Hi all,

Just wanna say great job on that FAQ, really helped me set off in the right direction for recording and i'm pretty satisfied with my setup to get going now. Except for my laptop. 2010 Macbook Pro that i did too many later software updates on and now it's basically brain dead and usually starts freaking out on my third track for recording which is very limiting (vanilla garageband).

What I'm looking for is advice on specs for a new machine. I'd be willing to get a brand new entry level MBP as i'm very familiar with these, usually start with about 8GB RAM and then cost a bit more for 16. Is 16 necessary? The context for that is i'll be recording basic rock tracks which will consist of drum machine, guitar, bass, vocals, maybe synth but thats about it. Also i guess they're only dual-core at entry level whereas a more basic iMac at a similar price offers:
2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor
Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
8GB of onboard memory, configurable up to 16GB
1TB hard drive

I'd consider non-Apple for better specs at a lower price if this is possible, but i'm happy using Apple products on the whole. What sort of thing should I be looking for?

Thanks for your time
"If you want beef, then bring the ruckus." - Marilyn Monroe
i have a mac mini with very similar specs (2015) and it has performance issues with certain plugins from time to time. but for the most part it runs smoothly. id recommend getting more ram if you can afford it, but if you do super basic stuff you should be okay with those specs, it just depends how far you are trying to take things.
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First off the bat, you can redo your Mac to factory specs by reinstalling the original OS.

What interface? What audio software do you want to use?

Overall, current i5 machine with 7200 rpm and up drive and 8gb RAM (or 16gb) should give you enough power to get going.

If you're familiar with Mac, I'd suggest for you to stay on Mac. Look at Mac Mini for what you need, I have a friend that got one and is very happy with similar needs that you have (he runs Logix though):


I've hated the iMac as I usually don't like machines with monitors built in - they're bound for problems, either screen going out or machine going out. The iMac line has overheating issues, that eventually will fry the GPU about 3 years into ownership...if by then the monitor doesn't burn out. I have several friends with GPU issues on their older iMacs.
I'm using a Mackie Onyx Blackjack and in terms of DAW I liked what I read in the FAQ about Reaper but would consider staying native and using Logic.

(he runs Logix though):

What do you mean?

Interesting that you both suggest Mac Mini over MBP though. Is that because i'd just be paying for the machine and nothing extra? Also they are all dual-core processors which I find surprising.
"If you want beef, then bring the ruckus." - Marilyn Monroe
Quote by diabolical
I think the Mac mini is not dual core, the i5 processor is quad core I think.
The iMac is junk.

i got a 25" Hp monitor in full HD with the mac mini and it works great, for about $1000 less then what and imac cost.
VHT Special 6 ultra
TC HOF Reverb
Line 6 DL4
EHX OD Glove
Fender standard Tele
Ibanez Rga121
Taylor GA 214E
You're right, they're all dual core. For what my friend is doing on Logic (sorry misspelled earlier) it seems to work fine. He's doing about 20 tracks per song with drums (EZDrummer) and it doesn't seem to lag but if you thinking of loading too many samples it will start to lag.

If you want more cores though, it is much more cost efficient to ditch the Mac and go for Windows. Something like this (might need to upgrade to external GPU for another $50-$80):

This will run circles around the three times more expensive Macs.

Or just get a Windows laptop:
The original 200 track REAPER test was done on a Pentium 4 2.4ghz machine. If your Mac is a dual core intel, it should handle things just fine. If you want to run huge plugin loads at really low latency, it may choke a bit, but I tracked and mixed dozens of albums on that P4
Maybe i'll just try the trial version then. I'm just apprehensive because it struggles to run Garageband which is native. Again, this may be down to my unwise software updates. Also I have absolutely no idea if Reaper is just naturally less intensive than GB
"If you want beef, then bring the ruckus." - Marilyn Monroe
Maybe you can wipe your current Mac and start from scratch? That's an option as well. You'll need a backup drive and Time Machine or just manual copy of your files. I think there is an option to wipe everything and load the factory OS, either from DVDs or from the Mac web updates through maintenance mode.
What do you mean by native?

One of the things where REAPER is different, is how ridiculously efficient and, footprint-wise, small it is. You'll see this in benchmarks and unbiased reviews.

On the other hand, most modern DAWs have gotten pretty optimized, good time to be alive and recording stuff!
I didn't really see anything exemplary about Reaper that is different from what I have currently loaded on my laptop (Studio One, Tracktion, N-Track, Mixcraft).
From what I remember its Mac port actually ran slower.

If you don't want to reinstall your OS, look it up by all means, it is a simple install. I also remember that Tracktion T4 is free - so might want to look at that as well.

I was running Cubase LE for a few years on Mac and was very solid, so maybe look up the cut rate versions of Cubase as well.

Studio One Artist also has a Mac version if I am not mistaken.
Nah, the port was crappy for sure...my Mac was outperforming my Windows at the time with Cubase LE4 and the Windows machine had more RAM and a faster processor.

I moved away from Mac so I can't say how it is now. I have a friend with Mac Mini that is running GB/Logic Pro and is quite happy. He composes on a tablet and then finishes it up on the Mini.
Quote by diabolical
Nah, the port was crappy for sure...my Mac was outperforming my Windows at the time with Cubase LE4 and the Windows machine had more RAM and a faster processor.

Do you have any benchmarks to show this with the REAPER "port"? All of the industry benchmarks show the expected performance difference in the OSX vs Windows REAPER performance as with any other performance metric (not just DAWs).

Its funny that you mention Cubase, as the case of Cubendo underperforming on OSX vs Windows (especially extreme at low latencies) was a headscratcher many of us have been working on for years.

Now with several pieces of hardware being osx only (or at least not being available for windows) like the IK Blueboard and BIAS's pedalboard, OSX performance is getting a lot of attention and a lot of us are looking at what we can to to improve the situation
It's been a while, I don't have any of this but I remember setting up the same software on both as LE4 had a Windows and OS X (I think I was on 10.5). The Mac installation was more stable and my interface drivers (firewire) worked wonderfully. Windows (XP at the time) was more problematic and Cubase would crash occasionally.
Reaper at the time was the other way around, good on Windows, awful on Mac. I think Mac support for it got better with time but I didn't bother trying it out on Mac again. I ditched the Mac as it got outdated and I didn't need it to transfer my studio work with it from Pro Tools and HFS drives.
If it was firewire, it may have been a interface using the DICE-II chipset. A lot of Macs came with the good Texas Instruments firewire chip that was the DICE-II's only hope. With windows, you often ended up with a Via or worse, firewire chip, unless you were very careful to get a TI.
Just goes to show how varied and weird computer setups can be. Frustratingly so!

I was able to find a few forum posts from 2008 showing some OSX issues, but they were either marked resolved or were drive by posts. I can't find anything big from 2009 onwards. The nice thing about Macs is that you don't have as many hardware variables, so problems are a lot quicker to find and fix. One of the prices you pay for that is slightly lower performance for the same hardware, which is well documented and no different for REAPER than for Cubase, in general, but as you saw, individual cases may vary.