Which Mac? - Help!!


New Member
I'm a serious orchestral programmer, but am still using Logic 7.1.1 on a G5.

I really need to both upgrade my setup, and make it mobile... so I'm trying to figure out the best options for a MacBook or MacBook Pro to get current w/Logic 9?

I need something that will accommodate 20+ instantiations of both Mach V and EXS samplers, as well as several Omnisphere and Stylus instantiations, as well.

Obviously, I'm getting by on a G5, so I'm guessing any Intel Mac will be an improvement... but I'm really trying to figure out if there will be a real advantage to springing for a more expensive (and faster) MacBook Pro, or simply getting a MacBook?

I'm a little lost here! Anyone have any guidance for me?

I appreciate any help you might offer :)


I would simply buy the fastest you can afford. There is no such thing as too much power. Having more capacity in a new machine will change and benefit your workflow as you find new ways to employ that power.
In addition the comments above, a desktop model will offer more expansion options in terms of RAM, hard drives, and PCIe cards for UAD, increasing firewire ports, etc.

Having said that, my new 15" i5 MBP (with 4GB of RAM) runs extremely efficient. As a benchmark, all L9 demo tunes can be played at an I/0 buffer of 32 without breaking a sweat.
If portability is most important:
get the fastest MacBook Pro with the biggest monitor with biggest RAM and biggest HD

If performance is most important:
an 27" iMac with i7 processor 16GB RAM is appropriate and much cheaper than a Mac Pro
If you literally need to be mobile, composing wherever you go on battery power, then make sure the MacBook/Pro has a 7200RPM hard drive and at least 4GB RAM (more is definitely better with Logic 9.1x, especially when loading in sample based virtual instruments).

But many people's idea of "mobile" is simply the ability to occasionally take the computer via car from one place to another easier than a heavy tower+monitor. For the same money or cheaper, you get a way more powerful iMac than a MacBook/Pro.
There's no Firewire port or SD Card slot on the Macbook. Firewire is necessary for low-latency interfaces, and also fast hard drive expansion, and the SD slot can be used for an external plugin engine. So the plain Macbook is out and the real question is, MacBook Pro 13" or 15"?

Unless you can be flexible in your definition of "portable", in which case I'll agree with heartmood above and say hands down it's the iMac (biggest/fastest you can afford) for sheer value and performance. (Hey, I used to lug a Mac Plus around in a backpack. It was quite useful!) ;-)
Very helpful thread, all.
I am still on a dual G4, also wanting to upgrade. I'm leaning towards the iMac, but I have a UAD-1 card that I really like. Is there any way to get this card or any other UAD card working on an iMac?

Larger question - with today's CPU's and native plugins, is the UAD-1/UAD-2 still worth getting/using these days? It's been a while since I've shopped for plugins. Should I ditch the UAD card and go with an iMac, or will I really gain a lot of fidelity with the UAD card?

Only the MacPros have PCIe slots. And only the MacBook Pro 17" has an ExpressCard slot. Furthermore, your old UAD card from the G4 is PCI (physically different and incompatible with PCIe).

UA makes PCIe and ExpressCard versions of their cards (called UAD2), which are much more powerful than your old UAD card.

The compelling reason to get one of these cards isn't so much that they provide more DSP horsepower (a loaded MacPro has TONS already, and certainly any new Mac you buy will absolutely blow away your G4). It's that the plugins you get to use with this card (and only with this card) are some of the best on the planet. They sound great.... it's just that simple.

There is no trade-in upgrade from UAD to UAD2. However, UA will let you transfer the license from your old card to the new card free of charge for all the plugins you own. And then you can still sell the old UAD card on the private market.
Ah, thanks for the information. I knew the quality of the UAD plugins was great, I just didn't know if they had been superseded by native plugins, but it sounds like they have not.

So here is my understanding now:
1) My PCI UAD1 hardware is obsolete no matter which new machine I get.
2) I cannot use any UA card if I get an iMac, I need a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro.

Is that correct?
Ah, thanks for the information. I knew the quality of the UAD plugins was great, I just didn't know if they had been superseded by native plugins, but it sounds like they have not.

It is a bit subjective, there are some good alternatives to some UAD Plugins available, but I agree with Ferenc, UA have developed some of the finest audio processing software available.

So here is my understanding now:
1) My PCI UAD1 hardware is obsolete no matter which new machine I get.


2) I cannot use any UA card if I get an iMac, I need a MacBook Pro or Mac Pro.

Yes - just remember, it has to be a Mac Book Pro 17", or second hand one of the older 15" models which came with an express slot. IIRC, this was before the last and present generation of unibody models.

kind regards

Thanks Mark!

Sorry if I'm hijacking the thread... Hopefully this is on topic and helps the OP. One more question:

how do I compare processing power per dollar between a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro? I can look at clock speeds, but then there is i5 vs i7 vs Quad-Core Xeon, and there is the question of buss speeds, etc. Is there a good way to estimate the relative performance?
The most expensive MacBook Pro pales in comparison to the cheapest MacPro.

You pay a lot extra for battery power and miniaturization at the expense of horsepower and expandability. There is no "chart" that will tell you what is the better bang for the buck. Somebody who needs to compute while travelling and/or not near an electrical outlet a lot won't care if a MacPro was free. They'd still need to buy a laptop.

A Mac Pro has:
4 x 3.5" SATA drive bays (max size today: 2,000GB=2TB)
2 optical bays
4 or 8 RAM slots (depending on the model)
3 PCIe slots

A MacBook Pro 17" has:
1 x 2.5" SATA drive bay (max size today: 500GB)
1 optical bay
2 RAM slots
1 ExpressCard slot (kind of like a mini PCIe slot, where everything is more expensive).

The high end iMac is the one that behaves more like a MacPro (but without the big expandability).

There are indeed some very fantastic native plugins that compete with UA's versions on a general level. But you may already have a "catalog" of sound that you have relied upon with the UAD-1 that you don't want to give up though. I'm not just talking about opening old projects (that reason is obvious), but more of a "here's MY sound in projects I do" that you and/or your clients will rely upon for future work.

If you had owned the TC PowerCore, I would have far less trouble telling you to just ditch it and go completely native. It's got a bunch of fine plugins, but not quite at the "whoa... these are pretty damn amazing" level of the UAD.
Thanks much, Ferenc, that was very helpful.

A few messages on this forum answered more than an hour with the geniuses at the Apple store! ;)

So now I have my answer. :)
Unfortunately it means I have to spend lots of money... :(
That term "genius" is unfortunate for the poor retail folks at the AppleStore who are likely held to an unfair higher standard than anybody else who works in retail and just happens to know the product decently well.

My expectation for retail clerks is never that they are experts or geniuses, just decent folks who know a few things about the product unless the store sells way too many products for anybody to know all of.
Yeah, I was being kind of snotty about the salespeople, I apologize.

My salesperson was a nice guy, and he admitted what he didn't know. I have no problem with that.
The "guru" type he consulted with though, was the cliche of a know-it-all who didn't really know very much, but could not admit it. He also wouldn't make eye contact. I react badly to that kind of treatment.
Well, my G4 died today! :(

So I'm going to get a Mac Pro. For a given budget for Logic specifically, do I want to maximize clock speed or #cores/procs? Which give me the best bang for the buck?

well I've got one of the new i7 iMacs on order and from the specs it seems to have ample power for my needs, quad core, 16 GB RAM, 'turbo boost' - the day of 'all in the box' is probably here/fast approaching - except for the audio interface, my imagination and guitar (I hope!).