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Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

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Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby james090 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:28 pm

Hi, i'm a Mac user, that due to a move, moved over to Windows 10 on an old laptop, which is slow now, but have no real problem with Windows.. Also now recently got an older 2011 iMac i5 16Gb machine, plus some hardware (compressor, sampler, audio interface, drum machine and a synth), plus some hard drives of libraries for streaming on FW800.

So using 2 computers which I connect together, but am now thinking of consolidating most of this down to a newer Macbook Pro, as a workhorse machine, for ease and more importantly speed, portability and power!

I am a bit out of the loop on the newer Apple models, but use Ableton Live as my main DAW, as well as Twisted Wave as an editor to partner this..
I did have a fast MBP around 4/5 years ago, but it suffered from a bulging battery! not sure why? is this still a problem with MBP and its portability?

I just wanted to ask what the new MBP's are like? and when spec'ing up the SSD internally, could i use this to store all of my libraries, as well AS, recording audio, playing back, VST's etc etc

I am just trying to consolidate my 2 x FW800 drives (a bit old now) into something more sturdy and internal to the Mac itself? or do you still need extra drives to do different things on a DAW, when using an SSD?

I did see that a 4TB SSD is ridiculous money, but maybe a 1TB maybe good if everything is in one place (projects, samples, files, libraries...)

Just thinking aloud, and any help would be great, thank you
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:14 pm

The new MacBook Pros are decent machines even if the most powerful ones need to be throttled to avoid overheating (MacBook Pros have long suffered from that — they seem to prioritise making them a few millimetres slimmer over things like cooling and airflow).

But on a practical level, they're somewhat lacking in terms of connectivity IMO. Everything is on Thunderbolt 3/USB-C. Which is fine in terms of bandwidth but useless if you want to connect anything to it without shelling out for a bunch of adapters.

If you need to use any USB2 devices (USB MIDI keyboards and controllers, pen drives, dongles, audio interfaces, printers...) you'll need an adapter or three.

And if you want to read SD cards from your DSLR or phone... you'll need an adapter for that.

And if you want to use an ethernet cable for a fast, wired internet connection... you'll need an adapter for that.

And if you have a screen that requires an HDMI connection... you'll need an adapter for that.

Specifically, if you want to hook up those FW800 drives you mention, either to use as backups or just to copy things across... then you're going to have to come up with a bodge to connect them. Eg use a TB3 to TB2 adapter, then a TB to FW adapter. Obviously there are other ways to move data around, but it's still a bit of a ballache.

You could alternatively invest in a decent docking station, so that your desk doesn't end up as a nest of cables and adapters. But if the Firewire is important to you, there's only one dock I know of which includes a FW800 port and it's about £3-400.

Oh.. and lots of components aren't user-replaceable or upgradable. So budget for buying the highest spec machine you can (biggest SSD, most RAM).

So the price soon climbs if buying new.

And be diligent if buying second hand ones from late 2012 models plus a couple of years— while the bulging battery seems to have been consigned to history, there have been some models with GPU problems, the only fix (short of a very expensive repair) is to disable the Nvidia graphics accelerator, which also means you can't plug the thing into an external screen.

I'm not saying don't buy one... I've heard plenty of horror stories on other laptops, and at heart the MacBook Pros are great machines. But do go into the decision making process with your eyes open!
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby james090 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:22 pm

Thank you Matt, and yes after researching a little, I see what you mean..

I suppose I could look for a slightly older MBP that still had the original connectivity, especially to use original USB, FW800, and TB etc.

Something like a s/h Macbook Pro 3.3GHz i7 Quad Core, 16GB RAM, 4TB SSD maybe a good choice, for a lot less (and i am sure would be very capable for what i use it for!) and less adaptors than the new Thunderbolt 3/USB-C!

However, as I mentioned, would an internal 4TB SSD negate any other drives "hanging off" the MBP, so that internally I could have my projects, samples, files, libraries, all in one place?

I am not too bothered about having the latest, fastest, shiniest new Mac from the Apple store, as I know these cost! so a s/h model but still with fast processor, RAM and SSD would do the trick?
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:36 pm

It kinda depends what you're doing with it. But I've been running fairly chunky mix projects like that on my early 2013 MacBook Pro Retina for a while. That's a quad-core i7 machine with 16GB DDR3 RAM and a 500GB SDD. But for sample-based instruments, I tend to hook up external drives. (It's also one of those with the aforementioned Nvidia GPU fault!)

It's not particularly about drive speed. Personally, I wouldn't want to put all my eggs in the one basket as it's risky. And backing up 4TB is kinda time consuming. You really want to be able to make bootable backups *just in case* your SSD goes down. I mean, they're quite reliable, and are reputed to fail less often than HDDs, but then I gather data recovery from failed drives is almost impossible. So for eg, if I coudl afford 4TB of SSD, I'd rather have a 1TB SSD on the machine, and another for sample libraries, another for backing up... etc. YMMV of course...
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Luke W » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:55 pm

My current studio machine is a 2016 Macbook Pro, the last ones they did before the touch bar models came out. A big deciding factor for me was the connectivity, and at the time the maximum amount of RAM available on the new machines was still 16GB. I went for the model with the higher spec processor (can't remember the exact figures without looking!) and maxed out the RAM, and it still came in at a lower price than even the entry level 2017 models.

There's plenty of power on hand, I can run fairly large PT sessions with a decent amount of plug-ins/instruments without it struggling at all, I did a job recently working to video and even then it behaved itself. The only thing I can't really comment on is about the drive, I use a couple of external thunderbolt Lacies as my audio and sample library drives, so I'm not sure how running everything from the internal would work out. Processor use is never anywhere near full, and I can use a good few instances of large sampled instruments before the RAM starts to run out.
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby james090 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:03 pm

Interesting thanks.. yes there is the thought of going for a slightly older MBP which is as powerful as I need, and still retain the old ports so that I could still plug things in like the old days!

I have a few USB perhiperals, and the use of a 27" Cinema screen (which is nice) so I could plug in direct with that.

However, I hope even a few revisions ago, they fixed the bulging battery problem (I cannot remember the year that I bought mine, 2012?) and this happened..

Secondly on the SSD issue, I have seen some older MBP's with 2 x 2TB SSD internal, instead of 1 x 4TB SSD? Is this possible?
I suppose this would get around the one drive for libraries and samples, and the other for audio recording issue (if this is possible with 2 x internal drives?)
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Luke W » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:33 pm

I'm no expert on the computer side of things, but from what I can remember it was possible to remove the CD/DVD drives from older models and fit a second HDD/SSD in its place. I'd wait until someone who knows a little more can confirm that and add some actual details though!
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Humble Bee » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:33 pm

I'm gasping for a MBP as well but the new ones didn't do it for me. Too expensive and too much hassle with getting everything hooked up as Matt says.

Waiting to see if they will release a new mac mini "Pro" soon as the rumours say... if it was quad core or even 6 core and could go to 32gb ram and kept all the connections the current one have, then it would be interesting. At a reasonable price that is...

If not I would and will probably go for a maxed out 2016 MBP without the touchbar as mentioned above by Luke W. It has got everything I need... I wonder how much they could be these days...?
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby desmond » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:44 pm

Luke W wrote:I'm no expert on the computer side of things, but from what I can remember it was possible to remove the CD/DVD drives from older models and fit a second HDD/SSD in its place. I'd wait until someone who knows a little more can confirm that and add some actual details though!

Sure, I've done that on mine.

I'm also after a 2015 MBP, they've recently gone down a bit on the s/h market so a good time to buy... :thumbup:
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby desmond » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:48 pm

Matt Houghton wrote:And be diligent if buying second hand ones from late 2012 models plus a couple of years— while the bulging battery seems to have been consigned to history, there have been some models with GPU problems, the only fix (short of a very expensive repair) is to disable the Nvidia graphics accelerator, which also means you can't plug the thing into an external screen.

:wave:

Actually, it's the pre-2012 models that are the worst offenders (late 2011 for me!), the 2012's and onwards don't really have the same issues.

My 2011 is crippled like this (despite Apple replacing it with a motherboard that supposedly wasn't susceptible to graphics card failures... hmm...), and the keyboard has been getting worse and worse over the past 6 months or so (hence why it's looked like my forum posts have had more and more typos) - I just stripped my machine down to bits last night and put in a new keyboard, so at least it will look like I can spell once again... (!)
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby ore_terra » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:48 pm

desmond wrote:
Luke W wrote:I'm no expert on the computer side of things, but from what I can remember it was possible to remove the CD/DVD drives from older models and fit a second HDD/SSD in its place. I'd wait until someone who knows a little more can confirm that and add some actual details though!

Sure, I've done that on mine.

I'm also after a 2015 MBP, they've recently gone down a bit on the s/h market so a good time to buy... :thumbup:

That’s what I did too: I went for a 2014 top range. 2015’s were my 1st choice but they were too expensive
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Humble Bee » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:55 pm

Are the 2015 MBP's user upgradable? Ram and/or sdd?
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:05 pm

I don't think so, however they do appear quite often on the Apple Refurbished pages, where if you're willing to wait a little until the machine you want appears you can get some good deals on machines covered by the full Apple warranty.

I see iMac Pros have started appearing there a little bit sooner than I was expecting. Hmph.

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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Humble Bee » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:14 pm

Ok.

Will wait for the mini (if it happens this year) and see how much we get for €2000...

And I hate iMac pros! ;)
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:18 pm

There you go. I'm not that keen on honey :)

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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:41 pm

desmond wrote:(hence why it's looked like my forum posts have had more and more typos)

Unbeknown to you, desmond, I have been editing your posts when I spot a crucial typo in useful info. ;) I do for others too...
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:46 pm

Then, um, perhaps there's some stealthy mod - let's call him a Dark Admin - quietly inserting typos when no-one's looking. That's a very scary thought, don't you think.

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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby james090 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:16 pm

Does anyone know the last year that the MBP / iMacs still had the standard connectivity before using these new usb-c connections, thus needing hubs?

Was it 2013 or 2014?
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby desmond » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:20 pm

Forum Admin wrote:Unbeknown to you, desmond, I have been editing your posts when I spot a crucial typo in useful info. ;) I do for others too...

Tghajks! THajs brejhns realk hpleflu!! :thumbup:

:lol: :angel:

Seriously, if you've ever been forced to use an unreliable keyboard to type on, it slowly drives you mad... e, t, a, and s in particular would come out about one in three tries...(!)
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Re: Scaling down to a Macbook Pro?

Postby ore_terra » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:29 pm

james090 wrote:Does anyone know the last year that the MBP / iMacs still had the standard connectivity before using these new usb-c connections, thus needing hubs?

Was it 2013 or 2014?
2015, or even the early 2016 but not entirely sure of the latest.
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