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Is 8 enough?

Discussion in 'Mac OS' started by x lo fi, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. x lo fi

    x lo fi New Member

    I run Logic 9 on a mid 2010 iMac w/ the standard 4 GB of RAM. I use an increasing amount of 3rd party plug ins and virtual instruments and have gotten more spinning colored wheels and crashes of late.

    Therefore, I'm thinking of upgrading the memory. My question is, whether to go from 4 GB to 8 GB, or from 4 to 16. Wondering if anyone has any opinions based on experience.

    Some of the plugs/instruments I use are native, but I also have UAD Apollo and Satellite duos which helps. lessen the load.
  3. bayswater

    bayswater Senior member

    It's a bit like asking if a piece of string is long enough. For what? If you have a lot of large samples being played by VIs, you might hit the limit with 8 like you have with 4. If it's mostly effects and synths you might be OK with 8.

    But the main consideration might be the price. I upgraded my iMac from 4 to 16 because it cost about $60 to go to 8, and only $30 more to go to 16.

    Have a look at OWC RAM prices at Your Mac might take 32, and that might not cost much more than 16.

    Unless you're really strapped, I think you should get as much RAM for a DAW as you can.
  4. x lo fi

    x lo fi New Member

    Where did you get 16 GB for $90? I had looked at OWC before and saw $83 for 8 GB and $165 for 16. I was thinking of going w/ where I saw 8 GB for $72, so 16 for $144.

    I use a lot of virtual instruments - the ones that hog the most memory are Soniccouture Keyboards and Slate SSD4 drums. I also use a fair amount of native plug ins but tend to rely mostly on UAD which "outsources" the DSP of course. I didn't do any sampling with the first album I did on this computer, but I've just started working on a new project that has a lot of sampling, nothing longer than 8 bars. I don't run into latency problems too often but when I do it's annoying, and I was hoping more memory would help with that. I have an Apollo so the latency isn't coming from the A/D converter.

    Another question on my mind is how long I anticipate using this computer before it becomes outdated, ie, is it worth upgrading memory on a computer I might replace in a year or two. The main reason I would anticipate wanting to do that is Thunderbolt, which this doesn't have.

    Strange how in the analog world, older is better, while in the digital world it's the reverse! :rolleyes:


    mid 2010 iMac OS 10.6.8
  5. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Senior member

    double post.
  6. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Senior member

    Spinning beachballs?

    Questions, how much free space on your system drive, the speed of that drive.

    How much free space on your project drive?

  7. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    To echo the previous response, do you know how much free space you have on your hd?

    Are you recording to an external hard drive or to the internal drive that also runs OSX, apps, samples, etc???

    The higher prices are what I noticed over at OWC as well. Having said that, it's well worth the cost.

    A high cpu GHz is key to running virtual instruments. In addition, a large amount of RAM is required if you're using many sample instruments in Kontakt or similar.

    Many older computers remain in action because the particular DAW environment is stable and the apps they run powerful enough to get the job done.

    Only you can answer your own question. How much $$$ do you have to spend on a new Mac? To me spending $165 to optimize performance of an existing Mac for the next two years seems like a very reasonable expense. If you don't already have them, I would also get an external hd for recording projects to, and yet another to run sample libraries.

    mid 2010 iMac OS 10.6.8[/QUOTE]
  8. bayswater

    bayswater Senior member

    It was OWC. Prices vary a lot over time and by Mac model.

    Anyway, my point was if you're going to spend X on 8 G, maybe spending a bit more to 16 makes sense. IIRC, at OWC, I could have bought one 8G unit for the price of 2 X 4 and ended up with 2+8=10.

    But the other thing to consider is whether RAM is your biggest problem. If you are using a lot of sample, are they being read from a dedicated drive (not your audio drive and not your system drive?). If your UAD on that same bus as your sample drive? Do you have latency at a reasonable level? In activity monitor do you see a lot disk activity and page swaps? Is your iMac using a i5 or an i7? (The former will max out a lot faster on some types of calculations.)
  9. x lo fi

    x lo fi New Member

    Thanks for the help.


    1. The processor is 3.6 GHz Intel Core i5.
    2. I use a Glyph 1 TB external hard drive (GT050Q), which is routed through the UAD Satellite and Apollo. I don't have a second external drive.
    3. I have 737.34 GB available on the internal hard drive out of an original 1 TB. (about the same is available on the External Glyph.)
    4. I do use Kontakt a lot, for the Soniccouture stuff in particular.

    Your points about reducing strain on the internal hard drive by making sure the VIs, samples, and tracking are running off the external hard drive are well taken. The rule of thumb is to always record to the external hard drive but sometimes I forget or am just doing scratch stuff and don't bother booting up the external hard drive and the Apollo it runs through. I didn't know that drawing on the internal hard drive's resources more would lead to more beach balls. ;) Since I have so much space left I wasn't thinking about it.

    I also had not thought about your suggestion of having a second external drive for the samples that is separate from the drive that is doing the recording. Presumably that second drive could also be used for the VIs.

    I think I'll up the RAM first, and then evaluate how much I need a second drive from there.

    I'm interested in your question about whether the UAD Apollo and Satellite are on the same bus as the external drive. If I added a second drive for samples or VI's to run off of, would that max out the Firewire transfer? I guess that's the appeal of Thunderbolt.

    Latency has only really bothered me :mad: when using SSD4. While doing a pattern I ended up entering the MIDI notes using a stock logic synth after figuring out what keys in the synth corresponded to the drum samples I wanted to use. I didn't do any electric guitar on the first project I did with this set up but I am using more now and sometimes have noticed some latency but it wasn't insurmountable.

    I'm not familiar with the terms activity monitor / disk activity / page swaps, so I can't answer that one. In the arrange window of logic I do see a reading of CPU usage, perhaps that's what activity monitor is. I do often see that getting pushed into the red. I'm not sure if that's monitoring RAM or internal hard drive usage.

    Interesting stuff.
  10. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    Good answers.:D
    It's hard to know what's what without being provided those details.

    Go to you Applications folder>Utility Folder>Activity Monitor.
    Explore each tab while your computer is at rest and while running a heavy project.

    An external drive for samples separate from the drive where audio is recorded to means more mechanical efficiency. One drive running the OS/apps, recording audio while reading samples means that the read/write mechanism of that drive is working over time resulting in a loss of responsiveness and, a shorter life span. Spreading the work between two and preferably three drives means that each one has a lighter work load resulting in overall faster system performance.
  11. bayswater

    bayswater Senior member

    As CSEye suggested, the point of having separate hard drives for System, Audio, and Samples, is not disk space, but the possibility of overload on bandwidth on one of the drives. Streaming samples while audio is being read and written at the same time, all on one drive is a pretty heavy load. A lot of people are starting to get around it by using SSD drives. (OWC just sent out an ad with good deals on these).

    As for FW, in theory it should have the bandwidth to do a lot, but for some reasons, some devices don't play well together when they are asked to share a single FW bus. I don't know about any specific problems with the UAD satellite, or any specific hard drive. One of the symptom of FW bus contention I've seen it a Finder error indicating that a file that is being written cannot be found.

    Activity monitor is an Apple application you will find in your Utilities folder. It shows the level of CPU usage, disk activity, etc. The system memory tab near the bottom will show you "page in" and "Page out". This indicates when the system runs out of RAM and needs to push things out of RAM on to disk to make room in the RAM for something that needs it. If there is a lot of this going on, your system it working very hard, and needs more RAM.

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