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  #1  
Old 04-23-2021, 11:09 AM
djh108 djh108 is offline
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Default Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Howdy!

Can you share some wisdom? I've suddenly learned I've got to work a little while traveling this spring and need to make a quick, informed decision about a new Macbook Pro. BUT, I'm out of the loop the last several years w/ Macs and PT and am hoping to get some guidance...

(FYI, for a bit of context: my plan had been to wait until PT caught up with the M processors before upgrading. But since I gotta buy now, one variable to consider is: how much is this machine is gonna be more of a stopgap vs. an upgrade that I'll live with for several years?)...

My Goals:
  • Bang for the buck, but I'd go more expensive if it makes sense long term.
  • A rig that can hopefully compete w/, if not surpass, my current studio rig which is: a 2012 mac pro 12 core 3.06. 64 gigs of ram. (pt ultimate 2021, native)
  • That said, if I lost a little firepower compared to my desktop, that would probably be fine if other benefits made it worth it (cost, durability, stability, etc.).
  • At the same time, I'm also open to spending a little more if I'm gonna end up with a considerably stronger machine...esp one that could make replacing my 12 core make sense bc of better performance, and/or kick future upgrades further down the road (I'm even flirting with going ahead and getting an M chip...I know, I know, more on this later)


My Work Needs:
  • The most imminent need is post production mixing. Hour-long shows, running mostly izotope, stock avid plugs, complex stem routings. These rarely max out my 12-core (unless I start throwing lots of heavy specialty plugs at things, but always manageable).
  • Music production...I often find a way to max out on heavy mix sessions. Also often use lots of virtual instruments in production phase. BUT, it would be rare the laptop would need to do this much heavy lifting...that is, unless I happened to pop for one that outperformed my desktop.
  • Potentially some multitrack recording, probably no more than 8 channels at once.
  • I occasionally do video editing, and while its no priority, if a small difference in price was radically better for video editing bc of video card or compatibility with adobe, I'd consider it
.

Benchmark Scores for a Few Points of Reference:

2012 12 core Mac Pro:
  • Single Core - 611
  • Multi Core: 5683
  • This is my studio computer, my baseline for comparison

2015 Macbook Pro 6-core:
  • Single Core - 790
  • Multi Core: 3051
  • Going rate seems about $1100
  • Single core benchmarks higher than my desktop, multi-core lower, BUT how do these scores translate to a PT context??

2018 Macbook Pro 6 core:
  • Single Core - 976
  • Multi Core: 4730
  • Going rate seems about $1600
  • Similar to above: single core benchmarks higher, multi a little lower, but how does this translate to a PT context?
2018 Macbook Pro 6 core:
  • Single Core - 1059
  • Multi Core: 6087
  • Going rate seems about $2100
  • Higher benchmarks overall, BUT a brand new m-chip 16 inch starts at $2400, so does this really make sense, bigger picture?

Obviously theres lots in between these particular models.

What I'm Confused About:
  • How good are benchmark scores at evaluating PT performance these days? Historically, I know benchmarks don't necessarily tell a full story...From memory, things like how PT can/can't take full advantage of multithreading on certain processors, caching considerations, and other random variables that are probably over my head.
  • Are there particular machines to avoid for other reasons?
  • If you knew you were planning on getting an m-chip machine in the next year or two, what would you do? Kinda seems like spending too much right now may be a waste since the promise of the m-machines seems so good? Or maybe go full blast and kick an M chip down the road further?
  • Hear me out...what about an M Machine?? I KNOW they aren't supported yet, BUT, for my work needs this spring, I could probably get away with a little bug here and there IF things were stable enough, esp since my projects can be completed on my studio rig...and travel work is rare. SOOO...anyone successfully tried a post gig on one of these M machines (w/ primarily izotope and stock avid plugs)??? (I probably have just enough time to buy one and test it myself, and then scramble for a plan B if its a total fail...but obviously not looking for a needless hot mess either unless theres reason for optimism �� )

Thx for your POV. Prolly TMI here, just trying to wrap my head around it all as quickly and thoroughly as a need to make a decision has come suddenly.

I'm fishing for things "I don't know that I don't know", folks with experience in a similar boat and/or similar rigs, and anyone with insight on any of this.

Thanks so much...
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  #2  
Old 04-23-2021, 11:33 AM
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JFreak JFreak is online now
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

It all comes down to how long are you expecting to keep that machine. If you only need it a short time, why not try the M1 macbook even though it is limited to 16GB memory? If you plan to keep it for 3-5 years or even longer, forget M1 and buy the best Intel Mac you can afford. You said you are using VI's so perhaps 16GB is not enough and you need at least 32GB
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Old 04-23-2021, 01:07 PM
djh108 djh108 is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

thx for the reply...

The m1 is a compelling idea. Looking around it seems like folks are having success at things being pretty functional. Would love to know if anyone reading has happened to have had success/failure specific to izotope plugs....and/or complex bussing/routing, offline multiple stem bounces.

RE: the RAM issue, agreed more ram is better for VIs..that said I've heard this new RAM doesn't exactly compare to RAM for intels. Read somewhere its easily twice as powerful gig for gig...but idk how accurate that is. If anyone has experimented with VIs and an M machine, would love to know your impressions.
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Old 04-23-2021, 03:04 PM
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

It really depends how the plugin has been optimised. For example piano VI's of Synthogy (Ivory) are very memory friendly and require a lot of storage performance, but some others load everything into memory and a gigabyte is a gigabyte whatever processor is using it.
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Old 04-23-2021, 06:07 PM
Obsidian Dragon Obsidian Dragon is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

I agree with everything others have said here. I am optimistic about Apple Silicon and hope it becomes the performance beast it is hyped to be in future iterations. The current M1 as configured is still an entry level performer in entry level systems.

Given your immediate need and mentioned uses (VI's, Video, extensive Plugins, etc.), you will best be served with a high end Intel based Mac for now. An 8-core i9 16" MacBook Pro with 32GB or 64GB RAM will give you years of great performance and capacity for your needs.

If portability is not a requirement, you might consider a used Mac Pro (trashcan) or iMac Pro (discontinued). These are still great performers for Protools and can run the current OS (Big Sur) still.
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2021, 08:53 AM
djh108 djh108 is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Thanks for the responses everyone. I opted for a 2019 MacBook Pro 2.3 i9 w/ 32 gigs of ram. A bit more than I was planning on spending, but it benchmarks about 15% better than my 2012 12 core, so hopefully it'll buy me a few extra years before thinking about m1 machines. Should be here in a couple days.
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Old 05-06-2021, 02:40 AM
dominicperry dominicperry is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Quote:
Originally Posted by djh108 View Post
Thanks for the responses everyone. I opted for a 2019 MacBook Pro 2.3 i9 w/ 32 gigs of ram. A bit more than I was planning on spending, but it benchmarks about 15% better than my 2012 12 core, so hopefully it'll buy me a few extra years before thinking about m1 machines. Should be here in a couple days.
Sorry, didn't see this thread.....

If you buy an Intel MBP 16", make sure to get the 5600M GPU, rather than the 5500 or 5300, especially if you intend to use an external screen.
The problem is that, in MacOS, the 5300/5500 GPUs ramp to 20 watts consumption as soon (most) external screens are connected, and also for almost any/all video work, or for Chrome, or for any other excuse really. And that, along with the CPU being rather hot, makes the fans come on and stay on.
The 5600M seems to exhibit the problem a lot less. There's a 4000-post thread on MacRumors about it. (https://forums.macrumors.com/threads...nitor.2211747/)
I bought one and sent it back for this reason - and it also wouldn't power my 49" 32:9 screen at the maximum resolution. It's a pain as the MacMini has a bunch of other problems, so I've ended up with a Mac Pro, which was offensively expensive and completely not portable. I also bought (and returned) an M1 Air, which was impressively fast (and of course quiet) but had an even worse problem with large screen resolution (my 5120x1440 became 3008x846 !!).
Running the latest Logic benchmark, I get 160 tracks on the 16-core Mac Pro 7.1 and 95 tracks on the M1 Air. Pretty awesome power, but lack of ports and Big Sur being a mess put me off (along with the screen problems).

The 5600M wasn't available when I tried the MBP 16" - if it had been, I might have ended up with that machine. Good luck!

Dominic
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Old 05-09-2021, 04:28 PM
tonejunkee tonejunkee is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Is there an ETA on native PT functionality on M1 macs? I'd like to avoid Rosetta on the forthcoming 16" MBP but may have to hold out for the M3



Looking to upgrade my 2011 MBP which runs loud n hot...
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Last edited by tonejunkee; 05-09-2021 at 04:29 PM. Reason: grammur
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Old 05-09-2021, 05:47 PM
djh108 djh108 is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dominicperry View Post
Sorry, didn't see this thread.....

If you buy an Intel MBP 16", make sure to get the 5600M GPU, rather than the 5500 or 5300, especially if you intend to use an external screen.
The problem is that...

Dominic
Uh-oh! Thx for the heads up. Unfortunately, I did get a 5500. Spent this weekend doing installs, may be stuck with it. I do have 8 gb of vram instead of the standard 4, wonder if that makes a diff, better or worse?

Will be a few days before I can test extra displays bc I've not figured out what kind of usb-c configuration to get. I wonder if certain usb-c adapters are a link in the chain to consider that would help/hurt this problem?

BUT, I did run across this article a couple days ago. Says plugging power in on the right instead of the left mitigates a kernel/cpu spike/fan noise issue. I wonder if its essentially the same issue you're describing? Or if there's other workarounds that have surfaced should I get into trouble?

I'll take a look at that macrumors thread and poke around some more to try and learn more, but if anyone has any more insight that might guide my next steps, I'd be grateful to hear about it. I'll also post back once I start to test my situation with monitors for anyone else that's interested...

Ugh. I HATE upgrading. Its always something .
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Old 05-10-2021, 02:32 AM
dominicperry dominicperry is offline
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Default Re: Seeking Macbook Pro Buy Advice From Geniuses :-), (plz)

Quote:
Originally Posted by djh108 View Post
Uh-oh! Thx for the heads up. Unfortunately, I did get a 5500. Spent this weekend doing installs, may be stuck with it. I do have 8 gb of vram instead of the standard 4, wonder if that makes a diff, better or worse?

Will be a few days before I can test extra displays bc I've not figured out what kind of usb-c configuration to get. I wonder if certain usb-c adapters are a link in the chain to consider that would help/hurt this problem?

BUT, I did run across this article a couple days ago. Says plugging power in on the right instead of the left mitigates a kernel/cpu spike/fan noise issue. I wonder if its essentially the same issue you're describing? Or if there's other workarounds that have surfaced should I get into trouble?

I'll take a look at that macrumors thread and poke around some more to try and learn more, but if anyone has any more insight that might guide my next steps, I'd be grateful to hear about it. I'll also post back once I start to test my situation with monitors for anyone else that's interested...

Ugh. I HATE upgrading. Its always something .
Can you return it? I know that, unfairly, Apple have different rules in different countries. Here in the UK I can order pretty much any Apple product, use it for 14 days and return it for free. I don't even have to pay postage in either direction. Very handy for checking if something is going to work in a specific set of circumstances. Sorry if you don't have that option. If you do, send it back and order the 5600M version. (Buy an Apple refurb if you can - they are cheaper and have been through more QA than a standard product. Almost all of them have just been used for up to 14 days and returned with no actual technical failures, the more expensive the machine, the more money saved).

The long and the short of it is no, you can't "fix" the problem. Apple have crammed a high wattage CPU and GPU into a small chassis with inadequate cooling. But the 5600M is better behaved by far, partly because it's based on different memory technology - HBM2 instead of GDDR6. It uses less power and so it gets less hot.
I've read all of the first 2000 posts in that MacRumors thread and checked back periodically across the remainder. There is no fix, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the problem under certain circumstances.

1) Buy the 5600M instead of the 5300 or 5500. I think we've covered that Sadly a 5500 with 8GB is probably the worst offender - more memory is more heat....
2) Use the USB port on the right hand side for power (as per your linked article)
3) Choose an external monitor that doesn't provoke the problem - this is luck of the draw if you already have one, but if you have more than one, you might find that one is better than the other
4) Try clamshell or not-clamshell mode (i.e. lid open vs lid closed) - one may be worse than the other
5) Use SwitchResX to fiddle with the refresh rate - this makes a big difference for many users. Not just the big jumps (60/100/120 Hz) but some of the alternative frequencies (59.88 vs 60 Hz).
6) Use TurboBoost Switcher to stop the CPU turbo boosting. This is hobbling your CPU to reduce the total heat generated but it helps in some circumstances. Seems a shame to buy a shiny new CPU and then stop it from going flat out...

Most people use iStat menus to check whether 'Radeon High Side' is drawing ~4 watts or ~19-20 watts. iStat Menus itself doesn't change anything, it's just a quick way of knowing whether your GPU is behaving well or badly at idle. There may be other tools that can tell you this but iStat is the most commonly used one.

One thing to be sure of - don't wait around for Apple to fix this in an OS update. They haven't for well over a year, and they won't - they've wasted a huge amount of engineer time and money testing and replacing user machines and have never explicitly acknowledged the issue or intimated that they will change or fix anything. Some people have convinced Apple to replace their 5500 machine with a 5600 long after the return period. Most have not.

Good luck, sorry that I didn't catch this before you made your order. As I said, I ended up with a Mac Pro for this very reason.

Dominic

Last edited by dominicperry; 05-10-2021 at 02:44 AM.
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