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Old 12-12-2016, 09:23 AM
VHapponen VHapponen is offline
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Default iMac vs. Mac Pro - personal experiences?

Hey everyone!

My MacBook Pro is out of the game, and I need a new computer to work with. I'm currently favouring the idea of the most powerful iMac you can get (Late 2015 5K Retina with an 6700K i7 and support for 64GB RAM). I'm based in Sweden, and with the upgrade to 64GB RAM, the system ends up costing around $4000 USD.

I'm, however, debating the potential gains of going for a Mac Pro instead. The price for a stock quad core Mac Pro with 12GB RAM is almost as much as the upgraded iMac here, and I'm doubtful about the bang for the buck there; upgrades would obviously drive up the price quite a bit, and 12GB (or 16GB) RAM simply isn't sufficient. Does anyone have direct or indirect experience with these; are there significant benefits with the switch to a Mac Pro - especially around this price point?

I've also played with the thought of adding power to the setup with PC slaves later, but that would be something in a more or less distant future, so this setup is what I'll be working with for the next while.

Much appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2016, 11:23 AM
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Auralaxiom Auralaxiom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHapponen View Post
Hey everyone!

My MacBook Pro is out of the game, and I need a new computer to work with. I'm currently favouring the idea of the most powerful iMac you can get (Late 2015 5K Retina with an 6700K i7 and support for 64GB RAM). I'm based in Sweden, and with the upgrade to 64GB RAM, the system ends up costing around $4000 USD.

I'm, however, debating the potential gains of going for a Mac Pro instead. The price for a stock quad core Mac Pro with 12GB RAM is almost as much as the upgraded iMac here, and I'm doubtful about the bang for the buck there; upgrades would obviously drive up the price quite a bit, and 12GB (or 16GB) RAM simply isn't sufficient. Does anyone have direct or indirect experience with these; are there significant benefits with the switch to a Mac Pro - especially around this price point?

I've also played with the thought of adding power to the setup with PC slaves later, but that would be something in a more or less distant future, so this setup is what I'll be working with for the next while.

Much appreciated!
First things first: buy the RAM yourself regardless of which system you buy; it'll save you hundreds of dollars. Also buy refurbished. ALWAYS. I have run all of my Macs hard--as in 9 hour days 6 days a week doing countless films and TV shows with nasty ass templates that constantly ping the CPU meters--and all of them have been refurbs. I have yet to experience a single hiccup out of any of them.

Anyway, I actually went from a maxed out 2013 iMac to a Mac Pro a couple years back, and have worked extensively on both systems. Obviously for me it was the only choice; at the time the iMac maxed out at 32GB of RAM. If it's true that they can now support 64, I think it's kind of a tough choice. My Mac Pro has the 6 core processor. After purchasing 64 GB of RAM, I think I was right at $4,000.

What I don't know is whether the quad core with the newer core architecture outperforms the older generation XEON 6-core that's in my Mac Pro (do NOT get the quad core Mac Pro). Do keep in mind that with the Pro you get 6 Thunderbolt ports, and that's actually a pretty significant consideration, especially if you've got as many sample libraries as I do (all of East West, all of the NI libraries, most of the 8dio libraries, and some other random ones here and there). I'm using 4 out of my 6 Thunderbolt ports as well as all 4 USB 3.0 ports. So yeah, in this scenario--assuming that the processors are roughly equal--I still might recommend the Pro.

Like I say though, it's a tough choice either way. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:45 AM
VHapponen VHapponen is offline
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Originally Posted by Auralaxiom View Post
First things first: buy the RAM yourself regardless of which system you buy; it'll save you hundreds of dollars. Also buy refurbished. ALWAYS. I have run all of my Macs hard--as in 9 hour days 6 days a week doing countless films and TV shows with nasty ass templates that constantly ping the CPU meters--and all of them have been refurbs. I have yet to experience a single hiccup out of any of them.

Anyway, I actually went from a maxed out 2013 iMac to a Mac Pro a couple years back, and have worked extensively on both systems. Obviously for me it was the only choice; at the time the iMac maxed out at 32GB of RAM. If it's true that they can now support 64, I think it's kind of a tough choice. My Mac Pro has the 6 core processor. After purchasing 64 GB of RAM, I think I was right at $4,000.

What I don't know is whether the quad core with the newer core architecture outperforms the older generation XEON 6-core that's in my Mac Pro (do NOT get the quad core Mac Pro). Do keep in mind that with the Pro you get 6 Thunderbolt ports, and that's actually a pretty significant consideration, especially if you've got as many sample libraries as I do (all of East West, all of the NI libraries, most of the 8dio libraries, and some other random ones here and there). I'm using 4 out of my 6 Thunderbolt ports as well as all 4 USB 3.0 ports. So yeah, in this scenario--assuming that the processors are roughly equal--I still might recommend the Pro.

Like I say though, it's a tough choice either way. Let us know what you decide.
Haha, this is great - you were the first person I thought of with this, as I remember reading something you wrote on this on the forums quite some time ago. I appreciate the feedback.

I appreciate the connectivity of the Pro; as far as I've been able to see from benchmarks and reviews, the current iMac with its 6700K i7 gives the 6-core Xeon a run for its money, especially in single-core performance; obviously the multi-core processing on the Xeon holds its own against the i7. But benchmarks may not always be so comparable, especially when real-life, specific usage (such as ours is) is considered.

At the same time, since I'm not located stateside, the costs are an important factor, and a 6-core Pro (even with a handy 10% discount that I can currently get) ends up at $4000 USD - but that's before upgrading the stock RAM, and before adding up the costs for a monitor. It's a close call!
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Old 12-12-2016, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by VHapponen View Post
Haha, this is great - you were the first person I thought of with this, as I remember reading something you wrote on this on the forums quite some time ago. I appreciate the feedback.

I appreciate the connectivity of the Pro; as far as I've been able to see from benchmarks and reviews, the current iMac with its 6700K i7 gives the 6-core Xeon a run for its money, especially in single-core performance; obviously the multi-core processing on the Xeon holds its own against the i7. But benchmarks may not always be so comparable, especially when real-life, specific usage (such as ours is) is considered.

At the same time, since I'm not located stateside, the costs are an important factor, and a 6-core Pro (even with a handy 10% discount that I can currently get) ends up at $4000 USD - but that's before upgrading the stock RAM, and before adding up the costs for a monitor. It's a close call!
Hm, then yeah...I'd probably spring for the iMac. The only thing you'll need to keep in mind is that you will need to have a good external SSD setup to stream samples from. The Akitio Thunder Duo is absolutely fantastic, and if you stock it with 2 1TB SSD's that'll give you 2 TB external SSD storage, which should be plenty for the Hollywood Orchestra series. That leaves you with one Thunderbolt port for whatever.

I stream my "lighter weight" samples from a Buffalo Drivestation. It does just fine with the NI and 8dio stuff. So yeah, you should be able to host a pretty nice template with the iMac setup. I assume you work in Logic?
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Libraries: All East West libraries, and many more...

http://www.ryanthomasproductions.com

https://soundcloud.com/ryanthomasproductions
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Old 12-12-2016, 01:15 PM
VHapponen VHapponen is offline
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Hm, then yeah...I'd probably spring for the iMac. The only thing you'll need to keep in mind is that you will need to have a good external SSD setup to stream samples from. The Akitio Thunder Duo is absolutely fantastic, and if you stock it with 2 1TB SSD's that'll give you 2 TB external SSD storage, which should be plenty for the Hollywood Orchestra series. That leaves you with one Thunderbolt port for whatever.

I stream my "lighter weight" samples from a Buffalo Drivestation. It does just fine with the NI and 8dio stuff. So yeah, you should be able to host a pretty nice template with the iMac setup. I assume you work in Logic?
Logic indeed. I'm currently streaming all my samples from a total of 1TB of SSD storage from a Promise Pegasus J4 via Thunderbolt. It's been good for the Gold versions of the Hollywood Series (and similar samples); the only bottlenecks I've had with performance so far have been with my current MacBook Pro's 16GB limit for RAM and the now-older 2,4 GHz i7 processor which doesn't quite measure up to the demands of heavier libraries.

I do some photography and hobbyist video editing on the side, which is partly why I'm also favouring the iMac with its 5K screen; if I were to go the Mac Pro way, I'd be tempted to buy a nice display to go with the machine for that work, further racking up the bill. Of course, in the case of needed compromise because of money, these would always be the first things to go, composition work is priority number one.
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:36 PM
jspencer jspencer is offline
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the only bottlenecks I've had with performance so far have been with my current MacBook Pro's 16GB limit for RAM and the now-older 2,4 GHz i7 processor which doesn't quite measure up to the demands of heavier libraries.
For what it's worth, I run a s++tload of projects, and score-to-picture, on my 2013 MacBook Pro 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7; and it's still a beast. Personally, I would get a PC built with 64GB RAM and a couple internal SSD's (~$1200USD). Then, use your MacBook as master via VEPro.....this is exactly how I work, and it's wonderful. I have two additional monitors connected to the MacBook, and a powered USB3 hub that I use for external drives and dongles (I run all the NI stuff, and Omnisphere, from the MacBook side). My average templates hold around 150 instruments, including Hollywood Strings/Brass Gold.

Anyways, just a thought, but you will save thousands!
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Old 12-13-2016, 07:14 AM
VHapponen VHapponen is offline
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For what it's worth, I run a s++tload of projects, and score-to-picture, on my 2013 MacBook Pro 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7; and it's still a beast. Personally, I would get a PC built with 64GB RAM and a couple internal SSD's (~$1200USD). Then, use your MacBook as master via VEPro.....this is exactly how I work, and it's wonderful. I have two additional monitors connected to the MacBook, and a powered USB3 hub that I use for external drives and dongles (I run all the NI stuff, and Omnisphere, from the MacBook side). My average templates hold around 150 instruments, including Hollywood Strings/Brass Gold.

Anyways, just a thought, but you will save thousands!
That would be a fantastic idea, if it wasn't for the fact that my MBPro just died, and hence I need a new main setup to work on that I can then - at a later stage - build a slave for. But yes, I'm planning on adding that to the mix at a later date, if the need for it comes; I'm hoping that a new main setup will at least initially work on its own.

Appreciate the idea - it's always good to hear firsthand experience!
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Late 2011 MacBook Pro / 2.4GHz i7 / 16GB RAM / Ext. Thunderbolt SSD storage
Sibelius 7 / Logic Pro X / Hollywood Strings Gold, Hollywood Brass Gold, Hollywood Orchestral Woodwinds Gold, SO Gold, Pianos Gold, SD2 Pro, Symphonic Choirs Ext., Voices of Passion, Gypsy, Solo Violin, QL Spaces, MoR 2


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Old 12-13-2016, 09:08 AM
jspencer jspencer is offline
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Originally Posted by VHapponen View Post
That would be a fantastic idea, if it wasn't for the fact that my MBPro just died, and hence I need a new main setup to work on that I can then - at a later stage - build a slave for. But yes, I'm planning on adding that to the mix at a later date, if the need for it comes; I'm hoping that a new main setup will at least initially work on its own.

Appreciate the idea - it's always good to hear firsthand experience!
Crap, what happened to the laptop? How old is it?
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Old 12-13-2016, 10:14 AM
VHapponen VHapponen is offline
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Crap, what happened to the laptop? How old is it?
It's a 17-inch Late 2011 MacBook Pro, bought in Late 2011 - so about 5 years.

I'm experiencing behavior that is virtually identical to this. I took the machine to an authorized service, but they were of the opinion that my case is not covered by the extended reparation program, and with potential reparation costs potentially running in the thousands (and experiences of the suggested reparations not always working) I came to the conclusion that it's time for me to upgrade - something I'd planned on in 2017 anyway.
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Late 2011 MacBook Pro / 2.4GHz i7 / 16GB RAM / Ext. Thunderbolt SSD storage
Sibelius 7 / Logic Pro X / Hollywood Strings Gold, Hollywood Brass Gold, Hollywood Orchestral Woodwinds Gold, SO Gold, Pianos Gold, SD2 Pro, Symphonic Choirs Ext., Voices of Passion, Gypsy, Solo Violin, QL Spaces, MoR 2


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Old 12-13-2016, 11:05 AM
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Yeah, good call.
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