Talk me out of an iMac

OP
mc_deli

mc_deli

n trepreneur
I was not talking about an iMac Pro, I was talking about a Mac Pro.
My bad, sorry. But no can't afford a new Mac Pro. And have considered trash can but... issues there with peripherals and pending compatibility problems.

If I were you I'd get a PC in this case and I am saying this after having been a Mac user for over 25 years.
Er no. I'm not about to buy a PC. I just can't justify the hours of extra (re) learning another OS. Those are hours I need for VIc!

As I said the iMacs are too limited. They can't be upgraded or serviced properly, you are stuck with a built in monitor and the hardware is overpriced. And since you can't upgrade the thing it will age quickly and have you yearning for a new machine much sooner than you might want to. Therefore to me, it is not very economical.
But the RAM can be upgraded - easily -to 128. And if you really want the hard drive can be updated (but surely no one buys the fusion drive if they buy an iMac for music...). Overpriced, OK. It's the Logic-Apple lock in. I am not about Hackintosh. This will be 5th Mac for music since 1996 - and the first one doesn't really count as it was a Mac clone (remember those?) that I replaced after a year with a G4. So, every 5 years it seems I catch up with some Mac computing power. Yes, the components are overpriced, but I've never been disappointed by the machines, reliability, power etc. I am yearning for a new machine because my current machine (retina MBP 16GB) was never powerful enough to handle full orchestral projects. 100 tracks of of random instruments and audio yes, but 100 of heavy orchestral no.

Maybe you'll be happy with an iMac for a while...
I think I would not be happy with the Mac Mini for very long as I would be a little irked that, while music performance would be OK, I wouldn't have the Total War series really playable because of the graphics. I'd also void the warranty changing the RAM.

With the iMac 27, still shipping with Mojave, so everything I have now "will" work, 20 second aftermarket RAM change, gobsmacking graphic performance compared to what I'm used to, invoiced in January for a tax break, VAT deductible, and it's not quite double the multi-core score I have now but still a lot more (I am looking at the 3.1 i5 unless I spring for the 3.6 i9 but I can't justify the extra cash)... I think I'll be happy for 5 years... I am guessing it'll run SCS performance legato and let me enjoy BWW and things like the Embertone solo strings... all of which have been torturous on the MBP.

(In all this I would happily trade half my Spitfire libraries for more power to enjoy the other half!)
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
In order to state your preference/opinion there is no need to make the opinions of others wrong.
What I'm calling silly is blatant wind-ups, not serious advice! And I didn't mean to single out your post, I meant that a lot of the discussion is silly.

f you had an iMac of a similar age (or even somewhat newer) you'd most likely be in trouble by now.
That is true, but the ones that are available now are more powerful than my Mac Pro (which has been updated with faster processors, but it's still an old machine). Computers in general aren't what they used to be, and the iMacs available now are ahead of the ones from ten years ago.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
what nick was saying. the computer screen might be an issue for some poeple. also, there is some upgrade limitations i believe so check what you need.
and the imac screen is very nice so its an extra premium price youll be paying when audio folks like us dont need quadruple retina HDR 16k 16gb ram whatever displpay. we fine with older displays or cheaper displays.
a nice standout macs now imo is the mac mini i7 top cpu w 64gb of ram and 2tb ssd. as well as the macbok pro that also has 64gb ram and i9. i would think the mac mini would be upgraded to i9 sometime soon but since the new mac pro is coming out soon, it might be later.
 

Pier Bover

Active Member
Let me start by saying that I own a 2017 5K iMac with an i5 7600K.

On principle I would not recommend an iMac for music production unless you are working on very small projects. The exception would be the i9 which I've heard has much better cooling but it seems it's out of your budget.

1) Cooling is crap. These machines are not designed to work with sustained CPU activity which is how audio works. Once you start having even modest 30-40% of constant CPU activity the temps will easily reach 70-80ºC and the fan noise will be more than audible. Unfortunately since the CPU and monitor are AIO you can't really hide it away in a closet or machine room.

2) The AIO design means you won't be able to easily repair or replace any components either. Even opening the machine 4-5 years down the road to clean for dust will be a real PITA.

3) IMO the price of the 5K iMac is great considering you are getting an amazing 5K display with very impressive color accuracy (I use it for graphic design). If you don't need such display why waste money on that? Also if your logic board breaks you will have an unusable glorious display.

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new Mac for music production and also considered the Mac Mini but ended up building a Windows PC instead. The Minis suffer from similar problems as the iMacs with the added problem that the Intel GPU is crap. Many have reported audio performance issues when using monitors higher than 1080p.

IMO the best option for a Mac right now would be to stretch your budget and buy the 16'' MBP since I imagine the upcoming Mac Pro is totally out of your budget.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Let me start by saying that I own a 2017 5K iMac with an i5 7600K.

On principle I would not recommend an iMac for music production unless you are working on very small projects. The exception would be the i9 which I've heard has much better cooling but it seems it's out of your budget.

1) Cooling is crap. These machines are not designed to work with sustained CPU activity which is how audio works. Once you start having even modest 30-40% of constant CPU activity the temps will easily reach 70-80ºC and the fan noise will be more than audible. Unfortunately since the CPU and monitor are AIO you can't really hide it away in a closet or machine room.

2) The AIO design means you won't be able to easily repair or replace any components either. Even opening the machine 4-5 years down the road to clean for dust will be a real PITA.

3) IMO the price of the 5K iMac is great considering you are getting an amazing 5K display with very impressive color accuracy (I use it for graphic design). If you don't need such display why waste money on that? Also if your logic board breaks you will have an unusable glorious display.

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new Mac for music production and also considered the Mac Mini but ended up building a Windows PC instead. The Minis suffer from similar problems as the iMacs with the added problem that the Intel GPU is crap. Many have reported audio performance issues when using monitors higher than 1080p.

IMO the best option for a Mac right now would be to stretch your budget and buy the 16'' MBP since I imagine the upcoming Mac Pro is totally out of your budget.
I have a 2015 iMac 4GZ i7 64GB and the fan rarely comes on except when bouncing audio or rendering video. Normal playback in the DAW, even with large projects, rarely if ever triggers the fan.
 
OP
mc_deli

mc_deli

n trepreneur
Let me start by saying that I own a 2017 5K iMac with an i5 7600K.

On principle I would not recommend an iMac for music production unless you are working on very small projects. The exception would be the i9 which I've heard has much better cooling but it seems it's out of your budget.

1) Cooling is crap. These machines are not designed to work with sustained CPU activity which is how audio works. Once you start having even modest 30-40% of constant CPU activity the temps will easily reach 70-80ºC and the fan noise will be more than audible. Unfortunately since the CPU and monitor are AIO you can't really hide it away in a closet or machine room.

2) The AIO design means you won't be able to easily repair or replace any components either. Even opening the machine 4-5 years down the road to clean for dust will be a real PITA.

3) IMO the price of the 5K iMac is great considering you are getting an amazing 5K display with very impressive color accuracy (I use it for graphic design). If you don't need such display why waste money on that? Also if your logic board breaks you will have an unusable glorious display.

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new Mac for music production and also considered the Mac Mini but ended up building a Windows PC instead. The Minis suffer from similar problems as the iMacs with the added problem that the Intel GPU is crap. Many have reported audio performance issues when using monitors higher than 1080p.

IMO the best option for a Mac right now would be to stretch your budget and buy the 16'' MBP since I imagine the upcoming Mac Pro is totally out of your budget.
Tx, good points.
Of all the threads I've read though on fan noise, the replies seem nearly all to be in the order of the above (fan never or rarely when bouncing)...

On the MBP, it's just too much cash for me to improve dramatically from the mid 2014 i7 16GB I have now.
 
OP
mc_deli

mc_deli

n trepreneur
Tale of the tape:

iMac 3.1Ghz, 6 core, i5, Radion 575x, 512 SSD, 8GB
Geekbench single/multicore: 1073, 5110
EUR 2759

Mini 3.2Ghz, 6 core, i7, Intel UHD Graphics 630, 512 SSD, 8GB
1138, 5715
EUR 1749

...you gotta really want the GPU and the screen for that grand!
I'm not so sure I do... money talks and well, you know!
 

StevenOBrien

Active Member
I realize that you probably don't have any desire to move from Logic Pro, but I would strongly encourage you to explore PC-compatible DAWs and see if there's anything you'd be comfortable with.

Apple would've been by recommendation 10 years ago, but nowadays, I don't think there's anything but downsides for someone who isn't already locked into the ecosystem. Things seem to be getting worse over time.

- PCs are significantly cheaper and have far more customizability, repairability.
- Intel CPUs are being rapidly overtaken in both performance and price by AMD CPUs, which you're missing out on by sticking to Apple
- Windows 10 is FAR more stable and performant than macOS these days. I don't personally find Windows 10's ease-of-use any different to macOS's.
- Apple has shown a consistent disregard for its professional customer-base over the past few years and seems mainly interested in squeezing as much money out of the people who are locked into the ecosystem. They are not the same company that they were 10 years ago.

To add 64GB OWC RAM.
That's probably not going to happen. The thing is really not meant to be user-upgradable.


Just going by what I see here: https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-digital-audio-workstation-pcs/form-factors#anc

You can get a 12 core AMD processor that has higher single-thread performance than an i9, along with 16GB of RAM for the same price as the i7, 8GB Mac Mini.

You can even customize these to not include any RAM or storage that you already have, and to specifically use a motherboard that would support the type of RAM you already have purchased.
 

Pier Bover

Active Member
I have a 2015 iMac 4GZ i7 64GB and the fan rarely comes on except when bouncing audio or rendering video. Normal playback in the DAW, even with large projects, rarely if ever triggers the fan.
What kind of projects do you work on?
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
I realize that you probably don't have any desire to move from Logic Pro, but I would strongly encourage you to explore PC-compatible DAWs and see if there's anything you'd be comfortable with.

Apple would've been by recommendation 10 years ago, but nowadays, I don't think there's anything but downsides for someone who isn't already locked into the ecosystem. Things seem to be getting worse over time.

- PCs are significantly cheaper and have far more customizability, repairability.
- Intel CPUs are being rapidly overtaken in both performance and price by AMD CPUs, which you're missing out on by sticking to Apple
- Windows 10 is FAR more stable and performant than macOS these days. I don't personally find Windows 10's ease-of-use any different to macOS's.
- Apple has shown a consistent disregard for its professional customer-base over the past few years and seems mainly interested in squeezing as much money out of the people who are locked into the ecosystem. They are not the same company that they were 10 years ago.


That's probably not going to happen. The thing is really not meant to be user-upgradable.


Just going by what I see here: https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-digital-audio-workstation-pcs/form-factors#anc

You can get a 12 core AMD processor that has higher single-thread performance than an i9, along with 16GB of RAM for the same price as the i7, 8GB Mac Mini.

You can even customize these to not include any RAM or storage that you already have, and to specifically use a motherboard that would support the type of RAM you already have purchased.
I completely disagree, having recently a year ago converted to all things Apple...
Why I Hate Windows?
 

StevenOBrien

Active Member
I completely disagree, having recently a year ago converted to all things Apple...
Why I Hate Windows?
I'm not going to claim that Windows is perfect, just that going for a Windows machine has more upsides than going for an Apple machine at this time.

Apart from the issues with Windows Update (which you can completely disable with some effort), I don't think that most of the problems that AdmiralBumbleBee brings up are that significant.

His complaints about audio/ASIO-related stuff are only relevant if you don't have a decent audio interface, which I doubt is the case with the OP.

Backup is terrible though, I will 100% agree with him on that. Nothing on Windows comes close to what Time Machine offers on Mac, and it's just about the only thing I seriously find myself missing.
 

Pier Bover

Active Member
I realize that you probably don't have any desire to move from Logic Pro, but I would strongly encourage you to explore PC-compatible DAWs and see if there's anything you'd be comfortable with.

Apple would've been by recommendation 10 years ago, but nowadays, I don't think there's anything but downsides for someone who isn't already locked into the ecosystem. Things seem to be getting worse over time.

- PCs are significantly cheaper and have far more customizability, repairability.
- Intel CPUs are being rapidly overtaken in both performance and price by AMD CPUs, which you're missing out on by sticking to Apple
- Windows 10 is FAR more stable and performant than macOS these days. I don't personally find Windows 10's ease-of-use any different to macOS's.
- Apple has shown a consistent disregard for its professional customer-base over the past few years and seems mainly interested in squeezing as much money out of the people who are locked into the ecosystem. They are not the same company that they were 10 years ago.


That's probably not going to happen. The thing is really not meant to be user-upgradable.


Just going by what I see here: https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-digital-audio-workstation-pcs/form-factors#anc

You can get a 12 core AMD processor that has higher single-thread performance than an i9, along with 16GB of RAM for the same price as the i7, 8GB Mac Mini.

You can even customize these to not include any RAM or storage that you already have, and to specifically use a motherboard that would support the type of RAM you already have purchased.
Totally agree. For the price of an i7 Mac Mini I built a Ryzen PC comparable in performance to an iMac Pro. And since it's a tower I have total flexibility with the hardware. I've been a Mac guy for the past 15 or so years but the Mac hardware situation is simply ridiculous. Windows is certainly fugly but once you are inside the DAW it makes no difference.

Also, I really don't buy the "but I have to use Logic" argument. The Cubase/Windows combo is used by top guys like Zimmer, Gregson Williams, JunkieXL, and a very long etcetera.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
What kind of projects do you work on?
Different kinds of things, but mostly orchestral stuff (around 60GB in the template when fully loaded) in terms of what pushes the system. I also see little difference in terms of the fan in using Logic and Studio One 4, though Logic, now that it only loads what's being used, is far better with memory usage.) So I use lots of VIs but I don't use many insert effects or soft synths. In my usage the fan just never comes on except when I bounce out audio, rip DVDs, or render video. Strike that. For some reason some processes in Chrome will also very occasionally and inexplicably cause the fan to turn on as well. But it's just not something I encounter on a regular basis.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I realize that you probably don't have any desire to move from Logic Pro, but I would strongly encourage you to explore PC-compatible DAWs and see if there's anything you'd be comfortable with.

Apple would've been by recommendation 10 years ago, but nowadays, I don't think there's anything but downsides for someone who isn't already locked into the ecosystem. Things seem to be getting worse over time.

- PCs are significantly cheaper and have far more customizability, repairability.
- Intel CPUs are being rapidly overtaken in both performance and price by AMD CPUs, which you're missing out on by sticking to Apple
- Windows 10 is FAR more stable and performant than macOS these days. I don't personally find Windows 10's ease-of-use any different to macOS's.
- Apple has shown a consistent disregard for its professional customer-base over the past few years and seems mainly interested in squeezing as much money out of the people who are locked into the ecosystem. They are not the same company that they were 10 years ago.


That's probably not going to happen. The thing is really not meant to be user-upgradable.


Just going by what I see here: https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/daw-digital-audio-workstation-pcs/form-factors#anc

You can get a 12 core AMD processor that has higher single-thread performance than an i9, along with 16GB of RAM for the same price as the i7, 8GB Mac Mini.

You can even customize these to not include any RAM or storage that you already have, and to specifically use a motherboard that would support the type of RAM you already have purchased.
I strongly disagree, and yes I have a Win 10 machine (slave). Moving to Windows will open up a whole new world of problems. Sure you can build a powerful machine for a decent cost, but the bazillion component options present a bazillion things that can go wrong with software, compatibility, drivers, etc (just look at all the custom-built PC users having issues running BBCSO). And to me, Win 10 is a real PITA to get around, I much preferred Win 7. And I also disagree about stability, you cannot back that one up.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Right, so you are barely using the CPU.
Not generally, but it depends on the VI, of course. Anything using Time Machine can be a real CPU hog, for instance. I just put 20 instances of Alchemy into a project, added several insert effects to each instance and ran that. The low fan turned on after about 30 seconds and continued until I stopped it around 2 minutes in. CPU was running at about 45% in the Activity Monitor, and about 75%-80% on 7 of the 8 processing threads according to the meter in Logic. The low fan is not very loud; only the high fan presents a significant noise issue for me.
 

StevenOBrien

Active Member
Sure you can build a powerful machine for a decent cost, but the bazillion component options present a bazillion things that can go wrong with software, compatibility, drivers, etc (just look at all the custom-built PC users having issues running BBCSO).
I've only used Spitfire's LABS plugin but it is by far one of the buggiest VIs I've ever used, to the point where I find myself removing it from projects just to eliminate hassle. It's not representative of how most plugins on Windows behave, so I would put most of the blame on Spitfire for that. You can get bad Mac ports just as easily as you can get bad Windows ports.


And I also disagree about stability, you cannot back that one up.
When I need to use a mac for software development, I get more beachballs and slow-downs on macOS than I get crashes on Windows. I also find that macOS is far more likely to just completely lock up, forcing a restart, which just doesn't happen to me on Windows. It's not a night-and-day difference, but Windows certainly feels better to use in my experience.


I strongly disagree, and yes I have a Win 10 machine (slave).
Slave machines are also a nightmare in general. It feels like every problem gets amplified due to the fact that there's an extra layer of networking (which is terrible on both Mac and PC) on top of everything that needs to be considered.
 

Pier Bover

Active Member
I strongly disagree, and yes I have a Win 10 machine (slave). Moving to Windows will open up a whole new world of problems. Sure you can build a powerful machine for a decent cost, but the bazillion component options present a bazillion things that can go wrong with software, compatibility, drivers, etc (just look at all the custom-built PC users having issues running BBCSO). And to me, Win 10 is a real PITA to get around, I much preferred Win 7. And I also disagree about stability, you cannot back that one up.
That hasn't been my experience at all. Also configuring Windows 10 for audio has been basically changing the power plan and a couple of BIOS settings. It's really not rocket science.

About BBCSO... The fault here lies 100% in the developer.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I've only used Spitfire's LABS plugin but it is by far one of the buggiest VIs I've ever used, to the point where I find myself removing it from projects just to eliminate hassle. It's not representative of how most plugins on Windows behave, so I would put most of the blame on Spitfire for that. You can get bad Mac ports just as easily as you can get bad Windows ports.



When I need to use a mac for software development, I get more beachballs and slow-downs on macOS than I get crashes on Windows. I also find that macOS is far more likely to just completely lock up, forcing a restart, which just doesn't happen to me on Windows. It's not a night-and-day difference, but Windows certainly feels better to use in my experience.



Slave machines are also a nightmare in general. It feels like every problem gets amplified due to the fact that there's an extra layer of networking (which is terrible on both Mac and PC) on top of everything that needs to be considered.
Maybe I'm lucky. Since 2013, I've had one single crash on my Mac (due to a bad update for VEPro). Never an issue with Spitfire, although I only use BBCSO, Studio Orchestra and LABS. Never had an issue with networking on both the Mac and PC. @InLight-Tone pretty much sums up my Windows gripes.