New Mac: CPU? Speed? RAM? optimize for WL

If I were to buy a new Mac Mini today for use in stereo mastering with WL10, which specs are most important for the speediest rendering and glitch free operation in the montage with many resource hungry Clip plugins, plus a few Track and Output plugins?

-Number of cores?
-Processor type? i3, i5, i7
-CPU speed?
-RAM ?

What’s the order of importance for these? Where to spend the money?

(Yes, I do know that Apple is switching from Intel to Apple processors in the fall, but these can still run for a few years before we’re forced to switch over).

Thanks,
bob weston
chicago mastering

This is a great thread idea. PG should weigh in about cores etc. but even with my maxed out 2018 Mac Mini at my home setup, I was maxing the CPU out easily at 96k and getting audio dropouts in WaveLab when trying to master all “in the box”.

I had to add an eGPU (Sonnet external graphics card) to offload some graphics demands from the Mac Mini to the eGPU so I wouldn’t get audio dropouts. it worked. Usually, when I started getting audio dropouts, it was when certain plugin GUIs were open and I was trying to adjust things, but when I closed the windows, the audio dropouts would go away until I reached a point where even with all plugin GUIs closed, problems were happening.

I’m not saying you can’t use a Mac Mini, because maybe mine isn’t optimized well, or I use too many CPU hungry plugins, but I’m close to moving my iMac Pro from my studio to home, and getting a new Mac Pro for the main studio. I might have a maxed out 2018 Mac Mini for sale :smiley:

Maybe a Mac Mini could work well so I’d get some other opinions but this is my current situation. The eGPU was essential to getting things stable for audio work but the bummer is that it makes a little noise, and gets warm. I put the eGPU in a compartment for noise purposes but that causes it to get VERY hot which doesn’t seem good.

I have been giving this some thought too.

Realistically, judging from PGs answers to my questions about this in another thread, I don’t think we are going to be using WL on ARM macs for 2 years.
In addition, if like me your audio IO is AVID hardware (I’m on HDX card) it could easily be longer.

I have a 2018 macMini in my office (a 6 core i7) that scores higher on Geekbench than my production machine, a 2012 cheese grater Mac Pro 6 core.
I have my doubts though if it would actually beat it in a real situation with WL.

I have toyed with getting a chassis for my HDX card to try with the Mac Mini - but then there is the whole on chip graphics bottleneck…

I’m waiting to see if the iMac Pro gets a refresh as a last Intel iMac pro.

Justin, is the iMac Pro quiet enough all the time to have next to you or in front of you?

The Mac Pro is a fantastic machine, but overkill surely and pretty expensive for a 2 year stop gap

I also thought about upgrading the video card in my Cheese Grater Mac pro so I can go to Mojave which might run smoother, but that feels a bit like a waste of money better put towards a newer machine - like an iMac Pro

Decisions decisions…

Not the best time for me to drop money on a new computer, as I somehow seem to have just bought a Studer B67 mk II this week…

Peter

I would call the iMac Pro I have, dead silent. It’s a few years old, from right when the iMac Pro first came out but it’s holding up well. The fans ran at first when I was installing everything and my Dropbox sync folder were syncing but in daily work, the fan NEVER kicks on. Even if I’m doing a 192k analog play/capture session in REAPER. No fan noise. It is kind of far away from me…6 or 7 feet and down low but even when it was closer, or I get closer, it’s just dead silent.

Before I got the iMac Pro I remember trying one of the first retina IMacs and that fan was too loud, and too easily triggered so I returned it and waited for what ultimately became the iMac Pro.

What isn’t silent is the Sonnet Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis I need to use my RME and UAD card with the iMac Pro, but I read on a forum that since audio cards tend to run cooler than video cards, it’s safe to disconnect the fan in the Sonnet, so I did. No problems at all after a number of years and disconnecting the fan makes it totally silent.

The Mac Mini fan does kick on easily but I found an app that can turn Turbo Boost off when certain apps are running and with that handy little app, the fan never kicks on, so it’s silent too when I’m working.

The new Mac Pro is a little overkill maybe, but I look forward to having everything in one unit again like the old days, and since my Mini at home is kind of borderline too weak, and my iMac Pro is going on a few years old, I think I’m ready to upgrade the main rig and move the iMac Pro home.

I don’t really fear new computer change too much, and I’ll be forced to use Catalina on the Mac Pro when it arrives, but I do foresee the new ARM Macs being an issue for a time until all the software developers and hardware manufacturers figure it out, so I think I’ll do one more Intal Mac before going down the ARM path after the dust settles.

I don’t think we are going to be using WL on ARM macs for 2 years.

I meant, a specific WaveLab ARM version. But quite possibly, WaveLab is already running on the ARM thanks to the Rosetta layer.

Something sure when using WaveLab on Mac: you Mac must have a GPU.

Philippe

Thanks for the clarification.

IIRC when Mac transitioned from PPC to Intel, Avid (Digidesign at the time) did not run under Rosetta. Not sure any audio apps did.
Thanks for the heads up re GPU for Wavelab. I think I wont try to make my Mac mini my Wavelab machine. Could be an iMac Pro then.

Peter

Does this mean that something like a MacBook Pro suffers from the same weakness of a Mac Mini?

Does this mean that something like a MacBook Pro suffers from the same weakness of a Mac Mini?

No, as MacBook Pro have a GPU AFAIK.

I’d still love to know what’s the order of importance/priority for these items when putting together any Mac (pro, mini, iMac, macbook pro). Which factors are most to least important for WL to run efficiently:

-Number of cores?
-Processor type? i3, i5, i7
-CPU speed?
-RAM ?

Thanks,
bob

Though this is not Apple, the remarks of this thread apply:
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=297&t=180300

So correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that a high core number doesn’t help WaveLab, and you’d be better off with less corse but higher clocking per core?

Would WaveLab and common plugins used in WL benefit from more than 48GB RAM?

Hi Justin,

I think most audio apps favoured CPU speed over number of cores. Maybe Logic is programmed to use more cores more efficiently, but raw CPU speed was always preferable in Digidesign/Avid land

The Mac Pro is looking more like the way to go. By the time you buy an external PCIe expander box the cost differential from iMac Pro to Mac Pro almost disappears. Plus you can put lots of extra drives inside the mac pro. Even good old 3.5inch spinning drives…
https://www.sonnetstore.com/collections/2019-mac-pro-products/products/fusion-flex-j3i?variant=32337745477707

Peter

So correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that a high core number doesn’t help WaveLab, and you’d be better off with less corse but higher clocking per core?

Yes, unless your activity is more about batch processing. This being said, 4 true cores is really the minimum.

Would WaveLab and common plugins used in WL benefit from more than 48GB RAM?

Normally, no. But certain plugins use lots of RAM. And again, if you do heavy batch processing, lots of RAM might be good if many plugins are instantiated at the same time.

Philippe

Thanks. For whatever reason, I haven’t ever used the WaveLab batch processor for anything serious. My primary concern is montage performance with Clip FX and Montage Output FX when working at 96k and sometimes 192k, but mostly 96k. I think a new Mac Pro will be on the way.

I think a new Mac Pro will be on the way.

In your case, 8 core is certainly better, since it has a higher CPU clock.
While someone oriented on batch processing, would better be equipped with 15 cores running a bit slower.

This being said, don’t expect major boost with recent hardware, compare to a machine 2 or 3 years older.

Thanks. I was thinking of the 12-core to find a balance for apps that can take advantage of multiple cores but if you think a clock speed of 3.5 vs 3.3 will be a notable difference for WaveLab, maybe I’ll go with the 8-core.

My situation is unique in that I want to retire my Mac Mini already because of the noise/heat generated by the eGPU and otherwise good but not amazing performance. So for me, I think using my iMac Pro for my secondary “in the box” studio, and the new Mac Pro in my main studio makes sense.

Another reason is that with more sessions coming in at 192k, I’d like better stability when using the analog chain for playback/record so mitigate any recording dropouts or glitches. With the iMac Pro they are very rare, but at 192k, certainly possible now and then.

but if you think a clock speed of 3.5 vs 3.3 will be a notable difference for WaveLab.

Expect 3.5/3.3 = +6% gain.
Not more…

However, you should better consider the Turbo Boost clock. Which is what is achieved when few CPUs are running. In that case, I have just seen that the 12 cores version has a turbo clock of 4,4 GHz against 4 GHz for the 8 code version (strange, but this is what I read on the Apple site).

In that case, the 12 core Mac Pro can be 4.4/4 aka +10% faster when running of few cores.

Not obvious to see what machine will be faster at the end…

Another reason is that with more sessions coming in at 192k

Then consider RAM. 192 K means twice more RAM than 96k.
Also, Xeon processors are better than i7, when more RAM is used.

Yes, I also was looking at the Turbo Boost being higher with the 12-core. Do you think Turbo Boost is helpful for offline rendering?

Thanks for your help with this, it’s truly invaluable to be able to speak with the actual software developer of a DAW when choosing a new computer to best suit the software. Something you don’t get with nearly any other DAW. Thank you for that.

Sorry to hijack Bob’s thread, but I think some things were learned here for all.

Yes, I also was looking at the Turbo Boost being higher with the 12-core. Do you think Turbo Boost is helpful for offline rendering?

Same speed gain as previously mentioned.

it’s truly invaluable to be able to speak with the actual software developer of a DAW when choosing a new computer to best suit the software. Something you don’t get with nearly any other DAW. Thank you for that.

Thanks, but put into perspective that I am not a hardware specialist. I just know what it good for WaveLab.

Thanks for all the input. It’s been helpful.

-bob