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Old 11-14-2019, 12:51 PM
Meads Meads is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,867
Default Macbook Pro 13" vs. iMac Pro |*Pro Tools Performance


so I just thought I make this quick thread, since I have been wondering for a while if getting a Macbook would make any sense for me and my Pro Tools work.
Basically to use as a fallback when being on the road and for being able to make revisions of a already finished mix on the go. So basically it would need to be able to playback the session of a completed mix with tons of automation and plugins. I work in post so I'm not dealing with VIs at all, but with lots of multichannel reverbs, and all kinds of other processors.
As a machine for comparison I have an iMac Pro (8-core, 64GB Ram) at the studio.

Now I went with the 2019 Macbook Pro 13 inch base model with 4 USB-C ports. (So not the absolute base line model which only has 2 ports, but the next higher one.)
It has an i5 quad core CPU and measly 8GB of ram.
So I didn't think that would work out too great, but I didn't want to spend more money on a mobile rig that I actually don't need that direly. I was ready to try it out and send it back.

Well, I was in for a surprise. I tried several sessions I recently mixed, hit play and they played back without a hiccup. The only thing I get is the "not enough RAM" message, but that didn't keep the thing from just working.

Okay, for hard numbers on performance:
What I do to benchmark my PT rigs is do an offline bounce of one particular mixing session.

My Hackintosh (8-Core i9 9900KF, 64GB RAM) is able to bounce it with 6.2x speed.
The iMac Pro (8-Core Xeon, 64GB RAM) does - 3.5x.
And this Macbook (4-Core i5, 8GB RAM) - 3.2x (!!!!)

And this number stays consistent. It's a 90minute feature, so the bounce takes around 30 minutes on that Macbook. The fans obviously kick in quite heavily, but there's no sign of throttling and it stabilizes on this 3.2x.

I'm really surprised at that little power house. I mean, it basically performs like the iMac Pro - which cost me around 4 times as much.
If I did some kind of crazy 4K video rendering I'm sure this would be another story. But PT relies on single core performance more than multicore. And the Xeons in the iMac Pro just aren't that great at single core compared to the i5/i7 chips and it really shows.
I can only imagine what PT beasts the higher tier Macbook Pros are. At least the new generations with the 8th and 9th gen intel cpus. Seems they made a huge leap there.

So I'm going to return my 13" i5 with 8GB ram and order the same one but with 16GB - just to meet Avid's official requirement for PT and to be future proof. It's only around 200 bucks more, and this Macbook should work as my mobile fallback for a good amount of years.

Maybe this helps someone who is on the fence, because I didn't find that much info on the recent Macbooks (esp. the 13" models) and how they play ball with Pro Tools.

iMac Pro
- MacOS 10.14.6
- Pro Tools U HDN 2019.6
- Avid HD Omni + HD I/O 8x8x8
- C|24 | S3 | Dock
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