Buying MacBook, interested in spec advice.


After a couple of searches, I see traces of discussions about this on the forum. However my search talents aren’t good enough to find input of the kind I hope for.

I am buying a MacBook. On it, I’ll work extensively in Dorico.

Of course, Dorico’s system requirements are readily available. Still, I wonder if anyone have views on whether it might be a good idea to ramp up the machinery for even swifter performance.

I have too little knowledge on how software is built, and am not knowledgeable about in what way a given application taxes a computer’s horsepower, and thus do not know on what computer component (RAM, processor, anything) one should spend money. Also I want the computer to last a few years – I guess it’s a good idea to have a machine that’s prepared for future Dorico updates?

So if you have advice on how to speed up and smoothen Dorico’s performance on a MacBook (probably the sixteen inch screen), it is much appreciated. It will help me buy the right machine.

I suspect that the discussion has been done already, but I can’t find it.


If you have the money to invest in a 16" MacBookPro, I would certainly recommend it. Its basic specs should be more than sufficient for Dorico both now and for some time to come. The larger screen is worth it, you can attach other screens (or an iPad) easily, the i9 processor has 8 cores which should allow Dorico to run quickly and efficiently, and 16 MB of RAM should be enough, too, unless you’re planning on loading large samples. If you are, you might invest the extra $400 for another 16 MB. The marginally faster processor seems hardly worth it, as is more than 1 TB of storage (you can always attach external storage if necessary). When I have to replace my MacBookPro, this is what I’d get, although by that time the specs will have changed. There are several users here who have this machine and seem to be happy with it.

All the 16" MBP’s are great - hence the pricetag, you can’t pick a bad one. Other than that it just comes down to budget and if you’re loading up a load of large sample libraries perhaps getting one with 32GB, as you can’t upgrade them after purchase without going to an authorised center.

In all honesty though 16GB is far enough for most, and even that base spec would give you 5+ years easily. The screen is lovely too.

It really depends on what you use the computer for, and even what you use Dorico for.

My machine is used more for Dorico than anything else, and Dorico is by far the most demanding application I regularly use. I don’t tend to work with great numbers of players, but I do tend to work on projects that contain a large number of flows, and I envisage using Condensing more in future. (I believe that work is in the pipeline to optimise the way that Condensing works, though, so it may be that future versions of Dorico are less resource-hungry rather than more - I’m not sure.)

For what it’s worth, this is the choice I made, a few months back:

I went for the 8-core version rather than the 6-core version, and I doubled the default RAM.
More processors = more simultaneous calculations; this can give a speed boost if the software is performing calculations that can be done in parallel - not so useful for e.g. layout calculations, where page 2 can’t be cast off until page 1 has been cast off.
More RAM = more information held in the fastest type of memory. This is useful if you’re using lots of big VSTs. I generally don’t, in Dorico, but I’ve been known to do live keyboard work (mostly in theatre) with hundreds of patch changes.

FWIW, Apple no longer offers the 6-core version of the i9, only 8-core. What I meant with the second of the two choices being marginally faster is that they’re offering what you have as the base model and a 2.4 GHz 8-core i9 with Turbo Boost up to 5.0 GHz. That seems hardly worth the extra $200.

Thanks all for this input, this is super useful to me. It’s a relief that there is a high degree of consensus in all advice afforded here. That gives me a basic confidence when picking a configuration for a starting point, which in turn makes it easier for me to make decisions regarding the additional nuances you all mention. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go sell all my belongings and my mothers wedding ring, then head for Apple’s store.

Keep posting thoughts, though! I find it interesting, and surely people will search for input on this subject in the future. They might find this thread very useful, as I do.

Be sure to check the Apple Store Refurb page too (If they have one in Norway?),i buy for business and around 80-90% of Apple stuff comes from there, and is no different/less reliable but you can save yourself $300-400.

These are expensive machines, but extremely good quality and wonderful to use, Mac Books had an issue with keyboards past few years and the keyboard is a return to form in the 16" models.

Even the base model 16" is decent: 6-core i7, 512Gb storage and 16Gb of RAM. With limited cash reserves, I’d upgrade the storage first, then RAM, then CPU.

I’ve got more or less the same specs as Leo has and indeed, it is a beautiful machine and Dorico works a treat. For now I probably don’t even need all the horsepower it has, but it might extend the usable life of the device. That being said, my previous “Mid 2012” MBP was only recently starting to really show its age with Dorico projects that were on the larger size.

Interesting. Perhaps it’s a regional difference but in Holland the 16" base model comes with an 8-core i9. It’s the 13" model which comes with the 6-core i7, i.e. the same processor as in my 2018 MBP.

FWIW, I have pretty much the same machine as Leo, except 16 GB of RAM instead of 32, and Dorico runs really well.

Are you sure? In the UK, the 13" MBPs are all 4-core i5 CPUs, of varying speeds, with an upgrade option to a 4-core i7. It’s unlike Apple to vary their products by region so much.

I’d love a new one, but ‘some saving required’. However, my trusty 2014 MBP is still working well with Dorico.

Sadly, no – but, crucially, your advice spurred an effort to look into the treacherous land of second hand markets. I found a nice buy from a trustworthy seller that saved me just over seventeen percent of the price of a brand new machine. Slightly below 2100 euros compared to over 2500 (the Norwegian krone is very weak now). Not that much of a bargain, perhaps, but the machine is practically unused. Thanks all for your advice!

For the record, I got this sixteen inch:

2,6 GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 (9th gen.), Turbo Boost up to 4,5 GHz
16 GB 2666 MHz DDR4 memory
AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4 GB of GDDR6 memory
512 GB SSD storage.

This machine will be a great additional tool for me – or even new main tool, considering I haven’t got a permanent office space for my 2015 iMac at the moment. It has been moved around daily. Annoying for me, and it surely can’t be good for the computer. So this laptop will open up for easily working anywhere, and it will be an energy-booster!