mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

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mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby gigpiglet » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:11 pm

hi all

starting to look at replacing all our towers (of which there are many!) with the " next step"

one can purchase a new mac mini
3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
16GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
for a couple of grand

verses my current tower machines
Apple Mac Pro "Eight Core" 2.93
with 32GB+ of ram

running PT native, i could get native thunderbolt interfaces rather than current cards. licences remain the same.

has anyone had any experience running real sessions on a fully specced mac mini with thunderbolt native?
im thinking it would look same same compared to an older machine with more ram..

thoughts/ feelings/ experience would be appreciated.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby reddirt » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:42 am

Wondering what the ramifications of just dual core might be?

Cheers, ross

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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby mylesgm » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:39 pm

I have a late 2012 Mac mini with a 2.6ghz i7 with 16gb ram. I run pt11 and a pair of thunderbolt apollo interfaces and a UAD accelerator. It runs pretty smoothly and I haven't had any specific issues in 18months of daily use.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby gigpiglet » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:10 pm

thanks for your experience myles. im guessing a 5 year newer and faster processor would only help the matter.

and yes ross - thats exactly what my question relates too!
there are no 8 core minis...
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby rowmat » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:01 pm

Maybe another consideration for longevity is everything in the hardware connected computer world seems to be converging towards USB-C which appears it's going to be the universal hardware connection standard for the 'foreseeable' future.
*Please don't ask me to quantify what the foreseeable future is as the FireWire 400 drivers for my Crystal Ball are no longer supported :D

Remember in the Apple world there was FireWire 400 (gone) then FireWire 800 (gone) then Thunderbolt 1 & 2 (effectively now heading towards the exit door) and now Thunderbolt 3 which uses the USB-C style port.

All the new Macbooks are fitted with USB-C exclusively.
The downside is all the overpriced bloody dongles Apple wants to sell you in order to connect your older hardware.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby Drumstruck » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:58 pm

Hey Gareth

Heed the words of mr Rowmat about USB C.

Also:

1/ there are known issues with Mac Minis and MacbookPros when connecting a large hi-res external screen - the mouse response can be affected severely. There doesn't seem to be a root cause as some machines have it (e.g. my macbookpro) and some don't (e.g. my Mrs Mac Mini).

2/ on performance - I have a MacBookPro (i7 quad core 2.2GHz / 16GB RAM / 480GB SSD) and it is struggling to run Finale on big mixes (12 instruments with 16 and 24 bit samples. I'm looking at a big Hackintosh (4GHz, 128GB RAM, multiple SSDs) to do the job
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby gigpiglet » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:45 pm

interesting info from all - thanks

my probs with the towers (i have 5 and one spare) is that they just cant be repaired/ sourced parts for anymore.
i had one go down recently with either a backplane or PSU issue (switched the drives and CPU into my spare) repair is an undefinable huge amount (more than the machine is worth) which means im now without a spare machine.

im thinking rather than spend a grand on another tower, ill start a new plan, and looking like the mini could be that.
ill start with the mobile rig first, and work backward from there depending on my findings.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby Text_Edifice » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:17 am

Fwiw, I moved over to PC because of this issue. You can get an equivalent pc tower for <1k, parts are available and win 7 is still supported and stable.

Even the new trash cans haven't proved as powerful for audio (in practice) as the old Mac towers so I kinda figured there's nothing Apple is making now that quite fits the bill and competes cost-wise.

I hate windows though.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby gigpiglet » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:02 am

yeah dave
i get the argument
but "i hate windows though" outweighs any of it!
i need to enjoy my work at least a little, and struggling through windows every morning isnt going to help me.
;-)
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby The Tasmanian » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:22 am

This has been on my mind too Gareth - I just buy up spare machines.
Get good at pulling them apart and replacing bits.

My advice would be keep them going for a couple more years and see where the new Macs go.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby Text_Edifice » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:05 am

I think the real problem with the mini / iMac pros, even the trash cans to an extent, is that if something crucial breaks it's very difficult to repair or replace discrete compoments.

My mbp video card went down last month and the only fix is to swap out the guts of the machine (only available second hand). At least with the towers you can still find scrap parts relatively easily.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby gigpiglet » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:10 pm

yes dave and chris i agree and thats what ive been doing
but "relatively easy" is starting to get "relatively hard"
the two failures ive had hvae been backplanes (probably showing the age for the machines) and its not an easy or cheap fix. certainly not an easy "spare part" unless you keep your own spare machines.
ive had another recent fail which has put me into my spare machine. im yet to do the thorough fault finding but will be either backplane or PSU as removing the CPU and putting it into the spare got me up and running.
do i spend up to a grand trying to solve this issue?
or do i start moving on.

maybe at this poing only my spare becomes a mini?
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby lonearranger » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:19 am

Hi Garath,

I would be worried about moving to a dual core mini after having 8 cores. If the 8 cores run at 2.9mhz and the dual at 3mhz you are looking at nearly quartering your performance. Guess it depends on what you are doing on these systems - if you are recording lots of tracks with low amount of plugins/processing then it may not be an issue, same would go for the 16gb vs 32gb of ram. If you are doing full mixes and not using external processing then there is probably more risk in the mini solution.

Have you ruled out the imac or macbook pros - certainly you are able to get more processing - esp with the highly powered and overpriced imac pros on the horizon.

Of course your concerns about a repairable and supportable solution are very important - even if your solution is that when system X craps itself it will be replaced with system Y and it will take Z days to arrive and setup, and all projects will be kept on external drives so you can easily access from another rig.

If you need a system that is serviceable and easily repairable/upgrade-able then I don't think any such animal exists in the apple zoo. So you really need to think about which is more important - hardware performance/support or user interface of the OS or perhaps respecting the apple OSX licence to the letter of the law.

Cheers
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby smash » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:38 pm

Hey Gareth - Don't do it!

The currently-on-sale-right-now Mac Mini's haven't been updated since October 2014.
They are already old tech. They were kinda old tech when they were released.

If it was me, I'd go for an iMac. Mac sure you get one with an SSD, and also an i7 Processor, but if you see the specs of the machine on the attached image, I promise it will absolutely slay any Mac Mini that you can buy.
(This is my current recommended bang-for-buck config. Only a 21" but external screens are cheap)
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: mac mini thunderbolt PT HD

Postby smash » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:48 pm

Text_Edifice wrote:Even the new trash cans haven't proved as powerful for audio (in practice) as the old Mac towers so I kinda figured there's nothing Apple is making now that quite fits the bill and competes cost-wise.


They're not too bad. We've got six core nMP's in both of our film mix suites (HDX 2), and we're running some pretty stupid track counts.
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