Upgrading My MacBook 13 For Music Production

hello there,

i wanted to ask you some help in choosing the right upgrades for my macbook. i'm an electronic music composer, my macbook is a late 2008's one. 2ghz intel core 2 duo, 4gb of RAM, 200gb of hd memory.

I use Logic and i was searching all the possible ways to improve performances while working (considering i can't add more ram to the macbook).

so i wanted to know which parts i should really upgrade (without spending thousands of bucks)

thanks for reading and helping! cheers

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With Logic, it's all about RAM, hard drive, and processor. Stock laptop hard drives are relatively slow, so an SSD will help you and may be the best upgrade for a small amount of money, because Logic needs to write to disk as quickly as possible, the more tracks you are recording at once. But honestly unless you're not using many plugins, your 2GHZ processor is going to become a serious bottleneck. An SSD that you can migrate to your next laptop is worthwhile, but I would hold off buying more RAM and instead put the money toward a newer machine.

Unfortunately a program like Logic always has the capacity to max out any computer -- just and more tracks and plugins, and you'll eventually hit the ceiling. I have a quad-core Mac Pro with 12GB and 7200RPM drives, and even with that I have resource issues, so I've always found laptops way too limiting. If you don't need portability, you mind find a newer iMac to be more capable. Also, one trick is to record plugin-heavy tracks to disk so the computer simply has to play the track, and no longer has to process its plugins.

If it's unclear what the bottleneck is, you can download the iStat Pro dashboard widget and view it while you're using Logic in order to see what resource is maxing out.

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+ I had a comment to this post, expressing similar. I erased it - I thought I was being too negative. To get professional results I'd like to add a few things to what rdklinc has said. Your laptop has a 7200 RPM or less hard drive. A 7200 RPM drive is going to give you at least 50ms latency (half an eye blink), which makes overdubs that sound right impossible and can get drop outs on normal recording. On top of a good Mac Pro, you will need multiple SSD and/or 15000 rpm SCSI drives to drop the latency down to 10ms or less - You can't record on the same drive your operating system or programs are on, because of latency and/or drop outs. Your first bottle neck for good sound is going to be your hard drive. After that memory, followed by processor. rdklinc is saying to run the program you have memory and processor bottle necks. The bottom line is you can't do what you want to do with this machine.

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It hasn't really been established what his specific requirements are, so it may be early to determine that he can't do what he wants. Any modern Mac is capable of running Logic and recording a pile of tracks at once with a bunch of plugins going, so depending on what he needs to do, an SSD or a new laptop may suffice. I would never recommend a laptop to be the backbone of a permanent studio however, because you'll spend all day dealing with limitations. In my opinion it only makes sense to stay with a laptop if portability is critical. I record to 2TB 7200RPM drives, and out of laziness I often record to my system drive as well, and I've had no noticeable problems due to that, even when recording a dozen tracks at once. So again, it all just depends on what you want to do. The sky is the limit with pro audio, but most people's needs don't call for high-end gear. The last time I tried a 15K drive, it screamed so loud every microphone in the room picked it up, so that didn't work for me.

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Also, as far as the order of importance for resources, I think it depends on what you are doing as well. If your primary activity in Logic is recording tons of tracks at once, the hard drive is probably going to be the focus. However, I tend to have relatively few recorded tracks, but I have dozens of plugins and virtual instruments running simultaneously (as a lot of people do these days), in which case processor and RAM are generally more important.

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actually i'm pretty sure i'll buy a mac pro asap, i think i'll do it in a few months, i'm already saving.. by now i've just found a WD Scorpio Black from a near-by reseller.. 80 euros. good deal to keep on working with this macbook..

btw, glad you all joined and gave me lot of good informations.. i still haven't checked on apple.com if it's actually more expensive to buy a mac pro with built-in upgrades or to do DIY upgrades buying stuff from here or other web resellers..

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The RAM is about the only thing that you can upgrade out side of the hard drive and optical drive.. Please give us the last three figures of your serial number so we can tell you the max for your machine.

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last three figures are "1AQ"

i was just searching info about this. i was also reading about the differences between SSDs and classic HDs and which type would fit better with Logic and for the kind of work that i do.. basically i have lot of plug-ins going on and tracking when i'm working.. it happens that i do lot of takes with singers, too.

my first impression is that ssds would fit better for projects involving lot of loops (like house music). am i going in a wrong direction? :)

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I agree totally with RDKL on this. I true "power user" needs a machine to do the job. A quad core machine with PCIe card capabilities, four internal hard drives and even 32 GB of RAM really shows you what an entry level machine a MacBook is. Prices for getting into a used MacPro are not that prohibitive for a 2009 8 core 2.93 GHz machine for $1450. http://www.gainsaver.com/Catalog/List.as...

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OK, I sold myself on my recommendation to you. The benchmarks on that 2.93 GHz machine just blew me away (96 GIGs of RAM capability) & 8 to 10 times the RAW power of a MacBook, I'll be getting one ASAP: http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-...

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Mayer, I hear you on that one. We are so laptop-centric these days that it's easy to forget why desktops exist -- they don't have size limitations and are therefore able to be significantly more powerful. Logic Pro is my one "power user" function, and it's critical to have a powerful machine. Not to mention, plug in a couple 24" monitors, and that gives you an experience with Logic that a laptop could never handle.

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According to MacTracker you can install 8gb ram in your machine if it's the model A1278 MB466LL/A (2.0 GHz) or MB467LL/A (2.4 GHz) Macbook5,1

MacBook 13 inch Aluminum, Late 2008

http://mactracker.ca/

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just did the scan with mactracker. cool, thanks :) sure about the 8gb maximum? i've read that maximum limit was 4 and that's why some months ago i've mounted 2x2gb :S

anyway, considering hard drives and optical, what else would you suggest me that i could maybe find here around?

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