For an audio production Mac, prioritise RAM or CPU?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Flappydoodle, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I'm getting a new Mac. Curious whether to put more money into the CPU (getting i9 instead of i5) or RAM (standard is 8GB, which I'd upgrade to at least 16GB). I'll already be getting the 1TB SSD, and using external storage, so that isn't an issue.

    My current 2013 MacBook Pro is i7@2.4, 16GB RAM, and Logic often stutters, gives "system overload" etc. That's running a few tracks of guitar with NeuralDSP stuff, and a drum plugin like GGD.

    I'm thinking CPU, since I think that is the limiting factor for reducing buffer (and lower latency), and I believe Logic supports multithreading and multi-core use.
     
  2. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metal™

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    Ram.
     
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  3. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    RAM. An i7 is plenty especially given the first run of MacBooks with i9’s we’re having a ton of heating issues causing it to throttle itself below what an i7 would be at. Has that even been sorted?
     
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  4. MSS

    MSS Well-Known Member

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    In Logic you can set the lcd display to custom and monitor logic cpu and ram usage. Load up your biggest project with plugins. Generally, more ram is the answer but plugins can use up cpu. Also, check the system activity monitor, I had a recent issue where my anti virus scanning would regularly use a lot of cpu and this caused Logic to stall out.
     
  5. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Logic stuttering at that spec is most likely a faulty plugin or other issue, I doubt it is your processor or RAM in this case.
     
  6. sezna

    sezna undermotivated

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    i5 or i7 should be enough for most modern audio processing, but for RAM it is simply the more the better
     
  7. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I believe Apple has quietly fixed it, according to Macrumors anyway

    Ah, this is a great tip. I found the feature in Logic. CPU looks to average around 50% during playback. But occasionally it will spike up, and that's when the stutters or "system overload" appears.

    Activity monitor shows about 12 out of 16GB of physical memory being used

    Any thoughts?

    Really? My laptop is more than 6 years old at this point, haha

    I have 4 instances of NeuralDSP plugins, GGD Invasion drum library in Kontact, and some FabFilter plugins for compression, EQ etc. I haven't bounced any tracks, so all the plugins are working "live" during playback.

    It seems like RAM is the consensus here, but monitoring in Logic shows CPU hitting 100% and then stuttering. What do you think?
     
  8. MSS

    MSS Well-Known Member

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    The neural plugins can use a lot of cpu. I have a new i7 mac and my cpu barely even shows up on the meter but I only use ez drummer and some eq, gate, compression live. IDK an i9 might not help as much as you would think vs the i7 if the plugins are just cpu hogs. It might be worth narrowing down the culprits and seeing if you can change your workflow a bit. The new 8th and 9th gen cpus in the new macs are a lot faster than the haswell you have in there.
     
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  9. Synllip

    Synllip Cyan

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    CPU!! It's the most important part of the I/O for lower latency, lower buffer range and less system overloads. Get a minimum an i7 which gives you hyperthreading = more cores to use while mixing so Logic splits all your project into those cores. You say you are getting a Mac with 8GB standard. Upgrade the CPU to the i9 and the later upgrade the RAM if you want to. I use an iMac with an i7 and 8GB of RAM for years and I can run tons of vst instances and I keep my buffer at 32 samples. Never really had instances in which I needed more RAM.
    As always with Macs, get the best CPU and disk you can and then upgrade the RAM later for cheaper( if you feel like you need) don't go wasting money just for the sake of it. Are we talking about the Mac Mini or iMacs?
     
  10. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    I maxed the RAM to 32gb on my 27" iMac shortly after getting it and the performance was night & day compared to the 8gb that it came installed with.
     
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  11. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I'm talking about the new iMacs which they just announced a few days ago

    I was close to buying a Mac mini, but the 5K screen in the iMac is just amazing so I wanted to see what they would release. The big CPU upgrades seem worth it to me.
     
  12. Synllip

    Synllip Cyan

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    You can't go wrong with an iMac. The new CPU's will be more than enough for the upcoming years.
     
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  13. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    As far as I'm aware, you definitely can't do that with MacBooks anymore, and with the way they've been going you may not be able to with iMac's either.
     
  14. Synllip

    Synllip Cyan

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    Yes unfortunately you can't do that with Mac Books but it's great you can still do it with the 27 inch iMacs are now again with the Mac minis.
     
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  15. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    CPU most definitely. "i7" really doesn't mean anything, 2.4 is nothing special especially depending how many cores. Really it comes down to what you need to do, but 8GB or 16GB RAM is more than enough unless you are loading lots of orchestral samples for example. However, a less than stellar CPU can easily get bogged down trying to run amp simulations on low latency.
    Bring up your performance meters, you'll see your CPU struggling - you're right about that being the determining factor with latency/buffer settings and project complexity (amp sims!)
     
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  16. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Great, thank you Tom.

    I think I'll go for the i9-9900K model (9th gen, 8 core, 3.6Ghz with turbo boost up to 5.0.)

    That's a big improvement on paper from my current Intel 4850HQ (i7 2.3Ghz quad core). In benchmarks, it's more than 3x faster for multi-core applications. I'm not sure how efficiency Logic (and various plugins) use the multiple cores though.

    So my plan is to go with the base RAM and upgrade it myself for much cheaper (Apple asks £900 for 64GB, lol)
     
  17. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    That CPU will slay for years to come :) I'm still doing fine with an i7 3.2 6core, can keep trackable latency with close to 10 amp sims running live
     
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