OT: Specs for MacBook Pro for music - want advice.

I need a new laptop and have decided on a MacBook Pro, but feel a bit lost in terms of specs for RAM, memory, processing power, etc. I want to run Logic and, possibly, Ableton. Looking for most future -proof solution. I trust the people here. Advice welcomed...

Thanks!

Comments

  • edited July 2018

    @ALB said:
    I need a new laptop and have decided on a MacBook Pro, but feel a bit lost in terms of specs for RAM, memory, processing power, etc. I want to run Logic and, possibly, Ableton. Looking for most future -proof solution. I trust the people here. Advice welcomed...

    Thanks!

    If you don´t need it just now i really would wait for the next version (i guess by end of this year).
    Otherwise i would get a "cheap" macbook pro 15.4" 2015 model.
    Not sure about the new ones. My late 2013 with just 8GB RAM can still handle a lot.
    I heard bad things about the new keyboards and other issue with heat and stuff (but can´t say if it´s just drama or for real).
    I personally loved the touch bar when i tested it with Garage Band in an apple store and there are some great tools for it, especially for music production for Logic and Live.
    But i def. would wait a few months for the new ones and then get these or an older model for the price of an new iPad Pro :)
    If you use a lot samples space might be important too. The 2 TB is so expensive that i would stick with the entree (i think 512GB at the moment) and would ad external SSD´s if needed. But i would take def. 16GB RAM.
    Can´t talk about Live since i don´t like it but Logic runs really well on my 5 years old machine and has really awesome stuff included. Depending on the genre you wouldn´t need any third party plug-ins for years to come.

  • ALBALB
    edited July 2018

    @Cib - thanks, seems like good advice. I may wait before buying. My desktop is still limping along.

  • i have a recent macbook pro (2017) with ableton 10 and 8 gb ram and i agree what Cid says. 8 gb is sometimes short and i have to freeze some tracks (not a big deal though). With some plug ins the mac becomes very hot and i have to let it get colder. Otherwise I’m very happy with it and Live10. No software crash, very simple to manage system and to use along with midi over bluetooth, iPad and iPhone. Everything works very fast. You plug directly the devices to get the sound. I was on a PC before and I’ll not get back to it. A Cid says a 500 gb internal memory is ok along with an external usb key or whatever. The only software I have trouble with is Maschine (latest version) which overload the memory (I don’t have that on my PC). Hope this helps.

  • Don't skimp with 8Mb memory, go for 16. You could get by with 8, but considered against the overall cost of a MBP its little extra to upgrade from 8 to 16 and the benefits will be felt all round.
    With a MBP I think its splitting hairs with which processor you get, they are already powerful machines, IMO spending extra for an upgrade in processor is not necessarily worth it.
    Hard drive size depends entirely on what you are going to store on it, do you have or want thousands of samples, or just use soft synths for example?

    But if you already have a desktop, can't you gauge from that what specs you may or may not need???

  • @Kitusai - thanks for your comments.

    @mungbeans - my desktop is pretty old and a bit sluggish so it’s not really a good benchmark, except that I know that I want something faster. Your other points are well taken.

  • Any of the newer MBPs will be more than enough for music production, far more than enough really. I'd agree that 16GB would be the minimum I would aim for today, but even with 8GB I doubt you'd notice any sort of performance issues unless you were loading larger sample library instruments like Kontakt. MacOS seems to be pretty good these days about managing RAM without the user having to worry about it.

  • FWIW i have a 2015 era MacBook Pro with 16GB and it’s rock solid with Ableton 10 Suite. It’s just a dual core machine.

  • How much can you realistically spend? That’s the best place to start. Get a fast but not necessarily the fastest processor. Determine whether it makes sense to get Apple or 3rd party RAM and put in as much as possible. You don’t need a huge internal hard drive but try to get an SSD over anything else. Use external storage for media. Get the largest, fastest you can budget for and add to it or upgrade as necessary down the road. My 2 penny’s...

  • If you're getting a current MBP, you more or less have to go with Apple RAM and it can't be upgraded. I think SSDs are standard as well. Personally I'm fine with a 512GB SSD in my MBP, USB 3 external drives cover the older files I rarely need to access and are more than fast enough.

  • I'm still quite happy with my 2012 MBP, just swap to SSD (or even 2xssd!) and max the RAM out. Spend the leftover $ on another ipad pro!

  • Many thanks, all! All of this is great advice and much appreciated.

  • My 2012 15" mbp cost me $600 a few months ago, it has a quad i7 and 16gb ram. I don't use logic or ableton, but it runs mixbus and mixbus 32c with no problem. I put a 500gb ssd in it and also replaced the DVD drive with a second hard drive for recording. This is the last machine you can work on entirely by yourself - apple "fixed" that for us now. I just pop the bottom cover off by removing a few screws and everything is right there, unlike the Mac mini, which I found out takes A LOT of steps in order to change a hard drive...

  • edited July 2018

    wait for what is coming up in fall
    8 GB ram is ok, but you want it to be future prove, so go with more ram
    forget about the touchbar keyboards, they are shit

  • From some of the rumours, looks like the refresh is dropping soon, there has been a geekbench score for a new mbp since june, showing 6-core i7 coffee lake, 13" looks like it's getting a nice upgrade too and rumoured 32gb ram on some of the new models.

    If you want something future proof I'd concentrate on the ram first, cpu to a certain point and a 512-1tb ssd. As some of the others have pointed out, get external drives for things like sample libraries, kontakt instruments, daw content, etc. Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    I would definitely wait though, see how much the new mbp will cost, if some of the rumours are true and money is tight the secondhand market will be ripe for the plucking. Got my late 2011 mbp in june 2012, just as the first gen retina's appeared, found the higher end model of the 15" with expanded ram for around £1000, was in mint condition, lasted me ever since.

    Here a few articles on what the mbp refresh might include from a more reliable source as apple rumours go.

    https://www.macworld.co.uk/news/mac/new-macbook-pro-2018-3661715/

    https://www.macworld.co.uk/news/mac/new-macbook-2018-3420655/

  • edited July 2018

    If you want to save money, from my experience I would rather go with a larger SSD than with 16GB instead of 8GB, unless you want to go wild and completely disable swapping/paging.
    When you're using apps with higher memory consumption (Web browser with multiple tabs open, multiple docs open in Preview, any DAW with memory eaters like Kontakt, Omnisphere, Trilian, Keyscape etc.), MacOS will use virtual memory anyway, no matter how much RAM you have installed. That's why you often read that on MacOS, it's better to leave at least 20-50GB of SSD space free.
    At least that is my experience using MacOS 10.9 to 10.13 with lots of memory-consuming apps and often watching their memory consumption and the /var/vm folder.

    Also, the later fan-less designs will reduce CPU clock to avoid overheating, which can be very counter-productive when using cpu-hungry VST/VSTi/AU plugins for a while. You might need to increase buffer sizes (and latency) to avoid audio stuttering.

  • @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

  • @gdog said:

    @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

    Yeah, defo slower when I max out storage...

    Really - I think most people have WAY more computer than they need. I work in video, where you really feel the power or lack thereof with cpu... But with Audio I rarely max anything out. I can't imagine needing more CPU for music tasks outside of professional multitracking / heavy duty hi res processing. Sometimes having to be efficient makes a nice frame for projects, instead of piling on heaps of fx and droves of channels, just make it sound right with what you can afford cpu wise. Some of my fave tracks were made on trackers in the 90's... Muscle will never replace talent.

  • edited July 2018

    @gdog said:

    @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

    Can´t say that....i had just 2 or less GB free for a good while and didn´t saw any performance loss.
    Also since i use High Sierra and format my extern SSD´s to AFPS, it´s super fast as well.

  • @gdog said:

    @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

    I got down to 2gb once, it moved the speed of a slug, beach ball galore, off loaded as much as I could onto external drives, thunderbolt one for kontakt libraries and the like, larger usb 2 for everything else. From what cib is saying though, it might not be as much as an issue with apfs and flash/ssd drives, my problem at the mo is hitting cpu and ram limits working in logic.

  • edited July 2018

    @mister_rz said:

    @gdog said:

    @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

    I got down to 2gb once, it moved the speed of a slug, beach ball galore, off loaded as much as I could onto external drives, thunderbolt one for kontakt libraries and the like, larger usb 2 for everything else. From what cib is saying though, it might not be as much as an issue with apfs and flash/ssd drives, my problem at the mo is hitting cpu and ram limits working in logic.

    Might be. Even if i use a lot of Kontakt and stuff i never reached too fast the limit of my 8GB RAM...the cpu is still my bottleneck and i hope Intel and/or Apple get their ass up.
    But numbers doesn´t say much since my iPad Pro 10.5" should have been really powerful but still my old macbook runs 10 times more.
    A 6-core, 12 threads cpu would be great. One of my usb 3 ports begin to die slowly.
    Sadly i think iOS is the future of Apple and they might don´t care much about macs.
    However a new really faster macbook pro could please me maybe another 5-6 years until there are really pro iPads :)

  • @Cib said:

    @mister_rz said:

    @gdog said:

    @mister_rz said:
    Mac's used to perform better when the internal system drive had at least 20% free disk space, not sure if this changed with the move to a new file system on the newer models and high sierra.

    Thanks for your post. I wonder if this is still true too..That would mean if I had a 500gb drive, 100gb would be unusable..!

    I got down to 2gb once, it moved the speed of a slug, beach ball galore, off loaded as much as I could onto external drives, thunderbolt one for kontakt libraries and the like, larger usb 2 for everything else. From what cib is saying though, it might not be as much as an issue with apfs and flash/ssd drives, my problem at the mo is hitting cpu and ram limits working in logic.

    Might be. Even if i use a lot of Kontakt and stuff i never reached too fast the limit of my 8GB RAM...the cpu is still my bottleneck and i hope Intel and/or Apple get their ass up.
    But numbers doesn´t say much since my iPad Pro 10.5" should have been really powerful but still my old macbook runs 10 times more.
    A 6-core, 12 threads cpu would be great. One of my usb 3 ports begin to die slowly.
    Sadly i think iOS is the future of Apple and they might don´t care much about macs.
    However a new really faster macbook pro could please me maybe another 5-6 years until there are really pro iPads :)

    I wonder if they're going to go with arm based cpu's for the mbp instead of just using arm based co-processors, like some of the rumours are suggesting. Be interesting to see how they'd compare to their intel counterparts, especially regarding how hot they'll run under load.

    I've got 8gb of ram, but this year especially, keep getting low ram warnings when using logic, been using kontakt more lately and nebula, although not all kontakt libraries load into ram, I'll need to investigate what's eating all that ram up. Cpu like yourself is still my main bottleneck, mainly due to things like adaptiverb, maschine and a few other thirsty plugs nailing one of the cores and bringing everything to a juddery halt.

    6-core mbp, 32gb ram, 1tb ssd, couple of external drives with raid mirroring would be perfect for me, need to start saving my pennies, until then I'll be freezing and bouncing to get tracks finished.

  • @scottsunn said:
    Really - I think most people have WAY more computer than they need. I work in video, where you really feel the power or lack thereof with cpu... But with Audio I rarely max anything out. I can't imagine needing more CPU for music tasks outside of professional multitracking / heavy duty hi res processing. Sometimes having to be efficient makes a nice frame for projects, instead of piling on heaps of fx and droves of channels, just make it sound right with what you can afford cpu wise. Some of my fave tracks were made on trackers in the 90's... Muscle will never replace talent.

    Totally agree with all of that. Any of the newer MBPs are way more power for most music projects I bet. Anything you’d need more for, you’re probably looking at desktops anyway.

  • I also have had success with Apple refurbished. Both my trash can and MBP have been perfect from day one. I will do it again next time I upgrade.

    16 g memory is essential and the largest ssd you can afford.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  • Something to keep in mind is if you want or need Thunderbolt 3 with it's 40Gbps. That's so fast that it makes your laptop almost a modular system with lots of upgradability in the forthcoming years.

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