Should I wait for new iMac processors before buying?

To my experienced Steinberg Mac user friends - hope you can give me some expert advice.

I have saved up for months to get the fastest iMac possible, with 64 to 128 of RAM, with the goal of cutting general computer task times in half, or better, and lasting me for at least 4 years. I’m about to pull the trigger on a mid-2017 iMac Pro, with 10-core processor and 64 of RAM, but wanted to get some group opinion first. (Has to be a Mac as all my DAWs are are Mac and I have no desire to change my OS.)

My question is this: given the lightning speed at which Intel and AMD are churning out high-count multi core processors lately, am I better off waiting another 3 or 6 months to get the best bang for the buck? I’m so tired of lags and plugin performance issues. I have 3 kids under age 9 and at the moment -even though I am by no means rich or well-off - time is more important than anything else … and I cannot afford to spend 30-45 minutes out of every 4 hour audio work session dealing with system lag or restarts, etc. Hence my interest in investing in FAR more computing power than the min system requirements.

Any advice on (1) when to buy an iMac Pro, or (2) what system specs to purchase in the iMac Pro, or (3) any alternative wisdom? I appreciate anything you can share, very much.

No matter when you buy, something faster will be out in 6 months, so that part’s sort of irrelevant.

What machine do you have now?

Yes, yes, that’s always true - I was just asking to see if we we were on the cusp of any major new tech rollout in terms of chips, but I guess there’s really no such situation. What I’ve got now is cheap intro level … a 2014 Mac mini with 8GB RAM, dual i5 proc. It’s fine for messing around, but no pro power for intense processing. I want to future proof my hardware and software needs for 4 years, and with fast performance, hence the iMac Pro. Just going to order it. Thanks for reminding me of the inevitability of obsolescence, tho. :wink: Appreciate your reply!

I’m a PC user and still after all of these years, still not a full blown all out Cubase user. But I subscribe to you ‘future proofing’ plan and have done so in our other work with software and computers. My newest at work, is a 2600k cpu 16gb ram Asus Mobo. Essentially an old machine but because it does everything we need, it’s only just starting to obsolete itself. It’s nice to be able to have technology perform this well for that long…good plan

I recently priced a highly spec’d iMac Pro at nearly $11,000. A beautiful, well integrated machine that would work right out of the box.

While still dizzy from sticker shock, I was able to assemble a slightly higher spec’d Windows 10 PC for just under $4,100. That required 2 days of relatively easy assembly and about a week of tweaking software setups, so that time should enter into the value equation for those with busy schedules. In my case I had some time to spare and for the most part I enjoyed the only slightly challenging under-the-hood experience. I’ve noticed that PC component prices for RAM and SSDs have been dropping dramatically in the last few weeks, so the time may be ripe in that respect.

Of course if you like the Mac environment then the additional cost that entails may be worth it you. The Mac user paradigm is definitely “slicker” than the more straight-up Windows 10 paradigm. I often use a top end Mac desktop with Logic Pro and IMHO my new PC performs as well or faster in Cubase, and perceptibly faster in Reaper. Since getting it configured it has cost me zero aggravation or delay and handles huge templates without a hitch or glitch. FWIW it is possible to create a “Hackintosh” that runs the Mac OS on a PC hardware platform, but that requires a level of study and dedication beyond my patience.

Randallniell,let me give you some info the iMac pro is a good machine but most on paper.

  1. It clocks at 3Ghz there is not much difference 8 vs the 10 core.
  2. If you pushing it near at maximum you’re ending up with thermal throttle and loudness.
  3. Price.

A good option is if MacOS is needed build an 6 Core 8700k - Z370 Hackintosh clock it to 4,8-5 Ghz all core, put 64gb ram in.
That way you can save a ton of money for the performance.

Hi guys. I bought a refurbished 2016 Macbook Pro two days before the announcement of the 2018 models. The new models seem to be much faster for most jobs. I’m thinking of taking advantage of Apple’s 14-day return policy and buying one of the new ones. But of course that is a hassle and a bit more expensive too.

What do you guys think?
Any issues running Cubase 9 on the new computers? (it doesn’t seem to be a new OS). Thanks!

as long as only the cpu is being challenged and not video card as well (i.e, in audio we only use the cpu), the imac pro 8 core sits at it’s maximum all core turbo of 3.9ghz all day.
I also recommend not to get the vega 64 as it puts out significantly more heat than the 56 (desktop versions use 270w vs 210w, it’s unclear on the exact figures of the slightly down clocked imac pro versions but it has to be relative).

The imac pro never ever gets loud when using cubase, only when rendering high res video or gaming.

I decided on the 8 core cause the thermals of the machine work perfectly well for that…

The 10 core’s all core turbo is 4ghz but it can’t sustain that, more around 3.5ghz with all 10 cores under load…and it will fluctuate from 3.2 to 3.5 under heavy load. If you can afford it however, the 10 core is still overall the best imac pro… I wouldn’t even bother with the 14 or 18 cores… under any sort of heavy load they can even dip below their base speeds but the worst part is that the frequencies jump around like crazy which is a BAD thing for real time audio. In that case, yes, the thermal design just can’t handle it.

Hi TNM, i have made a test system on a fresh SSD with 10.13.6 in short forget it, Cubase is not optimized on Mac x299.
But Logic X with internal plugins oh man that performance is stunning, 1200 midi instruments with a 64er buffer very smooth no clicks or anything awesome with my setup.

When Cubase then better use Windows 7/10 there are some limitations but even better then MacOS.
Good luck :wink:

well on my old systems (the two in sig besides the imac pro), cubase is fine and slightly outperforms Logic… BUT… not at 64 buffer… it needs to be at 128 to shine… Cubase has issues with 32 and 64 buffer…

I was very close of switching to windows but after months of investigations, I just hate it. I guess i’ll install bootcamp though to compare on same machine. Some day.

I was going to switch because of performance… The exact reason you say… however i decided i dislike the environment so much, i rather lose performance and stay put lol.

I’ll be testing Pro tools vs Logic vs Cubase on the imac Pro next weekend, just can’t do it this weekend. I will devote the entire next weekend to it…

Note, i will be installing 10.13.3, so maybe 10.13.6 is the issue for you…

In any case, because I am so so tired of everything and making decisions… it’s very simple for me… if Cubase performs badly on my imac pro (it is fine on my very old i7 2600 imac), I am not even going to bother torturing myself. If Logic and PT perform ok, then I will just stick with PT… If not, then back to Logic I go. I just want to work and i spent this massive amount of money to have more POWER…

PS you are using apollo, why do you need 64 buffer? Aren’t you monitoring in console? even 128 buffer in apollo is VERY VERY low to play VI’s… remember, for VSTi, it is ONLY the output latency figure that matters… Apollo is just over 3ms at 128… that is faster than most external synth latency! To be perfectly honest, I can even work with apollo at 256 buffer where it was like 6ms… that is absolutely fine…

Just think about it ok… a Steinberg UR824, at 64 buffer, has considerably higher output latency (yes i finally found the figures), than apollo at 128 buffer!
as i have said before, it’s not the chosen buffer size that matters, it’s the actual latency figure that affects performance…

It seems anything under around 5MS output, and cubase sort of misbehaves on mac… Logic you can play any VI and monitor even at 32 samples, 2ms… That is true… I started a topic about this a while back and I was trolled and attacked for daring to suggest that Steinberg improve the low latency performance of Cubase, so I just let it go.
However, when at more realistic buffers, 128 and 256, you will find Cubase gets more overall synth polyphony than Logic… and Pro tools more again… i did intense tests with VI’s to show this… now, i need to do all this with my imac pro, but as i said, next weekend for that, when I can devote 2 full days to it :slight_smile: By the end of that weekend, I have chosen my DAW… and freeze my system then and there… I really don’t care anymore what I use, as long as it performs well… I just wanna compose!

I love to play VI’s at 64 buffer it feels more “natural” to me, i hate latency :slight_smile:
Logic is the performance killer, but Cubase is the better daw let’s hope they fix the latency thing.
I was shocked how good the Logic performance is they have optimized ther code dramatically.

but cubase beats it for effect count and vi count when asio guard is on…

Also, Logic will only use HALF the available threads for live “armed” tracks at the low buffer… So if you have 4 cores 8 threads, and arm 32 tracks with FX, logic will only use 4 of those 8 threads to live stuff. Cubase will use the lot…

This is also WITH using logic’s new “multithreading for live tracks” option.

Before the update, it stacked all live tracks onto one core… for years… drove people batty.

I’m in 2 minds about it all… I think in a way, leaving half the processing power of the machine always free for playback tracks is probably smart, but if you have some huge 256 input system you’d want the DAW to use all threads when tracks are record armed.

Anyway, because of this “limitation” in Logic, you get almost double the tracks in Cubase when they are record armed, as long as you are not below 128 buffer, and you get around 25% more at 64 buffer (cause cubase is using all cores, but technically at 64 buffer it’s performance would be worse than Logic if it also only used half the cores).

At 32 samples, nothing seems to be able to get close to Logic… I can literally arm 32 tracks at 32 buffer, have 2 heavy aux verbs, and a slate VMR on every monitored track, full rack in each instance of VMR… and Logic handles it without a click or pop. This is impossible on Cubase, Reaper, S1, Pro Tools etc… as far as mac os is concerned anyway.

Cubase really IS much better software… you are right… the audio editor is better, the midi editor is better, vst expression is better, metering is better, interface is better… there is so much that is better… and the chord editor where there is just nothing like it built into a DAW. I love how I can compose my chords and then have a vocal sample follow them… This just can’t be done with such ease on any other DAW… I am always changing pitch of vocal bits manually, and it’s time consuming. Not to mention the ridiculous thing that in 2018 you STILL can’t choose per track midi inputs in Logic…Just silly… And Cubase has none of the awkward bugs with phantom notes and “reverb tails” (the logic buffer problem, you still can’t start songs on bar one and have them bounce down correctly without phantom FX tails).

Logic beats cubase in two regards only… the performance, and the tempo match features… Oh, and the automatic loop slicing which sounds 100x better than stretching drums with elastique.

They all have their pros and cons, but unfortunately, Logic’s cons to me are absolute workflow killers… I just kept thinking they’d fix the issues, for 20 YEARS! and they just never do… which is why i moved after using it since 1997.