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Old 4th September 2011 , 01:15 PM
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Hi all

Hope this doesn't sound like a stupid question, but I'm looking for some opinion here...

I've been running Pro Tools LE8 on a (damn its eyes) Toshiba Laptop with Vista for a year or so now. As you'd expect, it's pretty much not up to the job. I can just about do some very basic things but then it crashed, throws up error messages, etc etc etc. I hasten to add I didn't deliberately choose Vista - it was the only option in the shop when the burglars paid a visit and we got an insurance payout.

Any road, I'm off to the dark side. It's time to get a Mac and get serious. I'm just completely undecided as to what Mac to get. I've pretty much narrowed it down to a choice between an iMac or a MacBook Pro (both at the lowest possible spec I can get away with for obvious cost reasons) but I'd love to get some opinions on the pros and cons of each. Is anyone out there using either of these happily - and if so are there any pitfalls?

Looking forward to some input. With thanks, MarkG
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Old 4th September 2011 , 03:48 PM
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Do you need to be portable? Which gives you the best spec for your money? The answers to these will lead you to the best conclusion for your needs.
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Old 5th September 2011 , 03:40 PM
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Itís simplez really as Trev says, do you need it to be portable or not? The rigs themselves are pretty much of a muchness, as in, either will deal with PT-LE easily without a glitch.

Take an example say £999 thatíll get you a Mac book pro with i7 @ 2.7GHz, 4Gb of ram with 500Gb HDD but a tiny 13.5Ē screen. Contrast that with the iMac with i5 @ 2.7GHz, 4Gb ram, 1Tb HDD and a large 27Ē screen.

The only real difference in both machines is that one is portable with, less storage and a tiny screen and the other isnít. The seemingly lower spec i5 in the iMac is just cosmetic really the i5 line of CPUís are excellent workers and to be honest unless you were running benching test apps you wouldnít be able to tell the difference.


However with an iMac you cant sit on the train/boat/plane with your cans on looking cool while mixing your latest Lady Ga Ga remix.




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Last edited by weaver; 5th September 2011 at 03:45 PM. . <
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Old 6th September 2011 , 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weaver View Post
The only real difference in both machines is that one is portable with, less storage and a tiny screen and the other isnít. The seemingly lower spec i5 in the iMac is just cosmetic really the i5 line of CPUís are excellent workers and to be honest unless you were running benching test apps you wouldnít be able to tell the difference.
It's not that it's 'cosmetic' - the i5's (and i7's) found in iMacs are the real deal - desktop chips which run at full power/full heat. The stuff in the Macbook Pros are the 'M' versions of the chips - no prizes for guessing that stands for 'mobile' and thus are compromised somewhat.

As I understand it the desktop chips have more L3 cache and the ability to 'turbo boost' to higher speeds when not all cores are in use.

The mobile stuff is still faster than it's ever been but if you don't need the portability you will almost always get more performance out of a same-generation Mac desktop of equal or faster clock speed.

Processing DAW audio is a funny thing too where "pure clock" actually makes something of a difference since everything is real-time. Thus, for some applications, getting an i5 at 2.2 (for example) may net you more performance than an i7 2.0 (if that makes sense - the higher speed is the important number). However, as DAWs evolve and become more multi-core aware I suspect this will change. The problem as it stands now is a lot of the popular DAWs out there are built on very old code base that desperately needs to catch up with computer tech...
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Old 6th September 2011 , 04:08 PM
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It's not that it's 'cosmetic' - the i5's (and i7's) found in iMacs are the real deal - desktop chips which run at full power/full heat. .
.
..



You’re absolutely correct and I can find nothing to argue against in your post. I was merely highlighting the difference in ‘tech’ from the sales perspective trying to keep it as simple as possible while desperately trying to avoid the Geek in me. It really is just cosmetic as far as the performance is concerned in my opinion.

Sure you can eek out a little more performance/a little less heat from the newest line of i7 2600K chips but those, as you point out, are not fitted in either the mobile platform nor the desktop solutions. The result being these processor chips, i7 (1336 socket) 930, 950, 960, 980 variants are running on the base clocks ranging from 2.8. Ghz to 3.2 Ghz, which, incidentally are first generation chips that if they were up to today’s standard second generation tech, should be running at 3.4 GHz base clock. The ‘turbo’ is a nice ‘BLING’ feature but can offer very little in terms of real time performance against heat gained depending upon the settings applied.


[**Unfortunately I can give no indication to the actual numbers involved as I don’t have either of the units described for testing purposes, I could only suggest following reviews to be best practice at this time.**]


Personally I would be concerned with the lack of RAM in each of these machine spec especially if running many instances of plugins and/or VST’s I certainly wouldn’t see any problems with the processor speeds or the number of cores therein after all the vast majority of current DAW tech is only recently catching up to the concept of multithreading and is mainly 32bit tech anyway. As I say above I was coming at it from the sales perspective given a budget and not writing a review of these units’ specifications. CPU might become an issue if the reader was planning on recording multiple channels at highest sample resolution however I feel that the limitations of his outboard gear would be highlighted well before CPU problems might occur as either of these two possibilities are more than capable of handling the requirements of the common or garden home users needs.



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