iMac or Mac Pro


I’m looking to buy an 2011 iMac 27" 3.4Ghz 1TB HDD 8GB RAM Mac or a 2008 Apple Mac Pro Intel Xeon 8-Core 2.8Ghz, 8GB. Which would work better with Cubase 6.5? I work with video and many VSTi.

I’ll be replacing a 2007 Macbook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo. Usually when doing music to video, video lags and music cracks and pops.



If you will not use any PCIe card, iMac is good enough. I bought Mac Pro, because there was FireWire version of UAD-2 DSP card. At this moment, there are Satellite cards, so there is no reason to buy Mac Pro for me.

If you need more than one HDD (I recommend this), you can use Thunderbolt.

There is diference in processors. Intel Xeon is like “women’s brain”. It can makes more tasks together. i7 is like “man’s brain”. It can makes less tasks, at the moment, but it makes it faster. For real time processing is Intel Xeon better. But i7 processors are fast enough.

And Mac Pro 2008 is quite old computer. It is possible, there will be problem with compatibility in near future. Nobody knows.

Or, leave your Mac Book Pro, buy new Mac, and use Vienna Ensemble Pro for your virtual instruments. Great solution!


One downside is the iMac may have only one FW 800 port.
Best check on that.

I use a Yamaha/Steinberg N12 mixing desk/audio/MIDI interface
so the one port is not a prob.

On occasion I will chain two n12’s with no problems.


I’m using that model of macpro, I picked it up of the refurb site a couple of years ago.
It handles Cubase well, and I’ve had projects running GPO, Kontakt, Trillian and Independance with a video track with no problems or hiccups.
It also runs Logic with no hassle too.

It IS an old machine, but has those PCI slots, slots for 3 addition drives inside it, and easy to upgrade RAM etc.
I use 10.6.8 on it as it’s so stable, but I suppose I’ll need to change to Lion or Mountain Lion eventually.
But I guess there will come a time when the latest OS won’t run on it.
But I’m hoping to get a few more years out of the beast before retiring it.

MUST it be a Mac? Why?

So use the Macbook as a slave with Vienna Ensemble Pro? It’s Mac cause I also work with digital performer which for the moment is mac only.


No, I’m using Mac Book Pro as Master (with Cubase and VE Pro plug-in), and Mac Pro as Slave (with VE Pro host/Mix, and lots of VIs).

You can run the Digital Performer on the Master (MacBook Pro) only. The VE Pro and VIs, you can use on the Slave computer, which could be PC with Windows, no problem here. And as you probably know, Digital Performer 8 will be on Windows too.

If you’re going to be pushing a laptop hard, be prepared for the accompanying fan noise while you work.

Personally, I see no real advantage for using a laptop as a main studio machine if you need to hook up external monitor(s), hard drives, audio/video interface, etc, etc. THere’s nothing “portable” about that! Just more affordable… Yeah, the iMacs are getting powerful too, but have no where near the expandability of a Mac Pro and also tend to heat up under load. (Thunderbolt looks promising, but it’s looking like it’ll be another year or two at least before mass adoption/affordable prices. And there’s no guarantee manufacturers will even do that…)

Mac Pro will let you have tons of storage, more expandable RAM (you did say you use LOTS of VSTi, right? There’s your clue!), and has the proper cooling capabilities to keep your machine quiet even under heavy load.

But I do agree with others that a 2008 MP might be a bit long in the tooth. I’d at least get a Nehalem (2009+) processor version, which is a “newer”-gen chip which performs far better than the 2008 CPUs.