Advice On New Computer

I have spent a lot of time looking and searching this forum but cannot find some good posts on what computers people would buy/build to use with Dorico in 2019.

My wife is in the throes of delivering 7 movements for large orchestra/SATB choir/harps/percussion and is getting decent performance from a late 2013 6 core (trash can) Mac Pro.

I need to help her with parts and layouts, but my 2009 Mac Pro does not perform well at all when I installed Dorico.

I am considering buying another refurbished late 2013 Mac Pro, but also considering building a PC for much better performance.

Any suggestions?

Paul

A 2013 Mac Pro with a decent multi-core CPU should perform well with Dorico. A new iMac would also perform well, though you would be well-advised to upgrade the processor to at least a four-core i7, and more if you can afford it. We have an iMac Pro here in the office which also performs really well, but these machines haven’t seen a spec bump since they were introduced two years ago, so it is probably not a good time to buy one.

I have the 2018 Mac Mini with the “middle option” 6-core i5 3.0 GHz CPU.

It has a Geekbench score of 1023 (single core); 4791 (multi core), which trounces the single-core score for any 2013 Mac Pro, and matches the multi-core score for the 6-core MP. The Mini’s top-end CPU (6-core i7) matches the 8-core MP’s score, and is even faster for a single core.

It runs Dorico effortlessly, and with 32Gb of RAM, I can happily work in Dorico and Logic Pro with loads of VSTs, plus Affinity Suite, countless browser tabs and other serious apps open with no performance impact. I can even have Handbrake ripping DVDs in the background!

The SSD is also crazy fast, at over 2000 Mbps Write and 2800 Mbps Read.

(Yes, it’s an Intel GPU, but unless you’re planning to render Pixar’s next movie or model protein-folding in the background, it’s entirely sufficient for desktop work.)

Hi Ben,

I’m looking closely at the mac mini - the chances are I’ll get one next year. A couple of questions if that’s OK.

  1. Have you got a 2 monitor setup and if so how did you go about setting it up?
  2. I’m assuming with sample libraries, files, backups etc. you’ll have quite a few hard drives (I’ve got 5 in addition to the main drive). Do you plug them in separately or use an external HD enclosure? I’m wondering whether the latter is an effective option.

Thanks.

  1. Yes: I have an Apple Thunderbolt Display (TB3 to TB2 adaptor); and an Acer 1080p display to the HDMI port. You can use a TB to HDMI adaptor if you need a 2nd HDMI display. Ditto DisplayPort. It claims 3 x 4K monitors, or 1 x 5K plus 1 x 4K.

  2. I bought the Mini with 512 Gb of internal storage. That houses everything I use --Dorico, Garritan, Logic etc; all my monstrous PDFs of manuscript scans – except for my iTunes Library and Movies, which I’ve farmed off to a 1TB SSD on USB.
    Another USB drive is a a Seagate 4Tb USB C hard drive for Time Machine.
    I also have a 2Tb RAID 0 unit with installers and other archived material, via Thunderbolt.

The Mini has 4 Thunderbolt/USB C ports, HDMI port, and 2 USB A ports. I have an Anker 7-port USB hub, and the TB Display has extra ports on it, too. I plan to buy a 27" 5K display (when they come down in price a bit): in which time I’ll probably get a TB hub with another HDMI port.

The stock 8GB RAM isn’t enough, IMO: I was seeing a fair amount of memory pressure just with Dorico. I bought the 32Gb RAM from Crucial and installed it myself. However, it was ‘not easy’, and I didn’t quite seat it properly and then broke my special screwdriver, so I had to take it to a tame local Apple guy to fix. Even after paying him £50, it was still much cheaper than Apple’s BTO. However, you can’t add internal storage yourself.

Thanks Ben, much appreciated.

Yes, that’s very useful advice. If or when I have to replace my MacPro, a souped-up Mac Mini would be an excellent choice.

Never put soup in a Mac Mini.

Good point. The Mac Mini has so many ports that the soup might leak all over the desk, which is a mess enough as it is.

So no one is opting for a fully stocked Mac Pro at $50,000? :wink:

I was going to go for the comparable Dell Precision 7920, which fully-stocked is $150,000. Or I could build something similar from parts costing around £35,000.

… but which still has problematic audio drivers.

Condensing’s nice and quick, though :wink:

Leo… just… no! Ha ha :joy:

Thanks for the replies.

How would a 5k, 27 inch iMac 8 Core, 32 Gig of RAM with a 512 SSD Drive compare to a Mini? It is more money, but you get a great monitor.

Very well, by the looks of things. See https://browser.geekbench.com/mac-benchmarks for geekbench scores - higher number = faster computer, basically speaking.

My turn for a new Windows computer, and am leaning towards a desktop. I just ordered a 34" widescreen monitor. I’m not a power user of Dorico, but sporadically use it heavily, then a few months go by. For me, Dorico or possibly Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign are the programs that need the most power. Is this still what to look for?

  • i5 processor
  • 4 cores – will 6 cores make any difference for Dorico?
  • 8 - 16GB – Dorico only needs 8? (Adobe products work better with 16, but I’m an occasional user.)
  • Video card is not a big deal for Dorico?

(I’m coming from a 2013 Celeron laptop, so this is a big change.)

I would recommend going for an Intel i7 or i9 if you can afford it, or consider instead going for one of the AMD Ryzen CPUs instead. For my own PC, which I don’t use for productivity or music work but rather for gaming, I have made the switch to Ryzen and I’ve been very happy indeed with the performance for what I paid for it. The very latest Ryzen CPUs are currently very supply-constrained, but you should be able to find a 6- or 8-core Ryzen 5 CPU that will give you very comparable performance to Intel i7/i9 chips at a somewhat lower price.

You don’t need an especially fancy video card for Dorico at the moment, but it’s possible that future versions of Dorico will make greater use of the GPU for graphics acceleration. That said, any reasonable GPU will be fine. When I upgraded my PC last year I again went for an AMD part, a Radeon 5700XT, which is a mid-range GPU, and which will have more than enough power for the next few years.

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I am intrigued. Paint me a picture here, if you please.

Bit of an understatement, at least in the US! The new Ryzen CPUs are virtually unobtainable unless you are willing to pay 150% of the list price on eBay. I’ve been looking though! My next build will be a Ryzen build but they are tough to find, and there are only a couple of motherboards that will work with them and support Thunderbolt.