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Upgrade maxed out 2015 iMac to 2019 iMac or fix other bottlenecks?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Upgrade maxed out 2015 iMac to 2019 iMac or fix other bottlenecks?

(Sort of) yet another "computer upgrade worth it" thread Some specific questions I wanted to run by people here though-- I'd rather look like an idiot here and save $3-4k.

I tend to write more heavily layered pieces that can have over 80 tracks of both recorded audio and virtual instruments. Of course on older machines I'd eventually have to freeze or bounce instrument tracks to audio, but I found this to sometimes be a massive muse/productivity killer, especially if I'm still in the writing stages and find that I need to revert to the plugin to make a change somewhere. My goal is to find a machine that simply makes the following a non-issue so that I can focus entirely on my creative ideas (within reason, obviously):

- Loading sessions with 80+ tracks
- Playback with 64-sample buffer size without hiccups (asking for this because sometimes I track in the middle of an already pretty busy session).
- Loading heavier instruments (e.g., a Hollywood Orchestra ensemble) in under 30 seconds

My maxed out 2015 iMac (4.0 GHz i7, 40GB RAM, 1TB SSD) was supposed to solve this problem, but I continue to see issues on larger sessions. The 2019 iMac is currently on sale for Black Friday. Will an i9, 1TB SSD, 40-64GB RAM finally be the end of my problems, or am I doing something stupid with my current machine?

Obviously the 2019 is far more powerful, but I'm still disappointed that my current machine isn't really cutting it and wondering if there are things I can do to improve my current setup. The main thing I could easily upgrade is my 7200 rpm external library drive to SSD, but the best I think I could get for the 2015 iMac is a Samsung T5, whereas with the 2019 model I could get an X5 (although is that overkill for audio??). Maybe spending $1K to upgrade my current machine and $2K on music/production lessons would be a far better investment, lol.

Thanks for reading and hopefully reply before the Black Friday deals are over in a few days!

P.S. Unless the base model iMac Pro is FAR superior to the top 2019 iMac, I have a hard time justifying the extra $2k.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

I forgot to add-- geekbench shows the i9 iMac with almost double the multicore performance of the late 2015 iMac (8196 vs 4282), but the difference for single core doesn't seem terribly different (1142 vs 1052). It's my understanding that due to the nature of audio processing tasks, single core performance holds much more weight than one would think. Is this the case? I'm hesitant to shell out $3-4K on a new machine if the only real benefit is more tracks before the system overload message pops up. It's a nice to have, but I'd say the other issues I brought up would be more important for me.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 

No thoughts anyone? It's the last day of the sale for $300 off iMacs...

I'm leaning towards saving up for a "if-you-cant-make-music-on-this-machine-then-quit" tier computer and getting that in 3-6 months. Something like a 10-core iMac Pro or even new Mac Pro. I have a feeling the SSD sample library drive will take me a long, long way.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Looks like a fair number of views on this thread so I'll just post an update in case anyone is interested.

I ran an EXTREMELY crude Logic stress test on both my 2015 iMac and a base model iMac Pro at the Apple Store, which I suspect is in the ballpark of the maxed out 2019 iMac I'm interested in. I loaded a "Detroit Hammer" preset from the Factory Library, which contains a non-trivial signal chain with delays, reverbs and other effects. I replaced the RetroSynth instrument with Alchemy since it is more CPU hungry (I think?). I then recorded a pretty basic 16th note MIDI pattern for a few bars and looped it, then copied this track as many times as possible.

My iMac starts complaining with system overload messages after about 15 instances of this. I don't recall the exact number of these that the iMac Pro handled, but I believe it exceeded a hundred (or it was around 100) before this came up. I don't think I've ever written anything with that many tracks-- certainly not that many virtual instrument tracks with a crap-ton of processing on every single track-- so to me it seems pretty safe to say that this machine should be well more than enough to handle what I'm looking for.

Of course, there could be a dramatic difference in performance of the maxed out 2019 iMac versus the base iMac Pro that I'm missing-- I'm only going off of benchmark tests to assume they're reasonably close. My guess is that the iMac Pro performs better terms of handling tons of tracks, whereas the iMac miiight be a teeny bit faster for single core tasks (e.g., handling a ton of plugins on a single channel strip). This also makes me believe that a 10-core iMac Pro or a cheese grater Mac Pro is way overkill for what I'm doing and would be hard to justify the marginal gains for an additional $3k+.
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