High performance professional bullet proof Mac setup

Hi all,

I asked this in the Cubase forum before, but, probably, Nuendo users are more demanding with our systems. I’m tired of having issues, so this is the question:

I want a stable system. I am a demanding user and my system is always fully loaded. I have tons of plugins (legit), external synths and fx and I produce, compose and mix for advertising, records and film (so I need video output).

Is there any 100% stable setup for that?
anybody can share his/her winning setup?
Should I try another Daw?

I’m having most of the common issues (CPU annoyances, video output, GUI related crashes, etc) and it’s a deal breaker.
I know that Steinberg recomends the HP workstations, but they are REALLY expensive and would prefer to stay in Mac.


hi Antonio,
Did you try bootcamp on your octocore Mac ?
Seeing the mac related annoyances, I wonder if you’d experience the same troubles with your setup on windows 7.
Do you use Vep pro ? Since you compose, you might love it.

A friend of mine got the new mac pro and loves it.
I am still on an old I7 920 that is a hackintosh and windows system (on different system drives and file drives) and can’t praise this solution enough. More options as far as pcie slots and various I/O and overclocking possibilities.

Anyhow, just a few thoughts to get the ball rolling, but if you want to stay mac, there aren’t lots of options.



There’s no such thing as a 100% stable system, but I suggest first:

run in 64 bit mode and replace as many plugins with 64 bit versions as you can
increase your RAM - 8 GB on your desktop and 4 GB on your laptop won’t cut it. Get at least 16 GB, and running in 64 bit mode will use that ram.
move Cubase and Nuendo preferences out of the Preferences folder and start fresh.
make sure you have latest versions of all plugins
make sure you are using latest audio drivers for your interface and drivers for the intensity card.

Having said that, I’ve seen older Mac towers that we could just never get running well, even after a clean install. Could be things like old video cards, bad firewire bus, who knows. In all cases upgrading to a newer faster tower solved the issues.

The new Mac Pro’s are awesome, but I haven’t yet tested Nuendo or Cubase with them. I have a 12-core on order for one of my users, so should know in a few weeks.

Thanks for the answer. I’ve been thinking about a new MacBook Pro, do you think that’s good enough?

You wrote:

So, no, I don’t think you will be that happy with a new Macbook Pro. They’re limited to 4 cores at 2.8 ghz each. A Mac pro with 6 cores will get you to 3.5 ghz each, which is a huge difference. A laptop will be a compromise. Also, when you really load them, the fans start to get pretty loud.

The new Mac Pro’s have a lot to offer, especially the boot drive which is twice as fast as the SSD’s on the latest laptops, and 5 times faster than the older towers, because it is 6g running directly on the PCIe bus, not the SATA bus. We are seeing over 900 mb/s read/write on these, my new Macbook Pro with SSD only gets about 450 mb/s.

If you can afford a new 6 or 8 core Mac Pro I would go for it.

You don’t really need the Intensity card, just connect your TV to the HDMI port on the Mac Pro and put your video on that screen.

Thanks Jim. Maybe it’s a little bit out of topic, but it looks like the new Mac Pro is really expensive and the change forces me to get a new whole system, but probably you’re right and it’s the way to go.

Any experience about the Hackintosh route?


Yes, I’m running a Hackintosh. If you stick to the information you will find here http://www.tonymacx86.com/422-building-customac-buyer-s-guide-may-2014.html:
and build one of their recommended builds, you will probably succeed (if you are persistent). But a 6-core CPU alone will cost you over $1K, the motherboard another $300 or so, RAM, video card, case, power supply, you are looking at maybe $2500 for a top performing system. And before I get flamed for that, yes, you can build a 4-core for much cheaper, but it won’t outperform a new Mac Pro.

Having said that, if you want maximum stability, you are not going to get that from a Hackintosh. Just one OS point-upgrade gone bad can hose your whole system - it’s happened to me on more than one occasion. If you enjoy tinkering, and have the time, then try it, otherwise stick to a real Mac.

Jim, any info as to the noise generated by the new Mac Pro’s? Are they quiet enough to put in a control room? Thanks, John.

Virtually silent. We have a 12-core and you can only hear it if you put your ear close to it. But for an external hard drive enclosure we are using an OWC “Thunderbay”, and that is more audible. Not terribly noisy, but audible. The problem is that the maximum thunderbolt cable length is 36", so we can’t really separate them very much. I am going to see if I can replace the fan in the Thunderbay, but it’s part of the power supply I think, so I might not be able to.

With the new paradigm of having the macpro close to you (because it’s silent) you might want to take a look at sonnet thunderbolt to fiber converters, so that you can put your noisy drives in a machine room.
It does cost an eye, though…
SNS is the way, but it does really cost a lot and it’s more intended for multiple studios using shared workspaces…
Not a lot of non-expensive solutions here, right ?

Actually, I’m thinking of putting the Mac Pro in the machine room, then I just have to run long USB and video cables.

I was studying the same move, but the new macpro design does not fit with rack concept very well…
You might already know that but if you’re going that way, sonnet (I think it’s them) released some rack chassis for new macpro including pcie ports and hard drives bay.
I won’t comment on the price asked for that but it surely solves a lot of problems…

And yet, I think the new Mac Pro is a tempting opportunity for a “silent machine in the control room, with av cards in front of you” paradigm.
In that vision, everything is simply local, especially when you think madi or ethersound.
In the end, the only thing that has to be remote is mass storage. (Again, network, network, so avid Isis or other Network shared storage)
That last part still being really expensive, maybe it’s too soon, though…)
The main reason I’m thinking of having the Mac in croom is that it’s way more easy to add monitors when needed, plug USB sticks, manage a soundcard with on-board parameters etc… Maybe not worth it…