buying a mac, but worried about multicore issue

I currently have two machines running two separate copies of Cubase 6. One is a Mac Pro that I’m very happy with. The other is an old MacBook Pro that I’m looking to replace.

I was looking at the new Mac Minis. Some of the benchmarks are very close to those of some old Mac Pros. At half the cost, it seems like a great bargain.

Here’s the catch. Chris Beuermann has stated that Cubase 6 on Mac doesn’t handle multithreading/multicore very well:

Cubase does not support hyperthreading … A 12 core CPU that runs at 2 Ghz is not faster then a 6 core that runs at 3 Ghz. Each plugin that you load in to Cubase will get spread over the cores. For example: on track one you insert a plugin --> will be processed by core 1. On track two your next plugin will be processed at core 2 etc.

(Quoted from https://www.steinberg.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=81&t=14022 )

I’ve found another thread about the new Mac Minis, but no one was aware of the multicore issue.

I’m trying to decide between the MacMini 2.0GHz Quad-Core vs. the 2.7GHz Dual-Core. Factors I’m considering:

  • The Quad core technically performs at a MUCH higher benchmark.
  • Cubase may support hyperthreading in the future.
  • If I’m running a lot of VSTs/AUs, Cubase might make good use of a quad core already.
  • BUT, if multiple cores don’t matter for Cubase, then the duo 2.7GHz has faster processors.
  • And maybe the duo 2.7GHz is already powerful enough that I don’t need more than that.

I’m pretty confused at this point. Interested to hear about peoples’ experiences with comparable macs.

Hyperthreading != Multithreading

Cubase supports Multithreading (Using multiple CPU cores to process the audio). It does not scale linear with CPU count. So it is better to use a fast 4 Core CPU than a slow 24 Core CPU.

Hyperthreading = Running 2 threads on a single, physical CPU core.
Steinberg states, Cubase does not support Hyperthreading. I interpret this statement, that they just do not recommend to activate hyperthreading, because this can lead to more frequent audio drop outs (especially with very low latency). The difference is dependent on your project structure. I’ve read about people saying their computer performs even better with hyperthreading activated.
If you can’t deactivate hyperthreading it does not really impede you from working seriously with a DAW.

@ your facts:

  • The Quad core technically performs at a MUCH higher benchmark.
    I am sure the Quad core will perform better than the dual core in Cubase.
  • Cubase may support hyperthreading in the future.
    As stated above: multi threading is supported. No clue, if they will support hyperthreading.
  • If I’m running a lot of VSTs/AUs, Cubase might make good use of a quad core already.
  • BUT, if multiple cores don’t matter for Cubase, then the duo 2.7GHz has faster processors.
    Cubase supports multiple cores…
  • And maybe the duo 2.7GHz is already powerful enough that I don’t need more than that.
    Could be the case, what are the specs of the Mac Pro that you’re very happy with?

That’s interesting to know! I’m running an 8 core (2x Quad-Core 3GHz Intel Xeon) Mac Pro from 2008 that I’m really happy with. I doubt that the 2011 Mac Mini server will be quite as fast, but I’ve seen benchmarks that put them close. I just don’t wanna experience a setback because each individual processor of the MMS is only 2GHz.

At least I know that the Quad Core MMS is probably better than the other Mini Duo wit 2.7 GHz. It’s just a question of whether it’s enough to be similar to my Mac Pro.

if you for some odd reason think you need an Apple rather than a windows system (faster for less) and better for cubase.

then buy a used/refurbed 2.8GHz 2010+ model and swap the processor out with a 3.3GHz 6 core W3680 for around $600
dual Xeon is a complete waste

and FYI Hyperthreading is most definately supported both on single and dual processor systems.
i have seen a 24 core (12 real and 12 logical) do just fine…

Hello,

As Scott said, if you need to use a Mac it won’t perform as well as a similarly equipped Windows machine. However if you DO need to use a Mac, as we do in many broadcast situations, reading your question it appears you’re interested in the comparisons between Mac Minis - dual core vs. quad core. That question I can answer.

We run Nuendo on many systems two of which are MacBookPros and those share the same architecture as a MacMini - the Mini is kind of a laptop folded in half, sort of. The late-2010 MBP dual core performs well, and the 2011 quad-core performs approximately 80%-85% better, quantifying “better” as cpu usage in Activity Monitor. This is actually better multi-threading than I expected (not hyperthreading). Not saying it’s perfect, just better than I expected.

Hugh