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Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer? Virtual Instrument Plugins
View Poll Results: What should I do?
Upgrade my Current Computer!
2 Votes - 50.00%
Buy/Build New Computer!
1 Votes - 25.00%
..OTHER!?!?!?!?
1 Votes - 25.00%
Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

Old 30th April 2015
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Smile Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer?

So I've been posting around quite a bit and have learned a lot recently.

My computer can't handle the big boy effects plugins that I want to be running. I'm running a lot of stuff. I'm not looking for advice on how to use less plugins or make my usage more efficient, I'm looking for advice on the computer itself.

My current computer is a 2012 13-inch Macbook Pro i7 (Dual-processor) 2.9Ghz 8GB-Ram, 750GB-Memory (Mechanical hard-drive.) It's been lagging a lot recently and I need a stronger computer. My DAW continues to crash when I load too much in there (which is quite often..)

I'm often told by people that instead of upgrading my computer with an SSD and upgrading my RAM to 16 GB, that I should just invest in a new computer entirely, likely building a Hackintosh (which makes me worried, and seems unstable and not necessarily sustainable) or souping up a slightly older Mac Tower. Or some other option I don't know.

My question is: Is there really so much more to gain with another computer that I couldn't have with a TB SSD and 16GB Ram in my computer (That's if I were to upgrade to that) ? Would having a quad-core processor or maybe 3.5Ghz really be worth getting an entire new machine?

Bear in mind -- I'm quite broke, want to spend as little money as possible and don't want to spend money unless I'm 100% positive it's the right decision and 100% necessary.

What are your thoughts Gearslutz?!??
Old 30th April 2015
  #2
Gear Nut
 

1tb SSD? Haha I thought you said you were broke! I kid I kid. You should also know that for all intents and purposes your i7 is technically a quad core. Also, there's no reason for you to question the stability of a hackintosh. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to convince themselves they didnt spend 3-4 times the money of a pc for nothing. My 500$ pc will destroy your 1500$ mac, fact! And since I'm running an intel cpu right now, I can boot up OSX or newer if I feel like it. The cheapest route you can go is an ssd and ram upgrade. If it doesnt solve your issues then they can go in that new computer youre gonna build. Do you have your OS on one drive, while you write to an external drive? Is this pc for audio production only? Is your web browser and a hundred other things running in the background? Have you done any sort of optimization recommended by your DAW or interface developer?
Old 30th April 2015
  #3
Neither an SSD nor more RAM is going to make your dual core faster (it is NOT a quadcore, HT or not).
The SSD might fix your issues if the DAW gives drive speed error messages or disk performance spikes.
The RAM might hep against the crashes if they are caused due to not enough RAM. Take a look at the performance monitor to see how much RAM is used when crashes occur.
If the DAW performance meter is showing peaks, it is unlikely either upgrade will work. Freezing is your option there, and higher buffer settings.
Old 30th April 2015
  #4
Gear Nut
 

I was under the impression that the 3520m was an Ivy Bridge architecture. Point being that all Ivy Bridge processors have 4 physical cores, 2 of them being turned off in the case of the 3520m(pretty sure thats what he's got in his laptop). I might be wrong, or confused, though.
Old 30th April 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 

All of the 13 inch models are dual core.

A SSD will speed up your file system, it will not provide more power for plugs.

I suggest at least a quad core Mac

Old 1st May 2015
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
. Also, there's no reason for you to question the stability of a hackintosh. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to convince themselves they didnt spend 3-4 times the money of a pc for nothing. My 500$ pc will destroy your 1500$ mac, fact! And since I'm running an intel cpu right now, I can boot up OSX or newer if I feel like it. The cheapest route you can go is an ssd and ram upgrade. If it doesnt solve your issues then they can go in that new computer youre gonna build.
So you run a Hackintosh? Or built your own PC of some sort? What was your build like and what are the specs? The one you claim is way stronger than mine for $500. If that's actually true then that's basically the same price as me upgrading to an SSD to 16 Gigs Ram.

If I'm going to upgrade my current computer, I don't want to have to purchase another computer down the line. If that's inevitable I may as well do it now (As cheaply and efficiently as possible)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
. Do you have your OS on one drive, while you write to an external drive? Is this pc for audio production only?
I don't write to an external drive (This is something that's been reccomended to me before. The issue with my computer is lacking the power to handle enough plug-ins, would writing the audio to an external really help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
. Is this pc for audio production only?
If I were to build a PC, then yes it definitely would be. Nothing else. Maybbe like some email and light internet browsing. Maybbe some other simple stuff like running Microsoft Office or watching movies (doesn't need an amazing graphics card, just basic stuff) but I'm not sure if those things would require much extra money being put into the computer and it's parts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
. Is your web browser and a hundred other things running in the background? Have you done any sort of optimization recommended by your DAW or interface developer?
No nothing else running in the background and I've done absolutely all possible optimization with the DAW and interface.
Old 1st May 2015
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Neither an SSD nor more RAM is going to make your dual core faster (it is NOT a quadcore, HT or not).
The SSD might fix your issues if the DAW gives drive speed error messages or disk performance spikes.
The RAM might hep against the crashes if they are caused due to not enough RAM. Take a look at the performance monitor to see how much RAM is used when crashes occur.
If the DAW performance meter is showing peaks, it is unlikely either upgrade will work. Freezing is your option there, and higher buffer settings.
Freezing to may work to an extent, but not when I'm mixing a variety of processed sounds, I really need to be able to manipulated them whenever I want without freezing constantly, and my buffer settings are already optimized.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
If the DAW performance meter is showing peaks, it is unlikely either upgrade will work.
Can you explain to me exactly why this is true? I'm new to understanding all of these elements of the computer and want to learn.

If neither an SSD or 16 GB Ram will work, do you think I would need a stronger CPU? Upgrade to quad or even 6-core, maybe more like 3.5 Ghz?
Old 1st May 2015
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
I was under the impression that the 3520m was an Ivy Bridge architecture. Point being that all Ivy Bridge processors have 4 physical cores, 2 of them being turned off in the case of the 3520m(pretty sure thats what he's got in his laptop). I might be wrong, or confused, though.
I have no idea about any of this, but I AM prety sure that my computer is a dual-core. I'd be a bit afraid and confused I were having all this trouble with a quad-core as well..
Old 1st May 2015
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericphillips1111 View Post
I have no idea about any of this, but I AM prety sure that my computer is a dual-core. I'd be a bit afraid and confused I were having all this trouble with a quad-core as well..
Its more a technicallity about manufacturing costs. It costs less to just make quad cores and dissable 2 cores so you have a a low end consumer product to sell, than it does to make 2 and 4 core versions. Anyways, upgrading the cpu would require desoldering from the motherboard most likely. Thats probably out of you league and is risky. I dont currently have a hackintosh, I have in the past but havent needed once since college. In reality my $500 dollar laptop is outspecced by yours(hp pavillion 15t, i53230m I believe, 120g ssd, 8g 1800 ram, 1g dedicated gfx, 1tb 7200rpm lacie rugged), but it works. It works very well. Its fast and stable and never an impedance to my work flow. But it is dedicated to audio and video editing.
An ssd internal drive for your os and software, with all your audio files on an external, would be a huge benefit. Maybe even enough that you could get to work. It is actually easier for your computer to read and write from multiple drives, than accessing multiple points simultaneously from one drive.
Old 1st May 2015
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
Its more a technicallity about manufacturing costs. It costs less to just make quad cores and dissable 2 cores so you have a a low end consumer product to sell, than it does to make 2 and 4 core versions. Anyways, upgrading the cpu would require desoldering from the motherboard most likely. Thats probably out of you league and is risky. I dont currently have a hackintosh, I have in the past but havent needed once since college. In reality my $500 dollar laptop is outspecced by yours(hp pavillion 15t, i53230m I believe, 120g ssd, 8g 1800 ram, 1g dedicated gfx, 1tb 7200rpm lacie rugged), but it works. It works very well. Its fast and stable and never an impedance to my work flow. But it is dedicated to audio and video editing.
An ssd internal drive for your os and software, with all your audio files on an external, would be a huge benefit. Maybe even enough that you could get to work. It is actually easier for your computer to read and write from multiple drives, than accessing multiple points simultaneously from one drive.
Interesting. I mean that's still a decently powerful computer for $500! Yeah I'll certainly be looking into toying with that sort of thing although I'm a bit skeptical and definitely don't want to if I'm going to have to end up building a new computer anyways.

Another thing to note -- When Logic crashes, it's usually because of the Audio bar, not the I/O, which means it's the CPU/RAM that's failing much more often than the hard-drive. This especially makes me not see much point in upgrading to an SSD, and even upgrading RAM may not solve that problem.
Old 1st May 2015
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Well you seem pretty convinced that nothing suggested will fix the problem. You're probably right, there is no point. Good luck in your endeavors.
Old 1st May 2015
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
Well you seem pretty convinced that nothing suggested will fix the problem. You're probably right, there is no point. Good luck in your endeavors.
I think that right I'm just looking to see if anyone can convince me that building a new computer isn't necessary basically. Something definitely can fix the problem and as of now I'm thinking that that'll require a stronger CPU
Old 2nd May 2015
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericphillips1111 View Post
I think that right I'm just looking to see if anyone can convince me that building a new computer isn't necessary basically. Something definitely can fix the problem and as of now I'm thinking that that'll require a stronger CPU
Unless you are comfortable de-soldering the current cpu from the motherboard and resoldering a new one on, or you know someone who is, you're SOL as far as a cpu upgrade is concerned. I doubt apple will perform that type of upgrade, and it wouldnt be cheap if they did.

You can upgrade your RAM. You might as well. You can swap out your HDD for an SSD. You should! You can swap out your optical drive with the HDD you just replaced. 2 SATA connected drives is a pretty bad ass upgarde if you ask me. You shoud DEFINITELY BE STORING YOUR MEDIA ON A DRIVE THAT YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM AND PROGRAMS ARE NOT ON!!!!! Thats the first thing anyone will tell you about optimizing a computer for media production. You can even downgrade your DAW to a version that has lower system requirements. I use pro tools 10. So why do I have 8gigs of RAM? So PT10 can max out its RAM needs and I still have 4 or 5gigs left for everything else. I'm definitely not going to freeze or crash due to ram related issues.

No, none of these things will make your CPU faster. But, are you so sure you need a better processor? Thats the most expensive thing you can do, especially since it more than likely intails you buying a new laptop. And "building" a laptop isnt really an option like a desktop, so there's not a lot you can do to reduce cost other than buying a POS. The cheapest thing you can do is make what you already have work as well as it can for you. Now maybe your doing some crazy production that I cant even fathom, but here's exactly what I would do if I owned your laptop.

1. Buy an ssd for my OS and Software.
Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer?120GB Crucial M500 2 5" SATA 6GB s Solid State Drive SSD CT120M500SSD1 | eBay

2. Buy an Optibay cradle and replace my disc drive with my old HDD
Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer?MacBook Pro Unibody Caddy Optibay 2nd HDD SSD SATA Replaces DVD D 9 5mm CA | eBay

3. Buy max RAM my cpu/mobo supports
Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory for Apple Model CT2K8G3S160BM - Newegg.com

Thats less than $200 in upgrades that will surely be noticable.

4. Install Logic Pro 9.1

5. Now I build my production tools around my DAW. It was released 2 years before my laptop was so I'm fairly confident in my computers ability to handle the situation. Furthermore, most everything that is compatible will have near or less than the same system requirements, which my laptop far exceeds.

And if whatever you're doing is so out of that laptops league that you end up having to by a new one(because remember, you "can't" upgrade your CPU) anyways, that's not just waisted money. That's components you can put in your new laptop with the crazy uber cool awesomeness CPU.

I hope I have succeeded in convincing you that you dont need to buy a new computer, that's what you wanted right? It's barely 2 years old, why dont you give it a chance
Old 2nd May 2015
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
Unless you are comfortable de-soldering the current cpu from the motherboard and resoldering a new one on, or you know someone who is, you're SOL as far as a cpu upgrade is concerned. I doubt apple will perform that type of upgrade, and it wouldnt be cheap if they did.

You can upgrade your RAM. You might as well. You can swap out your HDD for an SSD. You should! You can swap out your optical drive with the HDD you just replaced. 2 SATA connected drives is a pretty bad ass upgarde if you ask me. You shoud DEFINITELY BE STORING YOUR MEDIA ON A DRIVE THAT YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM AND PROGRAMS ARE NOT ON!!!!! Thats the first thing anyone will tell you about optimizing a computer for media production. You can even downgrade your DAW to a version that has lower system requirements. I use pro tools 10. So why do I have 8gigs of RAM? So PT10 can max out its RAM needs and I still have 4 or 5gigs left for everything else. I'm definitely not going to freeze or crash due to ram related issues.

No, none of these things will make your CPU faster. But, are you so sure you need a better processor? Thats the most expensive thing you can do, especially since it more than likely intails you buying a new laptop. And "building" a laptop isnt really an option like a desktop, so there's not a lot you can do to reduce cost other than buying a POS. The cheapest thing you can do is make what you already have work as well as it can for you. Now maybe your doing some crazy production that I cant even fathom, but here's exactly what I would do if I owned your laptop.

1. Buy an ssd for my OS and Software.
Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer?120GB Crucial M500 2 5" SATA 6GB s Solid State Drive SSD CT120M500SSD1 | eBay

2. Buy an Optibay cradle and replace my disc drive with my old HDD
Upgrade my MacBook Pro or Buy/Build New Computer?MacBook Pro Unibody Caddy Optibay 2nd HDD SSD SATA Replaces DVD D 9 5mm CA | eBay

3. Buy max RAM my cpu/mobo supports
Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory for Apple Model CT2K8G3S160BM - Newegg.com

Thats less than $200 in upgrades that will surely be noticable.

4. Install Logic Pro 9.1

5. Now I build my production tools around my DAW. It was released 2 years before my laptop was so I'm fairly confident in my computers ability to handle the situation. Furthermore, most everything that is compatible will have near or less than the same system requirements, which my laptop far exceeds.

And if whatever you're doing is so out of that laptops league that you end up having to by a new one(because remember, you "can't" upgrade your CPU) anyways, that's not just waisted money. That's components you can put in your new laptop with the crazy uber cool awesomeness CPU.

I hope I have succeeded in convincing you that you dont need to buy a new computer, that's what you wanted right? It's barely 2 years old, why dont you give it a chance
Hmm well that's definitely a good case! I appreciate your insight.

I'm not an expert about all of this, I'm just learning. But what's your take on the fact that when Logic crashes it's usually because of the Audio bar peaking, not the I/O, which apparently means it's the CPU/RAM that's failing much more often than the hard-drive. That's really the factor that's making me believe that I'd need a stronger CPU. What do you think?

That said, what you said about just being able to install the SSD and the RAM into a new PC build if I did have to do that is very true and is a really good point! As well as what you're saying about running my audio on another hard-drive. I actually have another spare hard-drive lying around that I'll try that with. Is it possible to also run plugins such as Kontakt, Waves KramerTape, Amplitube on a second hard-drive..? Does that make sense?


So here's a good example of the kind of problems I'm having producing my music:
I'm currently working on a project that I'm recording where I have about 20 tracks. I'm recording pretty dense, layered music that has lots and lots of processing. A bit similar to something like Coastal Brake - Tycho:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1fgk5ydK-A

There are a ton of sounds that are reallly really processed. And the processing and the mixing is part of the composition AKA I tweak as I go, I'm not gonna constantly be freezing stuff and bouncing in place, I need to be able to handle a lot of plugins at once. Let's not argue over this because I've done the research and tried different things and I'm 100% going to be needing a stronger machine or upgrading my current one.

Anyways, in my current project I have about 20-25 tracks and the big heavyweigh plugins I have running include 6 Instances of Amplitube, one SoundToys Echoboy, 1 Waves KramerTape, 1 instance of Kontakt 5, 1 instance of
EXS24, and probably 20 other lighterload plugins. Righttabout now is when my project just can't handle any more in it's load without crashing. Not just lagging, but crashing. I need to be able to run this amount of processing and a bit more comfortably So yeah I guess I am doing some kind of really dense processing and production that's a bit more heavy than your average audio production where you record an amp of a guitar player, record a drummer, etc.. and maybe one compressor, EQ, reverb each. I'm doing dense processing with a variety of stuff. Not to mention the majority of the sound sources I'm using are software synthesizers which take up a ton of resources, all of which are bounced-in-place in this project, guitars running through Amplitube(very heavy), Samples I've made (running through EXS24, looking into lighter-load sampling software)
Old 2nd May 2015
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Neither an SSD nor more RAM is going to make your dual core faster (it is NOT a quadcore, HT or not).
The SSD might fix your issues if the DAW gives drive speed error messages or disk performance spikes.
The RAM might hep against the crashes if they are caused due to not enough RAM. Take a look at the performance monitor to see how much RAM is used when crashes occur.
If the DAW performance meter is showing peaks, it is unlikely either upgrade will work. Freezing is your option there, and higher buffer settings.
^This dude mentioned my fear
Old 2nd May 2015
  #16
Gear Nut
 

No plugins are "software". They stay on your main drive with your OS. Short of a new laptop(thats pretty much what youve gotta do to upgrade your cpu), or using software that requires less resources(what version of logic do you use?), I dont know what else to say. The "only" way you're going to out-spec your current setup without spending a bunch is to build a desktop, which you're not interested in so... I would still upgrade my ram and to an ssd.
Old 2nd May 2015
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNRDustin View Post
No plugins are "software". They stay on your main drive with your OS. Short of a new laptop(thats pretty much what youve gotta do to upgrade your cpu), or using software that requires less resources(what version of logic do you use?), I dont know what else to say. The "only" way you're going to out-spec your current setup without spending a bunch is to build a desktop, which you're not interested in so... I would still upgrade my ram and to an ssd.
Gotcha. Well i'm also considering building a desktop if that's what i gotta do. What're your thoughts on that note i mentioned about the I/O and Audio meters?
Old 2nd May 2015
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericphillips1111 View Post
Gotcha. Well i'm also considering building a desktop if that's what i gotta do. What're your thoughts on that note i mentioned about the I/O and Audio meters?
I/O doesnt sound like it's an issue, and I have know idea why peaking meters would or could relate to your system crashing.
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