New computer setup (Mac Mini M1 & PC)

I’m about to buy a new computer. Coming from the PC world going to a mac mini m1 and need some advice about the configuration.

I will of course have 16gb memory but how about the storage? (ssd) 512, 1tb or 2tb
Maybe it’s much cheaper to buy some external ssd and have the samples, vst’s etc on an external ssd?

What thunderbolt hub do you recommend or have thought about?

How would you choose to set up the m1 for DAW use?

I’m also about to set up 2 computers (PC and Mac Mini) sharing the same screens, keyboards and mousses.
Some kind of kvm switch?

I need to have fast connection between the systems because I will transfer a lot of big files between the 2 computers
I also just have one single ethernet cable coming in to my studio
I will use the mac mini for audio and the other for video.

I don’t have advice for you on the Mini setup, but I want to follow this thread because I’m thinking of getting an M1 this year, so I have a lot of the same questions.

For multiple computer thing, I used to use a piece of software called Synergy to control 2 computers with the same keyboard and mouse. There’s a server install that goes on the computer that has the keyboard/mouse, and a client install that goes on the other computer. It used to be free but it looks like it’s 30 bucks now. Might be worth looking into if it fits what you are needing. But that doesn’t have anything to do with transferring files. If you have a gigabit switch you could set up a LAN between them which would be fairly speedy.

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Being a programmer as my “day job”, I would not recommend buying any M1-chip hardware for almost all reasons (audio/video production, software development, etc, etc). Only the major software shops will have the personpower to rebuild their applications to work against the ARM-based architecture of the M1 chips. You might have the software makers of the the DAWs the first to support the M1, but it will be in a diminished form (such as long roll outs in the form of beta releases, etc). Here is the biggest reason to not get an M1 chip: plugins! While you have just a handful of successful DAW software makers, you have 100 times the number of smaller, sometimes with a single developer, plugins makers who will have to support the M1 chip’s architecture. If you consider how long the world has been running on 64-bit CPU architecture (more than a decade), you still have a handful of plugin makers to yet offer their plugins recompiled for 64-bit architecture. This became a slap in the face for Apple fans everywhere when Apple completely dropped ALL support for 32-bit applications with the release of their Catalina OS version. (Many of my own plugins stopped working). If you have the cash to buy an M1 as a spare, I wouldn’t be quick to tossing out your Intel-chip computer just yet.


Thanks for the tip about Synergy! .-)
I’ll take a look, maybe a good option.

Thanks, well maybe I have to check it up with the software developer’s I use first, thanks again.

I see what you mean. I guess I have to wait. I’m a Cubase user.

Just wanted to add my agreement with @digital.modulation . If you use Cubase and any 3rd party apps or plugins I would hold off on the M1 macs for a while until the software support has caught up.

If you were just using Logic and stock plug-ins then it looks good to go, but where’s the fun in that.

Maybe make a list of everything you want working on the M1 and check every few months to see what has been made fully compatible.

I’m sure a few things will work via rosetta (in Logic) etc but I really wouldn’t fancy running real-time audio through translation.

If its not a mission critical system it might be a fun experiment but other than that I’d steer clear for now.


Yes Thanks!
Maybe I buy a new monster PC instead.
But the Mini look so handy. We’ll see maybe next generation support more memory to I hope.
It’s for later use I need 2 computers but it’s good to have a plan how to set it up.

My main concern would definitely be sample library plugins not working. But, are we talking about them not working at all? Or are we talking about varying levels of glitchiness? For someone like me currently running on an 11-year-old Macbook, moderate glitchiness may even be an improvement.

My understanding was that any apps that are still using the Intel architecture will run via Rosetta, which could certainly add some overhead and lag, but the amount of lag I’ve seen reported is very minimal. I’m a Logic user, so that’s going to run natively, but will my plugins work? I’ve heard from some people that you have to run Logic via Rosetta and then it may recognize and run the plugins. I’ve heard from other people that you can run Logic natively and it has a separate process that will run the Intel-based plugins so they are still usable. And I’ve heard that some plugins don’t work either way. Any way you slice it, until everyone releases an M1 build of their software, there’s going to be the question of how much lag will running through Rosetta introduce?

I think my game plan is to just watch for reports on the libraries that I use and the ones I plan on getting to see if they work or not. I’ll probably still get one this year unless I find something that I absolutely need that refuses to update.

Hey man, yeah get as much external as you can. SSD if it’s possible bug to be honest I’ve run a 4tb HDD off a Mac in the past for a while and it works just as well.

I’d also make sure your PC has at least 2.5G file sharing capability on its Ethernet port… this may mean upgrading to an I9 or equivalent motherboard, which isn’t too much of a fiddle to do.

Having said this I do agree with @digital.modulation as right now it’s a bad time to upgrade for composers. But give it 2 months and I think the optimisation of nearly all plugins and 3rd party affiliates will be up to date.

I’ve also made a similar post regarding slaving a Mac and PC together for Vienna ensemble Pro use. So maybe that’s a route you might be thinking of going down too?


Something else I just heard that I had not considered which may or may not be an issue with the M1’s. We’ve heard that they can be set up with either 8 or 16 GB of ram, which for orchestral libraries and large templates seems on the low side for what you’d want. But we’ve also heard that, with the way the new processor handles everything, the efficiency of how it uses RAM may allow 16 to work fine where 32 was needed with the Intel chips.

Now, if you’re hitting or approaching the RAM limit, it may use space on your drive as memory cache or use a page file. These would be temporary writes to your drive to handle memory overflow as needed.

Now, SSDs do not handle a lot of writing very well, which is why in most businesses they are used as secondary drives but not as the main OS drive. Considering that Apple solders the drive onto the motherboard, and limits the M1’s to a 16GB max RAM, and sample libraries typically need as much RAM as they can get, and overflow memory onto the soldered-in system SSD will cause a lot of extra writes and deletes, you might be looking at a very shortened lifespan on the SSD if you use an M1 for an orchestral composing setup.

Still trying to verify how accurate this idea is, but it is something to consider with these for sure.

This is a video that discusses the potential problem with using the SSD as swap space for memory overflow on the M1 Mac. The gist of it is: Yes, doing regular memory intensive tasks can cause large amounts of data to be written to the swap space on the SSD, decreasing the drive’s lifespan more quickly. But, even so, the decrease to the drive’s lifespan is probably negligible, and the SSD will probably still outlast other components in the machine. Sounds like we still need more info to know for sure, but this sounds encouraging for anyone wanting to give the M1 a try.

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I know the latest update from Steinberg for Dorico Pro makes it compatible with the new chips, but it’s not fully integrated yet. Of course, I don’t know if Dorico is as intensive as running a full DAW with plugins and samples.

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Well, I ordered an M1 Mini last night. It’ll get here in a couple weeks. Once I get it set up and try a few things on it I’ll post my findings here.

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I went to the Apple store yesterday and had a good chat about the new chips—the guy was actually recommending the M1 Mac mini over the full iMac i7, but looking through Native Instruments, Spitfire and some of the other major sample library companies, it’s looks like they’ve not built any updates to Kontakt or other host apps that are native for the M1s and Rosetta isn’t full translating them either, so there are still compatibility issues from what I see. BUT, that’s just what I see–I’m no programmer.

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