-memory "paging" is certainly much more efficient than it used to be because we have "SSD drives" now which have no rotational latency and no seek-time: anything anywhere on the device can be stored or retrieved without mechanical delays. But you are still "paging." From my point of view, "chips are cheap."

 

Logic is typically used as a "real-time" application, and if it can't accomplish everything in real time you get "system overload." That probably happened because something that needed to be in RAM ... wasn't. Not because the CPU core(s) couldn't keep up. To me, it's better to have a six-lane highway than a three-lane one, especially since the price differential really should not be that large.

 

When I buy a computer and they ask me how much RAM I want, I ask how much RAM it will hold. I'm more interested in that than the CPU, because it does no good to have a Ferrari that's stuck in traffic behind a Yugo. :)

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Well, virtual-memory "paging" is certainly much more efficient than it used to be because we have "SSD drives" now which have no rotational latency and no seek-time: anything anywhere on the device can be stored or retrieved without mechanical delays. But you are still "paging." From my point of view, "chips are cheap."

 

Logic is typically used as a "real-time" application, and if it can't accomplish everything in real time you get "system overload." That probably happened because something that needed to be in RAM ... wasn't. Not because the CPU core(s) couldn't keep up. To me, it's better to have a six-lane highway than a three-lane one, especially since the price differential really should not be that large.

 

When I buy a computer and they ask me how much RAM I want, I ask how much RAM it will hold. I'm more interested in that than the CPU, because it does no good to have a Ferrari that's stuck in traffic behind a Yugo. :)

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The expense is significant because we have to go directly through Apple to bump up the RAM. The days of easy and cheap(er) memory upgrades are over for Macs, afaics. So is the storage. I think my BTO Miniin my sig cost €1,460, + Applecare, which is more than double the price of the base Mini. Hope it works for a while.
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  • 1 month later...

I know this conversation is a bit old, but it's still relevant, and I am still confused by RAM usage on the M1 mini. Right now I have 32GB on my 2010 Mac Pro, and my activity monitor says I am using 22GB of it:

 

Physical Memory: 32

Memory Used: 21.90

  • App Memory: 14
    Wired Memory 7.81
    Compressed: 0

Cached Files: 10.01

Swap Used: 0

 

So it seems like 16GB wouldn't cut it for me. Everyone says how much more efficient RAM is on the M1, but I don't know how to translate that sentiment into numbers. Would I just have 16GB in Memory Used, and the other 6GB in Swap, and I wouldn't care if it were in Swap, because the M1 swaps memory so fast? There are 6 billion videos showing how awesome CPU usage is for Logic, but I can't find anything concrete about RAM.

 

Any thoughts?

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Well, "swap" does matter, in any so-called "virtual memory" system, because it causes a hardware interrupt which (maybe briefly) stops the process from continuing to execute before the so-called "page fault" can be resolved.  MacOS must retrieve the page from "swap," possibly first "swapping out" something else to make room, before it can allow the process to continue execution.  That takes time.

For a "real-time program" such as Logic, this could be ... "system overload."  Because: "even milliseconds matter."

This is why, given a choice between CPU-type and RAM-size, I would always choose RAM.  Your statistics look healthy: all of Logic's requirements are being handled by RAM, and nothing is being "swapped."  All of your CPU's "engines" are running without delay.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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  • 5 months later...

I had an M1 with 8gb RAM x 4 Performance Cores for less than 12 months and replaced it with a 32gb x 10 Core Mac Pro. I referenced all of the info out there, including this video, but I continued to experience RAM and CPU issues. There was no real fix but here are some recommendations for those stuck with an 8x4:

1.) Bounce Virtual Instruments - Bounce your virtual instrument tracks once you get your intended sound. Then move your VST tracks to another project for backup.

I found NOT committing my source tracks to a bounce not only consumed valuable resources, it left them subject to fiddling later-on, which generally was NOT a positive impact on my sound. Go with your instincts!

2.) Limit plugin chains - I found the more  efficient my FX chains, the better my sound and the lower RAM/CPU I consumed.

Plus, many plugins still hog RAM/CPU. If you find one that blows your session, chances are others from the same developer do as well. Use these plugins sparingly. The aggregate load on your RAM/CPU may not rear its ugly head until it is too late.

3.) Keep Send/Aux/Bus Routing Simple - I found the more complex my routing (i.e., sending busses to busses, summing track stacks, pre-master busses, etc.) the more my RAM/CPU tanked. There is no way I could perform the routing I do today with an 8x4 Mac, even with just 10-15 tracks.

4.) Mac Performance Monitor - This tool allows you to see when RAM/CPU are maxing-out. If you have any size of Swap File under the RAM section, you should save and reboot. If your CPU utilization is in the red, it may be too late!

I also found the CPU monitor in Logic helpful, but nowhere near as good as the Mac monitor.

Also, don’t run unnecessary apps during your session. Antivirus, Mail, Safari, etc. may be necessary from time to time, but unnecessary for a Logic Pro session.

5.) Upgrade your Mac! - The fastest fix is to upgrade. I went with 32gb because I didn’t want to deal with any RAM issues for a long time! And I chose 10 Performance Cores for the same reason. The cost compared to the hassle of compromising my workflow was way worth it…

 

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You bring up an important point when you say, "keep the signal routing simple."

Each time you add a "factory instrument" to your project, Logic creates new routing – sometimes, very complex routing – which you can see in the "Mixer" panel.  These changes are intended to be "easy to remove" if you later drop the instrument from your project.  But this also means that the routing can be very redundant, therefore expensive in terms of resources.  And, some of the things that a patch includes might actually have no perceptible audio effect on the project ... as you can find by experimentation by turning things on-and-off in the mixer channels.  If you can't hear the difference, leave it turned off.  At least for now.

A factory instrument's design is intended to make that one instrument sound fantastic all by itself.  But, I think, sometimes the designers got a little carried away ... As you will see from the Mixer, the actual way in which some of those instruments are realized is very complex.  Which won't become apparent until you do look there.

So, if you've now reached the point in your project where you're never again going to add or remove instruments, you might be able to considerably speed things up by taking a hard look at the Mixer page.  Look for things that the sound of the project doesn't actually need, and turn them off.  Look for ways to simplify the signal routing through the use of busses and so forth.  (For instance, instead of ten channels each with their own reverb, you could bus them together and apply only one reverb to the combined output. That sort of thing.)

Basically, simplify any place that the computer is being asked to do more than it needs to do to get the final sound you want.  Of course, save a separate copy of your project before you begin to do this, so that you can easily go back if you screw up. 😀

Yes, you might still need (or, choose) to "bounce and freeze," but this can buy-back a lot of computing horsepower and actually make the project easier to fine-tune.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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