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Macbook air M2 or Macbook pro M1 pro

Alex JD

New Member
Time to change my pc and I’m torn between these 2 choices. My pc has 16gb of RAM but with orchestral samples that fill up pretty quickly and fans go like crazy.

My choices are:
-Macbook air M2, 512 ssd, 24gb RAM
-Macbook pro 14”, 512 ssd, 16gb RAM

Here the air is 200 $ cheaper than the pro.
I’d get more RAM on the air but lose on ports, double screen, cpu etc.
My worry is that the 16gb pro would perform similar to what I own now in term of vsts, but my hope is that due to the better M1 pro the mac could actually perform better than my current pc and the air (possibly?).

For more money I’d get less RAM, is that worth it? Would the perform of the pro be substantially better?

Beside music I’d do some light video editing but nothing fancy, in that regard both macs will be fine.
 

wtptrs

Member
If it's not too urgent of a switch, consider waiting for the successor of the Macbook Pro 14" (2021), rumor has it it's being released either in 2022 or in the first quarter of 2023.
 

RiverOak

Member
I’m debating similar options. For me it’s:
- M2 Air, base CPU with 24GB RAM and 2TB SSD
- M1 Pro, base CPU with 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD

The portability, battery life and slightly lower price of the Air is certainly tempting, but the Pro comes with more ports, better screen, better speakers and active cooling which will let it perform better under heavy load. And the SD slot can also be used for expandable, although slow, storage.
For me multiple screens is not a selling point. I will never use more than one at a time. But the HDMI port is certainly useful!

To answer your RAM question: yes, it will perform better than your current machine even with just 16GB thanks to the super fast SSD. That’s because when you run out of RAM it will start to swap out on the SSD and that’s where you will notice a huge difference.
That said, it is still better to get more RAM if you work with big sample libraries and if you can afford it. Performance wise the RAM is still much faster and it will cause less wear on the SSD as well.
I was going to cheap out and just get 16GB, but as I’m looking to do more orchestral work in the near future I feel that it will be worth it to bite the bullet. Although it is never fun to spend that much extra on something that I will only truly benefit from every now and then.
I will most likely get by with 16GB given the quick swapping, but it would be nice to not have to be as considerate about RAM usage.
But 24GB could work as well, that’s why I’m considering the Air.
Would be lovely to hear if someone has any actual real world experience with it in regards to music production and composing with heavy instruments. I’ve mostly just seen the regular logic benchmarks which doesn’t say much for real world usage.
 

rgames

Collapsing the Wavefunction
I'm going through the process of setting up a new laptop right now and the primary factor that determines laptop performance these days is thermal design. To get good VST performance out of recent laptops you need a big, chunky laptop with really good cooling. If you want thin and light then there's a good chance you're better off with older CPUs in older laptops.

There's always been at best a week correlation between CPU performance and real-time performance but as I've revisited that issue over the past couple months the relationship seems to have become inverted; i.e. better CPU performance these days is linked to worse real-time performance.

Having said all that, most of my looking is on the PC side but I have seen indications that the same is true on the Mac side.

So make sure you measure what you care about before making a decision. I definitely wouldn't rely on CPU benchmarks.

rgames
 

RiverOak

Member
I'm going through the process of setting up a new laptop right now and the primary factor that determines laptop performance these days is thermal design. To get good VST performance out of recent laptops you need a big, chunky laptop with really good cooling. If you want thin and light then there's a good chance you're better off with older CPUs in older laptops.
I would not agree with this in relation to the M2 MacBook Air. Even though it is passively cooled and will throttle the CPU under heavy load, it is still a beast performance wise and it will be more than enough for the average studio in terms of CPU performance.
That said, the better cooled M1 Pro will perform better under heavy load for sure. But such loads are rare amongst the music producers I know. At least with the current software.

Here’s a comparison between the base M2 Air and a fully loaded M1 Max.
Quite interesting. The Max is certainly a much more competent machine. But the M2 Air is still impressive given both the size and cost difference.

 
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rnb_2

Rick Baumhauer
For anything with orchestral samples, I would vote for RAM over processor. If you think you can work with 24GB, I think the M2 Air is a better option than an M1 Pro with 16GB. The M2 Air w/24GB vs 8-core M1 Pro w/32GB is a harder call - in raw benchmarked performance, the Air is only 10% slower, but is a lot thinner and lighter, and isn't going to be updated in the next few weeks like the 14". The extra 8GB might be good to have, though.

I have a 10-core/32GB M1 Pro 14" and love it, but if I was buying now, I'd probably lean toward the Air unless I absolutely needed the extra ports when mobile (either will allow you to live the "1-cable lifestyle" at a desk).
 

RiverOak

Member
I went to a friend today to try out his new M2 Air with 16GB of RAM. He is not into sample heavy productions so he has not pushed it to the limits in that regard. I was however impressed at how much I could throw at it in terms of CPU heavy plugins. Also Superior Drummer 3 was very snappy to work with compared to my intel MBP.

Certainly a tempting option. But I decided to go with the 14” MBP for the screen and ports. Also, while it is a bit more bulky, it does feel more solid than the Air. And it’s still a very portable machine.

I am now however second guessing the choice of 32GB of RAM. 😄
If only Apple could stop robbing people with their upgrade prices.
 
OP
Alex JD

Alex JD

New Member
Thread starter
I am now however second guessing the choice of 32GB of RAM. 😄
If only Apple could stop robbing people with their upgrade prices.
that will never stop lol

if I could I'd definitely take 32gb ram, that would solve many problems and make it future proof for at least 5 years for me.
But that's also 500 dollars more for that.

I went to a friend today to try out his new M2 Air with 16GB of RAM. He is not into sample heavy productions so he has not pushed it to the limits in that regard. I was however impressed at how much I could throw at it in terms of CPU heavy plugins.
I'm sure the M2 cpu would perform great, but no matter what RAM is going to get tight at some point. That's why I'm leaning toward the air 24gb.
But another part of me wants the m1 pro 16gb to perfom at the same level RAM wise haha

Though if the rumors of m2 pro coming out soon are true then maybe the m1 pro prices will drop a bit?
 

RiverOak

Member
that will never stop lol

if I could I'd definitely take 32gb ram, that would solve many problems and make it future proof for at least 5 years for me.
But that's also 500 dollars more for that.


I'm sure the M2 cpu would perform great, but no matter what RAM is going to get tight at some point. That's why I'm leaning toward the air 24gb.
But another part of me wants the m1 pro 16gb to perfom at the same level RAM wise haha

Though if the rumors of m2 pro coming out soon are true then maybe the m1 pro prices will drop a bit?
Yeah, even though I do have the budget for it, I can find so many things that I’d rather put that money towards. 🙂

Given what is going on in the world right now I would not bet on the M1 Pros getting cheaper. I would say that it is more likely that they will stay the same and that the M2 Pro is going to be more expensive.
Might be that stores will be selling their stock cheaper, but the 32GB is not a stock model.

So that’s why I’ll order one now and it will arrive in time for the rumoured press release of the M2 Pro. Then I will be able to either keep it or return it based on that info.

Anyhow, based on what you’ve written I think you will be happy with the M2 Air with 24GB RAM. Especially if you will be hooked up to an external display most of the time.
 

robgb

Inspiration is for amateurs
Time to change my pc and I’m torn between these 2 choices. My pc has 16gb of RAM but with orchestral samples that fill up pretty quickly and fans go like crazy.

My choices are:
-Macbook air M2, 512 ssd, 24gb RAM
-Macbook pro 14”, 512 ssd, 16gb RAM

Here the air is 200 $ cheaper than the pro.
I’d get more RAM on the air but lose on ports, double screen, cpu etc.
My worry is that the 16gb pro would perform similar to what I own now in term of vsts, but my hope is that due to the better M1 pro the mac could actually perform better than my current pc and the air (possibly?).

For more money I’d get less RAM, is that worth it? Would the perform of the pro be substantially better?

Beside music I’d do some light video editing but nothing fancy, in that regard both macs will be fine.
I've been using a Macbook Air M1 with 16gb lately and it holds up well. Although I haven't really hammered it with instances of Kontakt. At any rate it's WAY faster and more stable than my 32gb intel iMac.
 

rnb_2

Rick Baumhauer
Given what is going on in the world right now I would not bet on the M1 Pros getting cheaper. I would say that it is more likely that they will stay the same and that the M2 Pro is going to be more expensive.
Might be that stores will be selling their stock cheaper, but the 32GB is not a stock model.
In the US, retailers are discounting most M1 Pro/Max configurations now - supply has finally become steady, and Apple is probably trying to clear inventory for the M2 versions. I don't know if there have been "price adjustments" in the last couple months for non-US currencies, but given the current strength of the dollar vs Euro/GBP, there will probably be price increases for those currencies when the M2 Pro/Max are announced. While inventory lasts, good deals should be available on the M1s, but I'm not familiar with non-US retailers and how they handle Apple line updates - the US has a number of retailers that will discount until inventory is depleted.
 
OP
Alex JD

Alex JD

New Member
Thread starter
I don't know if there have been "price adjustments" in the last couple months for non-US currencies
I currently live in japan, yen is incredibly weak and here they hiked the prices by about 30.000 yen (200 dollars ish) already, I really hope they drop them a bit with the next release.
 

PeterN

Senior Member
I currently live in japan, yen is incredibly weak and here they hiked the prices by about 30.000 yen (200 dollars ish) already, I really hope they drop them a bit with the next release.
the curve looks similar to our Euro.

Lithium prices five fold, Taiwan raising prices for chips, cost of transports higher, electricity....whatnot

Probably not drop in prices. But they must know they can't price them too high either.
 

RiverOak

Member
In the US, retailers are discounting most M1 Pro/Max configurations now - supply has finally become steady, and Apple is probably trying to clear inventory for the M2 versions. I don't know if there have been "price adjustments" in the last couple months for non-US currencies, but given the current strength of the dollar vs Euro/GBP, there will probably be price increases for those currencies when the M2 Pro/Max are announced. While inventory lasts, good deals should be available on the M1s, but I'm not familiar with non-US retailers and how they handle Apple line updates - the US has a number of retailers that will discount until inventory is depleted.
Here in Sweden the stock models are usually discounted, but retailers usually don’t keep many different CTO models in stock so it’s rare to find them at a discount.
 

Jackal_King

Active Member
I've also been shopping around and looking at the Macbook Air for composing. My Lenova Yoga 710 has been pretty reliable for almost six years now. CSS, Appassionata and Symphonic Motions are really the only CPU hogs that I have noticed with occasional lags unless I'm not running any other programs on the laptop. But it's starting to show it's age and things like my USB port and 3.5mm jack partially working and the corner of the screen coming part is telling me that it's time. Been looking at the Macbook Air M2 with 8-Core CPU, 10-Core GPU, 16GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. Most of my music consists of 15 tracks or under and the most would be 25-30 if I'm doing epic cinematic music. I would think that should be good enough to use without any major issues with using Kontakt.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
My choices are:
-Macbook air M2, 512 ssd, 24gb RAM
-Macbook pro 14”, 512 ssd, 16gb RAM

Is price the reason you're not considering the M1 MacBook Pro with more RAM?

Edit: Oh, it's because of the 2 and we're trained to think it's one more i'nit. I personally wouldn't pay much attention to that.
 

PeterN

Senior Member
Is price the reason you're not considering the M1 MacBook Pro with more RAM?

Edit: Oh, it's because of the 2 and we're trained to think it's one more i'nit. I personally wouldn't pay much attention to that.
but 512 ssd, its like cramped in a car trunk
 

rnb_2

Rick Baumhauer
Is price the reason you're not considering the M1 MacBook Pro with more RAM?

Edit: Oh, it's because of the 2 and we're trained to think it's one more i'nit. I personally wouldn't pay much attention to that.
Did you mean the M1 MacBook Air or the 13" MacBook Pro (M1 or M2)? The M1 Air is still a very good machine, and if you really don't need more than 16GB, going with the M1 with more storage over the M2 is certainly an option - the CPU is a little slower (but runs cooler), and the extra M2 GPU cores don't do anything for audio. Nobody should buy the 13" MacBook Pro, though - other than battery life, it doesn't have much to recommend it over the Air, and it's very much a 6-year-old design with very little updated outside of the internals and a more reliable keyboard.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Did you mean the M1 MacBook Air or the 13" MacBook Pro (M1 or M2)? T
I was really just trying to understand the dilemma.

The CPU difference between an M1 and M2 is unlikely to matter in the real world, but more RAM could.

You're right about the 13" MacBook Pro, though.
 
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