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This is related to "Mac Users: What Type Do You Use", but I am going deeper in details about your cpu. I am looking at buying a new computer, probably a mac mini or an iMac, but I've been going around about the cpu, so it would be nice to know which are you using and how does it run :).

For Pro Tools users: Do you guys think that pro tools would benefit more from a faster clock speed processor, or more cores? Cause that's a thing I don't decide on yet.. would you take a faster speed dual core -say... 2.7, i7-, or a lower speed but more cores - 2.0, quad core i7- ??

I am curious about mac users, but anyone can answer no matter your OS, since it could help other's in our community.

To kick off, I currently have a MacBook 2009 (white one), 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. 2GB Ram. It doesn't run that well with pro tools, sometimes recording for example 2 tracks, an audio and a midi one, it will stop recording like at 6 minutes of continuos recording.

EDIT

-I just finished setting up my new computer 2 days ago, its working amazingly well. Its a mac mini server, quad-core i7 2.0, with 2 500GB HDrives-7200rpm, 4Ram. I had a tough time though; I currently use Pro tools 9, don't have the chance of moving to 10 yet, but Lion OS doesn't support it, so I had to perform a "downgrade" to snow leopard, which was very stressful but it all worked out pretty good. Cheers!

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It's worth posting the full name and speed of the processor to look up the benchmarks. Apple don't seem to make this info very easy to find but it's really important. If you check the benchmark chart I just linked to you will see that there are some i3 processors that are faster than i7's. In the real world it's not as simple as higher benchmark = will run everything faster, but it gives you a pretty good idea.

Generally, whether a program runs better on more cores depends on how the program was written. It's the host software that spreads the cost of plugins over multiple cores (not the plugins themselves). So it also depends on which version of pro tools you are running.

Just a curious 'did you know' point, actually all processors which are the same generation and architecture are actually, physically the same. They only become a 2.4 or a 2.7 after testing to determine how fast they are.

  • very interesting point! Hey but, how come? I mean, does that mean "intel" for ex, would have no control over what processors they want to create? like: hey intel! can you send me a pack of brand new 500 intel 2.4 i5 processors?; so they would have to create a big lot, test them, and send me only the ones that resulted with that clock speed??? :O – Andres Duarte May 22 '12 at 21:01
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I still run a Q6600 Core 2 Quad 2.4Ghz on Win 7, fanless heatsink. Seems to run just fine for large-format feature work, CPU load during mix (with bussing and RTAS plugins) tops out at maybe 35% usage. Than again I don't devote all 4 cores to PT - was somewhat finicky when I did, but since changing that, it runs just fine. And I run picture/audio from different drives to maintain optimal bandwidth.

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Buy the fastest (biggest combined processing power i.e. cores * clocks) computer that you can afford. It's probably the most important investment regarding audio production that you'll make and you'll regret when running out of CPU power forces you to bounce/freeze tracks. Most modern audio software are multi-threaded.

Don't forget to spend on the hard disks as well. Pick SSD if you fancy real speed.

  • Pick SSDs only for the system drive. It is common knowledge that SSDs are not for storage. I use an intel SSD coupled with a 7200 rpm Seagate HDD and it works excellently. – Cat May 23 '12 at 4:23
  • Core i7 2600 and 8 gigs memory here. Still have to experience lag on projects with up to 25 channels. – Cat May 23 '12 at 4:24
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  • CPU affects plugins & virtual synths. more cores = better.
  • Hard drive affects the number of tracks and clips
  • Memory affects how often the hard drive has to do something else.

i5 with 8GB ram here. the hard drive has fast become the bottleneck of the system.

  • ..but what do you think about more cores but slower? I am trying to decide between a quad core i7 2.0Ghz, or a dual core i7 of 2.7 Ghz ....should plugins and soft synths work still pretty good (or better) with 2.0 Ghz but 4 cores? Thanks for answering! – Andres Duarte Apr 23 '12 at 7:15
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    more cores = more threads and better separation between them. more often than not this should mean more plugins. but then we get into specifics such as e.g. Logic likes to schedule all plugins on the same track to compute on the same core. so it quickly gets software-specific. – georgi Apr 23 '12 at 10:32
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Hi, I run a i5 750 2.67GHz four core in my iMac with 8GB. http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i5+750+%40+2.67GHz

Protools 9(no CPTK) is running great, but as stated by Mviljamaa, an SSD would be a great addition (booting times!). I run project audio and video of a FW800 G-Mini 500 gig drive. This works better than using internal HD, which is also stated by AVID of course.

I've never ran benchmarks in PT but would be willing to, if anyone knows a accurate way to test it.

Arnoud

  • Obviously this doesn't apply specifically to your system (since you're running an iMac)...but if you have space for additional internal hard drives, then the firewire 800 can't compete with the internal bus speeds. The key is to have your project files and media on a separate hard drive from the OS. If you can use a third (either internal or external) for storing your video media, then you're in even better shape. Just some food for thought. – Shaun Farley Apr 23 '12 at 11:32
  • hi shaun, thanks for your comment. yeah i know internal is faster than fw800, and yes if i could i would definitely have an ssd internally mounted. just a quick question, does the video need to be on a fw800 disk or is usb2 fast enough. daisy chaining will probably kill the advantage of two fw800 disk for audio/video. or am i mistaken? – Arnoud Traa Apr 23 '12 at 13:23
  • I think booting times are a pretty useless benchmark. A SSD benefits streaming data from disk, which is what DAWs always do when they playback audio, so it affects considerably the track counts you can run. – Internet Human Apr 23 '12 at 18:54
  • Hi Mviljamaa, I consider waiting for protools to open up a session booting times, just to clarify. So I don't mean startup time of the iMac (which is really fast anyway). – Arnoud Traa Apr 24 '12 at 9:41
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    Yes, you're right. Daisy chaining firewire 800 would basically kill any benefits of multiple hard drives. USB2 should be fast enough (depending on the codec/format of the video). – Shaun Farley Apr 24 '12 at 11:40

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