I’m currently working on home recording with a ThinkPad W541 (Intel® Core™ i5-4340M CPU @ 2.90GHz × 4) under LINUX with Ardour.
Basically it runs well, I have integrated Windows VST plugins via WINE and yabridge. I’m actually happy with the LINUX solution …
BUT: The computer is running at full capacity with current projects, the processor cores at 95 - 100% load. This is less of a problem when mixing, as latency times no longer play a role. But when recording, it can be a bit annoying because I have to reduce the frames/period in JACK to achieve reasonable latency times, which then has the effect that the playback crackles.
Now I have an offer from a friend to buy an old 27-inch iMac i7 (2010) at a very good price: 2.93 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with 8 MB level 3 cache, 1 TB SSD Pro Kit and 32 GB RAM.
The large monitor would appeal to me, but I doubt whether the computer will really improve my workflow in terms of speed. Well, an Apple computer would have the advantage that some plug-ins would also run that currently don’t want to under my LINUX solution even with WINE (e.g. Contact Player). But apart from that?
What do you think? Does the iMac with i7 2.93 GHz processor bring an improvement in terms of workflow / processor utilisation?
My friend who sells the Mac says “yes”, of course.
If the “very good price” is under $300, and you can afford that, I would totally take the iMac. According to the numbers online, the 27" has almost double the pixels, and (arguably importantly) like triple the physical size. -Good for enlarging all the details in the DAW.
If you’re running at 95+% CPU load, I assume you’ve got ‘a lot’ of tracks + plugins (dozens and dozens). -So that near-doubling of pixel space alone will be of great value to you, surely. -Plus an SSD, 32GB ram and an i7? -Can’t go wrong.
Also, what’s cool about iMacs of that ‘era’ is that they can be put into “Target Display Mode” with a simple key command, and thus basically double as a monitor (for any OS, -including anything from Windows or GNU/Linux). So, you could also use your laptop and its screen + the iMac’s if you ever desired. (-Although of course you’d then only be using your laptop as the main computer.)
Also also, I’m pretty sure the 2010 iMacs can be opened far easier than later models where they (foolishly) started gluing the glass to the case. For the 2010s (and probably some others) I believe the front glass is held on with magnets. So any further upgrades to various components will be made much easier. -Just another point to consider.
The obvious downside of the iMac is that you won’t be able to take it with you to
[insert cool coffee store chain here]. So if you’re into editing in different locations, maybe it’s not the way to go. However, you could always start editing via an external SSD, and then switch between the laptop and iMac whenever each is most convenient.
Anyway, wow, I didn’t expect to write this much.
I have now discovered that my Lenovo ThinkPad only has a dual-core processor…
Before I upgrade the box, I will accept my friend’s offer and buy the i7 iMac 2010. 200 EUR, I can’t go wrong